Thursday, February 2, 2023

Honolulu settles Kealoha corruption lawsuit for $2.85M, lawmakers may limit campaign contributions during legislative session, bills seek to rehire employees who bucked COVID protocols, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Lawmakers May Limit Their Own Political Fundraising. Last year, legislators banned fundraising events during legislative session. This time, they may ban campaign donations during sessions. Civil Beat.

Is Hawaii Government Effective? It’s Hard To Tell. Are we growing more of our own food? Is the state reducing the number of applicants on the Hawaiian Home Lands waitlist? Are we rehabilitating more inmates and reducing jail overcrowding? It’s hard to find measurable, objective data that would sufficiently answer all of these questions and the dozens of others facing policymakers in Hawaii even though state agencies are required to report on their “measures of effectiveness” every year in mandatory variance reports. Civil Beat.

Lawmaker apologizes for comparing housing chief to the devil, but doubles down on DHHL criticism. Two days after Gov. Josh Green accused state Sen. Kurt Fevella of harassing his staff, the Ewa Beach lawmaker is apologizing. But he isn’t backing down from his criticisms of the Green Administration’s housing plans for Hawaiians. Hawaii News Now.

Bills call for rehiring state workers who defied vaccine mandate. Two bills introduced by Republican legislators would require state agencies to rehire and give back pay to employees who resigned or were terminated for refusing to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19. Star-Advertiser.

Bill adding a teacher to the state Board of Education advances.
House Bill 556 proposes adding a teacher and a school administrator representative on the state Board of Education — both in nonvoting capacities. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawai‘i Environmental Legislative Caucus introduces visitor ‘green fee’ bill. The state Legislature’s Environmental Legislative Caucus has introduced a bill that could create more than $400 million in annual funds for environmental protections by charging visitors entrance fees for visiting certain state recreational sites. Garden Island. KHON2.

Bill seeks lifeguards for tour boats. A bill that would require certified lifeguards on boats that take tourists onto the water for snorkeling and other activities is again making its way through the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

Law would stop vendors from prematurely setting up shop on the beach. Senate Bill 67 would prohibit resort and commercial vendors from setting up equipment on public beaches or public land, unless a customer is present. This would be for items such as rented beach chairs, umbrellas, surfboards, kayaks and non-motorized water equipment. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers seek solution for Hawaiian burial sites at risk of coastal erosion. Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering a bill that would strengthen protections of Hawaiian burials or iwi along the islands’ coastlines. Hawaii Public Radio.

Discussion stresses importance of limiting light pollution. Environmental and astronomical experts are urging residents throughout the state to reduce outdoor lighting in order to prevent the spread of light pollution. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii COVID-19 positivity rate at 4.7%; 11 more deaths recorded.
The Hawaii Department of Health on Wednesday reported 766 new COVID-19 infections over the past week, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 377,743. Star-Advertiser.


$2.85M settlement with city reached in Puana lawsuit. $2.85M settlement with city reached in Puana lawsuit. The City and County of Honolulu has settled a civil lawsuit with Gerard Puana, the victim of the Kealoha corruption and bribery scandal, in the amount of $2.85 million. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

House reestablishes Red Hill working group amid continuous concern. The state House of Representatives has reestablished a House Special Committee on Red Hill this session. Hawaii Public Radio.

A public charter school on UH land “caught off guard” about possibly having to move. The principal at the University Lab School says their relationship with the University of Hawaii dates back all the way to the 1930s. Still, a recent comment by UH President David Lassner is alarming some parents and teachers who are wondering if that relationship will continue. Hawaii News Now.

Anti-crime programs need time to work, Honolulu prosecutor says. Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm confirmed Wednesday that his office continues its anti­-crime efforts, albeit slowly, in known trouble spots like Waikiki, Chinatown and even into the Leeward areas of Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

In wake of Memphis case, commission grills HPD chief about slow discipline for officers accused of wrongdoing. HPD Chief Joe Logan said Wednesday he doesn’t have the power to immediately discharge a police officer, which raised even more questions about police discipline at a Honolulu Police Commission meeting Wednesday afternoon. Hawaii News Now.

22 Honolulu police officers disciplined in 2022. Twenty-two police officers were disciplined last year in connection with 14 incidents including covering up a cellblock beating, and failing to report a barricade incident before fatally shooting the suspect, according to the Honolulu Police Department’s annual report to the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

1,700 Oahu parking meters now accepting payment via phone app. About 1,700 parking meters on Oahu have been configured to accept parking payments via a phone app, the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services announced. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

‘It’s Ridiculous’: Public Grows Frustrated By Lack Of Fresh Water At Popular Big Island Beach. DLNR has tried to fix the waterline at least 40 times over the past four years at Hapuna Beach. Civil Beat.

National Park Superintendent John Broward Retires. Broward was Superintendent of Kaloko-Honokōhau and Puʻuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, as well as a former Chief Law Enforcement Ranger for HVNP. Big Island Video News.


Shift in council power changes committee roles. With the new dynamics on the Maui County Council that put the “progressive” members in the minority, high-profile council committees such as budget and affordable housing once held by the progressives are now under new leadership. Maui News.

Council to consider resolution protecting traditional and indigenous birth attendant practices.
The council will consider Resolution 23-38 at its meeting on Friday, urging the State Legislature to enact a statute permanently exempting birth attendants from state licensure requirements, Council member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez announced. Maui Now.

Two Maui County lawmakers named to panel overseeing $600M in DHHL funds. Central Maui Rep. Troy Hashimoto will chair a working group tasked with oversight of the $600 million provided to the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to address its beneficiary waiting list. Maui News.

Some appear to be flouting new rules for commercial bike tours on Maui. New rules started Wednesday to limit Maui’s famous cycling tours down Haleakala. Hawaii News Now.


Kaua‘i county council chair Rapozo calls for simpler tax code. After a four-hour county Finance Department presentation before the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday, Council Chair Mel Rapozo called for a streamlining of the tax system. Garden Island.

Marine debris contributed to death of sperm whale found at Lydgate Beach on Kaua’i. Researchers at the Health and Stranding Lab spent 15-hours trying to find clues about the death of a 56-foot-long sperm whale that washed up Friday on the reef in front of Lydgate Park on Kaua’i. Kauai Now. KITV4.

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