Friday, April 19, 2024

Senate panel tackles wildfire mitigation, state Supreme Court penalizes attorney general for Maui stream diversion accusations, Skyline ridership drops, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii utilities focus on reducing wildfire risks. Hawaii’s two regulated electrical utilities told a pair of state Senate committees Thursday that they are trying to do as much as possible as fast as possible with wildfire risk mitigation. For Hawaiian Electric, this includes spending $117 million this year on such work and seeking $450 million in federal matching grants to help fund $900 million in system improvement projects. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Supreme Court Rebukes State Agencies In East Maui Water Case. The justices found the state's factual arguments flimsy regarding water diversions affecting the ability to fight the August wildfires. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

7 measures become law, 25 pending governor’s action. As of Thursday the governor had signed into law six House bills — relating to elections, legislative agencies, suicide awareness and the designation of state snails and “kimchi day.” A seventh Senate bill relating to landownership had also been signed. Star-Advertiser.

Officials Mistakenly Locked This Man In A Psych Ward, Then Argued He Was Not Sane Enough To Sue. Joshua Spriestersbach sued the state after he was held in the Hawaii State Hospital for more than two years under the wrong name, only to face new questions about his sanity. Civil Beat.


Honolulu City Council considers salary charter amendments. Seven resolutions that urge voter-approved charter amendments to overhaul how Honolulu pays its employees were under City Council review this week. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s 911 system goes down briefly.
The Honolulu Police Department said they are working off a backup system and do not yet know whether the interruption is related to the multi-state outage that occurred Wednesday night. Star-Advertiser.

Skyline average daily ridership even lower than last year.
The Director of Transportation Services said things will turn around once the second segment opens but that isn’t until Spring 2025. KHON2.

‘Bleeding out’: HART board members express concern after key project leader quits. Some HART board members are expressing concern that the nearly $10 billion rail project is “bleeding out” after a key project leader suddenly quit. Hawaii News Now.

Dillingham Airfield And Nearby North Shore Residents Brace For Looming Water Shutdown. The airfield is poised to get the reprieve it needs to stay open, but it still doesn't have a new group ready to step up and manage the water system. Civil Beat.

Discovery of WWII-era bomb at Bellows highlights ongoing risk of unexploded ordnance. For almost two months, the base has been mostly off-limits to visitors as part of a massive effort to scour the 24-acre site in search of more hidden hazards.  Hawaii News Now.

In tearful testimony, woman describes day she believed alleged crime boss killed her boyfriend. It was the most dramatic day so far of the federal Mike Miske organized crime trial. On Thursday, in tearful testimony, 29-year-old Ashley Wong described the day in 2016 she believed Miske had kidnapped and killed her boyfriend — Johnathan Fraser. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Water Commission seeks input on potential restoration of stream flow in Waikoloa. For more than 75 years, Hawaiʻi County and Parker Ranch have been diverting water from streams in the area to support surrounding communities with water for drinking and agriculture. Hawaii Public Radio.

Help likely on the way in battle against spittlebugs. The two-lined spittlebug is an insect whose voracious appetite for key livestock grazing grasses has made the species a menace for ranchers on the Big Island since it was first discovered here in 2016. Tribune-Herald.


Deadly Lahaina fire spread ‘incredibly fast,’ racing mauka to makai within 90 minutes. Investigators will focus on fire’s early stages as they shift gears from fact-finding to determining the cause of one of the deadliest fires in US history. Maui Now.

‘Wow ... LOL’: Text messages from ex-MEMA head point to lack of urgency during Lahaina firefight. A closer look at the Attorney General's Office report reveals a concerning lack of urgency from the Maui County’s Emergency Management Agency at the height of the crisis.  Hawaii News Now.

Wailuku man dies after being Tased by Maui police. An incident involving a Maui Police Department officer resulted in the use of a Taser and the subsequent death of Televise Sau, 53, of Wailuku, according to department reports. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

Maui Strong Fund tops $190 million. The Hawaii Community Foundation on Thursday said its Maui Strong Fund has raised over $190 million from 250,000 donors across 76 countries — distributing almost $90 million to provide immediate and long-term support to Maui wildfire recovery efforts. Star-Advertiser.

MEO disburses Maui Relief TANF/HCF funds that would help 4,000 people in five months. More than 1,000 households and 4,000 individuals who were directly impacted by the wildfires have received housing, vehicle, utility, clothing and school supply assistance in the five months since the inception of the Maui fires relief program, according to Maui Economic Opportunity. Maui News.


Storm cleanup and repairs continue on Kaua‘i. Officials from the Kaua‘i Emergency Operations Center have announced that operations remain partially active following last week’s flooding event on the Garden Island. Garden Island.

Public invited to complete Kaua‘i Community Survey on Homelessness. The County of Kauaʻi Housing Agency is encouraging the public to complete the Kaua‘i Community Survey on Homelessness, as the agency begins the process to develop a Kaua‘i County Five Year Homelessness Strategic Plan. Kauai Now.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

HECO faces $5B in potential lawsuit liabilities, AG report cites lack of communication in Lahaina wildfire, military in battle for land lease renewal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Days Of The Army Leasing Land In Hawaii For $1 Are Likely Over. A recent Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting included a measure that would have let the state appraise close to 30,000 acres of land to recalibrate the Army’s rent across Oahu and Big Island. Those leases were signed in 1964 for $1 and expire in 2029. Civil Beat.

Analysts share how the Maui fire reports could affect HECO's future. Hawaiian Electric could face close to $5 billion in potential liabilities from lawsuits filed over the fires, according to Capstone, a consulting firm that studies utilities under stress for its investor clients.  Hawaii Public Radio.

AG’s Report Shows Lack Of Communication Prevented Help For People Trapped In Lahaina Fire.
The Attorney General's much-anticipated report provides new insight into the fire response but does not address the cause of the fire. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii Public Radio. Associated Press.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

‘Good government’ bills headed to Green’s desk. The full House on Wednesday sent 10 “good government” bills, as it called them, to Gov. Josh Green — but none will lead to any sweeping ethics, campaign spending or other reforms to change the way the Legislature does business. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Confirms Green’s Nominees To Board of Education. Former state Rep. Roy Takumi will now lead the volunteer board tasked with setting policy and overseeing Hawaii's public school system. Civil Beat.


Rail Chief’s Lastest Evaluation Raises Questions About Whether She Has A Future With Rail. HART CEO Lori Kahikina's annual evaluation was quite critical, citing a lack of progress in filling key positions and "limited transparency" with the rail board of directors. Civil Beat.

Proposals to prevent another big pay hike move forward at city council. Several proposals are moving ahead at the Honolulu City Council that could change how — and how big — salary increases are made for city employees, including council members themselves. Hawaii News Now.

Fireworks sparklers, fountains to make a comeback? Honolulu City Council bill pushes to lift ban. For the last 14 years, ground fireworks have been banned on Oahu. KHON2.

$250,000 Settlement Approved For Honolulu Police Detective. HPD Detective Maile Rego sued in 2021, claiming she suffered retaliation after accusing the department of failing to issue a timely Amber Alert. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Fateful Car Wreck Takes Center Stage At Miske Trial As Alleged Murder Victim’s Girlfriend Testifies. Michael Miske is accused of conspiring to kidnap and kill Johnathan Fraser in 2016. Fraser disappeared in July of that year, and his body has never been found. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu mayor signs bill raising legal age to buy herbal cigarettes. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has signed a city bill banning the sale of herbal cigarettes to anyone under 21 years old. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ocean Safety sector draws support, criticism. Those for and against contending city resolutions to transform Honolulu’s 277-member Ocean Safety Division into a full-fledged city department voiced their concerns during the City Council’s meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Safe & Sound Waikiki program sees major reduction in crime. Crime in most categories, including violent ones, has dropped by double digits in Waikiki since Safe & Sound Waikiki started 18 months ago to address community concerns over mounting criminal activity and increased homelessness. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Another blackouts warning from HECO; lawmakers seek investigation. Hawaiian Electric again is urging Hawaii Island customers to conserve energy this evening to avoid power outages. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

FBI searches 2 locations in Kona; investigation underway. Early Wednesday morning, FBI agents conducted search warrants at two different locations in Kailua-Kona. It is unknown what the warrants were for or if any arrests were made. Big Island Now.

Hawaiʻi County Council lends financial support to upcoming Hala Festival 2024, other community initiatives. The festival wasn’t the only community event, program or project that got a boost Wednesday. Big Island Now.

Public Meeting On Proposed Pāhoa Library, Transit Hub Location. The meeting is being held to discuss the findings of the Draft Environmental Assessment for the library and transit hub, and offer an opportunity for feedback. Big Island Video News.


Komar Maui Properties files for injunction against Maui County eminent domain action. An affiliate of Komar Investments on Wednesday filed a complaint in Federal District Court for declaratory and injunctive relief against Maui County’s impending eminent domain action for acquisition of a 20-acre parcel next to the Central Maui Landfill in Puʻunēnē.  Maui Now.

The Maui Ethics Board Has So Few Members That It’s Struggling To Even Meet. Members are seeking additional funding and dedicated staff so they can more effectively do their job. Civil Beat.

PFAS detected in Maui Business Park system
. PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been detected in water samples collected at the Waiʻele Wells 1 and 2 Chlorinator, Maui Business Park water system (Public Water System HI0000261, owned by Maui Business Park Phase II Association) in Kahului of the island of Maui. Maui Now.


Kauai County says weekend flooding caused significant damage to 157 houses. Kauai property owners who are impacted may qualify for government aid. Hawaii News Now.

Playground construction, ADA renovations scheduled at Waimea Athletic Field. The playground, skateboard half-pipe, ADA parking stalls and ADA walkway near Kaumuali‘i Highway will be closed from April 29 to June 1, weather permitting. Kauai Now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Pay to Play persists at state Capitol, Gov. Green outlines path to renewable energy goal, Maui fire chief unveils wildfire after-action report, Navy nixes Oahu landfill site, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Inside the Late-Night Parties Where Hawaii Politicians Raked In Money.  For the better part of a decade, some of Hawaii’s most powerful people huddled together at late-night parties in a cramped second-floor office where lobbyists and executives seeking government contracts lined up to drop cash and checks into a metal lockbox. Wesley Yonamine, the host and a high-ranking airport official, would, together with the politicians, pop open the box and dole out campaign contributions according to a list of pledges obtained before each event. Civil Beat.

Here's how measures pass a final hurdle before reaching the governor. The 2024 Hawaiʻi legislative session is in the home stretch, also known as conference committee. From April 15 to 26, legislators from both chambers will meet in conference committee to hash out their differences and discuss the exact wording for a final bill. Hawaii Public Radio.

Latest UH Board Of Regents Nominee Approved By Senate Committee — And Its Influential Chair. Sen. Donna Kim was pleased that Michael Miyahira shares her views on Senate oversight of the University of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Will ratepayers will be on the hook for HECO's wildfire costs? Several utilities, including Hawaiian Electric, have eyed ratepayer-backed bonds as a possible avenue to recoup some of those costs. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers urge investigation, following power blackouts on Big Island and O‘ahu. In light of multiple power outages on the Big Island and O‘ahu this past weekend, three state senators sent a letter to the Public Utilities Commission expressing concern about the recent power blackouts. Big Island Now.

Land board defers decision on appraisal of lands leased by US Army
. U.S. Army leases on Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island expire in five years, and the Board of Land and Natural Resources is considering a land exchange as an alternative to new leases. Hawaii Public Radio.

Governor Josh Green outlines diverse energy strategies for Hawaii's renewable goals. Governor Josh Green outlined alternate energy ideas to help the state reach its renewable energy goal: Using 100% renewable energy by 2045. KITV4.


Proposals For Reforming Honolulu’s Pay Raise Process Split On The Question Of Who Should Decide. Seven charter amendments are currently being considered by council members, and the big question is who should get the final say on salary proposals. Civil Beat.

Another Miske Associate Turned Government Witness Takes The Stand. Will Jurors Trust Him? Observers say witnesses who've flipped on alleged racketeering boss Michael Miske can be hard for jurors to trust because of their own criminal backgrounds and incentives to lie. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Navy nixes possible city landfill site. The Navy will not allow the City and County of Hono­lulu to locate a new landfill on Waipio Peninsula near Joint Base Pearl Harbor­-Hickam, the city announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Not Just Red Hill: Hundreds Of Military Fuel Depots Threaten Environment And Public Health. A new federal report, ordered after the Red Hill crisis, uncovered oversight weaknesses at hundreds of the military's fuel storage sites. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Navy removes toxic firefighting foam from Red Hill facility. The Navy as of Monday had removed just over 1,000 gallons of aqueous film forming foam concentrate — a toxic fire suppressant containing “forever chemicals” — from its AFFF system at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Star-Advertiser.

Threatening note shutters 2 Oahu private schools
. A note threatening gun violence at Damien Memorial School in Kalihi and Maryknoll School in Makiki prompted lockdowns and cancellation of classes and events Tuesday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Homeless sweep spanning over 1 mile to shut down West Oahu Beach park for a week. Councilmember Andria Tupola says she requested the cleanup after two years of outreach.  Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani invests over $17M in Hawaii Island mansion.
Ohtani reportedly just bought a property at the Mauna Kea Resort on Hawaii Island. The property is expected to be worth $17.3 million as Ohtani becomes the face of the resort line as part of its marketing strategy. Hawaii News Now.

Glenwood Recycling and Transfer Station to reopen Friday. Glenwood Recycling and Transfer Station will revert to its normal schedule of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. Volcano Recycling and Transfer Station will revert to its normal schedule of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Saturday (closed Friday, April 19). Big Island Now.

Nene gosling found dead in popular Hilo park. Patrons of Lili‘uokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo were disheartened recently to learn about the death of a nene gosling in the park. Tribune-Herald.


Be Prepared: Maui Fire After-Action Report Details Need For More Equipment And Better Management. The independent report makes 111 recommendations that could guide Maui and other isolated communities to prevent another Lahaina tragedy. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  Associated Press. Maui Now.

Maui High announces $10M endowment from alum. Maui High School announced Tuesday it will receive a $10 million endowment from an alum who prefers to remain anonymous. Star-Advertiser. Maui News.


Damage assessments, clean-up continue on Kaua‘i; farmers, ranchers advised to document damages. The Kaua‘i Emergency Operations Center remains partially activated after last week’s flooding events, as county and state officials continue to address various recovery efforts islandwide. Kauai Now.

Niumalu Bridge closed until further notice due to flood damage. The Niumalu Bridge in Nāwiliwili on the East Side of Kaua‘i is closed until further notice due to damage from the recent flood event, county officials reported Tuesday evening. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Government workers to get up to $20k pandemic hazard pay, lawsuit seeks to stop Alaska-Hawaiian Airlines merger, feds allege witness tampering in Kaneshiro trial, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Feds In Corruption Case Accuse Mitsunaga Defense Of Document Leaks And Witness Tampering. Federal prosecutors have launched a new investigation into the incident in the case involving former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii To Pay Government Workers Up To $20K Each For Hazardous Work During Pandemic. Two-tiered settlement with the Green administration awards government employees back pay of either $10,000 or $20,000, depending on how many days they worked. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Governor: State Biosecurity Chief’s Contract Will Not Be Renewed. Carol Okada, the state’s embattled acting biosecurity administrator, will not have a job with the Department of Agriculture after June 29. Civil Beat.

Lawsuit seeks to stop Alaska-Hawaiian merger.
A consumer antitrust lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Hawaii seeks to stop the acquisition of the 95-year-old Hawaiian Airlines by Alaska Airlines on the grounds that the merger would result in higher fares, fewer flights, job losses, and cause injury to Hawaii’s economy. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

A new study by Earth scientists at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa studies coastal groundwater that is lifted closer to the surface by sea levels rise. Cities with underground infrastructure in Hawaiʻi, and around the world, face an increased risk of systems failure due to sea level rise.  Big Island Video News. Kauai Now.

Fatality rate in Hawaii due to distracted driving twice as high as the mainland. Hawaii’s fatality rate due to distracted driving is twice as high as the mainland and officials said it’s completely preventable. KHON2.

Taiwan wants to expand its military attache office on Oahu. Taiwan is seeking to increase the size of its military attache office at its de facto consulate in Honolulu as the self-ruled island democracy looks to tighten ties with the United States and bolster defenses against potential Chinese military attacks. Star-Advertiser.


Nanakuli beach to be inaccessible for weeklong homeless cleanup. Outreach workers from the Kealahou West Oahu social service agency on Monday began notifying members of a Nanakuli homeless encampment that the city plans to close a mile-long portion of Ulehawa Beach Park for a week and clean up the area once again as an October court date approaches challenging the city’s homeless policies. Star-Advertiser.

Family identifies cruise ship passenger who died after bus plowed into group. Officials say the shuttle bus driver dropping off passengers hit the gas instead of the brake and pinned several people against concrete barriers. Hawaii News Now.

Solar farm on University of Hawaiʻi land comes online in West Oʻahu. The facility, developed by AES Hawaiʻi, is on 66 acres of open University of Hawaiʻi agricultural land north of the UH West Oʻahu campus in Kapolei. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Testifiers to board: No PTA land swap. People statewide urged the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday to reject a proposed land exchange between the state and the U.S. Army that would allow it to continue to use land in the Pohakuloa Training Area and elsewhere. Tribune-Herald.

NPR reporter Dara Kerr talks story about billionaire Marc Benioff buying Waimea land. 
An NPR story by tech reporter Dara Kerr about billionaire Marc Benioff buying land in and around Waimea on Hawaiʻi Island caused a stir when it was published in February. The audio version aired in March. Hawaii Public Radio.

PUC orders HECO to provide status updates following power outages. The Public Utilities Commission issued an order on Monday requiring Hawaiian Electric to provide a status update on the mitigation measures it intends to implement to address the Hawaii island outage situation, as well as its customer communication strategy regarding conservation measures and the outages. KHON2.

Jr. Tupa‘i enters race for Hawai‘i County mayor. This is Tupa‘i’s second time running for office. In 2022, he was a candidate for lieutenant governor on the Duke Aiona ticket in the gubernatorial race. Big Island Now.

Community meeting to address instream flow standards for Waikōloa.
Staff of the Commission on Water Resource Management will host a fact-gathering meeting on Thursday to collect testimony and information to be compiled as part of an Instream Flow Standard Assessment Report. Big Island Now. Big Island Video News.


Maui Mayor Appoints Maria Zielinski As County Finance Director. She would replace former Director Scott Teruya, who has been on paid leave since February. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

Maui Council committee reviews budget for Mayor’s Office. Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee reviewed the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2025 proposed budget for the Office of the Mayor on Wednesday.  Maui Now.

Findings from Lahaina fire investigations being released. Findings from dueling investigations into how government and firefighters responded to the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire, which killed 101 people and left 8,000 homeless, will be released this week. Star-Advertiser.

AG’s wildfire probe doesn’t find fault with first responders, those briefed on report say. (video) Hawaii News Now.

Lahaina’s Wildfire Burned So Hot That Many Dangerous Contaminants Likely Vaporize
d. Scientists, state officials and the Army Corps of Engineers are finding the burn zone may not be as toxic as initially feared. Civil Beat.


‘Project Keiki’ provides lunches and meals on Kaua‘i.
Statistically, more than 10,000 local residents continue to struggle with hunger. This includes 1 in 4 keiki. Garden Island

Monday, April 15, 2024

Uncertain future for vacation rental bill, first trial date set in Lahaina wildfire lawsuit cases, university gets onslaught of emails from one state senator, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Emails Reveal A State Senator’s Unrelenting Demands On The University Of Hawaii. Donna Mercado Kim continually sends requests for detailed responses about a range of issues, from anonymous complaints to spending concerns. Civil Beat.

Vacation rental bill is headed to uncertainty.  SB 2919 wold ensure that each county has the power to regulate short-term rentals — including banning them. The Senate on Thursday disagreed with changes made in the House, meaning the bill likely will head to an end-of-session conference committee where anything can happen, including killing it if no compromise can be reached in the remaining three weeks. Star-Advertiser.

Regulation of vacation rentals varies among counties. Here's how. Star-Advertiser.

Cockfighting bill dies in Senate. While cockfighting already is illegal in Hawaii, House Bill 1980 would increase the severity of the offense from a misdemeanor to a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000. Tribune-Herald.

Macadamia nut labeling legislation in limbo. Consumers don’t know whether many macadamia nut snacks identified with Hawaii contain any Hawaii-­grown macadamia nuts, and an effort to change that through state law may be doomed this year. Star-Advertiser.

Needs are high in the state for people to donate their time. Hawaii is ranked low, 45th out of 50 states, for volunteerism in the latest United Health Foundation America’s Health Ranking analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.  Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu’s Short-Term Rental Owners Will Pay Higher Property Taxes Soon. Short-term rental owners in Honolulu will start paying higher property taxes next fiscal year, but it’s up to the City Council to decide how much. Civil Beat.

About 2,200 Hawaii Kai and East Honolulu customers face loss of power for most of Monday.  The company said the outage was caused by damage to one of the main transmission lines that bring power across the Koolau mountains into the Hawaii Kai/East Honolulu area.  Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Kamehameha Highway Just Got $5M To Guard Against Rising Seas. It Will Need Much More. There are tough decisions ahead when it comes to planning for the future of the critical road connecting Windward communities. Civil Beat.

Working Group Will Address Lead Contamination At Marine Shooting Range. Hawaii lawmakers have ordered the formation of a new working group to discuss lead contamination in the air and water around a Marine Corps’ shooting range in Ewa Beach.  Civil Beat.

Chief lifeguard ‘stoked’ over potential new department. As chief of Honolulu’s 277-member Ocean Safety Division, John Titchen says his agency’s possible transformation into a full-fledged city department is a long time coming. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Humane Society sees unprecedented number of shelter dogs due to families leaving Hawaii. More than 250 dogs are currently available for adoption at Hawaiian Humane Society due to a shelter space crisis that has been increasing overcrowded kennels. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Slow spring for real estate? Interest rates continue to put pressure on home sales. According to multiple listing service data, 477 homes have been sold on the island this year as of the end of March, a 10% increase from the first three months of 2023. Tribune-Herald.

Generator shortfall results in rolling blackouts on Hawai‘i Island. Hawaiian Electric is conducting rolling outages that will last between 30 minutes to an hour due to a generator shortfall. Big Island Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Resistance to roundabout: Draft EA released for proposed Waikoloa Village project. The public comment period addressing the draft environmental assessment for the Waikoloa Road/Paniolo Avenue roundabout concluded Monday, with community members expressing concern over the finding of no significant impact recommended in the report. West Hawaii Today.

Third Hawaiʻi Sustainability Summit Set For Kona, May 3-4. Hawai‘i County is calling community leaders to attend the Third Hawaiʻi Sustainability Summit.  Big Island Video News.

Former Big Island Lawmaker Wayne Metcalf Dead At 71. He was a former Hawaii State Insurance Commissioner during the Cayetano administration who also served as Hilo’s state representative from 1984-1992 and as senator from 1997-1998. Civil Beat.


Lahaina wildfire cases could get a trial date as soon as Nov. 18. Parties to cases involving the Lahaina wildfire disaster could see their first trial date as soon as Nov. 18, 2024 before Judge Peter Cahill. The date was set during a status conference held Friday before a room full of attorneys representing various interests in the case.  Maui Now.

BLNR successful in its appeal in East Maui water case.
The Hawaiʻi Board of Land and Natural Resources, as represented by the Department of the Attorney General, prevailed on appeal in a case regarding the continuation of revocable permits for the diversion of water from streams in East Maui to Central and Upcountry Maui. Maui Now.

Maui’s Recent Wildfires Convinced The County Council That The Emergency Budget Needs Beefing Up. The Maui County Council signaled last week that it wants more resources for Maui’s fire and emergency management agencies in the aftermath of last year’s devastating fires.  Civil Beat.

Maui County Has Been So Slow To Come Up With A Plan To Help People Rebuild In Lahaina That A State Lawmaker Is Doing It Instead. Hearing continual frustration from Lahaina constituents about what they call a lack of clear direction from Maui County government on when they can rebuild their homes, Maui Rep. Elle Cochran is creating a coalition of contractors, architects, suppliers and other building professionals to guide people who have questions.  Civil Beat.

Maui wildfire relief resources: Federal assistance surpasses $347M. Since wildfires swept over the Island of Maui Aug. 8, more than $347.8 million in federal assistance has been approved for 7,090 households. Maui Now.

Coastal waters off Lahaina are now confirmed safe for recreational use. The Surfrider Foundation Maui chapter just released a report from its Post-Fires Water Quality Monitoring Program — and results indicate no cause for concern. Hawaii Public Radio.

Mobile ministry takes its support directly to the unsheltered.  Church volunteers on Maui who have operated a van since 2014 to distribute food and supplies to the homeless have seen the number of unsheltered people more than double since the catastrophic wildfires. Star-Advertiser.


County assesses damage in aftermath of thunderstorm. A second storm moved through the island of Kaua‘i on Sunday, adding to the mess created from an earlier hydrological event that wreaked havoc on local roads and properties. Garden Island.

Storm brings damages to Kaua‘i including a drill rig on the mauka Wailua River Bridge rail. State crews continue their work to remove a drill rig after it fell onto the mauka Wailua River Bridge rail following heavy rains that brought flooding to several parts of Kaua‘i. Kauai Now. Hawaii News Now.

Friday, April 12, 2024

House urges USGS to redraw lava zone maps, former MMA fighter testifies he carried out beatings for alleged crime boss Miske, Lahaina survivors cut from 3 to 1 free meal a day, Hokulea to stay put this year, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hokule‘a and Hikianalia to stay in Hawaii. The Hokule‘a and Hikianalia canoes will remain in Hawaii waters until March and will focus on training, education and cultural engagement in the state this year, the Polynesian Voyaging Society announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.

Proponents Look To Create A New Hawaii Marine Sanctuary ASAP In Case Of A Trump Return. A proposed national marine sanctuary is on pace to take shape in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands by early 2025, and supporters hope that timeline will make it harder to roll back the environmental protections there if former President Donald Trump retakes office next year. Civil Beat.

Early drought brings wildfire potential this summer. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows about 17% of the state is already in severe drought, while 25% is in moderate drought. Star-Advertiser.

Biomedical research funding for UH earns $158M for state. Funding from federal biomedical research grants awarded to the University of Hawaii in 2023 generated $158 million in state economic activity and supported 819 local jobs, according to a report released in March. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

NEH awards funding for research on Hawaiʻi's history of industrial schools. Research into the history of government-run reformatories in Hawaiʻi during the early 1900s is getting a boost in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Hawaii Public Radio.

State Hospital stabber declared ‘unfit’ to proceed. Tommy Carvalho, the man charged with stabbing a Hawaii State Hospital nurse to death, has been found unfit to proceed with trial. KHON2.


Former MMA fighter testifies he carried out beatings for alleged crime boss Mike Miske. In the ongoing federal trial alleged crime boss Mike Miske, career criminal Jake Smith testified Thursday that he was the muscle who exacted revenge on Miske’s enemies and rivals. He also said he had inside knowledge of murder plots. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Queen’s nurses start contract talks with staffing among top issues. Negotiations between nurses and hospital leaders at The Queen’s Health System are now underway for a new, three-year contract. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Lobbyist Fined $2,500 For Vet Clinic Violation. Alicia Maluafiti, a politically connected lobbyist who used to run an Oahu-based veterinary clinic, will avoid prison time after she admitted to using a vet’s credentials to order drugs for animals who underwent spay and neuter surgeries.  Civil Beat.

Kalaeloa wave-pool opponents concerned about effect on aquifer. An association opposed to a planned Kalaeloa 5-acre wave pool, which will take 7 million gallons of fresh water to fill from the same aquifer that Oahu communities depend on, says its members were heartened by developments at a court hearing Thursday. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

City relocating Waikiki lifeguard tower due to erosion. City officials on Thursday removed the remains of a concrete pillar for a lifeguard tower at Queen’s Beach in Waikiki, about three-and-a-half years since waves damaged it. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Conversation about Big Island’s official name sparks minor moniker controversy. The Hawai‘i Board of Geographic Names during its April 2 meeting began a discussion about possibly changing the island’s official name in the U.S. Geological Survey’s Geographic Names Information System, or GNIS. Big Island Now.

The House Committee on Water and Land advanced a resolution on Thursday, urging the USGS to take action on lava maps. A State Senate resolution urging federal officials to update the lava-flow hazard map of Hawaiʻi Island is advancing at the Capitol. Big Island Video News.

Most of East Hawaii, Kona coffee belt had above-average rainfall. March was rainier than average on the windward side of Hawaii Island and the South Kona coffee belt. Elsewhere, not so much. Tribune-Herald.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Update: No More Detections On Hawai‘i Island. There have been no additional coconut rhinoceros beetles detections on Hawai‘i Island, state officials say, since the discovery of several live CRB grubs in Waikoloa in October 2023. Big Island Video News.

New adult assisted living care home opens in Hilo. The 14,140-square foot home-like facility features fully furnished private suites with an ensuite bathroom, shower and lānai; decorated walking paths; a recreation room; a spa room; an arts and crafts room; a music room; and a dining room with a certified commercial kitchen. Big Island Now.


Commercial boat operators to get full access to Maui’s Mala Wharf.  Maui’s west-side commercial boating operators are getting some relief from the business impacts of the Maui wildfires with the state’s decision to lift temporary restrictions at Mala Wharf and its announcement that the rebuilding of a fueling system is underway at Lahaina Small Boat Harbor. Star-Advertiser. Maui News.  Maui Now.

Lahaina’s Santa Claus Joins The Exodus From Maui. An official estimate of how many people have left Maui since the destructive wildfire may not be available until next year. But it's a lot, by most accounts. Civil Beat.

Maui Nonprofits See Greater Need For Services But May Get Less County Funding
. The County Council is looking for ways to up the budget, which is limited by the cost of the fire recovery. Civil Beat.

Concerns Are Being Raised About The New Elementary School In West Maui. A temporary campus for King Kamehameha III Elementary opened earlier this month, but hosting students at the West Maui site could cost over $100 million, Department of Education officials say.  Civil Beat.

Maui fire survivors decry decision to cut back on meals for those still living in hotels. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross will soon start cutting back free meals they serve to fire survivors living in hotels from three meals a day to one meal a day. Hawaii News Now.


Law enforcement union accuses embattled KPD chief of downplaying lost gun incident. Records filed with the Kauai Police Commission show on March 4, Raybuck’s loaded handgun was turned into evidence after an officer found it “in a holster wedged between the wall and the handicap assist bar” of a bathroom at the Kauai Police Department headquarters. Hawaii News Now.

La‘akea Chun nominated to Charter Commission. Ellen Ching, Administrator for the Office of Boards and Commissions, received support from Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and Council Chair Mel Rapozo, in nominating the 18-year-old student to a seat on the Charter Commission. Garden Island.

Division of Aquatic Resources team extracts coral colonies in water off Anini Beach
. A mission to combat non-native coral found off Anini Beach got a big boost when a state agency got involved in the process. Garden Island.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Legislature advances vacation rental regulation, cesspool fees, groundbreaking held for $80M Benioff Medical Center, demolition of Haiku Stairs to begin, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Bills toward short-term rental regulation are in final stages of the legislative process. Two measures that would allow counties to begin phasing out non-conforming use permits for transient vacation rental units passed out of both of their chambers. It would give counties more control over short-term rentals. Hawaii Public Radio.

Cesspools are sending raw sewage into the ocean. Could a fee get people to convert? The state Legislature is considering a new fee on cesspools as part of a plan to end massive sewage leaks into the ground and ocean. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii lawmakers aim to avert ‘early’ DHHL funding lapse. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands appears set to receive extra time to use $600 million appropriated by the Legislature in 2022. Star-Advertiser.

Ban On Biocontrols That Threaten Hawaiʻi Forage Grass Urged In Resolution. The discussion comes as the state considers all the different tools that can be deployed to reduce the invasive grasses that increase fuel loads and the risk of wildfire in Hawaiʻi. Big Island Video News.

Rising insurance rates on the horizon for Hawaii residents following Maui fires. Insurance rates have been rising for island residents, and those costs are expected to keep going up. KITV4.

Mufi Hanneman recognized at this year’s Celebrate a Legacy in Tourism Gala
. For his significant and long-term contributions to Hawaii’s tourism industry, Mufi Hannemann has been chosen to receive this year’s ‘Legacy in Tourism Award’. KHON2.

Akebono, a pioneering giant and ‘proud Hawaiian’ in sumo, dies at 54. Hawaii sports legend Akebono Taro, who made history when he became the first non-Japanese-born sumo wrestler to reach the sport’s highest title, has died. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.


Mayor Officially Begins Process Of Giving Ocean Safety Its Own Department. After years of lifeguards pushing for their own department, Mayor Rick Blangiardi began the process to officially give it to them by July 2026. Civil Beat.

North Shore residents fight plans for shopping center, ask for first responder hub instead. Opponents of a planned shopping center near Sharks Cove on Oahu’s North Shore are urging the city to keep talks going with the developer. KHON2.

First school-based health center in country opens at Waipahu High
. The Academic Health Center represents a partnership between the state Department of Education and Hawaii Pacific Health, which will provide health care services to the community while offering high school students hands-on training from medical professionals. Star-Advertiser.

New mental health crisis center is already diverting patients from ERs, but has room to grow. The Behavioral Health Crisis Center is taking in patients nearly every day, but the numbers are far below capacity in the initial month of operation. Hawaii News Now.

State eyes vacant Windward Oahu campus for DOH offices, crisis center. Hawaii Pacific University’s iconic Windward Oahu campus could become a new home for the state Health Department and a mental health crisis center. Hawaii News Now.

Haiku Stairs’ demolition to begin late April, city says. The city says demolition of the more than 3,900 steps leading to the top of the Koolau Range, above Haiku Valley and the H-3 freeway, will begin at the end of April. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

City looking to hire 500 to staff Summer Fun program. The Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation is once again looking to hire hundreds of workers for its annual Summer Fun program at 60 sites across Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Blessing marks start of Hilo Benioff Medical Center expansion project
.  The $80 million expansion project will add a new wing to the center, including a 19-bed intensive care unit, and 36 additional hospital beds. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News.

Benioffs bolster fire department fleet. After nearly losing their home to a fire a few years ago, the Benioffs asked the Sayre Foundation what the couple could do to help the fire department. Since then, the couple has purchased three Big Dog fire trucks, two tanker fire trucks and eight brushfire trucks. Tribune-Herald.

‘Kauhale Initiative’ garners support from Hilo crowd.
Hilo residents were widely enthusiastic Tuesday night during a meeting about a state project to develop communities of tiny homes for the Big Island’s homeless population, despite misgivings about where those communities could be built. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Mitch Roth presents 2024-2025 budget to Hawaiʻi County Council
. The mayor’s $888 million operating budget is up 6.6% from last year. It says $30.5 million of that bump would go to salary increases for employees. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Now.

Work to decommission 2 Maunakea telescopes to resume.
The University of Hawaii’s Hoku Kea Observatory and Caltech’s Submillimeter Observatory have been slated for decommissioning and removal from the mountain for years, although the process for both observatories has been slow. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.

Death Of Foster Child Leads To $750,000 Settlement Pending Approval By Legislature
. Fabian Garett-Garcia died on July 25, 2017, and his caregivers told authorities he was injured by accident when he fell on his face from a 3-foot-high bench while wearing virtual reality goggles at the foster home in Waimea. Civil Beat.


Aunty Carol Lee Kamekona files to run for Maui County Council in Kahului district. Carol Lee has become the first candidate to file the paperwork for the Kahului seat, according to a press release from Kamekona.  Maui News.

Judge Issues two orders against Maui County Council appointee to planning commission. Second Circuit Court Judge Kelsey Kawano issued a writ of quo warranto Monday against Danny Ray Blackburn, asking him to appear before the Second Circuit Court on April 17 to show what authority he has to participate as a Maui County Planning Commissioner, according to court documents. Maui News.

Council Budget Committee hears the pain of Lahaina wildfire survivors. Eight months to the day after a wildfire swept through Lahaina town, Maui County Council members heard the anguish of residents struggling to rebuild their lives after the disaster that claimed at least 101 lives and leveled their beloved historic town. Maui Now.

Skyrocketing Maui rent shrinks housing options for wildfire survivors. Some 1,100 households — or 2,768 individual evacuees — were still living in 11 Maui hotels as of Friday. Star-Advertiser.

A Low-Income Housing Complex Is Ready To Rebuild After Lahaina Fire. It Just Needs $36M. The developer of the 89-unit project is the first to obtain building permits in the burn zone. Now the county and state are being asked to pick up the cost of what insurance didn't cover. Civil Beat.


Jobless rate falls to 2.5 percent in February on Kaua‘i. A robust labor market turned up the heat in February, as it added hundreds of jobs across key sectors of the island economy in the final full month of the winter tourism season. Garden Island.

Hawaiian monk seal returned to Kaua‘i waters after veterinary team removes ingested hook and fishing line. An 8-month-old Hawaiian monk seal was safely returned to Kaua‘i waters after a veterinary team at the Big Island’s marine mammal hospital removed an ingested hook and fishing line from the animal’s esophagus. Kauai Now. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Lawmakers push utilities to reduce wildfire risk, animal cruelty bills die, no tax breaks for the wealthy, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii lawmakers push electric utilities to reduce wildfire risks. The state Legislature appears poised to create a new way for Hawaii electric utilities to pay for wildfire risk mitigation that reduces the cost possibly passed onto ratepayers in an effort to help prevent another tragic fire in the state. Star-Advertiser.

1,100 Pieces Of Testimony Against A Bill Went Missing For Days. The Bill Passed And Then The Opponents’ Letters Showed Up. Hundreds of Lahaina fire victims came out strongly against a bill that could allow HECO to impose a new fee on customers to help prevent wildfires. Civil Beat.

Taxes, Housing And Fighting Chickens Are Up For A Vote As The Hawaii Legislature Heads Into The Home Stretch. Lawmakers also hope to put a question securing same-sex marriage on the ballot this fall. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers debate estate tax breaks for family businesses. State lawmakers killed a bill that would give wealthy families a break on estate taxes, but kept alive a different estate tax bill that would cut the costs of passing along some family businesses. KITV4.

Bill to increase penalties for unlicensed driving remains in the Legislature. A bill with harsher penalties for drivers without valid licenses is alive in the state Legislature — but some want more to be done. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bill advances to give condo owners a new way to buy into rooftop solar. The Hawaiʻi Senate is considering a bill to create a Solar Hui Program, allowing multi-family property owners to pay into a collective investment fund that would go towards energy projects and loans.  Hawaii Public Radio.

State senators fail to pass animal cruelty bills. The state Senate on Tuesday passed dozens of bills on mandatory third reading, a key step before becoming law, but senators rejected one contested measure that aimed to combat an increase in animal cruelty cases in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Frequent Turnover At Hawaii’s Education Board Is Weakening School Oversight. A lack of institutional knowledge among board members and staff is limiting the BOE's effectiveness and leaving it open to legislative interference, education advocates say. Civil Beat.

Ongoing inspections find more inoperable fire alarm systems at Hawaii public schools. Amid ongoing efforts to bolster safety at public schools, inspectors are finding more Hawaii campuses with inoperable fire alarms. Hawaii News Now.

Few people have successfully expunged their marijuana possession records. The Hawaiʻi Criminal Justice Data Center says about 12,000 records could qualify for expungement. Over the last four years, only two people have been able to clear their criminal records. Hawaii Public Radio.


Defense In Kaneshiro Bribery Trial Probes Architect About Side Jobs At Mitsunaga & Associates.
During its cross-examination of Laurel Mau, the defense focused on her use of company time and resources to conduct side jobs it says were unauthorized. Civil Beat.

‘For us taxpayers, that’s a good thing’: City eyes $8.6 million expansion for HPD headquarters. The Honolulu Police Department has a plan to add some much-needed space to its Alapai Headquarters. A half-acre property right next door could solve several problems. Hawaii News Now.

AES launches Oahu solar project.
AES Hawai‘i is launching the West Oahu solar-plus-­storage project in Kapolei, which will produce enough energy to reduce Oahu’s use of fossil fuels by 750,000 barrels of oil and the associated pollution and greenhouse gases emitted over its lifetime. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu permitting office cites Hawaiian lūʻau for being in a residential area. The operator of a lūʻau in a residential area of Honolulu said he plans to continue his business despite city officials ordering him to stop. Hawaii Public Radio.

Several H-1 freeway repair projects scheduled for the week
. The Hawaii Department of Transportation said there are several improvement projects taking place on the H-1, including viaduct repairs near the airport off-ramp. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Flurry of legal action in case involving home built on wrong property. Both Hilo Circuit Court judges have bowed out from hearing a case involving a California woman sued by a developer whose contractor mistakenly built a house on her lot in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Tribune-Herald.

Waiakea High math teacher receives $25,000 award
. Rory Inouye, a 35-year-old Waiakea High School class of 2007 alumnus and math teacher, was awarded a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in Hilo on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

State confirms 2 cases of whooping cough on Hawaii Island. Hawaii Department of Health officials said today that it is investigating two confirmed cases of pertussis — also known as whooping cough — along with eight probable cases. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Kolekole Gulch Park set to reopen end of April. The 5.5-acre park has had a rough several years, having first been closed for three years in 2017 when parts of the park were found to contain lead-contaminated soil stemming from lead-based paint used on the overspanning Kolekole Bridge. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.


Council extends Kula water deal timeline, requests community meeting, compares financial analyses. After a community meeting in Pukalani on March 27, concerns arose about the timeframe for assessing a 30-year water purchase agreement for drilling one to four wells in Kula. Maui Now.

Mold forces Maui County prosecutors to relocate temporarily.
As if fighting for justice weren’t tough enough, now attorneys and staff in the Maui County Department of the Prosecuting Attorney have a new foe: an infestation of mold in their Old Wailuku Courthouse offices. Maui Now.

SBA approves $300M for Maui wildfire relief. The Small Business Administration has approved over $300 million in federal disaster assistance loans for Hawaii businesses and residents affected by the August wildfires on Maui, the organization announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Foodland Farms Lahaina will reopen 8 months after devastating wildfires. 8 months after the devastating Maui wildfires, Foodland Farms Lahaina will reopen Wednesday. Hawaii News Now. Maui News.


Fentanyl task force following Big Island blueprint coming to Kaua‘i. The County of Kaua‘i is planning on launching a fentanyl task force in the coming weeks, inspired by a model implemented on the Big Island nearly three years ago. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Tax cuts still alive in Legislature, condemnation sought for Honolulu rail, second Mauna Kea telescope to be dismantled, FEMA extends Maui housing program, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Last Major Tax Bills Still Alive This Session Would Cut Income And Estate Taxes. The House and Senate are seriously considering a sizable state income tax cut to benefit working families, and also a separate measure to exempt more people from the state inheritance tax. Civil Beat.

Retired State Ag Official’s Return To The Agency Has Critics Concerned Over Conflicts Of Interest. Carol Okada had been sidelined at the Department of Agriculture because of personality clashes and her relationship with nurseries. Civil Beat.

Bill calls for increase in autism services reimbursement. A House bill to increase funding for autism services by requiring the state Department of Human Services to seek additional funding sources and maximize federal matching funds continues to move through the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Hospitality purchases lead Hawaii commercial real estate investments. Hospitality purchases at more than 23% were the largest share of Hawaii’s $1.93 billion commercial real estate investment in 2023, with Outrigger Hotels and Resorts’ $325 million acquisition of the Outrigger Beach Ka’anapali Hotel topping the list. Star-Advertiser.

Valerie Kato confirmed as deputy director of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health. The Hawaiʻi State Senate voted Monday to confirm Valerie Kato as deputy director of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health. She joins Director Kenneth Fink. Maui Now.

Cattle import restrictions due to avian influenza cases on the mainland.
Due to the recent highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) detections in livestock on the mainland, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture has placed a restriction on the transport of cattle from premises where HPAI has infected cattle. Maui Now. Garden Island.


Honolulu City Council requested to condemn properties for rail. The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation would like to acquire by eminent domain five private properties along the rail corridor as construction of the nearly $10-billion Skyline proceeds toward Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

City Council resumes discussion on adding more incentives for affordable rental developers
. Bill 3 would amend a $10 million city program by offering grants to developers before the construction of rental units, instead of just after construction. It would also allow developers to receive up to $35,000 per eligible unit — up from a maximum of $15,000. Hawaii Public Radio.

Former HPD Officer Pleads Guilty To Child Sex Charges. Prosecutors say Mason Jordan, while serving as a Honolulu police officer, impersonated young people on social media to lure children to work as prostitutes. Civil Beat.

Key figure in Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga bribery and corruption case testifies. A central figure in the corruption and bribery case involving former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and former businessman Dennis Mitsunaga took the stand as the government’s key witness. KHON2.

Group appeals court decision to stop Haiku Stairs removal.
The City and County of Honolulu are moving ahead with removing the Haiku Stairs with a blessing scheduled this week to mark the beginning of the removal project, although the lead attorney working to keep the stairs said he will continue to make his case in court.  KHON2.

Homeless camps inside Moiliili drainage canals raise health and safety concerns. There are growing concerns about the health and safety risks of homeless encampments inside and along drainage canals across Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Kawananakoa Middle School teacher receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award. Jade Pham, a 27-year-old teacher at Prince David Kawananakoa Middle School, was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a schoolwide assembly on Monday. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Health department reports travel-related dengue case on Oahu. A third confirmed case of travel-related dengue has been reported in Hawaii this year, according to the state Health Department. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Tuesday Meeting Set On Kauhale For Hilo Houseless.  An informational briefing will be held on Tuesday evening, April 9, to discuss potential kauhale locations in Hilo. Big Island Video News.

Removal of second Mauna Kea telescope to begin this month. The University of Hawaii Hilo will remove the Hoku Kea Observatory and generator buildings, telecommunications and electrical infrastructure beginning on Monday, a process that should be done by August, according to a university press release. Civil Beat. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

Public comment sought on proposed transit hub and library in Puna. Hawai‘i County and state officials are holding a public meeting to discuss the findings reported in the Draft Environmental Assessment and offer an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on a proposed new transit hub and co-located library in Pāhoa Town. Big Island Now.

HMC begins preparing for new modern administrative services building. A new facility to house additional office space and a planned medical simulation lab at Hilo Medical Center took a step forward Monday, but is still years away from reality. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Monthly parking at Kona airport no longer offered starting this summer. Monthly parking passes for the general public will no longer be offered at the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole, effective June 1, 2024. Big Island Now.

Hū Honua renews calls for PUC to bring its biomass plant onto the grid.
Hū Honua President Warren Lee sent a letter asking the PUC to direct HECO to restart contract negotiations. In the letter, Lee called Hū Honua the "solution" to Big Island's energy woes. Hawaii Public Radio.


FEMA Extends Deadline To Reimburse State For Maui Fire Survivors Housed In Pricey Hotels. The state would have been on the hook starting Thursday for paying the costs of all fire survivors still living in the hotels. But FEMA will continue to pay until May 10, officials announced Monday. Civil Beat.

Half of rental units reserved for Maui fire victims (and paid by taxpayers) are sitting vacant
. About half of the rental units being reserved for Maui fire victims — more than 600 mostly former vacation rentals — are still vacant even as taxpayers fork over above-market rent for them. Hawaii News Now.

Landowner Offers To Donate 5 Acres For Lahaina Fire Debris Dump Site To Avoid Eminent Domain. Komar Maui Properties says it will give the county enough land to handle all 400,000 cubic yards of fire ash and debris, but the county said it needs it all. Civil Beat. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Judge Blocks New Appointee From Joining Maui Planning Commission. The matter stems from a dispute between Mayor Richard Bissen and the County Council over his nominations to the volunteer boards. Second Circuit Judge Kelsey Kawano on Monday issued a temporary restraining order and a so-called writ of quo warranto against Danny Ray Blackburn, a construction executive with F&H Construction, which has offices in California and Maui.  Civil Beat.

Maui County Council passes bill for Kulanihako‘i Gulch sediment removal. Councilmember Tom Cook applauded the Maui County Council’s passage of a bill to authorize the county to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the federal government to support a sediment-removal project for Kūlanihākoʻi Gulch in North Kīhei. Maui News.


KPD chief addresses firearm issue. Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck could be in some hot water after he left his “department-issued firearm” in an employee restroom last month. Garden Island.

Hale Puna restoring oldest house on Kaua‘i as prior success Kōke‘e Lodge ramps up events. A westside nonprofit is making headway in restoring the oldest building on Kaua‘i – while its business counterpart expands its community programming in Kōkeʻe State Park. Kauai Now.