Showing posts with label Kona International Airport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kona International Airport. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

New endangered species rules worry Hawaii leaders, police dropped the ball on Mauna Kea arrests, Hawaiian Airlines adds Maui-Vegas route, Kona airport gets $40M boost, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2019 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Endangered nene goose in Hawaii ©2019 All Hawaii News
Isle leaders blast new rules on endangered species. Hawaii flora and fauna, already under stress from climate change, will have fewer protections under new Trump administration rules that weaken the Endangered Species Act. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Is Home To More Than 400 Endangered Species. Now the Trump administration is weakening the federal law that protects them. Civil Beat.

Trump admin moves to weaken endangered species protections. The rule would also create an exemption to critical habitats that exist because of the results of the climate crisis such as sea level rise. KITV.

Schatz 'sick' over Trump administration plans to weaken Endangered Species act. Local politicians made sure their voice was heard after the news broke. KITV.

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Hawaii Democrats Elect New Party Chair. Kate Stanley will hold the interim position until May 2020. Civil Beat.

Kahele Promoted, Gabbard Leaves For Active Duty. State Sen. Kai Kahele is now a Lieutenant Colonel, while U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is off the campaign trail for two weeks of active duty training. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii Legislature’s Top-Paid Officials Never Run For Office. The latest installment of Civil Beat’s public salary database includes employees of the Senate, House and Legislative Reference Bureau. Civil Beat.

New Technology to Reduce Land Court Records Clog. The Bureau of Conveyances has just awarded a $1.3 million contract to West Central Indexing to implement a highly specialized Land Records Management System to increase accuracy and improve efficiencies in recording these documents. Big Island Now.

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Officers: Police plans to arrest TMT protesters, clear road abruptly fell through. Honolulu Police Sgt. James “Kimo” Smith’s version of events sheds light on one of the most emotional days of the conflict, and raises new questions about the government response in the wake of the arrests. Hawaii News Now.

Mauna Kea telescopes coming back to life. Though not exactly fully functional yet, the telescopes atop Mauna Kea are starting to conduct science for the first time in nearly four weeks. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Telescopes Employ Hundreds, Critics Say Astronomy Not Big Island Jobs Solution. Hawaii Public Radio.

Telescope confirms asteroid not a threat. Maunakea observatories returned to work last weekend and almost immediately discovered that the world will not end next year. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

Extra Board Members Were Meant To Add Scrutiny On HART — But They Rarely Show Up. Only one Legislature-appointed member has attended a board meeting since February, making it hard for the Honolulu rail project to get routine business done. Civil Beat.

Rate Commission seeks testimony on bus and rail fares. The Honolulu Rate Commission will take public testimony on the future of mass transit fares at a meeting from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mission Memorial Hearing Room. Star-Advertiser.

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How much time will the Kealohas spend in prison? The answer is not easy to figure out. Former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha has already spent 45 days behind bars. Time that will be credited once she is sentenced for obstruction and conspiracy on Oct. 7. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu officer who pleaded guilty in Kealoha corruption case fights to keep job. Honolulu Police Officer Danny Sellers. pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the Kealoha’s public corruption case. Hawaii News Now.

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Honolulu Officials Say Bulky Trash Program Is Starting To Work. Honolulu officials say the city's bulky item pilot program is beginning to work despite ongoing complaints. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bulky item pickup program improving, Caldwell announces. Two months in, public participation in the city’s revised bulky item trash pickup system is growing, and the pilot project is on its way to being a success — despite some glitches along the way, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

To crack down on illegal dumpers, city wants your help.  The city’s controversial bulky item pickup pilot is in its third month, and officials say they’re now planning to ramp up efforts to catch illegal dumpers. Hawaii News Now.

Bulky item pilot pickup program seeing increase in appointments. KHON2.

Mayor’s office, Waimanalo Park renovation opponents disagree on park findings. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is planning to cut back on master plans for a renovation of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Ige releases $40.4M for airport improvements. Gov. David Ige has released $40.4 million for improvements to the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, state Sen. Lorraine Inouye announced Monday. West Hawaii Today.

Holiday Inn to get signs. More than five years later, the Holiday Inn in Kailua-Kona is about to get its signs. West Hawaii Today.

Influx of permit applications alters Kona office hours. As part of an ongoing effort to address a backlog in the processing of applications and permits at the Planning Department’s West Hawaii office in Kailua-Kona, the department said Monday it will begin to limit service hours with the public on a temporary basis. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Hawaiian Airlines to Launch New Maui to Las Vegas Flights in December. The airline will inaugurate its newest narrow-body Airbus A321neo aircraft on the route. Maui Now.

Hawaiian Air adds Maui to Las Vegas in new route. Hawaiian Airlines announced Monday that it’s launching direct service between Maui and Las Vegas in December on its Airbus 321neo, whose midrange capabilities have allowed the carrier to beef up service to smaller, secondary markets throughout the western United States. Star-Advertiser.

Affordable rental community in Kihei taking applications. Kaiwahine Village holds 120 units, amenities. Maui News.

Public Invited to Last Open House for Baldwin Beach Park Masterplan. The public is invited to view the final concept for the Baldwin Beach Park master plan on Aug. 22 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Paiia Community Center. Maui Now.

Kauai


Tax exemption amendment goes to council. Bill No. 2756, if approved, would allow family members to apply for real property tax exemptions based upon their own eligibility, as long as there is no living person on title. Garden Island.

Coral bleaching could be on the way. Another coral bleaching event could hit Hawaii in the next four months, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Coral Reef Watch. Garden Island.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Japan Airlines returns to Kona, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell unpopular in poll, Kauai cuts auditor funds to balance $202M budget, murderers among work-release inmates, Portlock owner wants $2M for surf spot access, Big Island testifiers oppose gas tax hike, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Ige, state and Japan Airlines officials, courtesy photo
Japan Airlines will resume daily nonstop service between Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Kona International Airport at Keahole this fall — a move that is expected to add millions of dollars to the state’s economy and shore up Kona’s status as an international port of entry. Star-Advertiser.

Japan Airlines will resume nonstop flights between Tokyo and the Kona airport on Hawaii Island this fall after a seven-year absence, providing $84.2 million in annual visitor spending. Pacific Business News.

Direct flights from Japan to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole will be re-established after a seven-year absence. West Hawaii Today.

The Federal Aviation Administration is providing more than $10 million in federal funding to two of Hawaii's airports to enhance operations and runway safety. The two airports that will receive the money are Kahului Airport on Maui and Hilo International Airport on the Big Island. Pacific Business News.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency released video footage today of the successful intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Tuesday, the agency said. Star-Advertiser.

Sentencing set for Navy officer formerly stationed in Hawaii who shared military secrets. Associated Press.

Convicted murderers are among the inmates who are out in the community working while finishing their sentence. KHON2.

The state has received a $2.5 million payment from Volkswagen as part of a national settlement with the automaker. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii will receive a direct payment of $2.5 million from Volkswagen as part of a multi-state settlement, state Attorney General Doug Chin and state Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Stephen Levins said on Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

The 2017 Central Pacific hurricane season gets underway today. West Hawaii Today.

The state’s largest carrier of interisland ocean cargo extended a more than four-year stretch of fairly level delivery volumes with roughly flat first-quarter results. Star-Advertiser.

Young Brothers, Ltd.’s intrastate cargo volumes between Honolulu and six Neighbor Island ports were flat for the first quarter of 2017, up only 0.2 percent compared to the same period in 2016, according to the company’s quarterly cargo volume report. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Bankers Association elected its officers for the new fiscal year, beginning Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

In Hawaii, an island oasis for Democrats, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is about as popular as Republican President Donald Trump. And it looks like Caldwell might have the rail project to blame for it. Civil Beat.

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Takai was remembered Wednesday as a “true Pacific warrior, a true patriot and a true statesman” at a ceremony renaming the Pacific Warfighting Center on Ford Island in his name. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of a gate blocking access to a lane that leads to a popular Portlock beach estimates the city would need to pay more than $2 million to condemn the lane to keep it open. Star-Advertiser.

Corals Are Dying At Hawaii’s Most Popular Snorkeling Spot. Climate change is heating the ocean and causing stronger and longer coral bleaching events at Hanauma Bay. Civil Beat.

A state board overseeing real estate development rules in Kakaako decided Wednesday to take more time to analyze proposed changes to a long list of affordable-housing production requirements. Star-Advertiser.

The decades-long erosion of the shoreline just outside the city’s Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant leaves the facility’s outfall pipeline in a precarious situation where “failure or damage to the outfall could have catastrophic health, environmental and economic consequences,” according to an environmental report made public by the city last month. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Health's Clean Water Branch is advising the public to avoid waters near a Punaluu stream due to a contamination alert. Hawaii News Now.

In an effort to accommodate the growth of Waianae High School’s Searider Productions, the state Department of Education plans to expand the program’s facilities into a full-fledged complex. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Almost every one of the more than dozen residents addressing the County Council at a public hearing Wednesday on a gas tax increase was opposed to the idea. West Hawaii Today.

Roughly twenty Hawaii Island residents testified Wednesday at a public hearing on a possible series of fuel tax increases on the Big Island. Big Island Video News.

Smuggled into US as a teen, respected Kona farmer now faces deportation to Mexico. Hawaii News Now.

Several years ago, Hawai'i County Prosecutor Mitch Roth started a program on the east side of the Big Island aimed at working with young offenders. It links actions and consequences – and it’s been so successful he wants to start a similar program on the west side. Hawaii Public Radio.

A group of 25 conservation managers, cultural practictioners and government representatives in the Kulani tract of the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve for a ceremony to offer the Hawaii creeper a boost: its traditional name, rediscovered after decades. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The Maui County Liquor Commission may hear public comments this month about how the Department of Liquor Control processes permits for one-day fundraising events, while commission action on repealing controversial rules changes has been put off until July at the earliest. Maui News.

Kahului Airport and Hilo International Airport will receive over $10 million in federal funds from the Federal Aviation Administration to enhance airport operations and runway safety on Maui and the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Maui Now.

Maui’s Kapalua Bay Beach in West Maui earned the number 2 spot on Dr. Stephen P Leatherman’s 27th Annual Top 10 Beach List. Maui Now.

South Maui rescue tubes ready. Maui News.

Hawksbill and green (honu) sea turtles begin their 2017 nesting season along Maui beaches in June. Maui Now.

Kauai

Auditor’s office, overtime cut from spending plan. The Kauai County Council unanimously approved a $201.5 million budget for fiscal year 2017-2018 Wednesday. Garden Island.

A Kauai judge has ruled in favor of a Southside resident after a decade’s long tussle over a new subdivision. Judge Kathleen Watanabe recently ruled that the state, County of Kauai and the Eric A. Knudsen Trust violated laws preserving and protecting Hawaiian rights and cultural resources when the developer’s Village at Poipu Phase One subdivision was approved in 2009, according to a release from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. Garden Island.

Two of Kauai’s endangered seabird species are in peril, according to a study released Wednesday by the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. Garden Island.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Obama and Abe to visit Pearl Harbor Tuesday, drone recovered from South China Sea, Japan-Kona flights resume, Hawaii has small population bump, lawmaker sponsors albatross cruelty bill, Kauai mayor to veto alcohol golf course bill, sewer rate increase for Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy U.S. Navy
Drone recovered from China, courtesy U.S. Pacific Fleet
U.S. Pacific Fleet released photos today of a Navy “ocean glider” unmanned underwater vehicle taken Dec. 15 by China — leading to U.S. accusations that the sovereign vessel had been unlawfully seized. Star-Advertiser.

The USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will be closed Tuesday due to a visit by President Barack Obama and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the National Park Service said. Star-Advertiser.

Newly found Hawaiian fish is named after the president who expanded its sanctuary. Star-Advertiser.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have named a fish after President Obama. Hawaii Public Radio.

The population of Hawaii grew by about 3,400 people between July 2015 and this July. The current estimate for the daily population, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, is 1,428,557. Civil Beat.

Federal figures show more people are leaving Hawaii for the mainland than coming to live in the state. Associated Press.

Maui and Kauai were in the top 10 least affordable counties according to a new report by ATTOM Data Solutions. Pacific Business News.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the state Environmental Council’s 15 seats are full thanks to a slew of appointments by Gov. David Ige. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers to consider doubling funds to state-funded drug rehab centers. Hawaii News Now.

Do Hawaii Prisons Overuse Solitary Confinement? Most of the islands’ maximum-custody inmates live in special holding cells for up to 23 hours per day. The policy bucks a national trend. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Amid leadership crisis, Honolulu Police Department spent $74K to improve image. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu taxpayers are still paying Police Chief Louis Kealoha's salary even though he temporarily stepped down from his position. KITV.

The Honolulu Police Department’s reputation has taken a hit with the chief and four officers being targeted in a federal investigation. Hawaii News Now.

The day after Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha took leave amid a growing public corruption case, his wife remains on the job as a deputy city prosecutor. Hawaii News Now.

Court cases dealing with evictions on Oahu are down by 25 percent since April with the help of $4.7 million in state funds used to help families stay in their homes. Star-Advertiser.

The City and County of Honolulu has been designated as a “High Performer” by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section Eight Management Assessment Program for the sixth year in a row, recognizing the city’s ability to provide rent subsidies for low-income households. Pacific Business News.

An attempt by the Friends of Makakilo to stop the 11,750-home Hoopili project planned for Leeward Oahu and to limit the Honolulu rail line failed Wednesday after the Honolulu Ethics Commission ruled that key City Council votes enabling the projects should not be overturned. Star-Advertiser.

Houston’s NRG Energy Inc., which recently took over ownership of the bankrupt SunEdison Inc.’s large solar farm projects in Hawaii, including some that have been stalled, is making moves to restart these stalled projects, Pacific Business News has learned.

Honolulu officials have released a “Blaisdell Center Master Plan Feasibility Study and Conceptual Land Use Plan,” which they say calls for the Arena and Concert Hall “to be retained and renovated.” Civil Beat.

Lawmaker will introduce 2 bills in response to albatross cruelty case. KITV.

A 19-year-old college student has been charged with animal cruelty, nearly a year after seabirds were found dead at a Hawaii nature reserve. Associated Press.

Hawaii

At around noon Wednesday, the first international flight in half a dozen years arrived at the Kona International Airport at Keahole, bringing with it 280 passengers — a full flight — to the Big Island from Japan. West Hawaii Today.

A white-tented temporary customs inspection station at Kona International Airport processed incoming visitors Wednesday after Hawaiian Airlines’ inaugural nonstop flight from Haneda International Airport in Tokyo touched down shortly after noon. Star-Advertiser.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing a proposed radiation monitoring plan for Pohakuloa Training Area. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Harry Kim’s first Cabinet appointee was easily confirmed Wednesday by the County Council, but at least one future nominee might find the going a little more difficult. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Hawaii Water Service Co. is seeking sewer rate increases phased in over five years that would more than double its revenues from nearly 880 residential, business and government customers in Pukalani. Maui News.

Maui County is slowly on its way to having an electricity-generating facility that will power the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility as well as produce fertilizer that the county could sell. Maui News.

A complaint against Maui County Council Chairman Mike White was filed with the Board of Ethics on Tuesday questioning White’s declaration to continue to serve as council chair for the next two-year term before formal public hearings or votes on leadership by the full council, according to a news release sent by the complainant. Maui News.

Maui Ocean Center has a special permit to collect coral, which is otherwise strictly prohibited.  The team got to be part of a coral recovery operation at multiple harbors across the state, after damage from the 2011 tsunami. Maui Now.

Kauai

In the days following Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s announcement he plans to veto the bill allowing alcohol to be served at Wailua Golf Course, some Kauai County Councilmembers say his reasons are unclear. Garden Island.

The only way for Alakai O Kauai Public Charter School to open next fall is for the school to move into an already existing structure. Garden Island.

County announces holiday closures. Garden Island.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Services today for late state Rep. Tsuji, attorney general whittles rape test kit backlog, Hanabusa to lead freshman class, Obama nixes Pearl Harbor visit, direct Japan flights coming to Kona, Maui homeless rousted, Kauai inaugurates council members, Honolulu streets condemned, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Rep. Clift Tsuji © 2016 All Hawaii News
Hawaii lawmakers and residents are gathering to remember the late Big Island lawmaker Rep. Clift Tsuji, who died last month. Associated Press.

A memorial service for the late state Rep. Clift Tsuji  will be held on Friday, Dec. 2 in the House chamber at the state Capitol. Visitation will be from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., followed by a short program at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii News Now.

As a mark of respect for the late Hawaii State Representative Clifton Tsuji, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawaii shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai'i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Dec. 2, and from sunrise to sunset on Sunday, Dec. 4. KITV.

The attorney general’s office says a working group has come up with a timeline to whittle down a backlog of untested rape kits. The plan is to test as many as 50 kits each month starting next year. KHON2.

Hawaii will receive $5.74 million to fund preschool in the state’s public charter schools, including Hawaiian language immersion programs. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii public schools will aim to graduate more students, enroll more graduates in college, retain more teachers, improve test scores and educate more special-education students in regular classes by 2020 under a revised strategic plan that officials say is designed to better support student success. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama is no longer expected for the 75th Pearl Harbor Commemoration, an 11-day series of events to mark Dec. 7, 1941. Star-Advertiser.

Freshmen Democratic House members Tuesday unanimously elected U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii as their class representative, a new position that is part of a change in the House Democratic leadership structure. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The city has a green light to proceed with condemning eight streets in Kakaako that are a tangled mess of competing ownership claims and parking rights. Star-Advertiser.

The city can now initiate action to claim eight private Kakaako streets that have generated complaints about traffic being blocked by parking spots a company has rented out. Civil Beat.

Activists Fear Thomas Square Could Become A ‘Revenue Cow’. The downtown Honolulu park has long been the site for political and cultural events, as well as free services for the needy. Civil Beat.

To honor the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai, the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park in Waipio will soon bear the congressman’s name. Star-Advertiser.

A police officer escorted former congressional candidate Angela Kaaihue out of a Honolulu City Council meeting Thursday after she loudly protested the renaming of an aquatic center in honor of the late Congressman Mark Takai. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu City Council on Thursday approved four resolutions authorizing the payment of up to $150,000 to retain the services of three outside law firms to represent Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha in four lawsuits. Civil Beat.

Manoa Botanicals LLC, one of eight Hawaii firms licensed to open medical marijuana dispensaries, has raised $5 million in its second round of equity financing, bringing the total amount raised for the Oahu company to $10.9 million. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii


Gov. David Ige Thursday announced from Honolulu the reopening of the federal inspection service at the Kona International Airport at Keahole, paving the way as the state’s second international gateway. West Hawaii Today.

Customs and immigration checks are being set up at Kona International Airport in time for Hawaiian Airlines to begin operating nonstop flights there from Japan. Associated Press.

Kona International Airport will once again service flights from Japan on Dec. 20 with the re-establishment of a U.S. Customs station, a move that Gov. David Ige says will improve the overall health of the state of Hawaii by restoring direct flights from Tokyo to a Neighbor Island. Pacific Business News.

The State announced the re-establishment of the Kona International Airport yesterday with the arrival of the first foreign flight from Japan scheduled in less than 3 weeks. Hawaii Public Radio.

It was a brisk, windy, rainy day at the Mauna Kea Recreation Area on Thursday, but it was nice and cozy inside after several dozen people crowded into the newly renovated dining hall to celebrate the grand opening of the county’s overhaul of the former state park. West Hawaii Today.

Officials unveiled the latest round of improvements to the Hawaii County-managed Mauna Kea Recreation Area Thursday. Big Island Video News.

A planning process that will guide development from Wainaku to Waipio Valley is nearing its final stretch after seven years of meetings and talk-story sessions. Tribune-Herald.

An attorney for an off-duty police officer acquitted of assaulting his 72-year-old upstairs neighbor is considering taking legal action against the county. West Hawaii Today.

Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday morning in the death of her 6-year-old son, Peter Kema Jr. The case is the most notorious missing child-turned-murder investigation in the state’s history, and Peter Boy became the statewide poster child for abused and missing children. Tribune-Herald.

Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter today in connection with the 1997 death of her 6-year-old son, “Peter Boy” Kema. Big Island Video News.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a winter storm warning for the summits of Hawaii’s Big Island as wind and snow engulf the high peaks. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

State Department of Transportation crews cleared out a homeless encampment in the Kahului Harbor breakwater area Wednesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Five incumbents, one returning councilmember and one new face to the Kauai County Council were inaugurated Thursday. Garden Island.

Hawaii Dairy Farms and Friends of Maha’ulepu met Thursday on Oahu to discuss a settlement to a pending Clean Water Act violation lawsuit. Garden Island.

The Kauai Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting and luncheon is scheduled 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Kauai Marriott Resort at Kalapaki Bay. Garden Island.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Full text of Gov. David Ige's State of the State address to the 2016 Hawaii Legislature


scren shot courtesy Hawaii public television
Gov. David Ige State of the State address to the Hawaii Legislature

Speaker Souki, President Kouchi, former governors, distinguished justices of the courts, representatives of our congressional delegation, members of the Hawaii State Legislature, county mayors and other elected officials, honored guests, family and friends,

Good morning and aloha.

After Alexander & Baldwin announced the end of sugar production on Maui, I visited the people who work there.  Among them was a diesel mechanic, a fourth generation plantation worker, whose family history was interwoven with the sugar plantations.

He talked with pride about his work and life, and I shared that pride in recalling my own family's life on the plantation.  I was also struck by the realization that his family’s future would forever be altered by the closure of sugar.

Like many of you here, I was saddened for those workers whose lives will be changed forever.
At the same time, I reflected on the challenges that we face moving forward.

Today, we live in a time of extraordinary change, where the past seems to have little relevance to what is happening today, let alone tomorrow.  And while the past doesn’t provide us with a precise roadmap to the future, it does give us the very things we need to find our path:  values, sensibilities and the ways in which we treat each other—with aloha.

Sugar is gone, as are many other aspects of the Hawaii we once knew.   In their place, however, there is an exciting new world beckoning us.  And that is what I want to talk about this morning—about this new world and the challenges we face as we govern—about doing things the right way to make things happen. 


TRUTHFULNESS
It begins with being truthful.  We, in government, are obligated to be truthful, even when the truth is not easy or popular.  When we live without truth, our actions fail to pass the test of time.  Moreover, we tend to repeat our mistakes because we have not learned from them.

A few years ago, we saw the demise of the SuperFerry.  Its failure has been attributed to environmental objections and a hostile court.  But that is not exactly what happened.  The fact is the state failed to follow the law.  When we tried a legal end run, it also failed.  The point is the state should have followed the law and done the right thing in the first place.

While the circumstances are very different, we are now going through some very difficult days with the Thirty Meter Telescope.  When I visited Mauna Kea last April, I felt deeply that something was not right. 

Even though I personally believe that the telescope needs to be built, it was also clear to me that many things have gone very wrong along the way.  As a result, I have taken the time to listen to a lot of people—listening to their hopes as well as their concerns.

In its recent ruling, the Supreme Court did not say don’t do this project.  What it did say was that the state didn’t do the right things in the approval process.  It told us we needed to do a better job of listening to people and giving them a real opportunity to be heard.

The unrelenting search for truth, knowledge and understanding is an essential part of our human makeup.  It helps us become who we are. 

So does our obligation to be true to our past and cultural heritage. 

That’s why it’s so unfortunate that our past and our future have been pitted against each other on the slopes of Mauna Kea.  As Governor, I am committed to realigning our values and our actions. They are what define us as a community and allow us to move forward – proud of our past and facing our future with strength and confidence.

I am committed to pursuing this project and I hope its sponsors will stay with us.  And this time, we will listen carefully to all, reflect seriously on what we have heard and, whatever we do in the end, we will do it the right way.

A PUBLIC TRUST
Governing the right way also means managing public funds as a public trust.  That’s especially true when it comes to taking care of our debts and obligations.

The state’s obligation to the public pension and health benefit funds represent two of our biggest fixed expenses.  We need to find better ways to meet this challenge.  Their continued growth is a challenge that will remain with us for many years.  We must find ways to do better in meeting this challenge so as not to burden future generations of taxpayers. 

Last year, we changed the way in which we funded those obligations that will save hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.  In the past, the state’s contributions to the fund were made in installments that spread over 12 months.  By consolidating those contributions into a single payment at the beginning of each fiscal year, we will realize contributions or taxpayer savings of up to half a billion dollars over the next 20 years. 

Furthermore, my supplemental budget request to the Legislature includes paying 100 percent of the annual required contributions rather than 60 percent for the next two fiscal years.  If authorized, this will further save more than $300 million in required contributions over the next 20 years.

Tax Modernization Program
We’ve also been working hard to implement expenditure control policies and create fiscal initiatives such as a tax modernization program. 
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While the history of the tax department’s computer programs is not a good one, the recent initiative to upgrade those programs is on time, on budget and meeting our first-year expectations.  It will take until 2018 to complete, but we are already seeing progress in the collection of the general excise and transient accommodation taxes.

Greater efficiencies have increased tax revenues and saved taxpayer dollars.  At the same time, our tax-fraud unit identified over $20 million in fraudulent claims in the last fiscal year and, so far this year, it has found another $11 million.  Let’s be clear. Stopping tax fraud is about fairness for all those who faithfully pay their share each year.

We know this work delays tax refunds and we are working hard to minimize those delays.  If you bear with us during this transition, we will soon have a system that will be better able to catch fraud, without the time, cost and work required to do so today.

Federal Funds
In some cases, the state has struggled to spend federal monies in a timely way.  This issue has vexed us for too long.  We are starting to make progress.  The Department of Transportation reduced its Fiscal Year 2015 project pipeline balance by over $100 million.  This is the largest drop in five years and is the lowest it has been since Fiscal Year 2002.

I am also pleased to announce that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency has determined that our State Department of Health is now in compliance in spending down the Drinking Water Fund.  As a result, the remaining balance totaling $8 million for Fiscal Year 2015 is being released for use locally. 

We have more work to do on this critical issue, but we are making real progress.

Bond Financing
We also know that when public funds are managed better, the cost of borrowing money decreases.  Last November we completed a $750 million state bond sale—the first for this administration—and were able to refinance some of our bonds.  This resulted in savings of about $61 million in our debt service requirement.

Because of all these initiatives, we were able to balance the state budget by last June, even though the state was projected to close the last fiscal year in the red.

Maui Public Hospitals
While we have made progress, there continues to be areas of concern.  One of these is the operation of the hospitals on our neighbor islands and in rural communities.  It is getting harder and harder for us as a state to operate these hospitals well.

We need the resources the private sector can bring to bear on the increasingly complex issues and challenges of health care.  We recently signed a historic agreement transferring the operation and management of the Maui Region health care facilities from the state to Kaiser Permanente.  There is still work ahead but this is a great step forward.  Thanks to all of you for working with us to make this happen.

In these and many other ways, we are committed to maintaining your trust—the public’s trust—and to closely mind the state’s purse strings as we prioritize and invest in the projects and programs that are long overdue.

WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
When we govern in the right way, we conduct the people’s business WITH the community, not against it or around it or without it.  I’ve long had strong concerns about the way the redevelopment in Kakaako proceeded.  So do a lot of people who felt left out. 

We have a great opportunity to learn from past experience and do things differently going forward.  We have an immediate opportunity to get it right in Kalihi.

One of the harshest realities facing us today is that we need to tear down the Oahu Correctional Facility in Kalihi and build a new facility in Halawa.  The jail is severely overcrowded and in disrepair and we must take action.

Therefore, I am introducing a bill to move this forward. 

The facility will be designed to take advantage of all that we have learned about incarceration, and the need to give inmates a real opportunity to change their lives.  Once the correctional facility has been moved, we can take advantage of the transit-oriented development opportunities created by the rail transit system. 

In the next couple of weeks, I intend to put together a group of community leaders who will convene a series of community meetings to let Kalihi speak about what Kalihi wants and what role it will play in the future of Honolulu.

The land at Dillingham and Puuhale could be used for affordable housing, open space for recreation, commercial development and the jobs that it would bring, education and many other possibilities.  And there are other state housing and mixed-use developments in various stages of planning and development in Kalihi.

In short, this is a tremendous opportunity to reposition Kalihi for the future.
  
This Kalihi 21st Century initiative truly gives us the opportunity to do community planning the right way.  No one deserves this more than the people of Kalihi.

This is long overdue.

GOVERNING WITH COMPASSION
Governing in the right way is about people.  That’s why we will do what needs to be done with compassion.

Homelessness in Hawaii presents a complex and difficult issue.  On one hand, we need to ensure that our parks and sidewalks remain open and safe for all to use.  But we will do this with compassion and respect, especially when families with young children are involved.  We will be sure that shelters are available for them. 

We cannot force people into shelters, but we can do our best to help those families.  That’s why we increased funding for the Housing First effort and organized a Landlord Summit to encourage acceptance of more low-income and homeless tenants from building owners.

We are also currently in the final stages of renovating a 5,000-square-foot maintenance facility in Kakaako to house up to 240 people a year.  This facility will not be just another shelter.  Instead, it will be a Family Assessment Center that will quickly connect families to longer term housing.

An additional $8.3 million has been included in my budget for Fiscal Year 2017 to operate the Family Assessment Center, expand the Housing First Program on the neighbor islands, and establish a new Rapid Re-housing program throughout the state.

The ultimate goal of the state’s efforts to address homelessness is to make permanent housing available.

I am also pleased to announce that the state will be investing $5 million immediately to jumpstart a new public-private partnership with Aloha United Way.  It will provide direct funding for rapid re-housing, homeless prevention services and establish a statewide referral system. It will also develop long-term homeless strategies to address the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied youth and those with chronic health concerns.

This initiative is expected to provide immediate relief to an estimated 1300 households.

My thanks to the Legislature, county mayors and the many community groups committed to helping homeless families and individuals throughout the state. 

Affordable Housing
You cannot talk about homelessness without talking about the major reason why it has become so widespread.  And that is the lack of affordable housing.  It is estimated that 66,000 housing units are needed in the coming years. The state alone cannot fill the gap, but the state wants to do its part.

That’s why we are working with the private sector to develop a comprehensive approach to reduce regulatory barriers, strengthen financial tools, streamline procedures and re-orient policies toward increasing housing production.  We’ve expanded our partnerships with the private sector to build more affordable homes and rentals across the state.

Last year, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation awarded about $10 million in low-income housing tax credit and $108 million in loans and bonds to leverage over $660 million in total development costs.

This year, because of the great demand, we are seeking $75 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to make more money available for low-income rentals.

But the biggest roadblock to developing more homes is the lack of adequate infrastructure that allows housing projects to even begin.  The state can make a major contribution by funding projects such as roads and water systems.

That’s why I am proposing legislation to allow us to use the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund for infrastructure development.  We are also asking for a $25-million increase to that fund in Fiscal Year 2017. 

Public Housing
We’re also thinking outside the box in renovating the state’s public housing facilities. 

The North School Street redevelopment project will be one of three Oahu public housing initiatives to enter into a public-private partnership that allows for a mixed-use/mixed income model.  Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wright Homes are the other two.

These projects will redefine our concept of public housing and make it more efficient, more welcoming and more compassionate. 

With the Mayor Wright Homes, we are in the process of formulating a master development agreement with Hunt Companies that has the potential of adding additional mixed-income units.  A development agreement with the Michaels Group for phase two of Kuhio Park Terrace is also imminent, with the potential for additional affordable units.

Private Sector and County Initiatives
There are other purely private sector projects in various stages of development that will contribute thousands of additional units, including Hoopili in East Kapolei and Koa Ridge in Central Oahu.  Combined, there will be over 10,000 units coming on line in the next few years.  While that is still not enough, it is a solid beginning.

We will also need innovative help from other levels of government.  I want to thank Honolulu Mayor Caldwell and the City Council for thinking out of the box to create an “accessory dwelling unit” plan to increase rentals.

Perhaps the greatest opportunities for housing on Oahu rest with transit-oriented development.  We will be working closely with you on affordable housing initiatives in this key area.  And mahalo to Mayor Carvalho of Kauai, Mayor Arakawa of Maui, Mayor Kenoi of Hawaii Island, and their respective county councils for stepping up their island-tailored efforts to house our people.

Hawaii State Hospital
Compassion must also extend to those who struggle each day with mental health issues.  Behavioral health issues are often the underlying cause of many of our social, health and economic challenges.  In fact, mental health is the single-most pressing unmet health issue facing our state.

That’s why we’re investing $160.5 million in a new forensic mental health facility on the grounds of the State Hospital in Kaneohe.  And we’ve budgeted $4.7 million in Fiscal Year 2017 to cover projected operating deficits at the State Hospital.

No one who has ever visited these facilities would ever question the need for these improvements.  We must address the severe overcrowding as well as the safety of our state employees.  We will work with you to find ways to accelerate the design and construction of this critically needed facility.

It is long overdue.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN
Governing in the right way also looks to the future.  For me, our highest single obligation is to take care of our children.  The classroom is a sacred learning space, but students will fail to learn the lessons of their teachers when temperatures soar to over 100 degrees.  There is enough blame to go around.  Our children deserve better from us.

We need to cool our classrooms now, in energy-efficient ways that align with our commitment to end our dependence on imported fossil fuels.  Clean energy technology is changing rapidly and it’s becoming more efficient.  The Department of Education has already launched an energy-efficiency program called Ka Hei.  This is a start and we need to take it farther.

I am working with the DOE, other state departments, utilities and clean energy companies to cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of this year and thousands more each year through the end of 2018. 

We are going to get this job done.

To start, we will use $100 million of Green Energy Market Securitization funds to immediately install energy-efficiency measures and air conditioning units in classrooms where our children need it the most.  By using existing GEMS program dollars, the Department of Education and its energy-efficiency partner, OpTerra, can quickly access affordable financing for a large portion of its cost to air condition our classrooms. 

I know you share my concerns.  Let’s work together to support our kids.  You have my personal commitment that I will do all in my power to serve them.  I’ll work with anyone else who wants to do the same.

This, too, is long overdue.

LEGACY BUILDING
Finally, good governance creates a legacy—what we leave our children.

When I look at all the things we are doing right now, I see two legacy building elements in our current budget:  They are strengthening our economic foundation and encouraging innovation.

Economic Foundations
Tourism is one of our primary economic engines, generating over $14 billion each year in visitor spending and employing nearly 150,000 workers.  It’s essential for us to maintain our global position as a leader in the industry.

To do this, we need to make travel to Hawaii as easy as possible by expanding U.S. Customs pre-clearance for international visitors, particularly from Japan.  Honolulu is the fourth largest port of entry in the United States. 

Through a CIP funding appropriation, we want to establish Kona as a second international airport, giving visitors more travel options and conveniences. 

We are also asking for funds to modernize our airports and automate the passport control system.  This will enrich the visitor experience and encourage more carriers to fly here.

Agriculture and the Environment
In agriculture, we must move more aggressively to take on threats to our homegrown resources, with the creation of the Hawaii Invasive Species Authority. 

Yes, it’s long overdue.

The authority is just part of a broader framework for sustainability in Hawaii that will connect all of our efforts in resource protection, water production and fishery restoration to support sustainable communities throughout the state. 

Maui Sugar Lands
As I noted earlier, the end of sugar production in Hawaii provides us with new opportunities.  Here is the fundamental question:  In the future when we look upward to Central Maui, will we see green productive farmlands, a fallow dust bowl or more homes for the super wealthy? 

We must learn from the failures of the past and vow not to repeat them.  Because we are running out of chances.

And so we will work steadfastly with Alexander & Baldwin and Mayor Arakawa to keep these lands in agriculture as a first priority.  This is a long-term top agenda item for everyone who loves what Hawaii stands for and where we came from as a people.

Our Military Family
The military is also a primary driver of our economy, and a very important one.  But that’s not how I want to focus on it today.

Many of us have friends and neighbors serving in the military here.   They are so much a part of us that we sometimes forget the risks and dangers that are a constant part of their lives.

We were tragically reminded of this when we lost twelve Marines recently.  I know we all grieve and pray with their families.  We were also reminded of the importance of what our military does in protecting democracy and peace in the Pacific and throughout the world. 

And so to our military members and veterans here in the chamber today—to those who we owe so much—I’d like to ask them to stand and be recognized.

The Innovation Economy
In years past, our parents were forced to confront the reality that times were changing—that the plantations could no longer drive Hawaii’s economy, and a new economic engine had to be found.

Their answer was tourism. Today, with tourism at near capacity, we face a similar dilemma.

For those who haven’t noticed, innovation, fueled by technology, is driving the global economy at breakneck speed.  We simply must create an economic environment that enables Hawaii's entrepreneurs to turn ideas into products and services so that we can compete in today's global economy. 

And we know that deploying a strong broadband capacity is critical to that kind of environment.

More importantly, innovation is not just a technological phenomenon.  It crosses all industries, including agriculture, fashion, “media and design,” clean energy, and healthcare.  And it creates good paying jobs that keep our best and brightest here where we need them.

For that reason, I am proposing we set aside $30 million over the next six years from our corporate tax revenues to support innovation enterprises.

We also need to support accelerator and venture fund activities to give talented entrepreneurs the means to create new products and services.  In addition, our investments will also help attract private money. 

My strongest personal partner in this is University of Hawaii President David Lassner.  We are members of the Islander Wonk’s Club; there’s a sign-up sheet outside.  So it’s not too late to join!

VALUE BASED ACTIONS
Finally, making things right to make things happen is not just a nice slogan. 

If we are truthful and act accordingly, if we value the public trust, if we govern with the people, if we are strong yet compassionate, if we take special care of our children, if we look to all of our futures, then we can more than meet the challenges we face today and tomorrow.

I began my remarks by talking about the end of sugar and the values handed down to us from our parents and grandparents who worked on those plantations.  I talked about the importance of transforming those values into action.

That takes leadership.  The kind of leadership and guidance provided by the late Ron Bright.

Ron was a teacher at Castle High School who transformed Hawaii, one student at a time, by engaging them in the performing arts.  He understood the importance of values.

His classroom was the theatrical stage where he directed generations of students in an imaginary world.  But the lessons they learned there were about life and the real world.  In his productions as artistic director of Castle’s Performing Arts Center, Ron celebrated our differences, reminded us of our common humanity and joyfully depicted life in all of its manifestations.

At this time, I’d like to recognize Ron’s family who is with us today.

Ron's total commitment to the affirmation of life through education must continue to guide us.  Today, we need only watch the news on TV to see examples of man's inhumanity to man, triggered by the fear of differences—racial, religious, national.  There are of course real dangers in the world that must be squarely met. 

But it is also true that the world is becoming a smaller place where pluralism is increasingly the rule rather than the exception.  These conditions call less for fear and hostility and more for the unyielding affirmation of diversity.  We have found a way in these islands—anchored by a remarkable host culture and the enriching waves of immigration from east and west—to value and venerate who we are. 

Many and yet one.

It is a lesson we have learned over time and it is an active pledge we must keep and live by every day.  The transcendent call from our island state to the surrounding world is that when we demean others we betray ourselves.

There is a finer, better way.  Pledge to it, make it real every day and lead the way.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gov. Ige pushes projects in proposed $13.7B budget, state borrows $150M but doesn't fund solar, Aiona could run for Honolulu mayor, Maui charter amendment would erode mayor's power, Obama relaxes on golf course, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

screen shot from news conference
Finance Director Wesley Machida, left, and Gov. David Ige
Gov. David Ige on Monday unveiled his proposed $13.7 billion state budget for next year along with a construction budget that would push $1.8 billion in new building projects out into the already busy Hawaii economy. Star-Advertiser.

Christmas came early for many — but not for all — when Gov. David Ige announced his $13 billion supplemental budget Monday. It includes $160 million to rebuild the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe, $179 million for improvements to airports in Kona and Honolulu and $161 million for affordable housing. Civil Beat.

Hawaii must rebuild programs that were truncated during the Great Recession, Governor Ige said in his executive supplemental budget, which proposes a 230 percent increase in the capital improvements budget for fiscal year 2017. The governor proposed $1.8 million in additional funding for capital improvement projects for fiscal year 2017 in the supplemental budget presented on Monday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has proposed a state budget that would increase spending over the next two years. Ige wants the state to spend $30.7 billion through 2017, according to the plan he submitted to the Legislature Monday. Associated Press.

Calling education one of his highest priorities, Gov. David Ige has included an extra $250 million for operations and capital projects at Hawaii public schools and the University of Hawaii in his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Star-Advertiser.

Governor David Ige is targeting the Hawaii State Hospital and affordable housing in his supplemental budget through 2017. KITV4.

Gov. David Ige is looking to inject about $140 million into programs that assist the homeless, clear growing homeless encampments from state lands, upgrade dilapidated public housing and step up construction of affordable housing in light of the state’s ongoing homeless and housing crises. Star-Advertiser.

A new state program borrowed $150 million last year to loan to low-income people and organizations for solar power upgrades, but has yet to loan any of that money out, nearly three years after state lawmakers approved the program. Hawaii News Now.

Nearly 100 delegates have committed to attending the Native Hawaiian self-determination convention planned for February, the nonprofit sponsoring the event said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama returned to his favorite vacation pastime Monday, spending the day on the golf course. Obama played at Mid Pacific Country Club after his routine morning workout and a short break at the house in Kailua where he and his family are staying. Star-Advertiser.

Why You Can’t Understand Obama Until You Understand Hawaii. HuffPost Hawaii.

Oahu

There’s speculation that Duke Aiona will run for mayor of Honolulu next year, and the Republican candidate for governor in the last two elections said Monday he would neither “confirm nor deny” the possibility. Civil Beat.

The city’s 65 temporary, full-time groundskeeper and supervisor job openings netted nearly 300 applicants at a special job fair held Monday — and more are expected today on the second day of the event at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Park. Star-Advertiser.

The city’s maintenance crew is going back to Kakaako on Tuesday to enforce the stored property and sidewalk nuisance ordinances. Civil Beat.

The city is holding a public hearing next month on a proposal to serve alcoholic beverages at Queen’s Beach, which is considered part of Kapiolani Park proper. KHON2.

Some Oahu residents say a new law meant to tax offshore real estate investors at a higher rate is hurting local homeowners and developers. Hawaii News Now.

A five-year extension of the 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge on Oahu is supposed to cover the growing shortfall for Honolulu’s $6.6 billion (and counting) rail project. Officials from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation say that the extension should raise from $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion for the project; they’re using $1.5 billion as the mid-range estimate. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Gov. David Ige wants to see international commercial flights landing at Kona International Airport sooner rather than later, and he’s put $50 million into his supplemental budget to make it happen. West Hawaii Today.

After mulling running for seats closer to home, state Sen. Russell Ruderman says he will ask 2nd District residents for another four years as their representative at the state Capitol. Tribune-Herald.

Hilo Medical Center continues to win new fans in its ongoing efforts to rebrand itself as a facility offering top-quality health care, despite continuing to lag behind state and national benchmarks on key metrics. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. But it’s not only the streets or the beaches that are getting crowded, it’s also the jail. Hawaii Public Radio.

Commentary: On Friday, Dec. 18, the Maui County Council referred a little-advertised charter amendment to committee for discussion. Transmitted by Councilmember Riki Hokama, the amendment–submitted as a special committee continues to examine a possible county manager form of government that would strip the mayor’s office of most, if not all of its powers–would “require Council approval of the Mayor’s appointment of department directors.” MauiTime.

Officials are working to get a $6 million project to expand Maui's only cemetery for veterans back on track before burial space runs out. Associated Press.

A Maui Bus passes a spot on South Kihei Road where beach erosion is close to undermining the roadway earlier this month. Maui News.

Kauai

It’s not shoplift with a cop. An armed Kekaha man who tried to leave Kmart without paying for items during the Shop with a Cop program was promptly arrested. Garden Island.