Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Voters favor green tourist fee in survey, 'audacious' tax relief plan advances, state population continues to decline, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Survey finds 63% of Hawaiʻi voters support $50 annual ‘green fee’ for visitors. A new survey found 63 percent of Hawaiʻi voters back a proposal that would require visitors to pay a $50 per person annual fee to use state and county beaches, parks and trails in the state. Big Island Now. Garden Island. Kauai Now.

‘Audacious’ tax relief plan advances at Hawaii Legislature.  Several bills that would cut household taxes in Hawaii are advancing at the Legislature, including one promising to save a family of four around $2,000 or more in 2024 and beyond. Star-Advertiser.

Push to legalize Marijuana growing. The push to legalize recreational use of marijuana continues with two bills (SB 669 & SB 375) moving through the legislature. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers push flavor bans and higher taxes to fight teen vaping. Lawmakers are expected to pass substantial legislation after a ban on flavored vape products passed last year but was vetoed because of flaws. Hawaii News Now.

State agency accused of covering up for high-level training officer now facing trial for perjury. The 58-page ruling by the panel found that the previous leaders of the state Department of Public Safety were protecting J. Marte Martinez, the agency’s top trainer. Hawaii News Now.

The state's chief economist said Hawaii's population has decreased for the past seven years with 15,000 people moving away in 2022. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, on average almost 20 people left the state every day last year. KITV4.

Hawaiian Airlines’ COVID vaccine mandate challenge set for trial. Eight current and former Hawaiian Airlines employees suing the company for allegedly violating their right to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or religious reasons were given a trial date Tuesday and asked to organize with related cases making similar claims. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii rolls out rebate program for e-bikes, electric mopeds. Rebates of up to $500 or 20% of the retail price — whichever is less – are now available for eligible purchases due to Act 306, which was signed into law Opens in a new tab last summer to help reduce the cost of transportation. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.


Gov. Green puts cost of new Aloha Stadium at ‘under $500M’. A new Aloha Stadium surrounded by housing and an entertainment district can now be had for “under $500 million,” Gov. Josh Green said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Committee Mistakenly Passes Honolulu Rail Tax Extension. A bill that would allow Honolulu to extend the excise tax surcharge for rail to raise more money for the cash-strapped project was approved Monday in the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee. But barely an hour later, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz said in an interview that the handling of Senate Bill 176 was an “oversight.” Civil Beat.

CDC to review medical records of military patients sickened by Red Hill fuel spills. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in Hawaii looking at medical records of military families who got sick from the Red Hill fuel spills. Hawaii News Now.

Peter Savio’s New Farming Development Is Unconventional But Locals Still Want In. Future capital gains would be locked into local income levels as part of the plan. Civil Beat.

HECO has 'significant concerns' about adding another waste-to-energy facility. Senate Bill 1247, introduced by Sen. Kurt Fevella, would require the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office to enter into a public-private partnership to develop a new waste-to-energy generating facility.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Boy Scouts, Aloha Council deny liability for boy’s death. Lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America and its Aloha Council have filed a response to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of an 11-year-old Scout killed last August when an AK-47 was accidentally discharged at a shooting range. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Roth, county focus of new lawsuit. A tour operator is suing the county, Mayor Mitch Roth and Public Works Director Steve Pause, claiming restrictions placed on the company’s Waipi‘o Valley tours by the mayor’s emergency rules regarding Waipi‘o Valley Road amount to a “taking” of the company without due compensation. Tribune-Herald.

Hōlualoa Elementary School Issues Gain Attention. The Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association says state school officials “began making concrete steps toward some short-term fixes” at Hōlualoa Elementary, after the HSTA held a news conference describing mold, rat and maintenance problems at the Kona school. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Ex-DOE employee who allegedly falsified documents charged with 3 felony theft count
s. Officers arrested former Department of Education official Karie Luana Klein last Thursday for falsifying DOE documents to steal money. She is set to be arraigned in Hilo Circuit Court on Monday. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

Without emergency funding, key Hawaii Island pharmacy that serves cancer patients could close. Scores of cancer patients on Hawaii Island are at risk of losing access to the chemotherapy drugs keeping them alive. That’s because the pharmacy at Kona Community Hospital could be forced to close if it doesn’t meet new regulations set to go in effect later this year. Hawaii News Now.


Committee to review Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua housing project. A Maui County council committee will review the Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Residential Workforce Rental Housing project Tuesday, which proposes 120 affordable rental units in Waiehu.  Maui News.

Suit claims Grand Wailea owners avoided pay, benefits for hundreds in ‘fraudulent scheme’. A worker at one of Maui’s largest private employers, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, filed a class-action lawsuit Friday alleging owners of the luxury hotel giant misclassified hundreds of spa and salon workers, groundskeepers, facilities maintenance personnel and window washers as independent contractors in a “fraudulent scheme” to avoid pay and benefits at two of its landmark hotels, the Grand Wailea and Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria. Maui Now.

Yacht Fuel Spill In Maui’s Honolua Bay Prompts Calls For Reform. The grounding of the 94-foot luxury vessel has sparked calls to change the way commercial activity is handled in sensitive coastal waters. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Maui News.


Celebrating heritage in Waimea. Thousands of people flowed through Waimea town during the 46th Waimea Town Celebration that wrapped up with the ho‘olaule‘a on Saturday at the park in the shadow of the Waimea sugar mill relic. Garden Island.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Hawaii may have to return $412M in COVID funding, political parties get notice of disqualification, humpback whale count concludes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Humpback Whale Counts For 2023 Season Completed. A total of 997 humpback whales were spotted from the Big Island, Kaua’i, Maui and O’ahu during specific time periods. 345 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i islands during the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count and from Maui during the Great Whale Count by Pacific Whale Foundation, the second of three coordinated whale counts between the two organizations in 2023.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.  Maui Now.  Kauai Now.

Hawaii government spending could trigger COVID aid payback.
The state Department of Budget and Finance is advising the Legislature that $675 million in spending appropriations last year should be delayed in order to avoid triggering a requirement to return $412 million in coronavirus pandemic aid to the federal government. Star-Advertiser.

Over 20 bills to improve government transparency take shape in state House. The bills were part of a package to improve transparency and accountability in state and county government in the wake of unveiled corruption throughout state and county government. Hawaii Public Radio.

Three political ‘third parties’ get notice of disqualification. The States’ Office of Elections released a notice with the intention to disqualify the Aloha Aina Party, Green Party of Hawaii and Constitution Party of Hawaii for falling short in the percentage of votes required by the state to remain active. KHON2.

Studied To Death? Some Say Hawaii Doesn’t Need More Data Before Acting On Overtourism. As Hawaii tourism rebounds three years after being effectively shut down during the pandemic, political, community and business leaders are reprising a question central to policy discussions about the state’s most prominent industry: How many tourists is too many?  Civil Beat.

Bills aim to add ‘tiny home’ sites for homeless.  Bills are moving through the House and Senate that would expand Gov. Josh Green’s vision of creating more communities of tiny homes across the state to house the homeless and provide them with social services to reduce the islands’ homeless population. Star-Advertiser.


Mayor Rick Blangiardi offers 5-point homeless plan for Oahu. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s administration has offered its plan to deal with the needs of the nearly 4,000 homeless people living on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Contract for Red Hill facility alternatives is an enigma. The company awarded a half-million-dollar, no-bid “public outreach” contract to solicit ideas from the community about possible alternative uses of the Navy’s Red Hill facility once it’s closed for fueling operations is being tight-lipped about how it plans to conduct community outreach. Star-Advertiser.

Waimanalo Road Safety Upgrades Raise Local Concerns About A Community’s Identity. The DOT is installing medians and widening sections of Kalanianaole Highway amid safety concerns, with six pedestrians killed in 10 years. As Oahu’s population balloons and the number of tourists grows, the island’s low-capacity coastal roads that are often the only thoroughfares for rural communities have become increasingly crowded, prompting calls for the state to better manage traffic.  Civil Beat.

Oʻahu's junk vehicle program sees 65% decrease in roadside refuse. According to the city's Department of Customer Services, the program handled roughly 1,600 cars a year prior to 2020. But over the last three years, there has been a steady decline — resulting in the program handling 567 vehicles in 2022, which is a 65% decline. Hawaii Public Radio.

At a cost of $40M, large new wave pool on Oahu nearing completion. A standing wave pool being built in Ewa Beach is set to open next month, but not everyone is giving it a warm welcome. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers unreceptive to moratorium on Waiahole Valley rent increases. A legislative committee has declined to support a five-year block on the state raising ground-lease rents for about 100 residential and farm tenants in Waiahole Valley, where tension exists over potential evictions. Star-Advertiser.

Waiawa residents advised of possible contamination from training site. Residents of Pearl City’s Waiawa Road area are demanding answers — and assistance — after learning that the National Guard and the state Department of Health are investigating the possibility that toxic chemicals from fire suppressant used years ago by firefighters at the Hawaii National Guard’s Waiawa Unit Training and Equipment Site may have seeped into their groundwater. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands gather to bid a fond farewell to Aloha Stadium. A new Aloha Stadium is scheduled to replace the old one at the same site in Halawa in 2027, according to the most recent estimate by state planners. The stands have been closed to the public since December 2020 due to high maintenance costs and lack of revenue amid COVID-19 restrictions. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News News. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

County outlines plan of action: Steps being taken in response to housing credits audit.  A spokesman for Mayor Mitch Roth said the mayor and the county’s Office of Housing and Community Development are working to correct deficiencies pointed out in an audit of its affordable housing credits program. Tribune-Herald.

Business owners voice concerns over proposed district. While testifiers acknowledged that downtown Hilo is in sore need of improvement, many were critical that the bill would put the onus of solving the town’s problems onto business and property owners instead of county administration. Tribune-Herald.

Public Invited To Give Input On New Library, Transit Hub In Pāhoa. There will be a number of opportunities for the public to give input on the future location of a new library and transit hub planned for Pāhoa. Big Island Video News.

‘We are running out of time’. Thousands of grams of pure fentanyl and over 15,000 pills containing the illicit drug have been recovered in West Hawaii over the past 15 months, police officers told County Council members this week. West Hawaii Today.


Work in watershed aims to curb ocean pollution downstream. Final Pohakea Watershed Plan gets green light. A watershed management plan that addresses the land, gulches and gullies that run from the West Maui Mountains to Maalaea Bay received final approval this week to support the next steps in protecting and restoring water quality in the area. Maui News.

State will bill owner $460K for cost of salvaging yacht from Honolua Bay.  The state has selected a contractor to remove the 94-foot-long yacht that remains grounded at Honolua Bay and will bill the owner for the $460,000 salvage cost. Maui News.

Defueling of luxury yacht on Maui complete, salvage work to begin.  The defueling of the grounded yacht on Maui was completed today, and the task of salvaging the vessel will begin Sunday. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.  Maui Now.


Can hydropower leave its plantation legacy behind on Kauaʻi?  The Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative is pursuing a multi-year lease for a new hydropower plant on the Waimea River, called the West Kauaʻi Energy Project. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kaua‘i home sales tumble in January.  A confluence of reluctant homebuyers and soft inventory levels led to a rough start to the new year for the County of Kaua‘i housing market. Garden Island.

Hundreds of parking tickets issued in Ha‘ena amid increased enforcement efforts. Last year, the Kaua‘i Police Department handed out more parking tickets on the North Shore alone than they issued on the entire island the year prior. Garden Island.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Pay transparency advances in Legislature, Clintons visit Big Island, Honolulu City Council passes shoreline setback bills, Kagawa elected to Kauai County Council, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Companies May Be Required To Disclose Pay In Job Ads. Senate Bill 1057 would require employers to list their hourly rates and salary rates on job listings. Civil Beat.

Former lawmaker Kaniela Ing prosecuted for missed deadline. Former state Rep. Kaniela Ing is in trouble again with the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, and this time he’s facing criminal prosecution and possible jail time for allegedly failing to file a mandatory campaign spending update on time. Star-Advertiser.

Rep. Gene Ward: ‘Reform Proposals Will Be Very Disappointing This Session’. The veteran GOP lawmaker thinks the one-party dominance of Democrats is a hindrance to efforts to bring more transparency to the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Preschool plan plagued by Hawaii’s teacher shortage.  Momentum is growing for Hawaii’s plan to create statewide access to preschool — but so are anxieties over how quality teachers for 465 new classrooms would be found amid a pervasive teacher shortage, as well as how private preschool providers would be able to attract more workers with higher salaries without pricing out tuition-paying families.  Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

After-school programs eye additional REACH dollars, in part to lower rates of juvenile drug use and crime. After-school programs could be getting a boost in funding after a bill unanimously passed the House Committee on Finance on Thursday. Tribune-Herald.


Honolulu City Council unanimously passes 2 bills to combat rising sea levels.
Bills 41 and 42 will increase the shoreline setback rules for new buildings. Hawaii News Now.

DOE Hopes A $35 Million Kitchen In Wahiawa Will Improve School Lunches
And Give Farmers A Boost. The DOE plans for a centralized kitchen concept but local advocates say it's better to increase cooking capacity at individual schools. Civil Beat.

Kamalani Academy Charter School Expected To Close In June After Commission Vote. Kamalani Academy, a public charter school in Wahiawa, is expected to permanently shut its doors by the end of June after the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission voted 5-1 Wednesday not to extend the school’s contract for several violations. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

National Guard to test Waiawa wells, spigots for ‘forever chemicals’.  The Army National Guard wants to test drinking water in parts of Waiawa for toxic PFAS “forever chemicals.” It’s investigating to see if residential water wells were contaminated from firefighting foam years ago. Hawaii News Now.

Pokai Bay Beach comfort station project to start.
The state will be working on improving the security to the comfort station (bathroom building) at Pokai Bay Beach Park. KHON2.

Rocky’s monk seal pup born on Waikīkī beach gives birth to her own pup Uʻi Mea Ola. On Jan. 28, 2023, Kaimana gave birth to the first pup of 2023 in the main Hawaiian Islands.  Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4

Hawaii Island

State seeks public feedback on proposed location for HVO.  Big Island residents are encouraged to provide feedback for a proposed new facility for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the University of Hilo campus. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Failing infrastructure threatens future of only hospital that serves West Hawaii. Leadership at Kona Community Hospital is asking the Legislature for nearly $19 million — money to fix utilities that are falling apart. Hawaii News Now.

Proposal to release wasp to fight CBB advances. The release of a parasitoid wasp from Africa to assist in the fight against the invasive coffee berry borer moved one step closer to taking place Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaiʻi Council Advances Animal Control & Protection Agency Bill. Bill 22 - which will create a new “Animal Control And Protection Agency” - passed first reading at the Hawaiʻi County Council on Wednesday. Big Island Video News.

Clintons attend blessing of new parish center on Hawaii Island. Former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton are in Hawaii. The Clintons attended the blessing of a new parish center at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Kailua-Kona. Hawaii News Now.

Merrie Monarch Ho’ike tickets on sale Sunday. Tickets for this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival Ho‘ike will go on sale at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium box office in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.


Military Contracts Honolulu Company To Clean Up Haleakala Fuel Spill. The military is still in the process of working to clean up 700 gallons of diesel spilled at the summit last month. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui Now. Maui News.

Maui Paves The Way For Organic Section At Kula Agricultural Park. The Maui County Council is setting aside 260-acres of the county's agricultural park for organic farming. Civil Beat.

Maui man accused in alleged $146M Ponzi scheme. A 25-year-old Wailuku man is accused of defrauding investors of more than $2 million through his role in a $146 million Ponzi scheme that took money from investors who thought they were buying futures in foreign currency or gold exchange rates, according to a federal civil enforcement action alleging fraud and misappropriation. Star-Advertiser.


Ross Kagawa fills in vacant Kauaʻi County Council seat.  After a trickle down of vacancies, the Kauaʻi County Council voted in former Councilmember Ross Kagawa to round out the seven-person body. Hawaii Public Radio. Kauai Now. Garden Island.

Hawaii Spent Decades Developing Community-Managed Fishing Areas. Lawmakers May Undo That. When overfishing badly depleted stocks off Kauai’s northwestern shore, subsistence fishermen and their families teamed with environmental regulators to draw up new rules designating Haena as Hawaii’s first Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area. Civil Beat.

Heavy rains cause 100,000 gallons of wastewater to spill at Kauai treatment plant
. The state Department of Health said heavy rains earlier this week caused thousands of gallons of wastewater to spill at the Poipu Water Reclamation Plant. Hawaii News Now.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Watson named Hawaiian Homes chief, Honolulu grapples with concealed carry laws, Air Force secretary visits Maui to apologize for Haleakala fuel spill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Green Appoints Developer Kali Watson To Lead DHHL. Gov. Josh Green appointed housing developer Kali Watson as the new chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and director of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, a post Watson held under former Gov. Ben Cayetano in the 1990s. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Plan to invest Hawaiian Home Lands funds in geothermal power plant draws scrutiny.  The Hawaiian Homes Commission is mulling a proposal to invest $2 million to develop a geothermal project on their lands using money that was appropriated to build homes. Hawaii News Now.

Better Background Checks Proposed For Certain State Employees. People applying for state jobs in Hawaii that put them in close proximity to minors and vulnerable adults would have to undergo more formal scrutiny, per a new bill being discussed in the Legislature.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii Tries To Ban Small Toiletry Bottles, Again. House Bill 85  proposes to rid the state of these tiny toiletry items and either put their contents them in a bulk container or in other holders not made of plastic. Civil Beat.

Vastly Expanded E-Bike Rebate Program May Be Coming To Hawaii. On Wednesday, the House advanced a bill that would grant all individuals over the age of 16 up to $500 of financial assistance for their purchase of an e-bike, electric moped or other micromobility device. Civil Beat.

Earthjustice files lawsuit to protect sea turtles, sharks, whales. Earthjustice filed suit today on behalf of the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and native Hawaiian cultural practitioner Mike Nakachi seeking protection of a host of threatened and endangered Pacific Ocean species from harm. Maui Now.

Animal advocate pleads not guilty to drug charges. A veteran lobbyist and animal advocate pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges that she allegedly used a Wisconsin veterinarian’s identity to import large quantities of opioids for a mobile clinic run by her nonprofit organization. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

GET exemption bills move forward. Two bills proposing an elimination of the general excise tax on providers who accept Medicaid, Medicare and TRICARE patients have progressed in the state House and Senate, offering a chance to slow the physician shortage in Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii hospitals at full capacity even with drop in COVID patients. The average number of patients with COVID-19 dropped to a new low over the past week, but hospitals in Hawaii are still bursting at the seams. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii COVID data not released due to system upgrade. The Hawaii Department of Health will not be releasing new COVID numbers for the state of Hawaii due to their ongoing upgrades to their disease surveillance system. KHON2.


City Measure To Restrict Concealed Guns In Some Areas Moves Ahead After Council Vote. A new conservative voting bloc emerged in the debate over concealed gun legislation at Honolulu City Council Wednesday, with three council members from the west side of the island voting against restrictions on concealed firearms and six others voting for the limitations. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Last Round Of Honolulu Covid Relief Money Released. With many Oahu residents continuing to struggle financially, the Honolulu City Council agreed Wednesday to distribute $25 million of the city’s dwindling federal pandemic relief funding to low-income families who have fallen behind on their rent and utility payments. Civil Beat.

Officials reveal plans to improve traffic, pedestrian safety. One week after 16-year-old Sara Yara was killed in a hit-and-run collision while walking to McKinley High School, city and state officials on Wednesday announced plans to improve driver and pedestrian safety near the campus. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

Council OKs first settlement in police chase that prompted felony probe. The Honolulu City Council approved a settlement Wednesday that gives $4.5 million to four passengers and their families for a crash that involved three HPD officers in September 2021. Hawaii News Now.

Man accused of bludgeoning HPD officer, stealing police vehicle indicted. The man accused of critically injuring a Honolulu police officer and stealing his vehicle in the Laie area has been indicted by an Oahu grand jury for first-degree attempted murder and other charges related to the mid-February incident. KITV4.

Judge: Miske Can Keep A Key Defense Attorney. Accused racketeering boss Michael J. Miske will retain at least one of his original criminal defense attorneys after a federal judge decisively rejected an attempt by federal prosecutors to disqualify Miske’s two lead counsels, Thomas Otake and Lynn Panagakos, due to alleged legal conflicts of interest. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Group: Cost to convert cesspools on Big Island would be exorbitant. The state is about $1 billion short of the funds needed to convert more than 80,000 cesspools into something more environmentally friendly. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Prison Guard Fired For His Role In An Inmate Beating Is Ordered Reinstated. The state has been ordered to reinstate a former Hilo corrections sergeant and pay him more than six years of back wages even after the officer was convicted and sentenced to federal prison for the brutal beating of a Hilo jail inmate. Civil Beat.

Long-awaited public library for Waikōloa is one step closer to becoming a reality. Today, after years of the community looking at different sites and discussing plans to make that dream become reality, the Hawai’i County Council is expected to approve a measure that will finally open the next chapter in the effort to construct a new public library in Waikōloa. Big Island Now.

Staging area for Kilauea Avenue work to eventually become parking lot. The Hawaii County Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments are collaborating on a project on the corner of Ponahawai Street and Kilauea Avenue in downtown Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Military looking into reports of large balloon off Hawaii. The Federal Aviation Administration notified pilots over the weekend of a sighting of a large white balloon roughly 600 miles east of Hawaii at an altitude of 40,000 to 50,000 feet. Star-Advertiser.


Pentagon official embarrassed by Haleakalā fuel spill on Maui; contract secured for excavation. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall flew in from the Pentagon to speak at a Maui press conference held at the spill site within the Maui Space Surveillance Complex on Wednesday afternoon. Maui Now.

Council committee advances 7 appointed directors. Working quickly, a Maui County Council committee on Tuesday vetted and recommended for approval seven county department heads appointed by Mayor Richard Bissen Jr. Maui News.

Helicopter to begin defueling of luxury yacht that ran aground off Maui. The dirt road near Lipoa Point off Maui’s Honoapiilani Highway will be closed starting Thursday morning to allow a helicopter to lift barrels of fuel from a 94-foot luxury yacht that ran aground Monday over the dirt road and onto dry land where they can be transported offsite. Star-Advertiser. Maui News.  KITV4.

Maui County leads Hawaiʻi Hotel Performance Report in January 2023.
The data was compiled in the Hawai‘i Hotel Performance Report published by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Maui Now.


High levels of fecal bacteria found in Kaua‘i streams, surfs. Environmental organization Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Blue Water Task Force found potentially dangerous amounts of bacteria in several of Kaua‘i’s most used streams and surf spots this week, suggesting high levels of fecal contamination. Garden Island.

Public input sought on Kapa‘a road project. The public is invited to share ideas to improve the safety and accessibility of Kawaihau Road by identifying potential road improvements along the Kawaihau Road corridor – between Hau‘a‘ala Road and Ka‘apuni Road. Kauai Now.

Passenger count hits new high in January. The number of passengers getting off domestic plane flights at Lihu‘e Airport last month was the best to begin an annual period at the transportation facility. Garden Island.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Breaking up statewide school district again under scrutiny, Green faces more heat over appointees, Maui hospital workers go on strike, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Decades-Old Debate Over Breaking Up Hawaii’s Statewide School System. Hawaii is the only state to have a single school district and no local school boards — a holdover from the plantation-era that places many major decisions about education in the hands of a state board made up of volunteers.  Civil Beat.

Ruling on confirmations could draw political heat. Gov. Josh Green’s appointee for state attorney general has informed state Senate President Ron Kouchi that she agrees with a previous attorney general’s opinion that seven deputy directors of state agencies — including her own — do not have to undergo Senate confirmation. Star-Advertiser.

Anderson Can Remain Interim DHHL Chair, AG’s Office Says. Ikaika Anderson can stay on as interim director until the end of the legislative session in May or until Green appoints a replacement, Deputy Attorney General Ryan Kanaka‘ole told the Hawaiian Homes Commission Tuesday morning. Civil Beat.

Bills and proposals start to dwindle as Legislature hits deadline. With about two-thirds of the legislative session left to go, state lawmakers have whittled down thousands of bills. Hawaii Public Radio.

Local emergency dispatchers seek official 'first responder' title and union rights. During this legislative session, communication dispatchers are advocating for two bills. One, Senate Bill 1059, would add dispatchers to the state's definition of what a first responder is.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Car Insurance Would Cost More Under Legislation Pushed By Trial Lawyers. If passed, it would be the first increase in state-mandated minimum liability coverage since 1998. State lawmakers are seriously considering bills this year to require Hawaii motorists to buy more car insurance, a step the insurance industry warns will be “regressive” because it would impose additional costs on low-income residents. Civil Beat.

Measure would allow exonerees to file suit while also collecting wrongful conviction payout. The exoneration of Albert Ian Schweitzer in the Dana Ireland murder case is prompting lawmakers to change part of a law providing compensation to those wrongfully convicted. Hawaii News Now.

Mazie Hirono seeks reelection to U.S. Senate.  Hirono previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, the state Legislature and as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Garden Island.

State climate commission supports governor's climate fund. The Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission has thrown its support behind Gov. Josh Green's plan to create a $100 million climate fund. Hawaii Public Radio.


Vacation Rentals Are In The Hawaii Legislature’s Crosshairs. Rep. Daniel Holt and a handful of House members are spearheading efforts this year to rid Oahu of short-term rentals all together in an effort to try to slow the rising price of homes. Civil Beat.

Dillingham businesses hindered by the path to rail line’s terminus. Amid rail-related construction work on busy Dillingham Boulevard ramping up, some area businesses are grappling with plummeting customer foot traffic. Star-Advertiser.

Police chief urges safety after ‘rough’ week on Oahu roads.  After a week in which two police officers were critically injured in separate traffic-­related incidents and a 16-year-old girl was killed in an alleged hit-and-run while on her way to school, Honolulu Police Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan on Tuesday called for the community’s help to keep Oahu safe. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

On Hawaii Island, a desperate request to house traveling nurses key to patient care. A lack of affordable housing is hampering Kona Community Hospital’s ability to plug critical staffing shortages ― and prompting officials to think outside of the box to address the crisis. Hawaii News Now.

UH provides guidance on burial site preservation. The University of Hawaii has provided guidance for preserving a Native Hawaiian burial site in Puna near UH land after multiple incidents in which the graves were desecrated. Tribune-Herald.

Former Kona Seaside Hotel to reopen April 1 as Pacific 19 Kona.
Nine Brains Big Island LLC obtained the lease for the Kona Seaside Hotel last year and has been remodeling the 122-room hotel with an anticipated April 1 opening day. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now.


Judge: West Maui Developer Broke The Law When Digging Up County Road. Second Circuit Judge Kirstin Hamman recently ruled that development companies broke the law when they tore through an old roadway in West Maui while trenching a water line, a project that fueled fierce protests from community members and had previously struck a burial site. Civil Beat.

Workers at three Maui County hospitals reject offer, will strike today. United Public Workers members rejected Maui Health’s “last, best and final offer” and will go on strike at three Maui County hospitals beginning at 6 a.m. Wednesday. Maui News. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Grounded yacht accidentally pumped fuel into Honolua Bay, owner says. An effort to remove the 94-foot luxury yacht that ran aground Monday on the reef at Honolua Bay during high tide failed this morning and accidentally pumped diesel into the water, according to owner Jim Jones.  Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Maui News.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.


County exploring solutions to manage waste as landfill approaches maximum capacity.  As the County of Kauai‘s only landfill approaches maximum capacity, plans for a solution are still uncertain. Garden Island.

Luke Evslin sworn in as new Kaua‘i representative. New Kaua‘i state Rep. Luke Evslin took his seat in House chambers for the first time on Tuesday, joining the largest freshman class of representatives in 28 years. Garden Island. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Hirono to seek 3rd Senate term, Honolulu fined for lack of PPE at gun range, rats and mold at Big Island school, luxury yacht runs aground on Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2023 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono will officially announce today she’s running for reelection in 2024, according to a campaign spokesperson. Hirono, 75, will be seeking her third consecutive six-year term in the Senate. Civil Beat.

Should Hawaii’s Legislature Meet Year-Round?
Supporters believe the idea could increase transparency, but restrictions on employment have met with pushback. Civil Beat.

Bills address Native Hawaiians, harassment of fishermen, community-based subsistence areas. A school of bills that would update fishing policies in Hawaii are rocking the boat for many fishermen. Tribune-Herald.

Various measures propose ways to address Hawaii’s educator shortage. At the start of the school year, the state Department of Education was short 736 teachers. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii timeshare occupancy back to pre-pandemic levels. The average timeshare occupancy rate reached 92.7% during the third quarter of 2022, when statewide timeshare occupancy for the first time exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to technology firm STR data reported by the state Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Fentanyl Test Strips May Soon Become Legal In Hawaii. Hawaii would join others states in making fentanyl test strips legal and widely available if either of two measures moving quickly through the Legislature goes on to become law. Civil Beat.


City fined after investigation revealed it didn’t provide gun range staff with proper PPE. The city of Honolulu has been fined thousands of dollars after a worker safety investigation revealed staff at Oahu’s only public gun range weren’t supplied with or required to wear proper personal protective equipment while cleaning the facility. Hawaii News Now.

In wake of fatal crashes, Hawaii lawmakers want crackdown on unlicensed drivers. Years ago, to reduce the backlog at traffic court, the state decriminalized most traffic offenses, but driving without a license remains a crime that usually forces unlicensed drivers to come to court. Hawaii News Now.

New TSA checkpoint will streamline interisland passengers at Honolulu airport. The makai checkpoint in Terminal 1 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will add four screening lanes — bringing the total to 10 lanes. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity prepares to close ReStore. Honolulu Habitat for Humanity is preparing to bid aloha to its ReStore shop in Palama. The warehouse store that sells donated goods is set to close March 18 so the nonprofit can focus entirely on building affordable housing. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Big Island school in ‘crisis’ with mold, rats, says teachers union. Years of worsening problems with mold, rats, termites, structural damage and other health and safety issues have reached a “crisis” level at Holualoa Elementary School on Hawaii island, educators and parents say, and the state teachers union is calling for more transparency and immediate increased help from the state. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

US military confirms reports of balloon that supposedly flew over Hawai‘i. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command not saying much. No one knows for sure right now, but sightings have been reported and there’s been enough chatter that it spurred the National Weather Service to forecast a possible track for the unidentified object. Big Island Now. Kauai Now.

Weather pattern dumps record rainfall on Hilo; wet conditions to linger. Through Sunday, Hilo had recorded 28.32 inches so far this month, almost three times the average rainfall of 10.22 inches the airport normally receives for all of February. Tribune-Herald.


Luxury yacht runs aground in Honolua Bay on Maui. A 94-foot Sunseeker luxury yacht ran aground in Honolua Bay on Maui Monday morning after its mooring line snapped, sparking outrage on social media over the boat’s potential damage to the marine environment. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

In Maui County, 36% of energy was generated by renewables last year.  Aided by new grid-scale and rooftop solar capacity, Hawaiian Electric achieved a 32 percent consolidated renewable portfolio standard — 36 percent in Maui County — in 2022 using a new calculation signed into law last year.  Maui News.


Kaua‘i County Council to fill vacant seat. With newly appointed state Rep. Luke Evslin heading to O‘ahu, the remaining six members of the Kaua‘i County Council now must select a replacement to fill his vacant seat. Garden Island.

Lawmakers against axing paper ballot audits. Kaua‘i County Council members recently approved a resolution opposing two bills that propose to eliminate paper ballot audit requirements in Hawai‘i elections. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i towns first to be fully fiber enabled.  Hawaiian Telcom announced on Thursday that Kealia with ZIP code 96751, and Lawa‘i with ZIP code 96765 on Kaua‘i are the first two ZIP codes in the state that Hawaiian Telcom has completely enabled with fiber. Garden Island.

Monday, February 20, 2023

UH-Senate power struggle intensifies, large white balloon heads for Big Island, striking Kaiser employees ratify contract, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Divide over University of Hawaii’s autonomy deepens. Less than a minute into one of the first University of Hawaii briefings of the year before state Sens. Donna Mercado Kim, Donovan Dela Cruz and others, it was already shaping up to be yet another showdown in a long-running and often bitter divide over who calls the shots for the state’s massive public university system. Star-Advertiser.

Abercrombie outburst highlights tensions with Gov. Green nominees. Gov. Josh Green has urged state senators to treat his Cabinet nominees with courtesy and respect, but some senators say it goes both ways after one was called an “idiot” by no less than former Gov. Neil Abercrombie at this week’s confirmation hearing for Ikaika Anderson. Star-Advertiser.

House Judiciary Chair David Tarnas Is A ‘Gatekeeper’ For Sunshine Bills.
Tarnas has already raised some hackles by deferring bills in his committee without debate or votes by committee members. That’s within a committee chair’s purview, but still, it rankles some. Civil Beat.

Gov. Josh Green requests additional $2.5B for state budget. Gov. Josh Green has pumped up his state spending request for the next two fiscal years by almost $2.5 billion, updating a plan released in December that was largely prepared by his predecessor. Star-Advertiser.

House bill would outlaw gender pay disparity in Hawaii. Employers across Hawaii would have to disclose pay ranges to employees and job applicants in an effort to eliminate gender and other wage discrimination under House Bill 745. Star-Advertiser.

Bill to increase conveyance tax on homes will potentially fund homeless services.
A senate bill to significantly increase the conveyance tax for multimillion dollar homes in Hawaii was shut down last week. However, a similar one is now alive on the house side. KITV4.

State coordinator position would handle homelessness on DLNR land. House Bill 1254 and Senate Bill 1144 would appropriate the proper funds needed to put a coordinator in charge of organizing and responding to houseless individuals on lands regulated by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Lobbyist Charged With Vet Clinic Drug Violations. An indictment says Alicia Maluafiti obtained drugs using a veterinarian's credentials, but the political insider says she didn't know it was improper. Civil Beat.

Bills propose lowering drunken driving threshold to 0.05%. In an effort to discourage drunken driving and reduce traffic fatalities, advocates are pushing legislation that would lower the alcohol impairment threshold for Hawaii drivers. Star-Advertiser.

Bill to legalize marijuana rolls through first joint committee, lined up for another. Senate Bill 375 would allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis. Hawaii Public Radio. Garden Island.

Plans To Expand Hawaiian Language Studies In Schools Stall. Most educators, parents and teachers approve of broader access to olelo Hawaii learning while acknowledging the challenges around implementation. Civil Beat.

Climate warning labels sought for self-service gas stations. Hawaii SB 506 would require retail self-service stations to put labels on gas-dispensing equipment advising consumers of the effects of fossil fuel consumption on human health and the environment. Star-Advertiser.

New chief energy officer seeks partnerships at home and offshore.  Mark Glick has yet to be confirmed by the Hawai'i State Senate as Chief Energy Officer, but he's wasting no time in getting down to business.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Tech firm aims to step up engagement in Hawaii. As military leaders look at potential vulnerability to hacking and spying operations, they’re looking to companies like Booz Allen — one of the military’s top contractors for tech and intelligence — to support the Pentagon’s buildup of forces in the region.  Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Kaiser therapists ratify contract, ending long strike. Therapists employed by Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii — members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers — voted overwhelmingly Saturday to ratify a new contract ending a nearly six-month strike that the union says is the longest work stoppage by mental health care workers in U.S. history. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. KITV4.

Green requests $45M to reimburse physicians who treat Medicaid patients. In an attempt to address the physician shortage in Hawaii, Gov. Josh Green has asked the state Legislature to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates. Tribune-Herald.

‘Sweet Lies’ campaign takes aim at sugar-laden fruit drinks. The state Department of Health has launched its first campaign taking aim at the beverage industry’s marketing of sweetened fruit drinks to keiki. Star-Advertiser.


Suspect in fatal hit-and-run has no driver’s license, 164 citations. The 45-year-old man arrested in connection with the hit-and-run incident that killed a McKinley High School student has no driver’s license and 164 prior traffic citations, according to state court records. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Probe ongoing in 10 likely felony charges against officers. Only five of the 24 officers named in the Honolulu Police Department’s 2022 disciplinary report as facing possible criminal prosecution between 2017 and 2022 have been charged, according to a review of state court records. Star-Advertiser.

Vice Adm. John Wade is face of Navy’s Red Hill response. The officer the Pentagon has tasked with overseeing the defueling of the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility has for Hawaii residents in many ways become the face of the Navy. Star-Advertiser.

Waikiki beach campers move officials to establish closure period. The Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association is implementing a three-hour closure period from 2 to 5 a.m. daily for the Royal Hawaiian Beach to address a range of problems associated with overnight campers. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Big Island gun case tests high court ruling. A Hilo judge on Monday dismissed three firearms-related charges against a 27-year-old Kurtistown man on the grounds that they violated his right to carry a firearm for self-defense under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County to use VW settlement funds to purchase island’s first battery electric buses.  The five, 35-foot buses will be acquired using money the county received from the 2016 Volkswagen settlement combined with its portion of a federal Low or No Emissions Vehicle grant the state received in 2022 totaling over $23 million. West Hawaii Today.

Officials break ground on new senior housing center. After more than a decade of preparation, advocates for military veterans finally broke ground Friday on what will become the state’s only veteran-focused senior living center. Tribune-Herald.

Pilots notified of large white balloon sighting; model shows a course over Big Island. On Sunday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration began notifying pilots of a sighting of a large white ballon traveling at between 40,000 and 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean and a few hundred miles east of the Hawaiian Islands, according to multiple aviation reports. Big Island Now.

Pond restoration efforts bring nene, other birds back to Keaukaha. Kumiko and Patrick Mattison have turned a passion project into the ‘Aina Ho‘ola Initiative, a restoration project for the estuarine wetlands and fish ponds of Lokowaka, Ki‘onakapahu and ‘Akahi in Keaukaha. Tribune-Herald.


Sugimura named council vice chairperson, Kama takes pro tempore role. Yuki Lei Sugimura was elected vice chairperson of the Maui County Council on Friday, while Tasha Kama was chosen as presiding officer pro tempore, solidifying the council’s top leadership more than a month into the term. Maui News.

Council passes bill to implement organic standards and regulations at Kula Ag Park.
The council passed a bill Friday that reserves the Kula Agricultural Park Phase 1 Expansion area for practices that comply with the National Organic Standards Act. Maui Now.

Land trust dreams of a flourishing Kahanui wetland. Restoring the Kahanui wetland to what it once was, flourishing as a food production system and wildlife habitat, is at the heart of a proposed project on Molokai. Maui News.


Evslin Leaves ‘Big Hole’ On Kauai Council As He Moves To State House. Evslin distinguished himself on the council with his down-to-earth demeanor and passion for policy minutiae. Supporters describe him as an intelligent and meticulous politician with a progressive agenda who is both engaged and accessible to constituents. Civil Beat.

Prosecutors to go to jail (to see conditions firsthand). More than 65 elected prosecutors including Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like have pledged to visit local correctional facilities to get a better understanding of conditions and implications of incarceration. Garden Island.

New Kauai Drug Camp Treats At-Risk Teens Like Family — Not Patients. A scrappy grassroots group is finding success through a program that features strength conditioning, outdoor adventure and the healing power of forgiveness. Civil Beat.

Friday, February 17, 2023

State mulls reclaiming military lease land, cannabis bills advance, first segment of Honolulu rail could open soon, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2023 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Proposed task force would plan environmental restoration of former military land. A proposal to establish a Surplus Military Land Task Force is making its way through the state Legislature. Senate Bill 521 would help the state determine and plan for the future use of land currently under military lease. Hawaii Public Radio.

Cannabis bills move forward despite mixed signals from Green’s team. Gov. Josh Green says he supports legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and older, but his newly installed department heads haven’t backed two bills advanced by the Senate on Thursday that would accomplish that goal. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.

Attorneys volunteering to help TMT, Kahuku wind turbine protesters clear arrest records. About 250 people were arrested during non-violent protests involving Native Hawaiian issues over recent years, such as the movements to stop the construction of telescopes on Mauna Kea and Haleakala, as well as protests against erecting wind turbines in Kahuku and development at Hunananiho in Waimanalo. KITV4.

Reverse Vending Machines Proposed In Hawaii Legislature. A pilot program to encourage the machines, House Bill 1410, is being discussed as a way to improve the state’s current redemption rate of 60%. The goal is to raise the percentage of eligible containers being redeemed at redemption centers.  Civil Beat.

Bill at state legislature would ban disposable wipes in all of Hawaii.  The purpose of House Bill 268 is to protect the plumbing. If passed, it would prohibit the sale or distribution of disposable wipes in the state. KITV4.

Kaiser reaches tentative deal with striking mental health workers. If ratified by union members, it will end a nearly six-month strike that the union says is the longest work stoppage by mental health care workers in U.S. history. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

An Arizona Jury Fails To Agree On Death Sentence For A Hawaii Inmate. An Arizona jury has been dismissed after the jurors reported they could not reach a unanimous decision on whether a Hawaii prisoner should be executed for a 2010 murder in that state. Civil Beat.


The Honolulu City Council Members Are More Like You Than You Might Think. Earning $69,000 a year means even the Honolulu City Council feels pressed by high housing costs and taxes. Civil Beat.

Some HART leaders see Ala Moana Center and UH as end points.  Despite budget constraints, some at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation expressed their desire this week to see the rail project extended to its original end point of Ala Moana Center — and, if future funding were to become available, see the line move closer to the campus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Kakaako Makai bill advances.  The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs succeeded in advancing a bill to permit residential development on 31 acres it owns in Kakaako Makai past a pair of Senate committees Thursday after a contentious public hearing last week. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

UH President Gives Maunakea Chemical Spill Update. At a Thursday Board of Regents meeting, President David Lassner talked about the recent coolant leak at the UH 88-inch observatory.  Big Island Video News.

New playground equipment for Waikōloa Village park sits in storage container for months. Since late September, new playground equipment for Pu‘u Nui Park in Waikōloa Village has been sitting in a locked 40-foot Matson storage container taking up a big chunk of the parking lot. When it will be installed, nobody knows. Big Island Now.

‘Forever in our hearts’: Kona icon Norman Sakata dies at 96. West Hawaii mourned the passing of a local icon this week at the news of the passing of Norman Sakata, founder of the Kona Coffee Festival, Lions Club member and scoutmaster.  West Hawaii Today.


500 UPW workers vote to strike in dispute over pay; Maui Health hopes for agreement. Nearly 500 frontline healthcare workers at Kaiser’s Maui Health System have voted to strike in a dispute over pay, but Maui Health is hopes an agreement can still be reached.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

The median sales price for a Maui County home is only one in state to top $1 million.
  Although some counties saw a drop in home prices at the start of the new year, Maui County was the only one in the state to exceed a $1 million median for single-family homes. Maui Now.


Anahola students call for statewide Hawaiian Honeycreeper Day. A class of fourth grade students in Anahola are campaigning for members of Hawai‘i’s Legislature to create a statewide day recognizing and celebrating Hawai‘i’s threatened and endangered honeycreepers. Garden Island.

Missing romance novelist, actress traced to Kaua’i after leaving Wyoming jail. Romance novelist and actress Faleena Hopkins — who wrote the “Cocker Brothers” and “Werewolves of New York” series and starred in the 2020 drama “Just One More Kiss” — went missing 16 days ago and now Wyoming police officers believe she is on Kaua’i after tracing pings of her new phone to the island. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.