Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Furlough fighting, coffee picking, sugar era ends, floods threatening and other Hawaii news

State senators on a special legislative committee examining public teacher furloughs yesterday said they want to urge Gov. Linda Lingle to make use of $35 million in federal stimulus money that is entirely under her control.

Parents who want their children back in school on Furlough Fridays lost a round in federal court yesterday, but one attorney plans to appeal the ruling, and the judge urged both sides to settle the issue before it goes to trial.

State tax collection have dropped again.

The impending auction of a partial silver-plated serving set salvaged from the USS Arizona just months after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor is being condemned by at least one former sailor who witnessed the sinking of the battleship.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a flash flood watch for all of the Hawaiian Islands to start on Tuesday night and last through Thursday.

Renee Mokihana Nobriga, 25, was crowned the 2010 Miss Hawaii USA on November 9, 2009 at LEVEL4 in the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki.

Parker Ranch is selling its realty arm as the 152-year-old operation continues to liquidate assets and trim operating costs following a year of multimillion-dollar losses.

Kona resident Anthony Caravalho Jr.'s fingers flew Sunday morning, searching for and picking sun-kissed, ruby coffee cherries from trees at the Ueshima Coffee Co. estate in Holualoa.

Fifty-seven divers from Maui, Lanai and Oahu came out to the third and last Roi Roundup of the year.

The official end of Kaua‘i processed sugar officially came around 4 p.m. Monday, when the transport ship Moku Pahu left Nawiliwili Harbor with the last Gay & Robinson sugar from the final harvest.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The 'Earmark Guy,' searching for pineapples, blending Kona coffee and grappling with the budget

Inouye's earmarks go to his donors

Hawaii companies that would benefit from earmarks sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye that are in the Senate version of the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations measure. The firms' workers have contributed to Inouye's campaign committees since 1997.

A $76 million budget deficit, a standoff between the University of Hawaii's administration and its faculty union, and fears of massive cuts to programs, departments and schools have longtime professors calling the situation at UH the worst money and morale crisis they have known.

Planned increases in park and boating fees are being opposed by many Hawaii residents who have spoken at public hearings held across the state.

A Hilo contractor is alleging that the state's biggest Burger King franchisee is delinquent in payment of construction costs for the new Hilo restaurant -- and the remainder owed is a whopper.

Hawaii County's 2 percent land fund would be downsized to 0.5 percent as part of a county Charter Commission proposal, but it could become part of the county's charter, protecting it from raids by the administration.

Maui County finance officials are stepping up efforts to collect delinquent taxes, reclassifying some nonfarmers who claim agricultural tax assessments, and taking other steps that could add to the county’s revenues ahead of what’s expected to be a tight year in 2010.

Mr. Pineapple - aka Jimmy Hutaff - needs 350 delicious Maui pineapples a day, and when Maui Pine closes down later this year, he doesn't know where he will get them.

Expanding the county Black Pot Park in Hanalei remains the primary objective for the Kaua‘i Public Land Trust, said Jennifer Luck, KPLT executive director.

As the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates its 39th year this week, a controversy that started two decades ago about what defines Kona coffee is brewing anew.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kilauea on the move, garbage shipments delayed, special session averted, more Hawaii news

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says that dozens of small lava flows have moved down the pali and across the coastal plain of Kilauea's south flank in the past several weeks.

Everyone who testified Wednesday about the state Department of Land and Natural Resource's proposed rule changes that will allow the department to go forward with its Recreational Renaissance plan did so with reservations or opposition to the plan.

The state Board of Education last night approved 95 schools' requests to convert teacher training days into instructional days, an action that restores as many as six classroom days that would have been lost because of staff furloughs.

Hawaii State Representatives have caucused, and say there will be no special session over furlough days at schools.

About 75,000 children and at least 10,000 staff and faculty members have been vaccinated in this year's seasonal flu school clinics, and state health officials hope to see the turnout repeated in H1N1 school clinics starting next Friday.

A faith-based community group marched on Honolulu Hale yesterday, calling for the mayor to create a policy and a department to deal with a widespread housing crisis on Oahu.

The first shipment of garbage will be sent from Oahu to the mainland about two weeks later than originally planned because the trash facility ran into some startup problems and had to shut down for nearly half its first month of operations.

Furloughs and other economic concerns dominated an informal public meeting Wednesday night with state lawmakers.

A potentially deadlocked Hawaii County Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to let absent Council Vice Chairwoman Emily Naeole be the tiebreaker on two hotly contested measures relating to land sales.

Planning consultant Chris Hart has announced he will run for mayor of Maui County in 2010.

A request from the county Office of Boards and Commissions to destroy audio recordings of meetings after they are transcribed into minutes and approved was withdrawn Wednesday, but could return to the Kaua‘i County Council’s agenda.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama coming home for Christmas, Hawaiians win homelands lawsuit, first female U.S. attorney, more

After a 10-year court battle and decades of waiting in vain for homesteads, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit won a judgment against the state for failing to promptly award home lots to native Hawaiians under the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.

More than 2,700 Native Hawaiians have won a class-action lawsuit that accused the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands of failing to meet its trust obligations.

Hawaii News Now has learned that President Barack Obama is planning to spend the Christmas holidays in Hawaii.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is seeking double-digit rate hikes for most of its members under proposed increases pending before the state Insurance Division.

The state Department of Health is advising the public to be patient while waiting for wider availability of the H1N1 influenza vaccine — and, meanwhile, to keep washing your hands and covering your coughs and sneezes.

The District of Hawaii's very first female U.S. Attorney is now officially appointed.

Friends, family, colleagues and leaders of Hawaii law enforcement filled a federal court yesterday afternoon as Florence Nakakuni was sworn in as the first female U.S. attorney in the history of the state.

Proposals floating in the Senate would restore public school days lost to teacher furloughs by raiding the $180 million Hurricane Relief Fund or a combination of the disaster fund and federal stimulus dollars.

Just a day after five city sweepers were indicted on a charge of theft in an overtime scam, KITV has learned that two of the indicted men were city supervisors, who nearly doubled their income with overtime, making almost $100,000 a year.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources came under fire Tuesday night for a proposal to begin charging entrance fees at Akaka Falls and Hapuna Beach state parks, among numerous other proposals.

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that gives the Planning Department greater flexibility in deciding when to require a costly shoreline certification.

It turns out there is a free ride after all. Just ask the thousands of people who use Hawaii County's Hele-On bus service.

More than 400 streetlights will soon be sporting a new glow, thanks to a $737,800 grant Hawaii County has received from the federal government.

When Billy Kenoi recently vetoed a trial program to allow Puna residents to live in tents on their property while they built homes, he said the bill singled out one district for unequal treatment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Agriculture takes another big hit, Oahu home sales up, health insurance worries employers

Hawaii will be left with just one big grower of pineapple, Dole Food Co., and a handful of small farms next month when Maui Land & Pineapple ends production of what was once the state's single biggest cash crop.

Hawaii's once-rich agricultural industry, renowned throughout the 1900s for its pineapple and sugar crops, has suffered another devastating blow.

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. announced today that it will cease pineapple operations by the end of the year and restructure its resort and land development division.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials are continuing their public pitch to garner support for their Recreational Renaissance plan.

Sales of Oahu homes rose to their highest level in more than a year and a half in October, although still below the peak of recent years.

Hawaii's congressional delegation said bills in both the U.S. House and the Senate will protect Hawaii's system of employer-paid health insurance, but that worries many local employers who said health insurance costs soaring higher each year are a huge burden.

Balancing Hawaii County's budget could require selling more property than the 737 acres of vacant Paauilo lands up for County Council liquidation approval Wednesday.

More than 50 people spoke up about a land transparency bill during a public hearing Monday night, and this time, most were against it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kona Coffee Festival perking, symphony struggles, dining inspections down, furlough fights continue

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has been celebrating and promoting Kona coffee for 39 years. The theme of this year's festival, which runs Friday through Nov. 15, is "Kona Coffee: Aroma of Aloha."

Ninety-five public schools have applied to turn teacher training days into instructional days and restore some of the class time students are losing to furloughs.

A group of state Senate and House members plans to meet with staff members of the Lingle administration to discuss reducing the number of days public schools are closed due to budget cuts.

The House and Senate Republican Caucus is urging the Hawaii State Teachers Association to rework its (relatively new) contract with the Department of Education. GOP lawmakers want the HSTA and DOE to scrap the teachers' existing contract and negotiate a new deal that will end furlough Fridays.

Perennial guests at a 54-year-old Waikiki hotel say they are saddened that they might not be able to return to their favorite winter retreat, fearing it could close.

Just three years ago, inspectors used to make unannounced inspections on restaurants about once a year. However, that situation has worsened.

People in Hawaii love to dine out at all kinds of eateries. There are about 5,800 restaurants on Oahu, and the results of some inspections might make you think twice about dining out.

The Honolulu Symphony may file for bankruptcy protection as early as tomorrow, according to people familiar with the situation.

Jenna Roussy, an employee at Hilo Shark's Coffee, holds a 7-pound Keitt mango on Friday at the shop. The fruit is possibly the largest mango ever grown in the U.S., and surpassed only by the current world record holder, a 7-pound, 7-ounce Keitt cultivated in the Philippines.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Push to count Native Hawaiians, furloughs could spell OT, ICA agrees substitute teachers underpaid

Group pushing Hawaiians for census: In the 16th century, Big Island ruler Umi a Liloa made sure all native Hawaiians on the island were counted.

The decision to furlough Hawaii government workers could result in an increase in overtime costs at facilities operated 24 hours a day.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals has upheld a 2005 Circuit Court ruling that found the Department of Education underpaid Hawaii substitute teachers millions of dollars

Gov. Linda Lingle is promoting Hawaii as a tourism destination during her two-week trip to China, but a Democratic leader said she should have stayed home.

The Navy said it has relieved a Pearl Harbor-based submarine commander of his command.

Lifeguards conducted over 600 preventative actions Sunday after high surf rolled in on north shores, essentially keeping the inexperienced out of the water.

Though rape reports on the Big Island rose more than 73 percent during the past decade, police say the increase is in reporting, not attacks.

"Huge cuts" will be required to balance a police budget shortfall expected in fiscal 2010-11, however, police and county officials refused to divulge details

A survey distributed by the Maui County Farm Bureau at the recent Maui County Fair reveals that almost all Mauians think farming is important. And half believe it will expand, although the recent trend goes the other way.

Proponents of small wind systems got a lift this week when the county attorney said a proposed bill designed to streamline the permitting process would not open the county to legal or financial liability should an applicant’s windmill kill an endangered seabird.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Undersea cable to link four of eight major Hawaiian Islands, Kaloko Dam case settled, more news

The state said yesterday its seeking bids from companies to conduct an environmental impact statement for an undersea power cable that would connect the islands of Lāna'i, Moloka'i, O'ahu, and Maui.

A global settlement of multiple Kaloko Dam lawsuits was announced yesterday in Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe's courtroom.

Good-faith settlements have been reached and approved in state court in various wrongful-death and property-damage cases regarding the March 2006 breach of Ka Loko Reservoir Dam near Kilauea.

The governor and some legislative leaders and parents are searching for other solutions including urging teachers to reopen their contract negotiations to come up with something less stressful on students.

While the expected December groundbreaking for the city's $5.3 billion rail transit project is being pushed back by a month, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann says he does not see it as a setback.

An alternative rail plan for Honolulu that promises to save taxpayers an estimated $1.7 billion in cost, shave 1.5 years off construction time–and, last but not least, promises to spare the heart of the city the monstrous effects of overhead concrete rail lines and stations–has been outlined in a July 15 report commissioned by Kamehameha Schools, owner of extensive real estate along the proposed train’s route.

Central Pacific Financial Corp., expecting enforcement action to be levied against it by federal and state regulators, staggered to a $183.1 million loss in the third quarter as it took two big charges tied to the bank's exposure to the struggling California and Hawaii commercial real estate markets.

Hawaii residents still taking trips to the Ninth Island but not spending as much

More than 1,000 Hawaii County employees have agreed to unpaid furloughs next year and possibly this year as well.

A nonprofit think tank is recommending Hawaii County take its agricultural base seriously by elevating an agriculture director to a Cabinet-level position and adding staff.

The name of the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort could turn out to have been prophetic because Kobayashi Group LLC wants to bring the hotel, closed since September 2007, back to life.

Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd has a little problem with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vog blankets state, Honolulu considers tax breaks for homeowners, BOE struggles with funding

Creeping lava is no longer threatening a public viewing area near Kalapana, but officials said there's still plenty of activity from the Kílauea eruption, now in its 27th year.

As light Kona wind persists, an increase in vog has spread from the Big Island across the entire state.

Just when parents thought things in Hawaii's public schools couldn't get much worse, Department of Education officials warned yesterday that "thousands" of DOE employees will be laid off if a federal judge blocks teacher furloughs.

Facing an unprecedented reduction in school days and deep budget cuts, state Board of Education members got more bad news: They need an additional $32 million in the next two years to meet rising student transportation costs.

Facing accusations of making backdoor deals and bending to the will of the mayor, Honolulu City Council Chairman Todd Apo defended his last-minute change of heart that revived a proposal to create a new "homeowners" classification for property tax assessments

Part diplomat, part cheerleader, Governor Linda Lingle is heading to China this Friday for a two-week visit to six cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

The Waikiki Aquarium is nurturing 20 live coral specimens recently harvested from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, also known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

It's usually difficult to re-create the comforts of home while staying in a hospital for any length of time. It's more difficult still when trying to rest and recover from an illness or injury in an unwelcoming, aged environment that requires beeping equipment, frequent public address system pages and bustling health care workers.

The $250 million expansion of the Grand Wailea Hotel Resort & Spa received a special management area permit Tuesday, with seven ayes and one "reluctant" nay from the Maui Planning Commission.

Maui County's visitor count ticked up by 1.8 percent in September to 134,932, but deep discounting by lodging providers and price cutting by other vendors drove per person per day spending down by 4.9 percent to $167.

The state’s four elected county executives discussed a broad range of issues from agriculture to collective bargaining to the 2010 legislative session at their monthly Hawai‘i Council of Mayors meeting Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kauhola Lighthouse coming down, US-Japanese missile tests off Kauai, H1N1 slow coming to islands

The U.S. Coast Guard has determined that the best course of action for a lighthouse sitting on a rapidly eroding site on the Big Island is its removal.

Honolulu needs to improve the way it documents commuter rail contract awards to improve transparency and public confidence in the project, according to a study by city auditor Les Tanaka.

George Lanakilakekiahiali'i Naope, co-founder of the Merrie Monarch hula festival, died yesterday in Hilo after a lengthy illness.

Three warships from the Japanese and U.S navies will attempt another midflight missile interception today with the destroyer JS Myoko scheduled to launch an SM-3 missile from waters off Kauai's Barking Sands missile range.

A Japanese navy ship with a state-of-the-art, American-built, missile-defense system will attempt to shoot a target missile out of the sky this afternoon.

State health officials said it is just a matter of time before there is a swine flu outbreak in the islands.

Hawaii County is hoping to give sagging Big Island employment numbers a lift by helping to deliver people to job sites and worker-training classes.

You know you’ve reached Kamilo Nui when you pass the last California-style subdivision and have to brake suddenly when an entire family of feral pigs walks calmly, in single file, across the road that leads up the tiny, picturesque valley in the back of Hawaii Kai.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Federal bailout reaching few, businesses struggle in sour economy, Kilauea grumbling, other top news

Federal contracts pumped $122.4 million into Hawaii's economy while saving or creating 250 jobs as of early October, according to a federal government Web site that tracks stimulus spending.

Demonstrating that a by-now-familiar phenomenon can still dish out surprises, Kilauea Volcano sent lava over an old access road to Kalapana late last week in a smoky show of deja vu.

From the mom-and-pops to the largest employing thousands of workers, Hawaii's seasoned businesses have paved the way during Hawaii's first 50 years as a state. The cultural diversity that has created Hawaii's unique environment has also flavored its business community, creating a strong, varied economic base.

When anchors Lisa Kubota, Steve Uyehara and Grace Lee sign on the morning show today on KGMB9 and KHNL, it will mark a new era in Hawaii broadcasting.

Hawaii's medical marijuana program will be the subject of a public meeting on Tuesday.

Heavy rains over Windward Oahu on Sunday made for treacherous driving conditions, leaving many stuck in the mud.

Hawaii Island's world class observatories celebrated the International Year of Astronomy by opening their Hilo headquarters Saturday for a "Galileo Block Party" that featured free tours, music and science demonstrations.

Agriculture has been one of the linchpins of the Big Island economy.Yet with all the lip service county officials give agriculture and agricultural sustainability, they've been reluctant to put their money where their mouth is.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares will host an informational meeting Tuesday on the impact of planned layoffs in the state Department of Agriculture's Plant Pest Control Branch and of furloughs of agricultural inspectors.

Collectively, the fathers of Pat Pablo, Becky Komaki and Roland Pablo have more than 160 years of service to the Gay & Robinson sugar plantation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Moon rocks missing, Furlough Fridays begin, quake rumbles Big Island and other news around the state

A former NASA senior special agent says the state cannot account for five priceless moon rocks that were given as gifts to the people of Hawaii in celebration of mankind's age-old quest to travel to and safely return from the moon.

Public schools are shuttered today throughout the Islands after a federal judge yesterday refused to block the state's decision to furlough teachers for 17 Fridays through the rest of the school year

The state courts system is still deciding when its Hawaii Government Employees Association employees will be furloughed. So, while state courts will be open on the next two Fridays, the state's biggest courthouse will have no parking for the general public.

The state's reinventing-government task force, made up of Hawaii business leaders and lawmakers, met for the first time yesterday to brainstorm ways to keep the budget-strapped Hawaii government running in a sour economy.

Allen Doane is retiring as chief executive officer and chairman of Alexander & Baldwin Inc. at the end of this year amid leadership changes at the only one of Hawaii's original Big Five sugar companies that continues its dominant role.

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake hit about 60 miles offshore of Hilo at 11:13 p.m. Thursday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

The biggest capital construction project in state history gains steam. The City and County of Honolulu awards the construction of the first phase of the Honolulu rail transit project. And Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann says it will shake up Hawaii's economy.

A county meeting on the voter initiative that made marijuana possession by adults for personal use the lowest law enforcement priority was marked by a series of verbal pot shots.

Sensing sure defeat, minority Hawaii County Council members on Wednesday pulled a tried-and-true parliamentary ploy to keep their transparency bill alive.

Word that West Hawaii may not see its new YMCA facility come to fruition for up to a decade may prompt a re-evaluation by a major donor.

Becoming Miss Kona Coffee is no easy feat.

Disgruntled community members are upset that public access to Larsen’s Beach in Moloa‘a may soon be obstructed by a proposed cattle ranch fenceline 110 feet from the shore.

There are six boxes or bundles of Native Hawaiian remains, iwi kupuna, at the Kaua‘i repository, and members of the Kaua‘i/Ni‘ihau Island Burial Council need to decide how to re-inter them, said a state Department of Land and Natural Resources staff member.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Return of the humpback whales, abandoned fishnets power homes, other top Hawaii news

A pod of humpback whales was spotted yesterday morning off the coast of West Maui, the first reported sighting statewide marking the beginning of whale season, according to an official with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Molokai residents flew to Oahu to protest a federal agency's removal of a nearly blind Hawaiian monk seal from waters off Kaunakakai.

A pair of federal lawsuits filed on behalf of special education and other students have the potential to keep some public schools open tomorrow despite the state's plan to furlough teachers on 17 Fridays, attorneys for the plaintiffs said yesterday.

At the public school in Manoa where President Barack Obama, parents are planning to join hundreds of parents across the state to protest at the State Capitol on Friday, the first day of public school teacher furloughs.

Just last month Hawaii's teachers agreed to take 17 furlough days. But already, an area school is using strategy to help students survive the cuts.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann yesterday awarded the first construction contract for the city's planned $5.5 billion elevated commuter rail line.

Abandoned fishing nets and other derelict fishing gear recovered in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is powering homes on Oahu.

Hawaii County should attempt to sell 737 acres in Paauilo mauka to help finance government operations, according to an initial 5-4 vote by a County Council committee Tuesday.

Working late into Tuesday evening, the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee was scheduled to get its first look at a critical audit of the county Department of Public Works.

Aerosmith concertgoers said they expected to experience one of the band's best concerts ever Tuesday night, especially since members of the rock band were under court order to perform on Maui after they canceled a concert here two years ago.

The Hawaii Supreme Court affirmed Tuesday that Maui County Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala is a resident of Lahaina - not Lanai, the island from which he holds the council's residency seat.

A land deal years in the making came to fruition Wednesday when the Kaua‘i County Council unanimously approved a plan that will secure 138 oceanfront acres on the Ninini Coastline near Lihu‘e Airport for public use in perpetuity

Road repairs, flooding and drainage issues, and traffic safety were among the pressing issues addressed when Mayor Billy Kenoi spoke with the residents of Holualoa recently.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye today becomes the third-longest-serving senator in U.S. history, a landmark for the powerful lawmaker who has held a seat in Congress for as long as Hawaii has been a state.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drier but more turbulent, thanks to El Nino, state plans for furlough Fridays, other top news

Thanks to El Nino conditions, islanders can expect drier-than-normal conditions during Hawaii's upcoming wet season but more tropical storm activity in the Central Pacific -- with the possibility of hurricanes in the next 40 days, climate experts say.

With our state still very much into hurricane season, experts at the National Weather Service are advising residents to be prepared in the event a storm affects our islands.

Hurricane Neki continues to strengthen this morning as it churns toward the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The Office of the U.S. Trustee is challenging the average $2,527.38 hourly rate being charged by a consultant for Hawaiian Telcom's bankruptcy case.

Need a marriage license? Unemployment insurance? A camping permit? A copy of your birth certificate? Plan ahead, because these state services will no longer be available on many Fridays.

The state on Tuesday released the schedule of furlough days departments will begin taking.

Public schools can restore some of the classroom instruction time that could be lost during furlough days for teachers, through a complicated exception process to the state Board of Education.

A plan to farm-raise ahi in giant "Oceanspheres" received a positive recommendation from the state, despite some skepticism over how it would work.

Hawaii County's lack of program goals, internal controls and effective communication have prevented efficient use of more than $50 million in highway-maintenance money, a recent county audit has found.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has affirmed that Maui County Council Member Sol Kahoohalahala is a resident of Lahaina -- not Lanai, the district he represents.

It’s always about the money.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Drought, Tropical Storm Neki vie for top headlines

Despite the beginning of Hawaii's flash flood season, drought conditions persist in many areas of the state, forcing some Big Island agricultural producers to haul water to thirsty cattle grazing on shriveled pastures or to irrigate crops.

The National Weather Service says Tropical Storm Neki is about 825 miles south of Honolulu and moving west-northwest at about 14 mph

See the storm:

Three U.S. military researchers from Hawaii will be in the world spotlight this week when they present the results of the largest-ever clinical trial of an AIDS vaccine at a research conference in Paris.

With the first furlough of public school teachers set for this Friday, many community child care programs are reporting heavy interest from parents, though some parents say they will probably keep their kids home with grandma or older siblings.

NewSpace Entertainment announced today that Bill Cosby will perform live for only two performances at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, Friday, January 15 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Astronomers, as a group, are not known for throwing block parties. Or parties in general.

The crowd at the Honokaa County Gymnasium was small but enthusiastic Saturday, rallying for greater transparency in the county's land-selling process.

The reefs are alive and are damaged when people walk on them, Kaua‘i Save Our Seas President Paul Clark said Sunday.

A whitetip reef shark research project has some Big Island photographers literally swimming with sharks in the name of science.

Friday, October 16, 2009

'Barbarian' princess stirs controversy, energy projects emerge, and other top Hawaii news

The 29th annual Hawaii International Film Festival launched yesterday at the Sheraton Waikiki's RumFire with a spirited news conference that included Q'orianka Kilcher, star of the much-debated "Barbarian Princess," a feature film premiering to a sold-out Hawaii Theatre tonight.

The premiere Friday night is sold out. But the Hawaii International Film Festival has added another showing of the Princess Kailuani Movie, Barbarian Princess.

Sempra Generation of San Diego announced Friday that it is taking over the wind generation project at Ulupalakua originally proposed by Shell Wind but in abeyance for several years.

More than 30,000 doses of the H1N1 flu vaccine have been shipped to Hawaii, but only the most at-risk people will be eligible for the drug, health officials say.

Fire and police officials are investigating an early-morning fire Wednesday that gutted a senior center building under construction at the Hale Mahaolu Ehiku complex in Kihei, causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage.

A new contract with the state's largest public workers union will bring "substantial" savings, but not enough to prevent the first round of layoffs for about 750 state workers, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.

The labor savings from collective bargaining will not be enough to close the state's budget deficit, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday, adding that the state would not immediately resort to a second round of layoffs to help make up the difference.

While saying she was pleased that the Hawaii Government Employees Association reached a tentative agreement Wednesday with the state and the four counties, Mayor Charmaine Tavares warned that the county faces a steep challenge next fiscal year.

The University of Hawaii hopes to see utility savings by closing buildings during the winter and spring breaks if Hawaii Government Employees Association members approve a new two-year contract.

The joint venture between go! and Mokulele airlines began Thursday with a few glitches

The lines for free meals around Hilo just keep getting longer.

The rules are different here, several members of the Hawaii County Board of Ethics said Wednesday as they considered Mayor Billy Kenoi's proposal to tighten the ethics code.

For the second time in as many months, the county Board of Ethics has found that Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole broke the county's ethics law.

The agreement between the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative and Pacific West Energy to potentially bring a 20-megawatt biomass-to-energy project to Kaua‘i is a “major” advancement and “something we’ve been working on for years,” but “several steps” still remain, KIUC President and CEO Randall Hee said Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawai'i has put the Hawaii County Council on notice that police helicopter flyovers for marijuana eradication are believed to be in violation of the Hawaii Constitution, the state's medical marijuana law, and the county's Lowest Law Enforcement Priority of Cannabis Ordinance.

Local advocacy groups are awaiting a response from the Federal Communications Commission on a challenge filed last week to stop a shared services agreement involving three local television stations

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hawaii students lag in math, Kauai beach bacteria high, Maui case hits state Supreme Court, other news

The Lingle administration and the Hawaii Government Employees Association reached a tentative agreement yesterday on a new two-year contract, ending months of frustrating and often confrontational negotiations over how much labor should have to sacrifice to help close the state's budget deficit.

Hawaii's fourth- and eighth-graders continue to lag behind their Mainland peers in math even though they have been making steady progress on a key standardized test since 2000.

Hawaii County is extending the registration period for the Furlough Friday Program in hopes of signing up more participants. And while demand for the low-cost child care is higher on the west side of the island, enthusiasm in East Hawaii has been so tepid that the county may consolidate the program to fewer sites.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by Lanai residents asking that Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala be blocked from serving on the Maui County Council.

More than 100 Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard women and men pulled 20 mooring lines yesterday to guide the 887-foot-long battleship Missouri the last few yards into the Navy's premiere dry dock for a three-month, $18 million hull-to-mast makeover.

West Hawaii drivers are paying their share of gas taxes, but they're being shortchanged by a county highway repair formula based on miles of roadway, not by how heavily the roads are used.

The Hawaii County Council and West Hawaii Today reached a settlement Tuesday that has the newspaper asking that its complaints be dismissed and the county pay the newspaper's legal fees.

Bacteria levels measured more than 40 times state and federally deemed safe levels at Kalapaki stream early Saturday morning based on samples collected by Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i volunteers.

The Maui Planning Commission rebuffed another attempt by would-be interveners in the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa's $250 million proposed expansion to disqualify two of its members Monday, confirming its September decision not to grant a contested case.

Maui County is moving ahead with a $10 million project to improve traffic flow at the intersection of Makawao Avenue and Makani Road

A controversial update to shoreline setback legislation that coastal advocates have argued should not be undermined took a step toward becoming law Wednesday.

On Oahu, hundreds of students will be let out of school in order to draw a giant chalk line, in blue, through the streets of Honolulu.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flu shots launched, parents fight furloughs, chill at the beach, environmentally friendly takeout

When the weekend comes around, island families choose a variety of activities to reconnect with each other and recharge their batteries. But most seem to head for the outdoors, taking advantage of the island's natural beauty.

Residents and visitors alike said they are troubled Tuesday by the news that several hotel employees did nothing to help when they saw a couple struggling near the area where a woman's body was later discovered.

The number of interisland airlines is shrinking again, with an agreement announced yesterday between the parent companies of go! and Mokulele Airlines to consolidate the two carriers.

It won't be a long move in terms of distance — a journey of just about two miles — but the USS Missouri's trip this morning from historic Battleship Row to Pearl Harbor's Naval Shipyard for drydock repairs has been more than two years in the planning.

The state's decision to save money by shutting down Hawaii's public schools for 17 Fridays this year has angered parents so much that they are planning to march on the Capitol next week, and some are considering lawsuits.

State health and education officials on Tuesday launched the annual flu vaccination program at local schools.

The Big Island's largest tax delinquents won't risk losing their lands Thursday when Hawaii County attempts to sell dozens of properties to collect much smaller debts.

This weekend, Hawaii Island residents will have a chance to venerate a relic at several West Hawaii Catholic churches.

After eight years of violating safe drinking water standards, the Pahala water system is now up to par.

Would customers pay an extra 15 or 25 cents to eat plate lunch out of an environmentally friendly plastic clamshell?

Almost two years after originally granting approval for Joseph Brescia to construct a controversial single-family home at Naue, the Kaua‘i Planning Commission on Tuesday set a January hearing date to determine if the terms of that permit have been followed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sidewalk sleeping ban nixed, economy still suffering, unions still resisting, other top news

A Honolulu City Council committee on Thursday voted to kill a bill that would have banned sleeping on sidewalks.

The latest state tax collection figures show a nearly 10 percent drop, and the bad news is forcing Gov. Linda Lingle to increase her tough talk to the public employee unions to hurry up and settle their contracts.

State tax collections fell 9.7 percent during the first three months of the fiscal year, the state Department of Taxation reported yesterday, a more significant drop than economists predicted.

The University of Hawai'i and the faculty's labor union are expected to return to the bargaining table Wednesday after union members voted overwhelmingly yesterday to reject a contract offer that included a 5 percent pay cut.

The University of Hawaii faculty union says its representatives and management will meet with a federal mediator Wednesday after members voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract offer that called for a 5 percent pay cut and other concessions to help UH deal with budget cuts.

A remake of the fabled "Hawaii Five-0" series could be coming to the television screen.

It's the most efficient, commercially available solar powered panels in the world and one Oahu couple becomes, one of the first in Honolulu to install it.

Public health officials are refuting claims made in a Hawaii County Council resolution that casts doubt on the safety of swine flu vaccines.

Ignoring pleas from the public and a warning from a council member that the process was "cloaked in dishonor," the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday reverted to an organizational structure that shifts more power to the east side of the island.

It may be a more dangerous time to be injured or lost in the woods on Kaua‘i, and brush fires may burn longer and stronger than they otherwise might.

In April the County of Hawaii will auction off 26 chemical spray rigs that originally cost up to $10,000 each. That auction will mark the end of the county's efforts to control coqui frogs.

Several hundred islanders showed up at the Blaisdell Arena last week to listen to and testify on proposals for a new, comprehensive federal ocean policy before the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bird kill, bag ban, flu death, tax break and other news

A dog attack on a seabird colony in Kihei prompted state wildlife officials to remind pet owners to keep their animals leashed.

After a two-week delay to huddle with the county attorney and revise the wording to ease enforcement, the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday morning passed an ordinance that will outlaw single-use plastic checkout bags from the island’s retail establishments despite objections from some members of the business community

The state Health Department yesterday said an 11th Hawai'i resident has died with a confirmed case of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu.

The day after the state received its first batch of H1N1 flu vaccine, a Hawaii County Council committee Tuesday advanced a resolution opposing mandatory vaccination of the populace.

The four county mayors shot back yesterday at Gov. Linda Lingle's complaints that they are getting in the way of an agreement between the state and the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Property taxes for owner-occupants in O'ahu likely will be lower than other property owners under a bill that was approved 4-0 by a Honolulu City Council committee yesterday.

Hard choices are ahead for Hawaii Community College.

The Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday unanimously created a new program manager position to control underage drinking, even though it's unclear how the position will be paid for once its funding grant runs out in two years.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Inouye heads to Afghanistan, Ironman gears up, union negotiations drone on

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye will travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan over the next week to assess the volatile situation there as the White House and the nation's top commander in the war-torn theater weigh the need for more troops there.

Ten state buildings are being retrofitted at a cost of $34 million to lower utility costs over the long term, Gov. Linda Lingle announced yesterday.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration and the Hawaii Government Employees Association have agreed to roughly 18 furlough days this fiscal year and 24 furlough days next fiscal year for state workers, sources close to the negotiations said.

Results of an advisory vote by University of Hawaii faculty members are expected to be announced tomorrow morning.

The state land board is taking a close look at two companies that hold licenses to harvest in the Waiakea Timber Management Area.

Anyone thinking about joining an Ironman triathlete for the final yards of his race this year, might want to reconsider.

Property owners continue grappling both in and out of court over land needed to finish the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass, as the clock ticks into the 22nd month of the 60-month window for completion.

Ala Moana Road in Lahaina was closed for more than six hours Tuesday and people were asked to leave the area in a confrontation that ended when police found a man dead in his vehicle after apparently suffering a self-inflicted wound.

Kaua‘i’s representatives in the state Legislature and others who coordinate efforts and reap rewards from the film industry’s appetite for the Garden Island’s lush greenery are opposed to planned layoffs in the state film office.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Economy not out of doldrums yet, public workers continue negotiations, other state news

Hotels in Hawai'i had their weakest summer on record — an average of 68.1 percent occupancy — according to a report released today.

Slipping property values and home sales could negatively impact the island’s economy in 2010, as the county’s revenue is largely derived from real estate taxes, Kaua‘i officials said.

Hawaii's largest public worker union has agreed to take 18 furlough days the first year of its new contract and 24 furlough days the second year of the contract.

Teachers at one high school are considering giving up three training days to lessen the effect of teacher furloughs on students.

On Monday members of the UH Professional Assembly will begin voting on a proposed contract from the university. The offer includes a 5-percent pay cut over the next two years and $2,400 more out-of-pocket for health insurance.

The tomb of Father Damien De Veuster in Louvain, Belgium, was the destination today for about 400 Hawaii pilgrims in Europe this week for the canonization of the 19th-century missionary to leprosy victims at Kalaupapa.

The 12,000-mile trek to Rome for Father Damien's canonization won't be easy for the 11 Hansen's disease patients making the journey.

Parker Ranch is quietly selling 3,509 acres of its North Kohala property following two consecutive years of multimillion-dollar losses by its parent organization, the Tribune-Herald has learned.

Everything old is new again for the Hawaii County Council, which on Wednesday will tackle a list of familiar topics.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Honolulu welcomes lingerie choices, Hilo Hattie emerging from Chpt. 11, shipping costs come down

People identified as most vulnerable to the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, will find out soon when, where and how they can get vaccinated, state health officials say.

Pomare Ltd. dba Hilo Hattie expects to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Donald B.S. Kang.

About 600 people lined up for the grand opening of the first Victoria's Secret in Hawaii on Thursday.

As a result of recent declines in bunker fuel prices, Matson announced today that it is decreasing its fuel surcharge by four percentage points, from 28 to 24% for its Hawaii service, and from 29.5 to 25.5% for its Guam/CNMI and Micronesia service, effective October 4.

A Kaua‘i judge has ordered a contractor to provide 2,200 cubic yards of rock for a breach in historic Hapa Trail in Po‘ipu.

Whether you're stuck in traffic on the H-1 Freeway, or waiting in line at the grocery store, it's easy to get bogged down with life. But there's a place on the leeward coast that gets down to the basics and teaches people how to live off the 'aina.

Puna residents peppered Mayor Billy Kenoi and his Cabinet with questions Wednesday night in a wide-ranging "talk story" session.

Thanks to the rapid response and generous support of library users across the state, a portion of the donations to the "Keep Your Library Open!" campaign will be used to keep Mountain View Public and School Library open during October.

When incarceration and fines aren't the answer, judges can offer convicted offenders the chance to right their wrongs by making nonmonetary restitution through court-ordered community service.

The Maui Planning Commission voted this week to recommend a long-range plan that would set aside more than 3,000 acres for new development over the next 20 years.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

$44 million blunder, bankruptices at 4-year record, police laser gun use in jeopardy, bugs count

The interior of Hulihee Palace glowed on Tuesday as members of the Daughters of Hawaii and Calabash Cousins ushered visitors through its renovated rooms.

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Extending a lifeline from across the Pacific, federal and state disaster relief workers and volunteers arrived here last night on a Hawaiian Airlines flight with 40,000 pounds of water, food and clothing to help people cope with a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Maui was spared a tsunami hit Tuesday, but parts of the island saw unusual tidal activity as a result of a massive earthquake earlier in Samoa.

Already facing a deficit approaching $1 billion for the current two-year budget cycle, the state now finds itself $44 million deeper in the hole after the recent discovery of a clerical error in accounting records.

A miscommunication between two state agencies is tacking an additional $44 million to the estimate of the state's already daunting $1 billion budget shortfall, the Lingle administration said yesterday.

The Hawai'i Supreme Court has thrown out a man's conviction for excessive speeding, a ruling that could put in jeopardy dozens of cases in which drivers have been pulled over by police officers armed with a laser gun.

Event makes native insects count

Hawaii bankruptcy filings in September soared to their highest monthly level in nearly four years.