Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Governor's new homelessness emergency comes with rules; tourist fee, general excise tax plans scaled back; judge ends aquarium fishing ban, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The state's homelessness proclamation isn't new, but now has a few 'rules'.  This isn't the first time a Hawaiʻi governor has issued an emergency proclamation on homelessness. However, Gov. Green's coordinator says this could be the first with cultural and environmental limitations. Hawaii Public Radio.

Green pledges new approach to state government. Gov. Josh Green added new details to a range of ideas including how to add more tourist fees to access state parks and trails while renewing his promise that his administration will be transparent and “nimble.” Star-Advertiser.

Governor’s ‘green fee’ plan scaled back to target park, trail and beach users. In bills introduced to the Legislature by his office, the governor’s proposal is now for what could be called a “paradise passport,” targeting only people who visit “a state-owned park, beach, forest, trail, or other state-owned recreational natural areas.” Hawaii News Now.

Tax breaks urged for ALICE families: Gov. Green pivots from GET reform efforts. Removing the general excise tax on food and medicine might not be the best way to help struggling Hawaii residents, Gov. Josh Green said Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers Want More Information Made Public On Inmate Deaths In State Prisons And Jails. House and Senate measures would require corrections officials to announce each prisoner death on a website, and include information on what caused each fatality. Civil Beat.

Upping the ante: State lawmakers introduce several gambling bills. A raft of gambling-related bills have been introduced in the state Legislature and have passed first readings on their respective chamber’s floors. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii arrivals hit 9.25M in spite of Japan drop-off. Hawaii ended 2022 with less than 90% of the visitor arrivals that it had in the pre-pandemic 2019, mostly because of the drop in international visitors, especially from Japan, which is historically Hawaii’s top international market. Star-Advertiser.

Feds award Hawaii Title I schools $73 million. Hawaii’s Title I public schools, which serve a disproportionate number of students living in poverty, will get $73 million in added federal funding for the 2023-2024 school year — an increase of $15 million over 2022. Star-Advertiser.

Researchers Hope Hawaii Lawmakers Fund Cancer Research This Year. A new study would seek to get to the bottom of why Native Hawaiians, Filipinos and Pacific Islanders face high rates of many cancers. Civil Beat.

Hawaiʻi researchers' work could change life expectancy of mesothelioma patients. Michele Carbone and Haining Yang, both doctors leading a team of UH researchers, received several grants for the project — including a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2019. Hawaii Public Radio.

Jim Leahey was the golden voice of Hawaii sports. Leahey, who was considered the “voice of University of Hawaii sports” during a six-decade broadcasting career, died on Monday morning at The Queen’s Medical Center. He was 80. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Maui Now.  Kauai Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.


New Hawaii Governor Plans A Tougher Stance On Red Hill. Environmental advocates want the Green administration to demand more from the Navy. Civil Beat.

Former police chief prevails in defamation suit brought by ex-SHOPO president. A jury on Monday sided with former Police Chief Susan Ballard in a defamation suit. The suit was brought by Tenari Maafala, who stepped down as president of the police union in 2018. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Under pilot, some repeat law-breakers in Chinatown are being given a choice: Jail or treatment. Under a pilot project, treatment is approved by the court before a judge ever rules on the case. The idea is to get homeless drug addicts into residential drug treatment programs right after they’re arrested. Hawaii News Now.

A new development offers affordable land for small farms on the North Shore. Developer Peter Savio is launching a new agricultural project called “Orchard Plantation,” which provides 155 acres of Waialua orchard land. Hawaii News Now.

Avalon Group buys Downtown Honolulu building; to convert part of it into housing. Avalon Group said Monday that its newly-acquired 378,000-square-foot Davies Pacific Center office building along Bishop Street will be converted to a mixed-use development with up to 120,000-square-feet of office and retail uses and the balance will be converted into up to 400 workforce and market-rate residential units. KITV4.

Marine biologists near end of 5-year study on health of Hanauma Bay. The University of Hawai‘i Institute for Marine Biology is winding up a five-year visitor capacity study on Hanauma Bay on Oʻahu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Ban on West Hawaii aquarium fish collecting ends. An Oahu Circuit Court judge lifted an injunction Monday that effectively ends a five-year ban on aquarium fish collection in the waters of West Hawaii. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

Pōhakuloa Training Area receives funding to protect and restore native plants and species.
The U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai‘i, Pōhakuloa Training Area, located between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the Saddle Road region, will receive $1.3 million for its Nāpu‘u Natural Resource Protection: Mitigating Rare Plant Impacts project. Big Island Now.


County council fails to override Victorino’s vetoes. Former mayor had nixed bills on housing resale rules, cultural overlay map. With a new majority on the Maui County Council, members failed to override two vetoes by former Mayor Michael Victorino, who prior to the end of his term opposed a bill relating to deed restrictions and the resale of workforce housing and another measure to establish a cultural overlay map for the county. Maui News.

‘A Sleepover For County Council’: Marathon Maui Meeting Raises Concerns About Public Participation. In the wake of a tumultuous, 18-hour long meeting in which residents said they felt “disenfranchised” and held “hostage” while waiting to have a say in their local government’s decision-making process, the new Maui County Council chair says she’s planning to change up the rules to make it easier to testify.  Civil Beat.

Kanahā Pond on Maui to get predator-proof fencing to protect nesting habitats. Pono Pacific Land Management was recently awarded a contract by the state to install 8,000 linear feet of an anticipated 14,785-foot predator-proof fence at Kanahā Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary on Maui. Maui Now.

3 days of downpours bring 23.61″ of rain to Puʻu Aliʻi, Molokaʻi, up to 15″ to parts of Maui. Crews on Maui continued to assess flooding and saturation from three days of heavy rainfall. Maui Now. Maui News.


Dead sperm whale removed from Kaua’i beach; buried at undisclosed location.
  A disappearing act of colossal proportions has taken place at on the East Side of Kaua‘i, after county, state and federal personnel worked through the weekend to remove a 120,000-pound sperm whale from Lydgate Beach Park — and bury it at an undisclosed location. Kauai Now. Star-Advertiser.

Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua‘i receives funding for invasive species. Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands is set to receive funding for detection and management of high-impact aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Kauai Now.

County property taxes due soon. County Department of Finance officials said in a press release that the second installment of real property taxes for the 2022-23 tax year is due on Feb. 20. Garden Island.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Tough questions ahead for DLNR nominee Dawn Chang, advocates want free school lunches for all, dozens of albatross eggs destroyed by pigs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

DLNR Nominee Dawn Chang Faces Tough Questions About Her Past Work. Native Hawaiians are split on her nomination to lead one of the state's largest and most impactful agencies.  A groundswell of opposition is growing among local conservationists and some prominent Native Hawaiians who want to see Gov. Josh Green withdraw Dawn Chang, a former deputy state attorney general and private consultant, as his nominee to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

Suspending laws is a recurring tactic in Hawaii to shelter homeless.  An emergency order focused on homelessness allows Gov. Josh Green to bypass more than two dozen state laws in areas that include contract procurement, land use and environmental review in order to speed efforts to shelter people living on sidewalks, in beach parks and other places not fit for human habitation. Star-Advertiser.

Bills would expand fees to access Hawaii state parks, trails.
Visitor “green fees” are already in limited use at state parks — most notably at the popular Diamond Head State Monument — but there’s renewed interest in the state Legislature this session to expand the concept to generate revenue to help protect Hawaii’s environment.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Legislature: Inside The Push To Make School Meals Free In Hawaii. Hawaii lawmakers are weighing multiple proposals to address the gap between the number of students who are currently eligible for free school meals and the number of students who actually need them. Civil Beat.

Hawaii women lawmakers push bills for working mothers, abuse survivors. More than two dozen women state lawmakers make up the bipartisan Women’s Legislative Caucus and this session, their bill package aims to help working mothers and survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse. Hawaii News Now.

Assortment of Hawaii bills aim to curb illegal fireworks. Nearly two dozen bills have been introduced this legislative session in an effort to crack down on illegal fireworks, with proposals to create task forces, increase fines and boost inspections of shipping containers. Star-Advertiser.

Pair of bills aims to benefit neighbor islands in OHA trustee voting. The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee has approved a set of measures that would change the way Hawaiʻi residents elect trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Satellite study shows subtle signs of climate change in Hawaii. Researchers have examined satellite images of Hawaii over four decades and concluded the islands have endured significant “browning,” or declines in vegetation health. Star-Advertiser.

Humpback whales plentiful during first count of the season.  The threat of bad weather didn’t deter volunteers on four islands from grabbing their binoculars and logbooks Saturday to observe and document humpback whale behavior in the first of three coordinated whale counts in 2023. Star-Advertiser.

How Pearl Harbor Became ‘The Nation’s Chief Pacific Outpost’. As early as 1907, more than three decades before the pivotal events that catapulted the United States into World War II, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole believed Hawaii was in serious danger of attack by Japan and that the islands were being left defenseless. Civil Beat.

Hawaii workplace deaths decreased in 2022. Three workers died on the job in Hawaii in 2022, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Star-Advertiser.


Bill proposes the state acquire Sunset Beach lots hit by erosion. Nearly two dozen oceanfront properties along Sunset Beach on Oahu’s famed North Shore would be condemned under a bill proposed this year by state Sen. Chris Lee that seeks to save the beach from being lost to erosion. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Homeowners Are Shocked At New Property Tax Bills.
Here’s Something That Could Help. Several states have so-called "Truth-in-Taxation" laws designed to mitigate the sharp property tax increases like the ones Honolulu homeowners are facing. Civil Beat.

Waiahole families facing huge rent hikes as farmers fight to keep local agriculture alive. The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation says the proposed rates are well below market value and tenants need to pay their fair share to maintain the valley. KITV4.

Winter wave contests help sustain Oahu’s businesses, services. The North Shore’s economy is riding as high as the big winter waves as a number of surfing competitions from the “Eddie” to the World Surf League’s opening championship tournaments bolster interest in the region, leading to residual opportunities for a financial boom. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Big Island energy plant case heads to high court again. Honua Ola Bioenergy’s tireless effort to begin producing renewable energy for Hawaii island enters another chapter Tuesday when the Hawaii Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the company’s latest appeal to vacate a state Public Utilities Commission’s decision that denied the company’s power purchase agreement with a Hawaiian Electric subsidiary. Star-Advertiser.

Puna roads EA expected soon: County ready to push forward with work. After a year of waiting, the next step in the restoration of Puna roads severed by the 2018 Kilauea eruption is nearly complete. Tribune-Herald.

Kilauea Avenue rehabilitation set for this spring. A 2-year-long project to improve Kilauea Avenue in Hilo is expected to begin this spring. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers considering $250,000 settlement in case stemming from sexual assaults at Kona school. The state Department of Education is set to pay a quarter-million-dollar settlement in a 2021 case brought by a Big Island family alleging the agency failed to protect a female student from repeated sexual assault on a public school campus. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Community Hospital seeks $20M for repairs. On the west side of Hawaii island, Kona Community Hospital serves a growing population in a facility that’s almost 50 years old but desperately seeks funding for much-needed repairs, according to its leaders. Star-Advertiser.


Alice Lee Is Chosen To Lead The Maui County Council As Chair. After a rocky start to the new term, the Maui County Council now has all nine members seated and, for the second time this month, a new council chair. Civil Beat. Maui News.

Multiple Molokaʻi schools will be closed Monday due to severe weather. The Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s five public schools on Moloka‘i will be closed for students and staff on Monday, Jan. 30, due to impacts from severe weather.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Maui County sees largest vacation rental supply, occupancy, average rates in state. Maui County had the largest vacation rental supply, occupancy and average daily rates of all four counties last month, according to a recent state report. Maui Now.

Community-based solar projects offer energy independence to Molokaʻi renters.  The savings offered by community solar could make all the difference for folks on Molokaʻi, where energy costs are the second highest in the state, outranked only by Lānaʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.


Kawakami back from mayors’ conference.
  Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayors 91st Winter Meeting. Garden Island.

A State Abortion Coordinator? Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Overcoming Barriers To Access. A Kauai doctor's lawsuit recently helped expand access. But there are still plenty of hurdles, particularly on the neighbor islands. Civil Beat.

DLNR to commission 42 new officers in Hawai‘i, nearly doubling staff on Kaua‘i. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement will add 42 recruits to its ranks in March, increasing the division’s staff by 50 percent and nearly doubling its presence on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Albatross rescued after pigs destroy 60+ eggs at nesting site. The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauaʻi reported that 64 mōlī eggs were “crushed or eaten by pigs on Nihokū, beginning on Dec. 22. Maui Now. Kauai Now.

Sperm whale carcass washes up on Kauaʻi beach, prompts agency response. Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources say the cause of death of the 56-foot-long whale is under investigation, and won’t likely be determined for some time. Maui Now. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Help protect Kaua‘i’s birds by keeping cats inside. In an effort to cultivate the importance of cats belonging indoors, the Kaua‘i Humane Society is partnering with Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture to offer a variety of incentives and educational opportunities to the community. Kauai Now.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunlight is the best disinfectant: Political will needed for true ethics reform

A fresh new populist governor, brand-new legislative session and a comprehensive roadmap from a blue-ribbon panel showing us how to get from Point A to Point B. Throw in some political will, backbone and a little intestinal fortitude and we have the makings for real ethics reform this year.

 Some might say the recent rash of arrests that sent public leaders, policy setters, rank and file government bureaucrats and a couple state legislators to federal prison was a wake-up call. I won’t bother naming the guilty; you’ve all heard the stories.

 It’s hard to set and implement public policy when bad actors at all levels of state and county government are filling their pockets rather than their constitutional mandates.

 It’s a wakeup call, but don’t hit that snooze button quite yet.

 Federal prosecutors have set the ball rolling. People were shocked/not shocked when the nefarious dealings were exposed. The angst is still fresh in people’s minds.

 Props to House Speaker Scott Saiki for recognizing the deep-seated malaise that has led so many to further distrust a government that wasn’t all that trusted to begin with. Last year, he immediately did what government does best: He commissioned a study.

 But rather than any old study – you can’t swing a dead cat at the Capitol without knocking the dust off hundreds of shelf-bound studies -- Saiki peopled that Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct with some hard-hitters and go-getters and named retired Associate Judge Dan Foley of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals to chair it.

 The result? A 396-page report with 31 proposals, plus the accompanying bill language, all set for the 2023 Legislature that convened Jan. 18. The full report can be accessed on the House webpage under Special Committees, https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/house.aspx.

 Five of the commission's 15 recommendations in an interim report were passed by the 2022 Legislature and became law, including a tightening of campaign finance laws, required ethics training for all legislators and state employees and prohibition of campaign fundraisers for elected state and county officials during legislative sessions. Two others, capping fees for access to public records and requiring electronic audio or video recordings of public board meetings be maintained as a public record and posted, were passed by the Legislature but vetoed by then-Gov. David Ige.

 The 2023 list is long, but it can be divided into some broad categories. The recommendations include proposals to further open public records to public scrutiny, to limit legislators' terms in office to 16 years, to strengthen investigation and prosecution of fraud, including prohibiting those convicted from seeking public office for 10 years and to give the Campaign Spending Commission more power.

 In addition, measures boosting openness and transparency are proposed, including greater disclosure about lobbyists' involvement with lawmakers and lawmaking, allowing immediate viewing of testimony as soon as it is submitted, continuing the live-streaming of legislative sessions that began during the COVID-19 lockdown and requiring explanations when measures are not scheduled for hearings by committee chairmen or when they are deferred indefinitely.

 The vetoed bills are back in action as well.

 With Jan. 25 being the last day for bill introductions, bills are slowly trickling in, but so far, only a few from the so-called Foley Commission have been entered into the system. Never fear. It’s standard practice for bills covering similar measures to be added onto during the ongoing negotiations of legislative leaders. In the words of Yogi Berra, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. There’s still a lot of horse-trading until sine die.

 Despite the urgency of these proposals in the eyes of the public, legislative leaders so far don’t seem to be embracing them. Saiki mentioned the issue after a list of other priorities during his opening remarks last week: “This House takes reset and reform seriously and will take up the recommendations in earnest this session.”

 Senate President Ron Kouchi didn’t mention them at all. He’s said in past interviews that simply opening up the Capitol following the pandemic lockdowns, along with livestreaming meetings, will bring transparency: "With the Capitol being reopened, I think that is a big statement to have everybody available and the ability to see what we're doing and who's going in and out of whose offices, who's hanging out on the railing and things of that nature."

 Leave it to Gov. Josh Green to devote a big chunk of his State of the State address to ethics in government: “Our state deserves transparent and accountable government.Without good governance, without trust, without ethical standards, how can we truly serve the people and make progress for our state? Corruption must be taken seriously and rooted out — the abuse of power is an affront to the people of Hawaii.”

 Green vowed to sign “any common-sense legislation that achieves meaningful ethics reform in state government. … When it comes to governance, sunlight, open windows, and plenty of fresh air are the best disinfectants.”

 This is our chance. The public says it wants them, the governor said he'll sign them and now it's up to the state Legislature to move them forward. It’s going to take more than lip service to fix this mess.

Nancy Cook Lauer, who’s covered state and local governments for 30 years in Hawaii and Florida, is the publisher of All Hawaii News (www.allhawaiinews.com)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Youth climate change lawsuit has day in court, legislators mull Aloha Stadium plans, long-delayed Kona homeless project to begin construction, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kids pack courtroom to support youth climate change lawsuit against Transportation Department. Attorneys representing 14 Hawaii youths appeared in court Thursday to argue in favor of a lawsuit that claims the state Department of Transportation is violating their client’s state constitutional rights by not doing enough to stem the emissions that are contributing to climate change. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii Needs To ‘Double Down’ On Biosecurity, Experts Say. State lawmakers are asked to find a little more funding now to save a lot more money later in order to protect the islands' fragile ecosystems and ag lands. Civil Beat.

Gov. Green's plan focuses on 'targeted' taxes, strays from repealing general excise tax. The plans outlined in Green’s tax reforms would be expansive. It would change the state's income tax by increasing personal exemptions to inflation and increasing the standard deduction to $5,000 for single filers and $10,000 for joint filers.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Bills seek GET exemptions: Some focus on medical services in an effort to easy physician shortage. This year in the state Legislature, there are roughly two dozen House bills and another two dozen Senate bills targeting the general excise tax, many of which request exemptions. Tribune-Herald.

Does The Office Of Hawaiian Affairs Need To Be More Representative? Candidates for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees would need to win their island districts rather than run a statewide election under a pair of bills that advanced Thursday with preliminary approval from the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee. Civil Beat.

Over $1B was appropriated for Native Hawaiians last year. Now it needs to be used. Last year’s legislative session shaped up to be a big year for Native Hawaiian issues at the capitol, with more than $1 billion appropriated to Native Hawaiian projects and initiatives. Hawaii Public Radio.

Women's Legislative Caucus backs bills for working mothers and survivors of abuse.  The Hawaiʻi Women’s Legislative Caucus introduced their bill package Wednesday morning, which includes efforts to combat human trafficking, domestic violence and instill better lactation services across the islands. Hawaii Public Radio.

UH graduate assistants’ fight to unionize reaches high court. A years-long struggle by University of Hawaii graduate assistants for the right to unionize and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions has progressed further than ever before, with their case now being considered by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Star-Advertiser.


New Aloha Stadium finish date unchanged, planner says. The requests for proposals for construction of the new Aloha Stadium won’t be out by the end of this month as previously expected, but that in itself won’t change the project’s completion date, a key state planner said Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Ex-prison guard charged with sex abuse of 3 female inmates. Mikael Salvador Rivera, 45, of Kapolei pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, held Thursday at Honolulu federal court, on charges of six counts of sexual abuse by threats and 11 counts of sexual abuse of a ward. Star-Advertiser.

Former police union head breaks down on stand in defamation trial. The former head of the state police union broke into tears on the witness stand Thursday when he talked about the false allegations that he padded his overtime. Tenari Maafala said he experienced mental “anguish” as a result of the false accusations involving former HPD chief Susan Ballard. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Ordered An Acupuncturist To Stop Practicing. Three Years Later, He Still Was. Mike Hashimoto, an architect of the state's regulation of acupuncture, asked the state to intervene in a billing dispute last year despite his agreement to not treat patients. Civil Beat.

Construction starts for new healthcare campus. Buildings are being demolished to make room for the Straub Medical Centers’ new, state-of-the-art healthcare campus. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Homeless project housing begins.
The much-needed and long-planned Kukuiola Emergency Shelter and Assessment Center moved a step closer to fruition Thursday with a groundbreaking and blessing ahead of the start of mass grading of the site in Kailua-Kona. That first phase, as currently outlined, will include 16 emergency shelter units, a congregate kitchen area, restrooms, parking and other amenities. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

The hunt for unknown male in Ireland case. Hawaii County’s police chief and prosecuting attorney issued separate statements late Thursday afternoon saying they will be steadfast in their quest to bring to justice the man who left DNA on several pieces of key evidence in the 1991 rape and murder of Dana Ireland.  Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

Hilo Car Rental Company Fined For Large Capacity Cesspools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Truck to resolve a claim of violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.


Ex-lover receives life for murder of Maui woman. Nine years and 14 days after 46-year-old Moreira Monsalve’s disappearance, a Maui Circuit Court judge sentenced her ex-boyfriend Bernard Brown on Thursday to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole for killing the Maui mother of three. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Nightly closure of Piʻilani Highway for Kīhei roundabout paving, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.  The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation will close Piʻilani Highway nightly in both directions between Kaonoulu Street and Piʻikea Avenue from 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, through 5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. Maui Now.


Kauai Is Making A Blueprint To Meet ‘Huge Desire’ For Local Food. Confronted with the question of how to boost local food access, dozens of Kauai farmers, ranchers, community leaders and concerned residents have underscored two critical needs: farm worker housing and connecting farmers to farmable land.  Civil Beat.

Kaua‘i Island Energy Cooperative unveils habitat conservation plan.  The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative has released a nearly $265 million Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) entailing a 50-year strategy to minimize its impact on threatened wildlife. Garden Island.

Former Kaua‘i prosecutor sues county for wrongful termination. The former Kaua‘i deputy prosecutor, who was fired after lodging a complaint against a judicial nominee, is suing the County of Kaua‘i for wrongful termination, defamation, and violation of free speech rights. Garden Island.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Legislative Caucus wants green fees, cesspool conversion, whistleblower lawsuit against billionaire Ellison over food safety, abortion bills surface, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawai’i Environmental Legislative Caucus announces 2023 bill package.  Green fees, cesspool conversion tax credit among environmental bill package. The caucus is a coalition of legislators that works in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and governmental agencies on topics including climate change, energy and conservation.  Maui Now. Maui News

Chief Justice Calls On State To ‘Join Forces’ To Solve Homelessness, Mental Health Crisis. Mark Recktenwald, the head of the state’s court system, advocated for more funding for diversion programs. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Nonprofit And Business Leaders Find Hope In Governor’s Affordability Plan. Dubbed the Green Affordability Plan, Gov. Josh Green's proposal would provide more than $300 million annually to struggling households. Community and business organizations are applauding Gov. Josh Green’s plan to address Hawaii’s cost of living but say they would like to see more details on it, which he has described as “the largest tax reduction in the history of the state.” Civil Beat.

Bills both protecting, prohibiting abortions in Hawaii introduced.  Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision not to guarantee a women’s right to an abortion, 11 abortion-related bills have been introduced this Legislative session that would both expand abortion protections and prohibit them. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Bill Aims To Make It Easier To Do Dialysis At Home. The bill is being pushed by a multinational company from Illinois that wants to sell products in Hawaii more cheaply. Civil Beat.

Legislator wants ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi to be taught at every grade level across the state.  The Hawaiian language was banned from use in state schools for 90 years following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bills seek harsher penalties for fentanyl crimes. In the face of a “pandemic” of fentanyl overdoses, lawmakers are seeking to increase criminal penalties for possession of the dangerous drug. Tribune-Herald.

Revising ‘outdated’ law to curb Hawaii emergency powers. An outdated law with legacy language was how some lawmakers described a section of powers for Hawaii’s governors and mayors to suspend electronic transmissions during an emergency. A new bill could change that in 2023, however. KHON2.

Army official focused on being ‘good partner’ for Hawaii. U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth this week wrapped up a four-day visit to Hawaii, which included an itinerary packed with tours of base facilities and the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island, meetings with Native Hawaiian community leaders, a sit-down with Gov. Josh Green, and a town hall meeting with service members and military families at Schofield Barracks. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Hawaii reports 11 COVID deaths, over 1,000 cases in past week. The latest number brings the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 376,977. Hawaii News Now.


City Council OKs 43-story condo tower in Moiliili.  The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow construction of a 43-story, $619 million tower complex, which would house 1,005 moderately priced condominium units off Kapiolani Boulevard in Moiliili. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Blangiardi: Filling officer vacancies at HPD is 'top priority'.  Amid an ongoing officer shortage at the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), city leaders promised they are looking into solutions for attracting new recruits and retaining them. KITV4.

Ex-HPD chief takes stand in defamation trial, blames misquoted online news article.
  Former Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard took the stand today in the trial over a defamation suit filed against her by the former head of the police union. Ballard doubled down on her claim that she did not defame former SHOPO head Tenari Maafala. Hawaii News Now.

Oʻahu is looking for residents to fill over 400 neighborhood board seats.  Nowadays, 33 boards across the island meet monthly. Various federal, state and county departments are supposed to show up at meetings in some capacity, but some of that is set to change this year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Miske Trial Postponed As Prosecutors Present New Details Of Alleged Conflicts Involving Lead Attorneys. The trial of alleged racketeering boss Michael J. Miske Jr. and six remaining co-defendants has been delayed again, as newly released details have given fresh impetus to efforts by prosecutors to disqualify Miske’s lead co-counsel, Thomas Otake and Lynn Panagakos. Civil Beat.

‘Victims to the ocean’: Battle over beachfront erosion rises again with monster surf.  Huge waves pounded on the beach on Oahu’s North Shore, part of the second-warning level swell this week. Each one of these swells makes beachfront residents more nervous and more and more sand is taken away. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

‘I Feel Like They Murdered 25 Years Of My Life’ Freed after decades in prison for a wrongful murder conviction, a Hawaii man reflects on his case and his future. On Ian Schweitzer’s first morning of freedom Wednesday, he woke up in a hotel room, looked over the balcony at the ocean and took in the beauty of the island he had been away from for over 20 years while imprisoned for a 1991 killing and rape he has always maintained he didn’t commit. Associated Press. KHON2.

Police misconduct down in ‘22: Two HPD officers discharged, eight suspended.  Two Hawaii Police Department officers were discharged and eight received suspensions ranging from one to 21 days in 2022, the department’s annual disciplinary report to the state Legislature revealed. West Hawaii Today.

County to receive donated rapid-response shelters. The Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development will soon have another tool for its toolbox to address homelessness and emergencies on the Big Island. The County Council on Wednesday voted 8-0 to accept the donation of 10 Pallet shelters from Maui County valued at $70,000. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Army Secretary tours Pōhakuloa Training Area on Big Island. The U.S. Secretary of the Army, with an entourage of military personnel and a U.S. Congressman in tow, on Monday toured the rugged terrain at the Pōhakuloa Training Area where soldiers prepare for potential combat with high-powered weapons. Big Island Now.


Maui County building evacuated after mayor’s office receives ‘troubling’ call. Authorities evacuated the Maui County building and surrounding areas on Wednesday after police said someone called in a threat. Hawaii News Now.

Report pinpoints state facilities most at risk for sea level rise. On Maui, Department of Education buildings are the most vulnerable to sea level rise among state agencies.  Maui News.

Hawaii chef suing billionaire Larry Ellison's company for violating whistleblower's protection act. A Hawaii chef who used to work for Billionaire technology executive Larry Ellison’s Four Seasons Resort on Lanai is suing the tech titan’s company for violating the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and public policy. KITV4.

PVC pipes resembling improvised explosive devices discovered during car crash investigation. Maui police evacuated nearby residents and closed area streets following a single vehicle accident in which police, while conducting a crash investigation, discovered two PVC pipes resembling improvised explosive devices within the involved vehicle. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

After being declared rat-free in 2021, Lehua Island restoration and monitoring continues. Monitoring of native seabird species breeding on the islet by the Kauaʻi Endangered Seabird Recovery Project and the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife indicates a success story, based on increased reproductive success following eradication of the rat population. Maui Now.


Kauaʻi residents urged to participate in survey for 2023 Hawaiʻi Housing Planning Study. The County of Kaua‘i Housing Agency urges residents to participate in a telephone and email survey conducted by SMS Research as part of the 2023 Hawai‘i Housing Planning Study. Kauai Now.

A slippah-ry story for Koloa.
Chelsey Rivera of Koloa School said it’s hard when students break their slippers while in school. Garden Island.