Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lucky we live Hawaii, the healthiest state. Molasses spill killed coral, Hawaii Obamacare premiums disclosed, Molokai may buy electric utility, rail evictions loom, Honolulu faces $2.5M fine in affordable housing deal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Kupuna hula (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, while Mississippi brings up the rear, according to the 2013 America's Health Rankings released today. The 50th state has consistently ranked near the top in the long-running index issued by United Health Foundation, which provides a comprehensive look at the well-being of each state. Hawaii placed second last year and third the year before. Star-Advertiser.

Ranked in the top five healthiest states for the past decade, Hawai`i this year rose to the top spot in a survey conducted by the United Health Foundation. The rankings in the “America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities” released today analyzes states based on data relating to behaviors, community and environment, health policies and clinical care. Big Island Now.

The state Insurance Division released a health insurance rate comparison sheet Tuesday to make it easier for consumers to compare plans under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare plans range from a monthly premium of $72.40 for a Bronze-level option (60 percent of medical expenses covered by the insurer, 40 percent out of pocket) for an individual under 21 years old to an $871.26 Platinum policy (90 percent covered, 10 percent out of pocket) for a 64-year-old. Star-Advertiser.

Unity, empowerment and self-governance were again themes of this year's State of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs address, with special attention paid to the importance of preparing a new generation of Native Hawaiian leaders. Star-Advertiser.

Holiday giving seems to be off this year, according to charities that rely on seasonal donations. It might not have to do with people being any less charitable, but rather with the fact that there are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, donations may have been spread thin because of the Typhoon Haiyan relief effort. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for December 11. Associated Press.


The Matson molasses disaster killed more than a thousand colonies of coral, Hawaii News Now has learned. The September spill's damage to the Honolulu Harbor's coral system extended beyond the waterway, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The company that agreed to buy 12 city-owned housing projects warned Tuesday that Honolulu likely will have to forfeit at least $2.5 million in damages for jeopardizing the deal's financing. The "notice of default" from Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC claims the City Council's proposal to rescind the sale contract has already undermined the company's financing for the $143 million deal. Star-Advertiser.

Waimanu Street businesses preparing to be evicted for rail. Transit authority gives eviction notice: Summer 2014. KITV.

The incoming operator of the Hawai‘i Convention Center has hired a former Outrigger executive to be its new general manager. Teri Orton, former vice president of condominium resort marketing for Outrigger Enterprises Group, will be the first woman to serve as general manager since the center opened in 1998. Orton will begin Dec. 18. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Departments of Education and Health are conducting an investigation to determine what caused several Waipahu Elementary students to become ill today shortly after lunch. About 40 students were identified as being sick with symptoms that may indicate food poisoning starting at about 1:15 p.m. Hawaii News Now.

New school bus contracts are about to be signed, worth more than $100 million on Oahu over the next five years. But we wanted to know if the safety measures we were told about a few weeks ago are included and we were surprised to find out most are not. In a recent investigation, KHON2 confronted the Department of Education about school bus safety and discipline policies when things go wrong onboard.

The Honolulu Marathon is big business in Hawaii, but it owes much of its financial clout to another Pacific island chain. Japanese visitors often make up the largest share of participants in the race, and have ever since the late 1980s when the number of entrants from Japan first surpassed 50 percent. Civil Beat.

A former traffic signs supervisor with the city was indicted Tuesday on a felony theft charge. Honolulu Police say Patrick Costa stole more than $45,000 by getting paid for hours he didn't work. Hawaii News Now.

Ko‘olau Loa neighborhood board votes in favor of Envision Lā‘ie. Amid continued opposition from residents outside the Lā‘ie and Mormon communities, the board voted 6-4 to support the major development plan. Hawaii Independent.


Biofuel Industry on Big Island Fails to Follow Through on Big Plans. Five years ago, state land on the Big Island experienced the biofuel equivalent of a gold rush. Today, not one biofuel company has obtained a lease of state land under the 2002 law. Civil Beat.

Volunteers wage war against invasive albizia. Tribune-Herald.

Apartment owners at the Country Club condominium are suing the Banyan Drive property’s leaseholders and management, alleging a decades-long scheme to improperly use apartment owners’ common area maintenance fees to finance the building’s hotel operation and pay its state transient accommodations taxes. Tribune-Herald.

The state wants to block the sale of the Naniloa Volcanoes Hotel to a new operator as part of a bankruptcy reorganization involving the hotel on state land in Hilo.the state Department of Land and Natural Resources objected to the sale and said it intends to appeal to U.S. District Court, claiming that assigning the land lease to the new buyer requires state consent under state law. Star-Advertiser.

The buyer of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort said he has finished transferring money for the $5.2 million purchase to escrow. Tribune-Herald.


Developers are reviving a plan for a Central Maui housing development that would include 450 multifamily units, retail and office space, and a 15-acre park. The Puunani subdivision would be built west of the Kehalani master-planned community south of Wailuku. Star-Advertiser.

Developers have revived and revised a plan for 208 acres just below Wailuku Heights that proposes about 450 multifamily units, 25,000 square feet of commercial retail and office space, and a 15-acre park. Maui News.

Some Maui County Council members were still optimistic Monday about the full council taking a vote on a deal to purchase 186 acres in Launiupoko for $13 million for a coastline parkway in West Maui. Maui News.


It has been nearly 25 years since the county approved a Princeville Development Corporation plan to expand the Princeville Center and required that the project also include nearby employee housing. Garden Island.


The island of Lāna’i was named to Lonely Planet’s Top US Destinations list, rounding out the top ten. Maui Now.


Residents on Molokai may follow in the footsteps of Kauai and buy their island’s electric utility, including its power grid, which could be entirely powered by alternative energy sources. The push for energy autonomy is an outgrowth of frustration with Hawaiian Electric Co. that was repeatedly on display during protests against the Big Wind project over the last four years. It also highlights a deep independent streak on Molokai. Civil Beat.

Amid recent concerns over proposed renewable energy project Ikehu Molokai, I Aloha Molokai has cancelled its third annual Renewable Energy Festival that was scheduled for January. The nonprofit feared the event would act as a showcase for Ikehu, falsely implying IAM’s endorsement of the project. While IAM leaders say they feel the project has potential for Molokai, they are not ready to support it based on what they consider to be a lack of public input. Molokai Dispatch.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't do this to Hawaii's coral reefs, health exchange lagging, auditor sues Kauai County, state Rep. Coffman resigns, Honolulu mayor, council bicker over homeless plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii tourists trampling snorkel reef (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold statewide public hearings to amend Hawaii Administrative Rules relating to stony coral and live rock. The proposed amendments would clarify what activities constitute “damage” to stony coral and live rock, and establish a formula for calculating administrative penalties for such violations.

Just 574 people have signed up for the Hawaii Health Connector, about one half of one percent of the state’s 1.4 million people. So far, the federal government allocation for each successful sign-up comes to about $348,000 — each. Hawaii Reporter.

As of the close of business on Friday, Hawaii’s online health care exchange had registered a total of 574 enrollments for new health care insurance plans, according to Hawaii Health Connector spokesman Bobby Lambrix. Much like the national online marketplace, the state site has experienced delays and technical glitches that have served to impede individuals looking to purchase health plans before the Dec. 23 federally mandated deadline under the Affordable Care Act. Tribune-Herald.

Tom Matsuda has resigned from his post as Hawaii’s Affordable Care Act implementation manager to take the post as interim executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, replacing Coral Andrews, who announced her resignation in November. Pacific Business News.

Former Sen. Daniel Akaka will be delivering the keynote address at an annual meeting on the state of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. About 500 people are expected to attend the meeting at Central Union Church in Honolulu on Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Installations of solar photovoltaic systems in Hawaii dropped for the third consecutive quarter, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industry Associated that attributed the decline to new utility guidelines for connecting to the grid and stricter rules for claiming renewable energy tax credits. Homes and businesses installed a total of 24.7 megawatts of PV generating capacity in the third quarter, down 17 percent from 29.7 megawatts installed during the previous three-month period, the SEIA said in a report to be released today. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to attend a meeting Tuesday in Washington focusing on climate change and preparation and recovery from natural disasters. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for December 10. Associated Press.


Mayor Kirk Caldwell says his entire homelessness initiative could be at risk if the Honolulu City Council decides to kill a $142 million affordable housing deal that’s been in the works for more than a year. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council are locked in a dispute that could end up costing the city as much as $121 million if a proposed sale of 12 city-owned housing projects to a private contractor doesn't go through. At a news conference Monday, Caldwell accused the Council of putting the $143 million project in jeopardy last week when it introduced a proposal to rescind the sale. He said the project could be lost altogether if the Council follows through with spiking the sale at a meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Given the Internet's tabloid soul, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's first Twitter town hall at the Department of Information Technology's computer lab on Monday had a promising start. Civil Beat.

You can usually count on certain things at Waikiki Beach -- there will be tourists, surfers, and the public restrooms will be open. But one of the main restrooms has been closed for several weeks with little explanation as to why. KHON2.


State Rep. Denny Coffman announced Monday he’s resigning from representing the West Hawaii district he’s served for three terms, an action that sets off a chain of events to ensure District 5 has representation in the state House when the annual legislative session convenes Jan. 15. West Hawaii Today.

State Rep. Denny Coffman will be taking a lot of love, support and respect with him after he resigns Dec. 20, according to his colleagues at the Legislature. The Big Island lawmaker announced Monday that he will be stepping down next week for personal reasons. Civil Beat.

Oral arguments begin Friday in the case of six petitioners challenging the state’s decision to grant a permit for the construction of the world’s largest telescopes on Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

In many ways, the future of Mauna Kea on Hawai’i island could be shaped this week .  This Friday, a court in Hilo will hear an appeal of the conservation use permit awarded to the planned Thirty Meter Telescope project.  On the same day in Honolulu, the Board of Land and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on whether to extend the University’s leases on Mauna Kea for another 65 years.  Hawaii Public Radio.

The Naniloa Volcanoes Resort is not out of rough waters yet. On Monday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources filed an appeal against the sale of the troubled Hilo hotel while the approved buyer is struggling to come up with funds to complete the purchase. Tribune-Herald.

A proposed plan to clean up contaminated soil at a former Kohala Sugar Co. pesticide mixing site in Hawi calls for on-island landfill disposal. West Hawaii Today.

The state is moving forward with road and waterline system improvements at the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor in South Kohala. West Hawaii Today.

A Hungarian lunar rover is walking about on the powdery flanks of Mauna Kea with its stereoscopic cameras focused on terrain ahead, a 2015 mission to the moon and the $40 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. More than 20 teams from around the world are competing for the XPRIZE, a global competition to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. Star-Advertiser.


The Maui County Council has announced the passage of a resolution in a 6-1 vote, authorizing the appointment of Danny Mateo as County Clerk. Maui Now.

A member of the Maui County Council has introduced a bill that would mandate commercial agricultural entities disclose pesticides and use of genetically modified organisms. Member Elle Cochran introduced the bill on Friday that also would establish pesticide buffer zones and require the county to complete an environmental and public health impact study about pesticides and GMOs. Associated Press.

The deadline for Maui County property owners to file claims for property tax exemptions, condominium-use classification declarations and requests for agricultural-use valuations for the 2014-15 fiscal year is Dec. 31. Maui News.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking ownership of Haleakala Trail this week, after filing a motion in conjunction with Public Access Trails Hawaii. Maui News.


The Kauai County Auditor filed a civil suit against the county alleging retaliation. The complaint, filed by Ernesto Pasion against the County of Kauai, County Council Chair Jay Furfaro and others as defendants, was filed in 5th Circuit Court, a clerk confirmed on Monday. Garden Island.

The plan was to limit testimony to the proposed ballot language for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s upcoming special election related to smart meters. In other words, Monday’s public meeting — which packed KIUC’s board room — was not about discussing whether smart meters are good or bad, safe or dangerous. Garden Island.

Community organizations plan to wage a battle against a project with proposed large residential units that they contend will spoil the view of a ridgeline north of Kauai's Hanalei River. Star-Advertiser.

Advisories warning Kauai residents about brown water that may contain hazardous substances should be issued faster and in more detail, according to an environmental group. Associated Press.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hawaii eyes undersea mining, Honolulu transit deputy worked for winning bidder, Maui preps for GMO fight, state ends year in the black, state struggles with new safety check rules, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Humpback whales
NOAA whale watching ship and humpbacks, courtesy photo
A scientific study says humpback whales in the North Pacific should be looked at as at least five distinct populations, rather than just a single species undergoing recovery. The study, including genetic analysis, goes against the traditional way humpback whales have been counted as one group in evaluating their recovery as an endangered species. The study comes at a time when a Hawaii group is petitioning to remove humpback whales in the North Pacific from the endangered species list. Star-Advertiser.

With the return of the wintering whales to Hawaii, officials from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are reminding the public to keep a safe distance from the protected and endangered animals. Maui Now.

An unprecedented era of undersea mining deep in the Pacific Ocean is poised to begin, University of Hawaii researchers say, and they aim to help protect the region's biodiversity once that mining starts. Companies and countries around the world have secured at least 12 mining exploration claims across a vast swath of ocean several hundred miles south of Hawaii called the Clarion Clipperton fracture zone, according to a UH news release. Eventually, they could scrape the sea floor in those areas for manganese, copper, cobalt, nickel and other resources. Star-Advertiser.

Brown Water Advisories following heavy rain are not to be ignored or taken lightly, according to Watson Okubo, the monitoring and analysis section chief of the state Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch. Garden Island.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Hawaii ended the most recent fiscal year $844 million in the black. The governor said in a statement Friday the administration has worked diligently to stabilize and grow Hawaii’s economy. Associated Press.

Five weeks into the new program, auto mechanics and vehicle owners are reporting lengthy delays and confusion surrounding the way vehicle inspections are now conducted and documented. The Hawaii Department of Transportation, working with the county motor vehicle departments, rolled out the program Nov. 1 and simultaneously upped the fees for car and truck inspections to help pay for it. Civil Beat.

The two youngest members of the U.S. Senate are co-sponsoring a bill aimed at lowering college costs that includes withholding federal funds from schools that don't meet affordability and quality standards. Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are planning to introduce the legislation this week. The two are still paying off their college loans. Associated Press.

The man who is second in command of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation was until earlier this year a vice president with CH2M Hill, the company that recently edged out other bidders for a $46.1 million engineering contract for the Honolulu rail project that HART is overseeing. But HART officials say Deputy Executive Director Brennon Morioka had no involvement with the agency's decision to award the contract to his former employer. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has a hefty household income when you factor in his city salary, his paid position on a local bank board of directors, his state pension and the paycheck his wife pulls down. Caldwell earns nearly $130,000 a year as mayor, but also gets paid between $200,000 and $299,999 thousand as a director of Territorial Savings Bank. He also has between $400,000 and $499,999 worth of stock in the company. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will be taking questions from the public Monday in a virtual town hall meeting. Hawaii News Now.

A hui of North Shore community members gathered near Laniakea Beach on Sunday to protest the state Department of Transportation's proposal to stop traffic snarls and safety problems in the area by blocking off access to a strip of land along Kame­ha­meha Highway that beachgoers use as a parking lot. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens turned out at Laniakea Beach Sunday to protest the state's plans to barricade the beach's parking lot. And many said the Department of Transportation's proposal to install concrete barriers and shut down the parking lot will worsen the community's already severe traffic problems. Hawaii News Now.

Regardless of what the state eventually decides to do about the volume of visitors stopping to see the turtles basking on the shores of Laniakea Beach on Oahu's North Shore, a group of volunteers continues to watch over the reptiles. Malama na Honu, translated as "care for the turtles," is a nonprofit group created in 2007 to protect Hawaiian green sea turtles, a threatened species protected by federal and state laws. Star-Advertiser.

For the past decade, Waimanalo homeowner Tom Grande has battled the city to try to get a large mound of fill material removed from the hillside just above his residence and in the middle of a dam inundation zone. But Grande, an attorney, thus far has been unsuccessful, and his legal fight has exposed what he says is a troubling gap in the law dealing with dumping of fill on agriculture land. Star-Advertiser.

More wealth shifts to Oahu neighborhoods. Four Oahu ZIP codes crack top 10 wealthiest in Hawaii for the first time. Pacific Business News.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat representing Hawaii's 2nd District, will be the keynote speaker at Hawaii Pacific University's graduation ceremonies Dec. 18. Star-Advertiser.


The economy hasn’t always cooperated, nor has the County Council, but as he finishes his fifth year in office, Mayor Billy Kenoi sees more in his win column than he’s lost. Kenoi, who first took office Dec. 1, 2008, and entered his second four-year term Dec. 5, 2012, likes to recount a laundry list of accomplishments. West Hawaii Today.

Forest land boasting one of the largest old-growth koa stands is up for grabs in Hamakua. Known as the “Ohana Sanctuary” by its current owners, the land consists of 3,127 acres of largely untouched forest near Akaka Falls. And it fetches a hefty price of $22 million. Tribune-Herald.


The Maui County Council on Friday may have ruined the county's opportunity to purchase 186 acres in Launiupoko for a long-envisioned coastline parkway by failing to take a vote on the deal as an end-of-the-month deadline loomed. Maui News.

Some environmentalists and farmers on Maui appear poised for a conflict on a bill to add more regulations on those using pesticides commercially, including businesses involved in producing genetically modified organisms. Star-Advertiser.

Maui County could be joining Hawaii and Kauai counties in creating an ordinance to regulate pesticides and genetically modified organisms by commercial agricultural companies. Maui News.

Current executive assistant to the mayor and former Maui County Council Chairman Danny Mateo was appointed by the Maui County Council on Friday to be the county clerk. Maui News.

Maui Economic Opportunity's paratransit system has, again, come under fire for delays in service, said riders at a meeting last week at the nonprofit. Maui News.


Seed companies bolster Keiki Toy Ride gifts. Garden Island.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Another Hawaii county limits GMOs, Japanese princess visits, Hannemann may run again, state hospital investigation, monk seal kills, housing upturn and more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

tropical plant science GMO research
University of Hawaii plant geneticist James Brewbaker courtesy photo
First Kauai, then Hawaii Island and, next, Maui. A wave of dissent against pesticides and genetically modified (GMO) crops is overtaking the Hawaiian Islands. See articles under individual island headings below.

It's been rumored for months that Mufi Hannemann is considering a return to politics, either in a run for his old Honolulu City Council seat or the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Colleen Hanabusa. Now the talk is that the former Honolulu mayor may have settled on Congress, a seat that he has sought unsuccessfully three times. Civil Beat.

A Japanese princess is visiting Hawaii for the next week. Princess Akiko is scheduled to watch storytellers tell Japanese and Hawaiian myths at the Hawaii Theater in Honolulu over the weekend. Associated Press.

From 2009 to 2012, humans are suspected of killing at least eight monk seals in the main Hawaiian islands. Rewards of tens of thousands of dollars have been offered and federal officials say they make serious efforts to investigate cases and bring offenders to justice. But do they? Civil Beat.

The feds are looking into workplace violence at the state’s hospital for the criminally insane after allegations of abuse of staff by patients recently surfaced. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating  the Hawaii State Hospital, hospital administrators have confirmed. Hawaii Reporter.

For the past six years, Macy's has run a campaign urging kids to write letters to Santa to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. While some schools on the mainland have joined in the effort by encouraging students to take part, that can't happen here, according to the State Ethics Commission. The commission issued an advisory Thursday, saying that the state ethics code prohibits state employees from using work time and state resources for non-state related business purposes, which generally includes supporting or promoting private charities. Hawaii News Now.


If all goes as planned, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's "Twitter town hall" on Dec. 9 will be backed by the largest response team for a microblog meeting that Hawaii has seen. Civil Beat.

Kewalo Basin small boat harbor has become a magnet for dining and retail development plans, attracting two bids in recent months for an Italian seafood restaurant and a wedding hall. Now a third proposal, which includes a food hall concept, has been floated. Star-Advertiser.

A ceremony will take place Friday at the Arizona Memorial Visitor Center to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Dec. 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hawaii News Now.


Mayor Billy Kenoi’s decision to sign Bill 113 came as a relief and surprise to some while others contemplated what impact it might have on Big Island farming. Kenoi signed the bill banning open-air use and open-air testing of genetically modified crops, with some exemptions, Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi Thursday afternoon signed a bill designed to limit the future planting of genetically modified crops. Hawaii County is the second county in the state to restrict genetically modified crops. The Kauai County Council voted Nov. 16 to override a veto of a bill requiring large farms to disclose use of genetically modified crops. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law on Thursday, prohibiting biotech companies from operating on the Big Island and banning farmers from growing any new genetically altered crops. The bill exempts the island’s GMO papaya industry. HuffPost Hawaii.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed a bill restricting genetically modified crops. The mayor's office says he signed the bill Thursday. Associated Press.

An Ocean View swap meet must control its traffic if it wants to keep its special permit, the Windward Planning Commission said Thursday. In a unanimous vote, the commission gave the farmers market and swap meet, located at the intersection of Mamalahoa Highway and Prince Kuhio Boulevard, three conditions it must meet. West Hawaii Today.

All signs point to a continuing healthy housing market on the Big Island with positive numbers across the board, including double-digit percentage gains in the number of sales for single-family homes and condominiums last month when compared to the same month last year, according to data released Thursday by the Hawaii Information Service. Pacific Business News.


The fight over genetically engineered crops and pesticides is shifting to Maui. Councilwoman Elle Cochran plans to submit a bill to the Maui County Council on Friday requiring agricultural companies to disclose details about their pesticide use to the county, while farmers would have to report any genetically altered organisms they are growing.  Civil Beat.

A blessing was held on Thursday morning for the new Kīhei Police Station, which houses a detective bureau, a criminal investigation division, a training division, uniform services and executive offices. Maui Now.

Jeffrey Kuwada has retired as Maui County clerk, effective Sunday, and former County Council Chairman Danny Mateo is on deck to replace him. Maui News.


Large agribusinesses on Kauai have started following a state Department of Agriculture voluntary program to disclose pesticide use and establish buffer zones for spraying. Companies are setting up meetings with officials of neighboring schools, medical facilities and residential properties to address concerns about pesticide use under the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program, which took effect Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai’s housing market saw some nice gains in the median sales prices of single-family homes and condominiums in November, including a 13 percent hike in the median price of a single-family home and a 2 percent increase in the median price of a condominium, when compared to the same month last year, according to statistics released on Thursday by the Hawaii Information Service. Pacific Business News.

It was a historic day at 5th Circuit Court on Thursday, with the first same-sex civil marriage ceremony to be held in the county, and the first double wedding officiated by Judge Kathleen Watanabe. Garden Island.


As more Hawaii residents flock toward raising chickens in their backyards, some may not be aware of the state and federal health regulations for selling their eggs to the public. As part of a statewide tour by the Hawaii Departments of Health and Agriculture and the University of Hawaii, a dozen of Molokai’s backyard egg farmers familiarized themselves with these guidelines during an egg workshop last Tuesday. Molokia Dispatch.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hawaii economy up, 'alarming' increase in Army DUI, more on Obama family visit, Honolulu preps for marathon, Kakaako condo approved, Molokai could be 100% renewable, Hawaii County advances $61M bond, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki shoppers (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s state economists are forecasting a higher economic growth rate of nearly 3 percent for 2014, despite lowering the 2013 growth rate in a quarterly economic report released on Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

The White House hasn't officially announced its plans yet, but Hawaii News Now has learned the Obamas will vacation here over the holidays.  This will be the First Family's sixth Christmas in Hawaii since he was elected president, and keeping with tradition they are expected to spend it in Kailua.

The Army is reporting an "alarming increase" in drunken driving by soldiers in Hawaii as the military continues to struggle with the consequences of war and a return to "garrison" life. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens of upset individuals have taken to social media to express anger over a major airline's alleged treatment of a World War II veteran believed to have been on his way to Hawaii for a remembrance ceremony at Pearl Harbor. We have received unconfirmed reports that despite telling employees that he was a veteran on his way to Hawaii for a memorial at the Arizona Memorial on December 7, a war veteran named Ewalt Shatz was bumped off of United Airlines flight 1226 from Los Angeles International Airport to Honolulu on Wednesday because the plane was overweight. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Wednesday that said the state violated its own rules in allowing construction of a $17 million activity center at Kawaiahao Church to proceed without requiring the church to do an archaeological inventory survey first.  Some 660 dug-up human remans have languished in the church’s basement while the project has remained stalled for months amid court proceedings. The burials were expected to be reinterred in another part of the church property, but last year’s ruling by the Intermediate Court of Appeals on the AIS halted the project and left the fate of the remains in limbo. Civil Beat.


The Honolulu Marathon, which will be run for the 41st year on Sunday, is on pace to bolster the state's $15 billion visitor industry during the seasonal lull right before the winter holidays. While entries for this year's race were flat going into the Honolulu Marathon Expo, organizers say that this year could still pull ahead of 2012. Before the opening of late registration on Wednesday, 29,575 runners had entered the race compared with 29,937 at the same point last year. Another 2,000 to 4,000 runners are expected to enter before Saturday's 5 p.m. cutoff, topping last year's total of 31,083 racers.Star-Advertiser.

Due in part to what happened at the Boston Marathon, there will be added security at the beginning, end, and on the route of the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday. There will be more uniformed and plain clothes police officers on the scene. KHON2.

Donors to Mayor Kirk Caldwell's transition committee which raised $400,000 for an inauguration party and to help install him in office had significant business interests with the city, according to a list of the donors released Wednesday by the Honolulu Ethics Commission. Some donors, who were implicated in an ethics investigation of the committee, also included registered lobbyists and cabinet members Carolee Kubo and Chris Takashige. Civil Beat.

A memorandum this week from city Corporation Counsel Donna Leong telling department heads that her office will advise city employees about ethical issues has drawn the ire of Ethics Commission Executive Director Chuck Totto. Totto told members of the seven-member commission on Wednesday that Leong's position could confuse employees and the public about where they should turn for advice on ethical issues, noting that he has already received calls from perplexed workers about the Dec. 2 memo. Star-Advertiser.

Subpoenas could be on the way for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s top executives if the administration continues to stonewall the Ethics Commission and its investigations into possible corruption at city hall. On Wednesday, at the third meeting on what's become a fast-disintegrating relationship between the commission and the administration, commissioners made it clear that they could soon take legal action to pry information loose in ethics investigations, including cases involving nepotism and political favoritism. Civil Beat.

Sales are expected to begin early next year for a second "workforce housing"condominium tower in Kakaako aimed at moderate-income residents after a state agency approved the project at the mauka end of South Street on Wednesday. The 410-unit tower representing a second phase of a project called 801 South St. won unanimous approval from the nine-member Hawaii Community Development Authority, the agency regulating development in Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has given Downtown Capital LLC permission to develop a second residential tower in Kakaako at 801 South St. despite the vocal opposition of hundreds of local residents. Civil Beat.

A largely empty, five-story parking structure on South King Street just makai of the Alapai Street police station should soon be filling up and earning some cash for the city. The city reached an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration in September to allow city employees who don't have transit-related jobs to park at the location at least until the entire $100 million Joint Traffic Management Center is completed in late summer or early fall of 2016. Star-Advertiser.

California developer Champlin Windpower is proposing to add a second wind farm here next to the current Kahuku wind farm, called Na Pua Makani. KHON2.

A Mainland biomass company with ties to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen could shake up the energy scene in Hawaii by providing a quick, environmentally-friendly, lower-cost solution to fossil fuels such as fuel oil and liquefied natural gas to power up Hawaiian Electric Co.’s power stations. Pacific Business News.


Kailua-Kona is the top U.S. Destination on the Rise for 2013, the world’s largest travel website,, announced this week. The West Hawaii town earned the title based on the reviews and opinions of millions of TripAdvisor travelers. Anchorage, Alaska, took second and Destin, Fla., placed third on the 2013 Travelers’ Choice Top 10 Destinations on the Rise in the U.S. list. West Hawaii Today.

Unlike his last omnibus bond authorization request before a prior County Council, it was full steam ahead Tuesday for Mayor Billy Kenoi’s request to borrow $61 million for 23 projects countywide. The council Finance Committee, meeting into the evening, unanimously agreed to forward Kenoi’s bond package to the County Council with a positive recommendation. West Hawaii Today.

A software vendor is scrambling to get Hawaii County’s online building permit system back online, three weeks after the county took down the public portal because it wasn’t working right. West Hawaii Today.

A former case manager at CARE Hawaii filed suit against the mental health care provider, claiming she was wrongfully terminated after reporting other case managers illegally billed the state and private health insurance companies for work they didn’t do. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County Council has cleared the way for the completion of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass in South Kona. The council approved a resolution Wednesday allowing for the county to acquire portions of nine parcels through eminent domain. Tribune-Herald.


A two-mile stretch of coastal waters off South Maui was closed Wednesday after two divers reported aggressive behavior by a shark that followed them to shore near Little Beach -- just two days after a fatal attack on a kayak fisherman nearby. State officials said the divers told lifeguards that an 8- to 10-foot Galapagos shark made several passes at them while they were spearfishing close to shore off Black Sand Beach at Makena about 11:20 a.m. Star-Advertiser.

Residents who qualified for the circuit breaker tax credit last year but would not qualify under the stricter criteria passed by the Maui County Council earlier this year are encouraged to still submit their applications as the council continues to deliberate on which criteria to make, county officials said Tuesday. Maui News.

Two appraisals ordered by the Maui County Council last month for 186 acres in Launiupoko came back with "significantly different" values, further convoluting a yearlong effort to sign a deal that would preserve open space along the West Maui coastline. Maui News.

A grand opening celebration will be held this Friday night, Dec. 6, at the new The Outlets of Maui shopping center in Lahaina. Maui Now.


The Garden Isle recently earned a No. 2 ranking on TripAdvisor’s list of the 10 best islands in the United States, according to the website’s 2013 Travelers’ Choice awards. Kauai was bested only by San Juan Island, Wash., but placed ahead of Maui, 5, and Hawaii Island, 8, as the top Hawaiian island to crack the list. Garden Island.

Kauai County is moving forward on a $9.2 million project aimed at improving Hardy Street to meet the county’s newly-implemented Complete Streets policy. That policy seeks to create walkable, commuter-friendly communities. According to proposed Department of Public Works plans, two travel lanes with a landscaped median, turn lanes, bike lanes on both sides of the street, on-street parking, planter strips and continuous sidewalks will run the length of Hardy Street. Garden Island.


A proposed renewable energy project for Molokai combines solar and stored hydroelectric power with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy for the island and lowered electric rates for local customers. The project, called Ikehu Molokai, is still in the early stages of discussion. It would be a joint endeavor between California-based Princeton Energy Group and landowner Molokai Ranch. If completed, Molokai would become the first grid in the world to be converted completely to renewable energy, said Princeton CEO Steve Tabor. Molokai Dispatch.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Obama family again to vacation on Oahu, Hawaii Supreme Court upholds Hawaiian blood quantum, Bloomberg to campaign for Schatz, DOE tests school bus routes, Honolulu mulls bus ads, warden named for Kulani prison, bill to allow 16-year-olds to vote, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Supreme Court (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit contending that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs should spend its trust funds on people with 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. The high court's ruling on Tuesday affirms OHA's use of funds for the benefit of those with any amount of Hawaiian blood. Star-Advertiser.

Read the entire Kealoha opinion here.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the President, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia will travel to Honolulu sometime around December 20.

Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland intends to introduce a bill at the Legislature next session that would trigger a ballot initiative to let the people decide on whether the minimum age for voting should be on par with the minimum age for driving solo. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, has landed a big name to help him with his reelection campaign. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, will headline a reception for Schatz Jan. 2 in Honolulu. A ticket for the event, to be held at the Kahala home of developer Duncan MacNaughton, is $1,000. Civil Beat.

After more than a decade as New York City's mayor, it looks like Michael Bloomberg has decided which sunset he'll ride off into when his third and final term is over on the first of the year. Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who is up for re-election in 2014, has landed the venerable mayor to headline a fundraising reception in Honolulu on Jan. 2. HuffPost Hawaii.

Financial disclosure requirements for Hawaii Supreme Court justices rate a grade of D, according to a nonprofit digital news organization. But the requirements for the highest state courts in 42 states received an F, the Center for Public Integrity said in a report issued Tuesday. That leaves Hawaii, even with a D, with the sixth-best disclosure requirements among all states, the center said. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s health exchange violates the National Voter Registration Act, says the state’s League of Women Voters. The voter act requires all states to provide residents access to voter registration when applying for a driver’s license, welfare, unemployment benefits and a host of public programs. But the Hawaii Health Connector, established by the Legislature as a nonprofit to run the Obamacare exchange and funded with $200 million in federal money, fails to provide information about voting on its website or in other materials. Hawaii Reporter.

The State Department of Health is proposing changes to food sanitation rules. They're holding public hearings statewide to get input on the 172 pages of new regulations. The Department is concerned with food safety.  But there may be consequences for nonprofit agencies that feed those who need help. Hawaii Public Radio.

The new student transportation system that the Hawaii Department of Education is testing out at about 30 schools in the Pearl City and Aiea areas has the potential to significantly slash costs within a few years, preliminary results from the pilot program suggest. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Education announced Tuesday that Roberts Hawaii and Ground Transport Inc. will provide bus service for Oahu schoolchildren in the 2014-2015 school year. At a cost of nearly $21 million, contracts were awarded Nov. 27 following a request for proposal process that began in July. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for December 4. Associated Press.


Allowing paid advertising on the sides and backs of city buses is the latest money-raising plan being proposed by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Caldwell, who forwarded Bill 69 to the City Council late Tuesday, said the plan could bring in as much as $8 million annually and that all of the money would go to bus operations. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration continues to flout the city Ethics Commission, this time with a not-so-subtle memo that went to all municipal agencies. On Dec. 2, Corporation Counsel Donna Leong said her department will now begin providing ethics advice to all city employees, particularly as it relates to standards of conduct, conflicts of interest and fair treatment. Civil Beat.

The community group Keep the North Shore Country says the plan to deal with environmental impacts caused by the expansion of Turtle Bay Resort is deficient and that the city Department of Planning and Permitting should not have accepted it from the resort owners. Star-Advertiser.

A widely used Diamond Head seawall is old and deteriorating. Now, after a 10-year fight, we finally know who's responsible for taking care of the wall. What we don't know is what the state will do now that it's been deemed the owner. KHON2.

Kamehameha Schools is putting up for sale two of Oahu's largest shopping centers, which combined could fetch upward of $400 million. The trust said Tuesday that it intends to offer for sale the buildings and other improvements at Windward Mall in Kaneohe and Hawaii Kai Towne Center while holding onto the underlying land. Star-Advertiser.

St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii expects it will cost $20 million to turn a portion of the former Hawaii Medical Center East into a 119-bed skilled nursing facility, double the original estimate reported last spring. Pacific Business News.

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz pulled into Pearl Harbor on Tuesday after an extended deployment that saw the big ship positioned for support of a possible strike on Syria in September. The crew and air wing totaling about 5,000 are in port for a few days before the carrier heads to San Diego and then to its home port of Everett, Wash., by Christmas. Star-Advertiser.


Ruth Coller Forbes has been hired as the new warden for the Kulani Correctional Facility. Forbes, who most recently worked as a corrections supervisor for Hawaii Community Correctional Center, took the new job effective Sunday, the state Department of Public Safety said. She will be responsible for overseeing the minimum-security prison and getting it ready for re-opening July 1. Tribune-Herald.

The County Council’s Finance Committee postponed action on a resolution to accept a public easement through a proposed Kohala Coast development Tuesday while questions over the existence of a historical trail continued to be raised. Tribune-Herald.

A proposed 43-lot Kona subdivision got bogged down Tuesday in the County Council Planning Committee after a disagreement between the developers and the Department of Public Works about how much of Hualalai Road the developer is responsible for. After 2 1/2 hours of discussion, the Planning Committee agreed to postpone the rezoning until Dec. 17 to allow several amendments to clarify how much of the improvements will be credited to fair share requirements and how much of Hualalai Road should be improved and to address density and drainage issues. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Supreme Court, taking a rare road trip, Tuesday in the case at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center as part of the state Judiciary’s Courts in the Community outreach program. About 300 people, including high school and UH-Hilo students — and a plethora of lawyers — were in the audience. Tribune-Herald.


The recent shark attacks are prompting calls for action, including a renewed debate about culling  the creatures. Some people want the state to kill tiger sharks. Hawaii News Now.

Two Maui residents were included in the latest round of governor-appointed positions to fill vacancies within the state’s board and commissions. A&B Properties Vice President, Grant Chun, was appointed to a seat on the state Board of Education; and Kula resident, Doreen Nāpua Gomes assumes the Maui seat on the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Maui Now.

Policy and business leaders will explore the electric power generation transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy during a conference March 26-28 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Maui News.

Already burdened with the nation's highest electricity bills, Hawaii residents are paying even more for renewable energy development, and what they pay depends on whether they're among the "haves" or the "have-nots." Maui News.


Sunday marked the beginning of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s “Good Neighbor Program” on Kauai. And each large agricultural company — the same five mentioned in controversial Article 22 (formerly Bill 2491) — has expressed its willingness to comply. Those companies include DuPont Pioneer, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta and Kauai Coffee. Laurie Yoshida, communications manager at Pioneer, said her company — as well as others — believe Article 22 related to pesticides and genetically modified organisms is legally flawed, and that regulation and oversight of the industry should remain at the state level. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council will hold a public hearing today on a bill that could waive waste disposal fees for approved cleanup efforts on county land. It is a move that some say will help cut the red tape associated with doing volunteer work for the county. Garden Island.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Japanese WWII sub found off Oahu, year's 2nd shark-bite death on Maui, DOT employee lives high life off contractors' dime, foster parents want more money, Omidyar group plans Kauai dairy, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory
Unidentified scuttled vessel discovered by Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory
A World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy mega-submarine, the I-400, lost since 1946 when it was intentionally scuttled by U.S. forces after its capture, has been discovered in more than 2,300 feet of water off the southwest coast of O‘ahu. The discovery resolves a decades-old Cold War mystery of just where the lost submarine lay, and recalls a different era as one war ended and a new, undeclared conflict emerged. Hawaii Reporter.

Japanese I-400
This is a photo of the Japanese crew and its submarine, the I-400. KITV.

A class-action lawsuit is expected to be filed today against the state, alleging it has failed to pay foster parents enough to adequately care for their foster children. The suit will be filed by a sole foster parent, Raynette Nalani Ah Chong of Kaha­luu, on behalf of more than 1,000 Hawaii foster parents, who haven't had their reimbursement payments increased since 1990. The federal Child Welfare Act requires that reimbursements cover the expenses of children in foster care, but the $529 monthly payment does not come close, said Victor Gemi­ni­ani, executive director of Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. Star-Advertiser.

A handful of companies consistently cash in on lucrative contracts in Hawaii, a Civil Beat analysis of 10 years of federal contracting data indicates. The federal government spent $159 billion in contracts in Hawaii over the past 10 years. From that pool of money, the top 10 corporate contractors secured at least $200 million apiece since 2003, with two of them crossing the $1 billion threshold. That's according to eight years of data from the Census Bureau's Consolidated Federal Funds Report and two years of data from, a government-run website that replaced the Census reporting system. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Department of Education will place its sex education program, Pono Choices, on hold after the completion of the 2013 Fall semester to conduct a review of the pilot curriculum. The DOE calls the program a “medically accurate” program that informs teens about pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and gives students greater knowledge of the risks associated with unsafe sexual behaviors and be more likely to report safe sex practices, including abstinence. Parents were concerned their children in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, were learning to put condoms on dildos and about performing oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex. Hawaii Reporter.

The state has awarded a $17.4 million contract to a mainland company to undertake energy efficiency improvements and install solar panels at 33 government buildings on five islands. The project is expected to cut energy costs by more than $1 million in the first year and $28 million over two decades, according to Ameresco Inc., the Massachusetts-based company that was awarded the contract by the Department of Accounting and General Services.Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii Ethics Commission has charged a state employee for improperly accepting gifts from businesses doing business with the state and failing to report them. The Department of Transportation engineer, identified only as John Doe, has agreed to pay $7,500 to resolve the charge. He apparently accepted a number of invitations to play in charity golf tournaments and recreationally at places like Mauna Lani Resort from 2007 to 2010. His entry fees, which ranged from $150 to $800, were paid for by DOT vendors directly subject to his official action as an engineer, according to the commission’s Nov. 20 resolution of the charge. Civil Beat.

After decades of sound and fury, the first same-sex marriages early Monday morning happened in almost complete silence and intimacy. Standing in huddles on a stage in a Waikiki lounge, the couples read their vows and their officiants performed an act which had only minutes-before become legal. Hawaii Independent.

Retired professors Rod Powell and Bob Eddinger have been partners in life since they met at the University of Hawaii in 1977. On Monday, they joined in marriage on the first day their home state allowed same-sex couples to form such unions. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Airlines is launching a codeshare program with Taiwan’s China Airlines this month that will extend its network in Asia and allow members of both airlines’ frequent flyer programs to earn and redeem miles on both airlines. Pacific Business News.

Another hurricane season came and went in the Central Pacific this year without unleashing destruction on the Hawaiian Islands. The season was, however, twice as active as scientists initially predicted in May. Star-Advertiser.

The Legislature wants the public to take part in the process of creating the laws and policies that govern Hawaii. With the next session set to start in January, the House communications office has put together a public service announcement that encourages people to get informed and get involved. Civil Beat.

State roundup for December 3. Associated Press.


Trial will remain in Honolulu for a North Carolina man accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 in a failed concert that was supposed to feature Stevie Wonder, a federal judge ruled Monday. Associated Press.

Kakaako Rising: Is This Community Development? Civil Beat.


Is a waste-to-energy plant a done deal for Hawaii County? A resolution urging Mayor Billy Kenoi to consider other alternatives comes back before the County Council Waste Management Committee today after being panned by both the Environmental Management Commission and the director of the Department of Environmental Management. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Electric Light Co. says awarding a contract for another 50 megawatts of geothermal power will take more time. But how long remains unclear. The utility was initially expecting to make a selection among the six companies that submitted proposals by September. It later pushed that timeline to the end of November. That deadline was missed, and HELCO Administration Manager Rhea Lee said Monday that a new date is in the process of being determined. Tribune-Herald.

The Big Island is expected to have at least seven warning sirens upgraded or installed over the next few months. State Civil Defense spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said work orders are being released for the department’s $25.6 million statewide siren upgrade project. Priority locations are being addressed first, and work should occur over the next three months, she said. Tribune-Herald.

If the old adage “Practice makes perfect” holds true, then the union of the first same-sex couple to tie the knot Monday in Hilo is likely to be perfect indeed. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii shark
A visiting kayaker from Washington state died Monday morning after part of his right leg was bitten off by a shark about a half-mile off Little Beach in Makena, state and county officials said. Maui News.

Maui police have since identified the victim who sustained fatal injuries in a shark attack offshore of Mākena, Maui on Monday as 57-year-old Patrick A. Briney. Police say Briney, who is from Stevenson, in Washington State, was kayaking with a friend when the incident occurred. Maui Now.

Maui County police identified a kayak fisherman killed in a shark attack Monday morning as Patrick A. Briney, 57, from Stevenson, Wash. This is the eighth shark attack off Maui and the second death statewide this year. Star-Advertiser.

A kayaker died on Monday morning after a shark attacked him in the waters off of Maui. Hawaii experienced strong rains over the weekend, and murky waters are known to both attract and confuse sharks who often can't tell the difference between prey and humans. HuffPost Hawaii.

Hawai’i made international news yesterday with another fatal shark attack on Maui. Makena State Recreation Area was closed after the attack that happened before 10:30 am. Hawaii Public Radio.

Typically Hawaii will see four shark attacks a year, but this year there have been 13 in the state and eight of them around Maui. The most recent killed Patrick Briney, 57, as he was kayak fishing half mile off Makena Beach on Maui. Hawaii News Now.

The phrases "now I pronounce you husband and husband" and "wife and wife" were heard at same-sex marriages around Maui on Monday, the first day that gay marriages in Hawaii were legal. Maui News.

The county's proposed integrated waste conversion project may have the potential to double the amount of trash currently diverted from the Central Maui Landfill, but a couple of longstanding local recycling companies are worried that they will be displaced. Maui News.

The US Army Corps of Engineers hosts a public meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 4, to gather public input on its proposal to perform an environmental cleanup of the former Maui Airport Landfill. Maui Now.


A socially minded investment organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a new model of dairy farming in Hawaii: a $17.5 million venture on Kauai called Hawai‘i Dairy Farms projected to start milk production in 2015. The farm would be the biggest dairy in the state and roughly double the supply of local milk, according to Ulu­pono Initiative, the local investment firm that announced the project Monday. Star-Advertiser.

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative is investing $17.5 million to build a grass-fed dairy farm on Kauai on 583 acres of pasture land leased from Grove Farm. Pacific Business News.

The ballot question is crafted. But before going out to vote, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative wants to know what its members think of how to word the yes-or-no decision point. Beginning next week, the public will have two opportunities to provide input on ballot language for KIUC’s special election related to smart meters. The upcoming election — expected to cost co-op members $63,000 — will take place in January, although exact dates have not been determined. Garden Island.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Couples wed as Hawaii gay marriage law takes effect, public records priced out of public range, new film commissioner for Maui, new publisher at Big Island media, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Equality Hawaii

Hawaii's first gay marriage, courtesy Equality Hawaii
Same-sex couples are taking advantage of Hawaii's new-found aloha for gay weddings. Associated Press.

Forty-five minutes past the stroke of midnight today, six couples became Hawaii’s first same-sex couples to marry. The New Civil Rights Movement.

Same-sex marriage took more than two decades of activism to reach Hawaii, but the first ceremonies only took a few minutes. Forty-five minutes after midnight Monday — the moment state marriage license applications became available online — six same-sex couples began to exchange their vows at a festive, historic celebration on the 30th floor of the Sheraton Waikiki. Civil Beat.

Today the wait is over for local same sex couples looking to get married in the Aloha State. Hawaii recently became the latest to legalize marriage equality and the law will go into effect starting today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Same-sex couples marry on historic first day in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Supporters of gay marriage were set to celebrate their impending midnight unions Sunday afternoon with bouncy castles, food trucks and musical performers, but Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Marriage Equality Family Day and Celebration at Thomas Square had to be canceled because of inclement weather. Star-Advertiser.

Pacific Business News reports that a major private corrections company is "very interested" in helping Hawaii solve its prison overcrowding problem by building new prisons here. It's the same company, Corrections Corporation of America, that houses hundreds of Hawaii prisoners in its Arizona facilities. Civil Beat.

One way to keep tabs on the public’s money is to review the governor’s travel records. That’s pretty standard procedure for journalists in most states, especially when an incumbent is up for reelection. But it’s tough to do in Hawaii. The cost of public records effectively invalidates the state public records law in many instances. It’s just too expensive for the public to pay the price the agencies charge to review records that are legally available under the Uniform Information Practices Act, Hawaii’s decades-old public records law. Civil Beat.

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Robert Lee saw the battleship USS Arizona turn red hot and heard it hiss like a tea kettle after it was hit. He shot at Japanese warplanes with a .22 rifle, and joined the Hawaii Territorial Guard the next day for fear the island would be invaded. Star-Advertiser.


Budget talks for Fiscal Year 2015 are already taking place inside Honolulu Hale, and the conversation isn’t pretty. The city is facing a projected $156 million shortfall in the coming year, which has caused Mayor Kirk Caldwell to institute a strict spending cap on all departments. There’s already a $28 million deficit in the current fiscal year, which began July 1, and that has already resulted in some cuts. Civil Beat.


Almost a year after county Legislative Auditor Colleen Schrandt resigned, the position has not yet been filled and it’s unclear how much, if any, auditing has actually gone on. West Hawaii Today.

Work on a Hawaii biomass facility that was expected to generate 10 percent of the Big Island’s electricity needs has been halted until developer, Hu Honua Bioenergy, receives the final regulatory permits and approvals, leaving up to 20 workers, a mix of contract workers and employees, off the job, according to John Sylvia, the company’s CEO. Pacific Business News.

David Bock takes over today as publisher of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Bock, 47, succeeds Ted Dixon, who is retiring. Dixon was publisher since 2003. Bock, who is editor of the Tribune-Herald and director of news services for Stephens Media Hawaii, will retain his news-related responsibilities. Stephens Media Hawaii.


Newly selected Maui County Film Commissioner Tracy Bennett is looking to "really push hard" over the next few months to bring a television series to the island next year. Maui News.

Already burdened with the nation's highest electricity bills, Hawaii residents are paying even more for renewable energy development, and what they pay depends on whether they're among the "haves" or the "have-nots." Maui News.


A $12 million energy project is underway  at Kauai schools. In the first phase, four schools will be fitted with 22 photovoltaic energy systems through a $1.2 million state initiative. Garden Island.

Kauai Chief of Police Darryl Perry said that with the County Council’s approval of the CrimeNtel intelligence sharing program, the department has an enhanced ability to prevent criminal or terrorist acts by working in conjunction with state and national intelligence and law enforcement networks. Garden Island.

The state Department of Health's Clean Water Branch has issued a brown water advisory for the east-northeast areas of Kauai from Nawiliwili to Hanalei. Star-Advertiser.