Thursday, June 1, 2023

Abercrombie appointed to UH Board of Regents, more state Senate shenanigans, federal judge skeptical of defense arguments in Honolulu conspiracy case, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Former Gov. Abercrombie among interim UH regent appointees. The inclusion of outspoken former Gov. Neil Abercrombie among three people appointed to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents is seen by observers as bearing potential to cause at least some shift in the measured culture of the board, and in the university’s fractured relationship with some state senators. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Big Island Now.

How A Few Hawaii Senators Conspired To Get Rid Of An Agency Board Member Who Was In The Way. Vassilis Syrmos’ position as a director of the quasi-independent Hawaii Technology Development Corp. was supposed to be free from politics. But that didn’t stop a clique of lawmakers led by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz from mounting a secretive, 11th-hour campaign to get rid of Syrmos, a University of Hawaii vice president who has openly questioned a project in Dela Cruz’s district. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Is Clamping Down On Unlicensed Care Homes. State officials have grown increasingly concerned about the facilities, with 89 investigations already underway. Civil Beat.

Lawmaker calls for audit of Hawaii film office amid local hiring feud. A state senator is calling for an audit of the Hawaii State Film Office in a feud over whether the office is doing enough to promote the hiring of local workers in film and television productions. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Free summer meals for keiki offered at 86 public schools. Eighty-six public schools across the state will offer free meals during part of the summer to children ages 18 years and younger, regardless of their public school enrollment status, the state Department of Education has announced. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  KHON2.

Current cesspool conversion program still not enough to wipe out waste problem. The current pilot program only had $5 million available to homeowners. If the state were to expand it so that 3,000 cesspools could be upgraded each year, it would cost Hawaii $61 million every year for the next 27 years - or a total of more than $1.6 Billion for cesspool conversions. KITV4.

Teamsters to strike Hawaii Gas over contract impasse
. Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers, Local 996, which represents 217 members across the state, said in a letter that a strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and continue until an agreement between both parties is reached. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.


Arguments To Dismiss Honolulu Conspiracy Case Met With Skepticism.  On Wednesday, lawyers for three former Honolulu officials tried to convince the judge the federal conspiracy charges against their clients should be dismissed.  Former Honolulu attorney Donna Leong, former Honolulu Police Commission chair Max Sword and former managing director Roy Amemiya are accused of setting up ex-police chief Louis Kealoha’s $250,000 severance agreement without Honolulu City Council approval and trying to keep the deal quiet.  Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu rail system is ‘ready to go’ June 30.  Rail trains are running, cracked “hammerhead” station supports are fixed and reinforced and passenger service is scheduled to begin June 30, including a four-hour window on that Friday when anyone can ride and experience the country’s first fully automated rail system for free. Star-Advertiser.

Navy wants to remove 3 pipelines at Red Hill fuel facility.  The Navy announced Wednesday it wants to dismantle the pipelines connecting the massive fuel tanks at its underground Red Hill facility to Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

Bed bugs at Honolulu’s airport trigger deep cleaning, gate closures.
Deep cleaning is underway at several Honolulu airport gates after bed bugs were reported. State Transportation Director Ed Sniffen said his agency got reports of the bugs in one of the E Gates in Terminal 2 on Monday. Hawaii News Now.

Public outcry over crime heard in Maili meeting.
A public meeting to address illegal game rooms and cockfighting on Oahu’s west side on Wednesday was marked by emotional public input, allegations of public corruption and pleas to end the proliferation of guns in the community. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

DLNR: 50 to 60 coral colonies damaged by cinder blocks used for canoe regatta. Sixty-pound cinder blocks placed in the ocean for a Hawaii Island canoe regatta last weekend caused damage to approximately 50 to 60 coral colonies in Kailua Bay, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  KHON2.

Setbacks for ramp, seawall: Funding pulled for Laupahoehoe project. Shifting funding priorities and the harrows of nature have pushed repairs for the Laupahoehoe Boat Ramp and seawall further into the future. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Roth’s town hall series begins in West Hawai’i; issues include vacation rentals, homelessness, feral cats, pickleball. On Tuesday evening in South Kona, Hawai’i County Mayor Mitch Roth heard an earful during his first town hall in a new series of community meetings across the island aimed at providing updates and fostering engagement with residents. Big Island Now.


Maui County Council to inventory unused funds from construction projects. Budget committee members are looking at an inventory of projects with lapse dates of 2018 or older. That amounts to about $28 million in past funding. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Lauded Summer Food Program Has Restarted But Rural Kids Could Miss Out Due To USDA Rules. Demographic shifts mean that all of Maui County is excluded from a federal program meant to benefit kids in rural communities. Civil Beat.

Another potential roadblock for decade-long effort to safely open a new Kihei high school. Kulanihakoi High School in Kihei hopes to welcome its first students this fall – if it can get through all the red tape. Hawaii News Now.

Resident input sought on county parks and recreation facilities.
Starting Thursday, Maui County households will be randomly offered an invitation to complete a survey, which will help guide the Department of Parks and Recreation in managing and developing parks, facilities and recreation programs, the county said.  Maui News.


Kauai residents seek state’s help to preserve affordable housing. Residents at a Kauai housing project are asking for the state’s help to keep their apartments affordable. They say the owner of the Courtyards at Waipouli Apartments plans to sell the 82-unit Kapaa complex to a private developer, and they’re asking the state for funding to keep rents at affordable levels. Hawaii News Now.

Kaua‘i County Council passes resolution supporting public access of Coco Palms lands. The Kaua‘i County Council approved in a 4-2 vote on Wednesday a resolution urging the state Board of Land and Natural Resources to prioritize public access for disputed land surrounding the derelict Coco Palms Resort after nearly failing to come to a decision for the second time in two weeks. Garden Island.

Youth football equipment shed burns down in Kauai, causes $200K in damage. Kauai police are investigating after a storage shed containing youth football equipment went up in flames early Wednesday morning in Kapa’a. Hawaii News Now.

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