Showing posts with label Dennis Mitsunaga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dennis Mitsunaga. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Public Utilities Commission grills Sandwich Isles' exec over service cutoff, $11M state IT project in jeopardy, ransomware suspected at Honolulu TheBus, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Sandwich Isles Communications Broke The Law When It Cut Services To Hawaiian Homelands. Sandwich Isles Communications violated state laws and its obligations to its customers when it cut telephone and broadband services earlier this month without ample warning and is likely to face penalties for abandoning its services, according to testimony Monday before the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Sandwich Isles’ President Al Hee was in the hot seat for much of Monday’s six-hour hearing. Civil Beat.

Independent Monitor Warns $11 Million State IT Project Is In Jeopardy And Could Fail. The state has spent nearly $3.5 million on its second attempt to develop a financial management system that meets the requirements of Federal Highways Administration. Civil Beat.

Lee Loy candidacy confirmed. Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago ruled Monday that County Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy is eligible to run for the state House District 2 seat vacated when Rep. Richard Onishi decided not to run for a seventh term. Tribune-Herald.

As RIMPAC nears, concerns raise from community activists.
The 29th biennial Exercise Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, is slated to run in and around the Hawaiian Islands starting June 27, but community activists gathered on Monday to call for the military to cancel the multinational exercise. KHON2. KITV4.

Law Enforcement Department Resuming Evictions. The execution of court-ordered writs and evictions will resume, following a "stand-down" in late-April following a critical incident in Waiʻanae. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


FBI, Police Investigate Possible Ransomware Attack At TheBus, Handi-Van. The Honolulu Department of Transportation Services was still trying Monday to determine the cause as well as the cure to restore its online, real-time schedules for TheBus and TheHandi-Van fleets. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. KHON2. Hawaii News Now.

Next phase of Skyline to be energized; hours also extended for West Fest. In another major milestone, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials are preparing to energize another section of the Skyline route. Hawaii News Now.

Late-night stabbing is latest high-profile violent crime in Keeaumoku Street area. Over the weekend since Friday, around the Ala Moana Center area, there were six reported cases of assault logged on HPD’s website; four of these were classified as simple assaults, and two as aggravated assaults. Star-Advertiser.

Target Of Mitsunaga Theft Case Files Civil Rights Lawsuit. After a criminal jury declined to convict Honolulu’s former prosecutor and employees of Mitsunaga & Associates for conspiring to violate an ex-employee’s civil rights, the former employee is taking the case to civil court.  Civil Beat.

The Miske Trial: Interesting Moments From The Organized Crime Trial. Gifts to planning department officials, forged signatures and other improprieties came out in testimony from a prosecution witness in the sweeping criminal trial. Civil Beat.

Trial to begin for ex-OCCC officer in 2016 murder, kidnapping case. A former Oahu Community Correctional Center training officer, indicted eight years ago on murder and kidnapping charges in the 2016 fatal shooting of his 66-year-old mother and kidnapping of a 48-year-old woman, made a last-minute request Monday for a jury- waived trial in Oahu Circuit Court. Star-Advertiser.

More Homeowners Are Needed To Join The Push To Restore Honolulu’s Urban Watersheds. A three-year project in East Oahu funded by NOAA is off to a "remarkable" start, administrator says. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Keaukaha fight over land deed goes to state Supreme Court. A legal battle over a Keaukaha property, a century-old land deed, and the separation between church and state will go before the Hawaii Supreme Court next week. Tribune-Herald.

Maunakea telescopes detect light from merging quasars. Astronomers have used a pair of Maunakea telescopes to shed light on one of the universe’s earliest stages of development. Tribune-Herald.

Aircraft come to Big Island as part of Hawai‘i Air National Guard fighter training exercise. The Hawai‘i Air National Guard’s 154th Wing came to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keāhole on June 12 as part of its fighter exercise, Sentry Aloha 24-2, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on O‘ahu. Big Island Now.


Lahaina homes face 20% turnover in 3 years.
A new report released Monday by the Hawai‘i Land Trust indicates that without intervention Lahaina could see an estimated 6.5% of residential properties totaling $122 million change hands over a year, and within three years a 20% turnover of ownership equating to at least $360 million. Star-Advertiser.

Lahaina Fire Victims Could Build Temporary Homes In The Burn Zone If This Bill Passes. The Maui County Council is moving forward with legislation to give displaced residents some "breathing space" for five years. Civil Beat.

New Taxpayer-Funded Housing Going Up In Lahaina May No Longer Be Needed. FEMA and the state are building 619 homes for fire survivors, but there are now fewer than 215 households still living in the emergency hotel program. Civil Beat.

Maui Mayor Appoints New Directors For Housing, Oiwi Resources Departments.
County voters passed ballot measures in November 2022 for the new departments to help with the housing crisis and ensure proper management of native resources. Civil Beat. Maui News.

What’s in store for Queen Kaʻahumanu Center’s future? Mall owners seek new lease on life. Without resuscitation, the future is bleak for Queen Kaʻahumanu Center, with the aging, once premier Central Maui shopping destination caught in a downward spiral — store closings lead to less foot traffic, which begets more loss of business, and so on. Maui Now.


Federal aid to help with recovery efforts from severe Kauai storm.
On Monday, President Joe Biden declared the severe storms, flooding, and landslides in mid-April a major disaster. KHON2.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Condo owners hit with high insurance costs, climate change could bring more infectious disease, free flights offered to Maui fire survivors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Condo Owners Are Starting To Feel The Pain From Rising Insurance Costs. Gov. Josh Green has created an advisory team to work on ways to stabilize the market which has been battered by climate-related catastrophes. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Scientists predict climate change will bring more infectious disease to Hawaiʻi .  As human-driven actions change the climate, they're also changing the landscape for infectious diseases. Health officials are grappling with what that means for Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Public Radio.

Schatz, Tokuda seek higher Medicare reimbursements for Hawaii physicians. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, alongside Hawaii’s congressional delegation, plans today to introduce new legislation seeking higher Medicare reimbursements for the state’s health care providers. Star-Advertiser.

Pacific Fleet gearing up for return of RIMPAC exercises to Hawaii. The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet is gearing up for the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise — better known as RIMPAC — set to begin next month. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.


Mitsunaga Secretary Acquitted For Bribery Could Still Face State Campaign Violations. For a decade, Terri Ann Otani made tens of thousands of dollars in donations to political candidates in the names of her family members, according to her relatives.  Civil Beat.

Legal analysts: Board of Water Supply’s $1.2B claim with Navy likely headed to lawsuit. The Board of Water Supply and Navy are corresponding with each other as part of the utility’s $1.2 billion claim aimed at recouping costs associated with the Red Hill fuel leaks. Despite the movement, legal analysts think the massive claim will likely end up in court. Hawaii News Now.

Health official discusses air monitoring plan as Navy prepares to vent Red Hill tanks. More than 100 million gallons of fuel have been drained from the Navy Red Hill underground fuel facility, but residual fumes could still pose a risk to workers and neighboring communities. Hawaii Public Radio.

City begins sales of license plate shaka decals.  Starting Thursday, the new shaka license plate decal will be available for purchase at any satellite city hall on Oahu to support efforts to reduce aggressive driving. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Agriculture department surveys Waimanalo nursery for fire ants. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture says it is working with Pua Lani Landscape Design in Waimanalo to survey and treat little fire ants. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

More strategies mulled for feral pig conundrum. As the population of feral pigs on the Big Island continues to grow, county officials and residents are considering a wider range of solutions. Tribune-Herald.

Groundbreaking held for Waikoloa Village emergency route.
State and county officials celebrated the launch of a private project Tuesday to construct an emergency route out of Waikoloa Village. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

More details emerge after cockfight raid: 25 dead roosters, $20K in cash seized. Lehualani K. Kaleiwahea, 49, of Hilo, and her son, Isaac Dylan H. Ragasa-Kaleiwahea, 28, of Keaau were arrested and booked on suspicion of 29 counts of cruelty to animals, plus single counts of first- and second-degree promotion of gambling and first-degree possession of gambling records. Domonick Uchima, 37, of Kurtistown was arrested and booked on suspicion of second-degree promotion of gambling. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  KITV4.


Council passes fiscal 2025 budget on first reading.
The council met for the better part of the day in order to achieve the required passing of a budget. In total, the council entertained 18 bills and resolutions throughout the course of the meeting. Maui News. Maui Now.

Maui Care Flights to offer wildfire survivors free trips.
Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday announced a new program, Maui Care Flights, to provide thousands of round-trip flights for Maui families affected by the Aug. 8 wildfires. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

A $2M gift to UH Maui College creates full scholarships for nursing students. A $2 million gift from the Gilbert and Aileen Chuck Foundation will provide full scholarships for nursing students in the University of Hawai’i Maui College starting this fall, according to a press release from the university. Maui News.

Luxury Housing Planned For South Maui Prompts Concerns Over Water, Traffic And Affordability. The $1.4 billion project envisions 975 high-end homes in and around the Wailea resort community that would cater to seasonal residents. Civil Beat.

Maui health center dealing with major tech issues, affecting thousands.
A medical center on Maui is experiencing major computer problems that are affecting thousands of patients. Malama I Ke Ola Health Center shut down abruptly earlier this month blaming IT issues. Hawaii News Now.

Lahaina Business Owners Dive Into Busy Travel Season. Additional opportunities have arisen in recent weeks as they navigate a new normal after the Aug. 8 fires. Civil Beat.


Hawaiian Host chocolate owners award four Kauaʻi students academic scholarships. The four Kauaʻi students were selected among a total of 59 recipients across the state, one from each of the qualifying public and independent school categories. Kauai Now.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Ethics Commission to renew push for lobbying transparency laws; Kaneshiro, co-defendants found not guilty in corruption trial; HECO execs get raises despite tumultuous year, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Ethics Commission to reintroduce 2 bills to improve transparency.  The executive director of the state Ethics Commission plans to again push for two bills in the next legislative session designed to provide greater transparency about relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Shareholders Overwhelmingly Supported Exec Pay Raises In 2023. Hawaiian Electric Industries investors saw their stock’s value plummet, their dividends disappear and the once-credit worthy company’s bond rating cut to junk status in 2023. But that didn’t stop the investors from supporting raises for the company’s top executives.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii counties differ in approach to regulating vacation rentals. Senate Bill 2919, which became Act 017 when Gov. Josh Green signed it May 3, makes it possible for county lawmakers to “regulate the time, place, manner, and duration in which uses of land and structures may take place.” Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii coffee wins greater protection from Legislature after epic struggle. House Bill 2298, if enacted, will require that by July 1, 2027, roasted, instant and ready-to-drink coffee contains at least 51% of coffee grown in a region of Hawaii if the product package uses the name of the region — such as Kona, Kau, Waialua, Molokai, Maui and Kauai — in a blend with foreign coffee. Star-Advertiser.

Clash over labeling of Hawaii mac nut products results in split legislation. Hawaii lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. Josh Green that, if enacted, would disclose to consumers, starting Jan. 1, 2026, whether macadamia nuts grown in Hawaii are actually in some packaged foods that suggest the nuts are locally grown. Star-Advertiser.

Search for UH president’s replacement to begin soon. The search for the successor to University of Hawaii President David Lassner officially will begin in late May following the Board of Regents’ approval of the job description and leadership profile. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News.

‘No Easy Answers’ For How To Keep Hawaii’s Smallest Public Schools Open And Thriving.
Principals at small schools say they need more money to adequately serve students, but some state leaders say school consolidation and closures could be the answer. Civil Beat.


Jury returns swift not-guilty verdict in corruption trial of Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga.  Former Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, prominent Hawaii businessman Dennis Mi­tsunaga and four Mitsu­naga &Associates executives were found not guilty on all counts in their pay-to-prosecute conspiracy trial in federal court Friday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Hawaii Public Radio.

‘No Evidence To Convict’: Jury Foreman Explains Acquittal In Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga Trial.
Prosecutors presented only circumstantial evidence that left room for reasonable doubt, a juror said. Civil Beat.

Big increase in homeless families on Oahu puts more keiki at risk.
The latest census of Oahu’s homeless population showed a 19% increase in homeless families since January 2023, including 635 children who can suffer lifelong consequences. Star-Advertiser.

This Alternative Method Of Demolishing Structures Could Help Honolulu Avoid A Landfill Crisis. Honolulu is considering how to promote deconstruction and re-use of the materials from buildings that are being torn down, an idea that has already caught on in other cities. Civil Beat.

The Miske Trial: How An Accused Crime Boss Fooled The State To Get A Motor Vehicle Dealer License. When he ran into hurdles because of his criminal background, court testimony shows, he simply lied or fabricated a non-existent entity. Civil Beat.

UH Manoa ranked in top 2.5% globally of 20,000 universities. The University of Hawaii at Manoa was ranked 511 on the Global 2000 list by the Center for World University Rankings, which measured key areas such as education, employability, faculty and research. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi Supreme Court will decide if farmland can be used for short-term rentals. The Rosehill petitioners argued that if agricultural land from 1976 in the county was allowed to be rented for less than 31 days, then the new 2019 law was more restrictive. That meant the agricultural landowners that were operating STRs before 2019 could be grandfathered in. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bill would change how corporation counsel is selected. Two council members have proposed making the council the sole appointing authority for the position, a move that left some of their fellows excited and others skeptical during a Tuesday meeting of the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations and External Affairs. Tribune-Herald.

Michael Konowicz announces candidacy for Hawai‘i County representing Kohala Districts. Michael Konowicz of Waikōloa announced his candidacy for Hawai‘i County’s District 9 representing North and South Kohala residents. Big Island Now.


Why Was The Maui County Finance Director Fired? The absence of former finance director Scott Teruya, which has never been explained, was felt during the county's about-to-conclude critical budget deliberations. Civil Beat.

Another telescope controvery is brewing, this time on Maui. The U.S. Air Force wants to build seven more telescopes on the summit of Haleakala to help better track the growing number of objects whizzing about in space. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Maui County issues first rebuilding permit for wildfire survivors. The Maui County Recovery Permit Center, which opened three weeks ago to facilitate permitting for August wildfire survivors, has issued its first building permit to a Lahaina couple to rebuild their destroyed home. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Kaiāulu o Kūkuʻia affordable housing waitlist opening; lottery planned. A waiting list opens next month for the Kaiāulu o Kūku′ia affordable apartment project located on Keawe St. in West Maui.  Maui Now.

Public to discuss new site for destroyed Lahaina school. The state Department of Education will hold a community meeting Tuesday to discuss options for a permanent site for the King Kamehameha III Elementary School campus, which was damaged beyond repair in the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui. Star-Advertiser.

Maui seeks contractor to review MEMA’s Aug. 8 response.
County officials are seeking an outside agency to review the response of the Maui Emergency Management Agency during the Aug. 8 wildfires because they said the department currently has only two full-time employees. Star-Advertiser.

Committee authorized $193,274 fine to settle with EPA over county violations of Safe Water Drinking Act. Violations took place in seven different county owned properties with high capacity cesspools. Maui News.


Kauai apartment residents challenge DHHL as eviction looms.
Residents at an apartment complex in Kapaa, Kauai, are rallying to fight the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ proposed acquisition of their building, which they say would evict about 300 current residents in over 80 units. Star-Advertiser.

Lawa‘i still cleaning up from flood debris. Between 25 and 30 volunteers, including about a dozen from the U.S. Coast Guard came from as far away as Kapa‘a and toiled to clear the two ditches in the Lawai Valley Estates that were originally put in as drainage aids when the land was used for growing pineapples. Garden Island.

Fern Holland begins second campaign for Kauaʻi County Council. Fern Ānuenue Holland has officially launched her 2024 campaign for a seat on the Kauaʻi County Council, outlining a candidacy that would prioritize affordable housing, agriculture production, drug rehabilitation, and tourism management during a discussion at her first fundraising event at Anahola Marketplace earlier this week. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Hawaii Tourism Authority sued over snorkeling dangers after long flights, temporary restraining order halts destruction of Haiku stairs, contested case hearing slows Punaluu black sand beach development, Civil Beat a Pulitzer finalist for Maui fire coverage, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Michigan family files lawsuit against Hawaii tourism authority over snorkeling dangers after long flights. A Michigan family filed a lawsuit against the Hawaii's Tourism Authority, and other visitor groups, because they don't warn tourists about potential dangers of snorkeling soon after flying. KITV4.

Hawaii Pushes To Ensure High Schoolers Learn About Money Management. The Department of Education wants to include financial literacy in students' individual transition plans for career planning. Civil Beat.

Hawaii county mayors crack down on short-term rentals, pledging neighborhood restoration. Now with the power to revoke permits, county mayors are moving aggressively to shut many of them down. KITV4.

Woman charged for alleged theft of more than $44,000 in IBEW union members’ dues. Attorney General Anne Lopez announced criminal charges against a woman for the alleged embezzlement of approximately $44,367 in union dues from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 1186. Maui Now. Star-Advertiser.


Corruption Defendant Dennis Mitsunaga Injured In Jailhouse Fall, Delaying Trial
. A high-profile bribery trial involving businessman Dennis Mitsunaga and former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was delayed on Monday after Mitsunaga sustained an injury in custody, his attorney said.  Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Settlement over Liquor Commission lawsuit is rejected. An offer by the city to settle a 2021 federal lawsuit alleging anti-gay discrimination by investigators working for the Honolulu Liquor Commission has been rejected. Star-Advertiser.

Friends of Haiku Stairs halt removal of popular, but prohibited, hiking trail. A temporary restraining order has been filed by the Friends of Haiku Stairs in an attempt to keep the city from their removal. KHON2.

Oahu housing market improves with year-over-year gains. The single-family home market had bigger gains, with a 26% jump in sales to 262 in April from 208 a year earlier, and a 10% rise in the median sale price to $1,100,000 from $999,995. Star-Advertiser.

Man who received $12.5M settlement from HPD arrested for gun crimes. Officers booked Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati Saturday afternoon for allegedly firing a gun out of a moving vehicle in Kaneohe. Hawaii News Now.

Biki’s Balancing Act: The Bike Share Company Is Raising Rates While Trying To Attract More Riders. Biki's Honolulu ridership has been steadily declining over the past few years, and its leadership wants to reinvest in the system to draw in more riders and start adding e-bikes. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Punalu‘u project stalled: Proposed Black Sand Beach Development On Big Island Hits Rocky Shores. The Windward Planning Commission granted petitions for a contested case hearing over a developer's plans to build 225 units along a remote strip of coastline. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

Star Alameda, wife of mayoral candidate dies. Star Alameda, wife of Hawaii County mayoral candidate Kimo Alameda and a career educator, died Friday. She was 54. Tribune-Herald.

National Science Foundation to decide on billions in funding for Thirty Meter Telescope. The National Science Foundation has until September to decide on advancing the Thirty Meter Telescope to the final design stage. The TMT is competing against a telescope project in Chile for limited NSF funding.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaiian Name Given To New Astronomy Instrument On Maunakea.  ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have named a new instrument that will be used at the Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope on Maunakea. Wenaokeao, meaning “earliest glow of light,” was given after extensive research by high school students. Big Island Video News.


Notices of Maui homeless sweep lacking information cited by state Supreme Court. Notices of an ongoing homeless sweep at Maui’s Kahului Boat Harbor by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources lack the same information that was cited by the Hawaii Supreme Court in a challenge to Maui County’s homeless sweeps. Star-Advertiser.

A judge is forcing Hawaiʻi to give wildfire investigation documents to lawyers handling lawsuits. A judge on Friday forced the Hawaiʻi attorney general's office to turn over to lawyers involved in the hundreds of lawsuits over last summer's Maui wildfires all documents, interviews and data collected by the outside team hired to investigate the disaster. Associated Press.

Candidates file nomination papers, aim to help with Maui’s housing crisis. Two candidates for public office are testing political waters and saying they aim to help address Maui’s housing crisis, especially in the wake of the August wildfires. Maui Now.

Expeditions Maui-Lānaʻi Ferry expands to three round trips per day; continues to adjust following wildfires. The Expeditions Maui-Lānaʻi Ferry is expanding service with three round trips per day, seven days a week, starting the week of June 3, 2024. Maui Now.

Civil Beat Named Pulitzer Finalist For Maui Fire Coverage. Civil Beat’s reporting exposed critical flaws in the state and county’s emergency preparedness and response, including the absence of Maui’s top emergency management official, the county’s lack of transparency overall and the history of failures in ecological management that laid the foundation for the disaster.  Civil Beat.


County and hotel developer respond to recent wastewater spills at Coco Palms. Two recent wastewater spills at the Wailua Coco Palms sewer pump station, expected to accommodate a 350-room hotel currently under construction, have added to public opposition to the development. However, county officials and the hotel developer assert that the sewer issues are not linked to the hotelʻs construction.  Kauai Now.

Niumalu Bridge on Kaua‘i closed till further notice. Following the flooding event in April, Kaua‘i County consultants inspected county bridges across the island and determined that the Niumalu Bridge was unsafe for motorists, prompting an immediate shutdown. Kauai Now.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Green creates climate advisory team, Bissen touts plan to eliminate 7k vacation rentals on Maui, Mitsunaga corruption trial witness describes thousands in 'straw man' campaign contributions, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Governor announces Climate Advisory Team to develop climate resilience policy, forms team to address disasters and climate change.  Gov. Josh Green announced Thursday that he is forming a Climate Advisory Team to spearhead policy efforts that include securing funding to mitigate disaster risks and impacts from climate change as well as tackling still-pending issues stemming from the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. KHON2.

Controversial urban development bill narrowly passes final floor vote. Senate Bill 3202 would allow two accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, to be built on residential properties.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Senate and House pass bills to improve language access in Hawaiʻi .
The bills came after advocates have been raising concerns about the need for more language interpreters in the event of natural disasters. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers Want State To Make Public The Names Of Companies That Sell Infested Plants. The agriculture department will likely receive $20 million for biosecurity this year. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.  KITV4.

Legislature passes bill supporting value-added production across Hawaiʻi
. In a landmark move aimed at bolstering economic resilience and promoting local industries, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature has successfully passed HB2144 HD1 SD2 CD1, a bill focused on expanding value-added production throughout the Aloha State.  Maui Now.

Coffee labeling bill passes.  A bill over 30 years in the making has cleared legislative hurdles and is being sent to Gov. Josh Green for his signature. The bill, introduced by Rep. Nicole Lowen, came on the heels of Act 222 in 2022 which required an independent study to assess the economic impact of Hawaii’s coffee labeling laws on local coffee farmers and the industry. West Hawaii Today.


Defendant In Honolulu Corruption Case Gave Politicians Thousands In Illegal Straw Donations, Niece Says.  Terri Ann Otani, who worked for Mitsunaga & Associates Inc.,  is now on trial for participating in a scheme to bribe former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro with campaign donations so he would pursue a case against a former Mitsunaga firm employee. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Council eyes $27M for city worker hazard pay. The Honolulu City Council plans to earmark $27 million in federal funds to repay eligible, unionized city workers employed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Star-Advertiser.

Attorney blasts HPD’s investigation of alleged Jan. 1 beating.
An attorney for the father and son allegedly hit with a Honolulu police van and beaten by  Opens in a new tabup to 12 officers during an islandwide New Year’s Day manhunt for an attempted murder suspect Opens in a new tab said HPD has not identified or interviewed any of the officers involved. Star-Advertiser.

Waianae coast residents air crime concerns at mayor's town hall.
Hundreds of Waianae Coast residents jammed Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s latest town hall meeting, with crime on the top of their minds. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu ranks 29th on clean energy progress among US cities. The nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy parsed through municipal energy policies and programs to create the 2024 City Clean Energy Scorecard.  Hawaii Public Radio.

New Hawaii Charter School Wants To Prep Kids For A Future Where AI Is ‘Central In Our Lives’. The opening of Kulia Academy in Kalihi comes at a time when many other schools in the state are grappling with how to incorporate artificial intelligence into classroom lessons and address possible misuse of the technology. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Windward Planning Commission gives short-term rental bill ‘thumbs-down’.  The Windward Planning Commission gave Hawaiʻi County Council Chair Heather Kimball’s short-term rental bill a thumbs-down on May 2 by sending an unfavorable recommendation to the County Council.  Multiple members of the commission viewed the bill as “government overreach.”  Big Island Now.

2024 Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament Cancelled Due To Low Participation. The planned 62nd annual Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona has been cancelled, organizers announced this week, due to low world-wide participation. Big Island Video News.

More than 1,600 earthquakes recorded on Kīlauea since late April.
USGS Issues Statement On Kīlauea Volcano As Unrest Increases. Kīlauea was not erupting as of 12:15 a.m. Friday morning, but a sharp increase in seismicity on the upper East Rift Zone overnight prompted an information statement from the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Hilo Macy’s store safe for now despite more downsizing by the retailer. The Macy’s store in Hilo’s Prince Kuhio Plaza will remain open for the foreseeable future, according to spokesperson for the national retailer. Tribune-Herald.


Bissen quick to offer bill to regulate Maui vacation rentals. Maui Mayor Richard Bissen wasted no time in proposing a county bill that would phase out 2,200 vacation rentals in West Maui apartment districts by July 1, 2025 — and eventually all 7,000 units in apartment districts across Maui. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio.  Maui News.  Maui Now.  KHON2.

Gov. Green approves $385.4M emergency appropriations for Maui wildfire relief.
Gov. Josh Green signed Senate Bill 582 into law on Thursday, allocating $385.4 million in emergency appropriations to support relief efforts on Maui, following the Aug. 8, 2023 wildfires.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Environmental Groups Sue Maui Resort Over Endangered Seabird Injuries. Despite a settlement reached two years ago, Hawaiian petrels continue to be harmed by bright lights at Grand Wailea in violation of federal law, plaintiffs allege. Civil Beat. Maui Now.


Haʻena residents challenge AT&T cell tower plans. Kaua’i County Council members held a briefing on AT&T’s plan to place a 5G cell tower on a house lot in Ha’ena during a committee meeting on Wednesday, May 1, as community residents filled the chambers to speak out against the proposed construction. Kauai Now.

Embattled Kauai police chief accused of ‘punishing’ officers who found his lost service gun. A month after embattled KPD Chief Todd Raybuck lost his loaded service weapon, the two officers who found it are formally accusing him of retaliation. Hawaii News Now.

Big drop in passenger count at Lihu‘e Airport. The number of people getting off domestic passenger flights at Lihu‘e Airport dropped to its lowest level for the first full month of spring since the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden Island.

Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge officially opens on Kaua‘i. Kauai’s new self-guided refuge completes the trifecta for Kauai’s wildlife refuges on the island — Hanalei, Huleia, and Kilauea Point — all managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Transportation. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Marijuana decriminalization dies in Legislature, audit blasts foster care system, longtime Oahu cattle ranch gives way to development, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Senate Kills ‘De Facto’ Weed Legalization. The full state Senate on Monday killed the last chance this legislative session to make marijuana use more lenient by increasing amounts of possession while reducing fines. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Big Island Video News.  KHON2.

Ratepayers could see higher bills as HECO pays off Maui wildfire damage costs. Despite sizable public opposition, lawmakers are racing to finalize a bill that could pass the costs of the Maui wildfires onto ratepayers.  Hawaii Public Radio.

On Earth Day, rooftop solar program grants awarded. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday, coinciding with Earth Day, that a state agency nicknamed Hawaii’s Green Bank will receive a $62.5 million grant for a program that provides low- and moderate-income households with loans to acquire rooftop solar and energy storage systems. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.  KHON2.

Governor Appoints Advisers For Climate Resilience, Marine Affairs. Charles "Chip" Fletcher, the interim dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, was appointed the special advisor for climate and resilience. Oceanography professor David "Dave" Karl was tapped to chair the governor's Advisory Committee on Marine Affairs.  Hawaii Public Radio. Civil Beat.

State Failed To Comply With Laws For Licensing Foster Homes And Put Children At Risk. A new report by the Hawaii State Auditor found that one main category of foster homes often failed to meet time limits for licensing and the state wasted money on a contractor and missed out on federal payments. Civil Beat.  Hawaii News Now.     


Corruption Defendant Dennis Mitsunaga Jailed For Alleged Witness Tampering For Duration Of Trial. Dennis Mitsunaga is currently facing federal charges that he conspired with his associates to bribe former Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.  Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

City touts ‘sustainable’ projects near Skyline. Monday’s media event highlighted the release of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency’s 2024 Annual Sustainability Report for Oahu. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Longtime Oahu cattle ranch forced to close down. Ranch operators said they were given 180 days to leave after the property was bought by Utah developer Woodbury Corporation, under the name Oahu Property Owner. KITV4.

Navy Declines To Identify Its Pearl Harbor Water Quality Experts. A Navy team that has been investigating the cause of ongoing water quality complaints around Pearl Harbor is allegedly made up of experts in the field, but the Navy won’t say who they are.  Civil Beat.

Dozens of drivers arrested, jailed for DUI despite test results showing no alcohol in their system. Over the last two years, dozens of Oahu drivers have been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence with breathalyzer results of 0.00 — meaning no alcohol showed as present in their system, HNN Investigates has found. Hawaii News Now.

Citations issued for trespassing closed Haiku Stairs.
Police issued on Saturday and Sunday 60 warnings and eight trespassing citations, but that changed Monday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Public Meetings Set On Pōhakuloa Training Area EIS Draft Two.
Meetings will be held in Hilo and Waimea as the Army invites comments on the second draft environmental impact statement for its proposed land retention at Pōhakuloa Training Area. Big Island Video News.

Big Island house built on wrong lot faces additional obstacle. The case of a house built on the wrong lot is set to return to court this week on Hawaii Island. KITV4.

DOH shuts down Waikoloa restaurant due to rat infestation
. The state Department of Health issued a red “Closed” placard and immediately shut down Ocean Club at Hali‘i Kai on Friday due to an active rodent infestation, contaminated food products and unsanitary conditions within the facility. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.

Learn more about the 4 finalists for chancellor at Hawai‘i Community College. The candidates will participate in a final round of interviews that include a public forum for each candidate Hawaiʻi CC–Pālamanui and Hawaiʻi CC’s Manono campus next week. Big Island Now.


Maui County’s Property Tax Base Increases Despite Lahaina Fire. The council is mulling proposed tax increases to raise 10% more revenue from property taxes next year. Civil Beat.

Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson pledged $10M for Maui wildfire survivors. They gave much more.  The Entertainment Industry Foundation, a longtime nonprofit that helps celebrities administer charitable work and that managed the distribution of the funds, said it raised almost $60 million.  Associated Press.

The Water’s In, The Roads Are Pretty Good, The Sewer’s Getting There But Lahaina Recovery Is Still A Ways Off. The county plans to open a recovery permitting center on Monday. Civil Beat.

Maui Fair Alliance cancels 98th Maui Fair in 2024, announces intent to dissolve after years of service. The Maui Fair was last held in October 2019 several months before Hawaiʻi’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the islands. Maui Now.


Court records reveal Līhuʻe manʻs alleged threatening letter to Kauaʻi council member ahead of court appearance. A Līhu‘e man accused of leaving a “threatening note” on the desk of a Kaua‘i County Councilman is scheduled in District Court on Tuesday for a status review hearing, while the county prosecutor confirmed the office has transferred the case to Honolulu due to a conflict of interest. Kauai Now.