Monday, June 12, 2023

Hawaii scores low in Kids Count report, ag grants go looking for farmers, Teamsters strike closing restaurants, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii is 44th in nation for keiki economic well-being. Hawaii’s astronomical costs for child care and preschool are a major reason the economic well-being of keiki here has worsened comparatively, pushing the state down from 35th place to a dismal 44th among the 50 states on that measure in the latest annual Kids Count Data Book report. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Farmers Could Use Some Help Landing Grants That Would Boost Farm Operations.
Nonprofits have stepped in to help with grant writing but the state agriculture department has been slow to take advantage of available pots of money. Civil Beat.

Green signs bill to improve aid-in-dying law.  As of June 1, it is easier for terminally ill patients to obtain prescription medication to end their suffering.  Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Has Been ‘Sweeping’ Homeless From Public Lands For More Than 100 Years. The term "homeless sweep" doesn't appear in Hawaii newspapers until the early 2000s, but officials have been ordering large-scale homeless enforcements since at least 1901. Civil Beat.

Hawaii unemployment fund experiencing ‘painful’ growth. Hawaii’s unemployment insurance fund is more than two-thirds of the way back up to adequacy after depletion during COVID-19’s economic shock in 2020, but the recovery is causing pain at an inopportune time for businesses paying into the fund. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii insurers could face more scrutiny over executive pay.  State lawmakers say they may seek a legislative fix to ensure the state’s nonprofit health insurers, which enjoy generous tax breaks, disclose the compensation of their top executives and board members following a decision by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs in April that effectively allows some insurers to keep the information secret. Star-Advertiser.

Talks resume in Hawaii Gas Teamsters strike, but no deal reached. Contract negotiations between Hawaii Gas and unionized employees on strike have resumed, but the two sides don’t appear any closer to reaching an agreement. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

$2 million insurance coverage added for island coral reefs. With the Central Pacific hurricane season underway, an insurance policy covering up to $2 million in damage to Hawaii’s coral reefs is now in effect. Star-Advertiser.

Cleaning Up: The Aftermath Of A Honolulu Union’s Embezzlement Scandal. Members of IBEW 1260 had to pick up the pieces after former business manager Brian Ahakuelo and his wife were convicted. Civil Beat.


4 Honolulu councilmembers plan to vote against pay raises.  On July 1, the new Honolulu city council budget will go into effect. Including, a 64% pay raise for council members, unless eight of them vote no to the pay raises.  KHON2.

Honolulu Council treads lightly on salary, outside employment talks. The Honolulu City Council will continue discussions on whether members can hold outside employment after killing a bill this month. Hawaii Public Radio.

In the governor’s backyard, 8 homeless patients settle in at medical respite tiny village. Pulama Ola village opened on May 31st, and is now home to eight homeless patients who were recently discharged from local hospitals. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Chinatown Lions Club collaborates with Mayor Blangiardi to beautify downtown parks. Dozens of people, including Mayor Rick Blangiardi and city administrators, joined Honolulu-Chinatown Lions Club in cleaning up Smith-Beretania Park and Doctor Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park. Hawaii News Now.

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden considers limiting visitors and charging fees.  Nestled beneath the Koʻolau mountain range on Oʻahu, Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden was a once-hidden gem. But social media has heightened awareness about the garden’s natural wonders. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Community Development Authority tasked with slew of projects. The Hawaii Community Development Authority was created nearly 50 years ago with a broad-purpose name despite having a singular initial focus: improving one community, Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

Former mayor documents COVID-era frustrations, alliances in book. Interviews with 25 Hawaii leaders reveal early concerns that the islands could become overrun with COVID-19 while others hoped the Pacific Ocean would provide a natural “border” to keep the virus out, according to a new book by former Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his longtime deputy managing director Georgette Takushi Deemer. Star-Advertiser.

Water disruption forces closure of popular Diamond Head State Monument on Oʻahu. 
The popular Diamond Head State Monument on O‘ahu was cleared at mid-day Sunday after the park’s water system had to be shut down.  Maui Now. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Planning commissions talk shoreline setbacks.  A joint meeting of the Windward and Leeward Planning commissions on June 2 concluded their discussion of several proposed revisions to the county’s planning rules, which would, among other things, require that all new developments be located at least 40 feet inland from a shoreline, twice as far as is currently permitted. Tribune-Herald.

Council members debate establishment of sustainability office.  Formation of a proposed new Hawaii County agency has stalled following lengthy debates among members of the Hawaii County Council. Tribune-Herald.

Land board action paves way for conservation of 642 acres in N. Kohala. Hundreds of acres of land in North Kohala have been re-dedicated to conservation by a nonprofit that purchased the land last year. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

As tourists flock to eruption, agencies urge respect. Even as lava fountains from the erupting Kilauea Volcano continue reaching heights of up to 30 feet, Hawaii tourism officials urged visitors to be respectful when flocking to Hawaii island to get a glimpse of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Star-Advertiser.


Tax could fund projects, but some worry about cost. Maui County could have seen around $283 million in added income if it had followed other counties four years ago in adding its own surcharge to the state’s general excise tax, according to tax officials’ estimates.  Maui News.

Maui County finance director to serve on national AI committee. Maui County Finance Director Scott Teruya has been appointed to a national exploratory committee that will look into how artificial intelligence could potentially help local government.  Maui News.

Maui Residents Fight To Save Kihei’s Last Wetlands. County officials continue to approve new building permits close to shore despite rising seas. Civil Beat.

Damaged Lahaina playground closes.
The Lahaina Recreation Center playground has been closed until further notice due to safety concerns over the damaged playground surface, the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation announced Friday. Maui News.


Kawakami leads Kaua‘i delegation in visit to Philippines. A Kaua‘i delegation’s weeklong venture to the Philippines was deemed a success on both the business development and diplomatic fronts, as the group reforged its partnership with the country. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i visitors spent heavily in April.
A robust tourism industry is on pace to surpass $2 billion in visitor spending this year, in large part to a stellar start to the 2023 season on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.


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