Thursday, March 12, 2015

Senate panel grills Ching over DLNR post, House passes $6.5B budget, firearm registrations drop, Maui cancels GMO update, Hawaii council chairman cleared on ethics complaint, lawmakers raise money during legislative session, merger prompts rail contract cancellation, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

screen shot March 11 2015
Gov. David Ige, DLNR nominee Carleton Ching, Senate committee screen shot
Carleton Ching listened for hours Wednesday as dozens of unhappy environmentalists argued he is not qualified to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and its 900 employees. Star-Advertiser.

Nearly eight hours into a Senate committee confirmation hearing on whether to recommend approving the nomination of Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Sen. Sam Slom lobbed the Castle & Cooke lobbyist a classic interview question: “Why should we hire you?” Civil Beat.

A Hawaii Senate panel took up Gov. David Ige’s nomination of Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources, but decided after a nine-hour hearing that it still had too many questions for the nominee to take a vote. Associated Press.

Carleton Ching, Gov. David Ige's controversial nominee to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources, went before the Senate Water and Land Committee today, amid heavy opposition. Hawaii News Now.

Governor David Ige's choice to head up the Department of Land and Natural Resources got an earful of criticism Wednesday. The confirmation hearing for Carleton Ching featured what one lawmaker called "unprecedented opposition." KITV4.

It’s been an all-day session at the State Capitol as senators begin to decide whether or not to confirm Gov. David Ige’s controversial nomination to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. For roughly eight hours before the state Senate Committee on Water and Land Wednesday, people testified for and against Carleton Ching as chairman. KHON2.

Live Blog: Carleton Ching confirmation hearing. Hawaii Independent.

A proposed budget of $6.5 billion in general funds was approved by the House Finance Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

For the second time in two years the Hawaii Legislature has failed to pass a measure that would set minimum training standards for law enforcement officers and create a certification process that would help keep bad cops off the force. Civil Beat.

The number of firearms registered in Hawaii last year decreased after several years of steady increases. The state attorney general's office said Wednesday about 48,000 firearms were registered during 2014. That's a 20.5 percent decrease from the previous year's record high of about 61,000. Associated Press.

Gun dealers in Hawaii say an ammunition shortage, especially for .22-caliber bullets, continues even as firearm permit applications declined in 2014 — the first drop for the islands in eight years. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Department of the Attorney General said Wednesday that firearm permits dropped significantly last year. Civil Beat.

The Department of Health has started posting on its website the inspection reports for community care family foster homes and adult day care centers, moving the agency into compliance with a state law. Civil Beat.

A cooling-off in visitor satisfaction levels from mostly international travelers, coupled with unfavorable exchange rates, could throw off industry growth enough to fall short of 2015 targets. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's tourism is looking at another strong year, but the state's largest industry is vulnerable to issues like the price of oil and currency valuation, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

It should be a swell happy hour at Ferguson’s Irish Pub in downtown Honolulu on Wednesday night. That’s where Hawaii state Reps. Richard Onishi, Bert Kobayashi, Takashi Ohno, Nicole Lowen, Justin Woodson and Richard Creagan will be. Suggested donations start at $50. Civil Beat.

A multimillion-dollar rail contract is getting the ax because two companies, AECOM and URS, merged last fall. Both have rail contracts with URS paid $63 million to watch over the $99 million in various jobs AECOM is doing, including designing some rail stations and guideway sections. KHON2.

A bill aimed at cracking down on illegal vacation rentals on Oahu picked up a preliminary approval from the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday as did two other bills that would open up the number of residential properties that may include a second dwelling unit. Star-Advertiser.

As it turns out, the state Attorney General's Office did receive two complaints from the state Campaign Spending Commission in November about the 2012 mayoral campaign activities of the Pacific Resource Partnership's political action committee, despite assertions earlier this week from the Attorney General's Office that it was never given the cases. Star-Advertiser.

The military will briefly close most gates to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam while troops conduct an exercise. Base officials say the gates will close for about 15 minutes starting at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. Associated Press.


The Hawaii County Board of Ethics plans to investigate lobbying activity by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, even as it cleared County Council Chairman Dru Kanuha on Wednesday of any wrongdoing. West Hawaii Today.

A $55 million appropriation to build a new judiciary complex in North Kona has cleared the state House of Representatives. West Hawaii Today.

Legislation to fund salaries and equipment for ocean safety officers at the state beach advanced out of the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Rep. Cindy Evans, D-Kohala, North Kona, said the proposal got a boost at the Capitol from a Hawaii County Council resolution calling for services at the increasingly crowded but often dangerous North Kona bay. West Hawaii Today.

Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems is building a “Lunar Sidewalk” project in Hilo. Fronting the tennis courts mauka of Lincoln Park on Kinoole Street, will feature three different slabs made from experimental volcanic basalt materials that one day could be used to build structures and pavement on other worlds. Tribune-Herald.


A hearing scheduled for Friday to update council members on litigation arising from a initiative passed by voters to impose a moratorium on farming genetically modified organisms has been canceled by the Maui County Council's Committee of the Whole. Maui News.

A bill allowing the Maui region of Hawaii's state-owned hospitals to enter into a partnership with a private business passed the state House of Representatives Tuesday morning and is on its way to the Senate. Pacific Business News.

Civil Air Patrol pilots and former members called for the reinstatement of the now-disbanded 57th Kahului squadron during a heated town hall meeting on Monday at its former Kahului Airport headquarters. Maui News.

A preliminary allocation of $4,925,038 in federal funds have been announced for local educational agencies in Maui County. Maui Now.

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday voted down a proposal that would freeze the real property taxes for qualified homestead properties that received substantial increases last year. Garden Island.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Honolulu rail bailout tax bills clear House and Senate, judge awaits Legislature on Maui GMO ban, Coco Palms wins Kauai development blessing, cesspool ban advances, Hawaii County audits lag, Obamacare bailout bill approved, marijuana dispensaries pass, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Honolulu rail construction, courtesy HART
The two measures that would extend Oahu's rail tax cleared key hurdles Tuesday after state House and Senate members voted decisively to advance those bills out of their chambers and keep mulling the best way forward. Star-Advertiser.

The State Senate passed 345 bills today which will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration in the next month.  But the longest debate among lawmakers was the measure to bail out Honolulu’s Rail Transit Project. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hundreds of bills passed out of the House and Senate on Tuesday, ahead of a key deadline. The measures now cross over from the chamber in which they originated to the other side. Each chamber approved a measure to extend Honolulu's rail tax. Hawaii News Now.

Rail tax progresses through Senate. KITV4.

Gov. David Ige laid out his vision to wean Hawaii off fossil fuels Tuesday, listing the increased use of batteries with solar systems, the short-term use of liquefied natural gas and the reduction in incentives paid to solar owners as changes he'd like to see. Star-Advertiser.

Marijuana, vacation rentals, food security, energy, pesticides and extending the tax funding Honolulu’s rail project are just some of the issues state lawmakers are moving forward on this session. The House and Senate each passed hundreds of bills Tuesday, sending them from their originating chamber to the other chamber for its consideration. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is one step closer to having a system of medical marijuana dispensaries nearly 15 years after the drug was legalized in the state. The House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would pave the way for at least 26 dispensaries that could open in every county. Associated Press.

Concerned that raw sewage is contaminating coastal waters and threatening drinking water supplies, lawmakers have advanced two bills that would ban new cesspools and provide tax credits to help homeowners who already have cesspools convert to other systems. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers may allow the state’s financially struggling health exchange to issue up to $28 million in bonds backed by the state. The Senate passed a bill that would pave the way for the bonds on Tuesday. Associated Press.

Lawmakers are considering bills to crack down on thousands of illegal vacation rentals that operate in Hawaii. Two bills were passed by the full House on Tuesday. House Bill 825 would crack down on the regulatory requirements, while House Bill 792 would address property crime associated with tourist areas. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Unexpected Flood of Info Before the Carleton Ching Hearing. Sen. Laura Thielen may have set a new standard for transparency when it comes to early release of information about gubernatorial nominees. Civil Beat.


A planned affordable senior housing complex in Mililani Mauka that has been heralded as badly needed for Hawaii kupuna but opposed by many area residents broke ground Tuesday after about five years of struggle. Star-Advertiser.

Lawyers representing residents of the 364-unit Mayor Wright public housing project in Kalihi have announced a $350,000 settlement to compensate residents for living in decrepit conditions. Civil Beat.

A class-action lawsuit challenging the decrepit condition of the Mayor Wright Homes public housing project in Kalihi has reached a settlement that includes a $350,000 payment to compensate residents for years of unsafe and unsanitary living. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council members may soon get involved in an ongoing battle over parking on some Kakaako streets. On Wednesday, they will consider a proposal to form a group that would examine who has authority over area roads, including Queen, Cooke, Cummins, Waimanu and Kamakee Streets. KHON2.

A new hotel project in Waikiki is being planned by a Hawaii developer with ties to a partner on the Mainland, an executive with the Honolulu architecture firm that's part of the project confirmed to Pacific Business News.


A changing of the guard in the Legislative Auditor’s Office has left Hawaii County without a single internal audit being completed since 2011. But Auditor Bonnie Nims said she expects an audit report to be forthcoming within the next few months. West Hawaii Today.

The state House and Senate both passed identical measures Tuesday to lift a moratorium on new home insurance policies in lower Puna. The Hawaii Property Insurance Association put the moratorium in place in September in response to the June 27 lava flow, which remains active near Pahoa. Tribune-Herald.

A new filing with the Public Utilities Commission could complicate the proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaii Electric Light Co. and its sister companies. Fledgling electric provider Paniolo Power Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Parker Ranch Inc., filed on Monday a motion to merge two of the most closely watched dockets before the PUC this year, including the purchase of the Hawaiian Electric Companies by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. Tribune-Herald.

A new Hilo sidewalk will help researchers study options for building infrastructure on the moon and Mars. The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems says Hawaii County will install three sidewalk slabs made out of "lunar concrete" volcanic basalt on Thursday. Associated Press.

When the Laaloa Avenue extension opened in late January, it represented a smooth and much-awaited connector between Alii Drive and Kuakini Highway. But like so many other shiny new — and steep — streets, it also presented an opportunity for speeding. West Hawaii Today.


A federal judge is considering delaying proceedings in a lawsuit challenging Maui's ban on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms because of legislation that could affect the outcome of the case. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge may push back a decision about Maui County’s moratorium on genetically modified crops because of two bills pending in the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Mayor Alan Arakawa said Tuesday the state of Maui County is "strong" and touted his administration's work to upgrade roadways, park facilities and the county's computer system. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa delivered his 2015 State of the County Address tonight before a full house at the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center saying “The state of Maui County is STRONG.” Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa characterized the state of the County of Maui as “STRONG” in his 2015 State of the County Address, which he delivered on Mar. 10 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Maui Time.

A bill that would allow the financially ailing Maui Memorial Medical Center to enter into a public-private partnership passed the state House on Tuesday and will head to the state Senate, keeping the measure alive this legislative session. Maui News.

A Maui Planning Commission decision Tuesday on the final height of a private landfill at the corner of Honoapiilani Highway and North Kihei Road means that the facility, which has been closed since Feb. 13, will reopen today. Maui News.


After nearly two years of work and waiting, plans to rebuild and reconstruct the Coco Palms Resort in Wailua cleared one of the final hurdles Tuesday needed to set the $135 million project in motion. Garden Island.

The redevelopment of Kauai's Coco Palms Resort cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday, as the Kauai Planning Commission unanimously approved several permits for the project that aims to restore the iconic Garden Isle hotel to its former glory. Pacific Business News.

The Kauai Planning Commission has unanimously approved permits to renovate the shuttered Coco Palms Resort. Star-Advertiser.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cayetano files FEC complaint on 2012 election, possible measles on Maui, Ige mulls first 100 days, most oppose Ching at DLNR, officials still optimistic about Obama library, snow delays Thirty Meter Telescope construction, laser beam could shine atop Haleakala, Hawaii County changes land purchase rules, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii farmers market © 2015 All Hawaii News
Lawmakers Struggle to Boost Hawaii’s Food Production. The Hawaii Legislature is looking at easing restrictions, reconfiguring taxes and mandating recommendations from past studies to decrease dependence on imports. Civil Beat.

It's the measuring stick that all governors face, the first 100 days of a new administration. It often sets the tone for the years that follow. So what does Gov. David Ige think of his early performance? KITV4.

A controversial nominee is defending his ability to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. In a newly-released questionnaire, Carleton Ching responds to growing concerns about his experience and a potential conflict of interest. Hawaii News Now.

Testimony against Carlton Ching nomination running 9-1. Controversial appointment draws close to 1,000 pieces of testimony. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii fell in its national rank for rooftop solar as residential installations slowed because of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s backlog of system approvals, a new study showed. Hawaii's ranking for residential rooftop photovoltaic installations plunged to fifth in the nation last year from the second spot in 2013, despite 2014 marking the largest year to date for national growth in solar installations and a consistent national increase of home solar across the U.S., according to data from GTM Research, a division of Greentech Media that provides solar market analysis. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii officials say they remain optimistic Honolulu will end up with at least a part of the Barack Obama presidential library despite recent signs that the president's foundation is working with Chicago to help put its best foot forward. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are on track to add new insurance requirements to the ride­ sharing services Uber and Lyft. The bill, Senate Bill 1280, attempts to address what many see as an “insurance gap.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii's retail trade industry reported sales of $18.9 billion in 2012, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census. Pacific Business News.

Astronomy in Hawai’i generates more than 88 million dollars in revenue for all 4 counties.   That, according to UH Economic Research Organization.   Now, the state also has an opportunity to pioneer in the next generation of space communications technology. Hawaii Public Radio.

An endangered or threatened species listing may be warranted for the common thresher shark, the National Marine Fisheries Service says. West Hawaii Today.

A retired state Supreme Court justice and his wife have endowed a new scholarship at the University of Hawaii's law school. The university announced Monday the scholarship by Simeon Acoba Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Acoba, will go toward tuition payments at the law school, with a preference for students who attended public high schools. Associated Press.


Former Gov. Ben Cayetano has escalated his battle against the political action committee that opposed his unsuccessful anti-rail 2012 mayoral campaign by filing a federal complaint alleging campaign law violations by the current chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and others. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano is taking his fight with the Pacific Resource Partnership to the Federal Election Commission, and this time he’s dragging U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono into the mix. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers are considering whether to require the University of Hawaii Board of Regents lease or sell the UH Cancer Center campus in Honolulu's Kakako neighborhood. Pacific Business News.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has extended the University of Hawaii at West Oahu's accreditation for seven years and removed a so-called "notice of concern" imposed in 2012 just before the university welcomed students to its new Kapo­lei campus. Star-Advertiser.

Even though it paid $1 million dollars to settle federal criminal charges over one of the Hawaii's worst-ever environmental spills, Matson Inc. still faces a state civil investigation into damages to coral and other natural resources. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu’s director of planning and permitting is contemplating the creation of a new rural land development standard to make it easier and less expensive to build new homes in rural parts of Oahu. That is among many ideas George Atta is exploring as he ponders ways to address the needs of a growing population without changing Oahu’s urban boundaries. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of Labor says a restaurant at Ala Moana Center illegally required servers to share tips while paying them less than minimum wage. The department announced Monday 68 employees at Tsukiji Fish Market restaurant are owed nearly $50,000 in tips and more than $5,000 in back wages. Associated Press.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige will participate in a town hall Thursday with residents of Aiea and Pearl City. It’s set for 7-8:30 p.m. at Pearl Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria. Civil Beat.


Frustrated by recent end runs by the Hawaii County Council, the commission charged by the county charter to prioritize public land for open space purchase is tightening the rules. The Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission on Monday changed the rules to require properties to earn at least 50 percent of the criteria points to be placed on the priority list for purchase. West Hawaii Today.

A Kailua-Kona woman who applied to be a legal clerk for Hawaii County contends she should not have had to disclose her medical history and undergo a physical examination and drug test before she starts the government job. Rebekah Taylor-Failor filed a class-action lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against the county, claiming the county's pre-employment requirements violate her constitutional rights against illegal searches and seizures, and invasion of privacy. Star-Advertiser.

The start of construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is being delayed by blizzard conditions on the mountain’s summit. Tribune-Herald.

The state is moving forward with plans to construct a much-anticipated science and technology building that will provide enhanced classroom space for middle school pupils in Waimea. The 25,177-square-foot building will provide nine modern science classrooms and laboratories for students, according to a draft environmental assessment released Saturday for the $12.7 million Waimea Middle School project. West Hawaii Today.

The building that has been home to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald for more than six decades is up for sale. The 24,000-square-foot facility, located at 355 Kinoole St. in downtown Hilo, has an asking price of $4.25 million.

The owners of the Hilo Naniloa Hotel are aiming to show off their completed renovations as early as November, nearly two years after they acquired the Banyan Drive hotel, according to plans submitted to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Tribune-Herald.


Health officials are investigating a possible new measles case on Maui, but say there are no “confirmed” cases so far for 2015. Maui Now.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is proposing to develop a $3 million orange laser beam aimed at helping scientists see better through a telescope atop Haleakala. Maui News.

A federal judge will hear arguments over how a lawsuit challenging Maui's ban on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms should proceed while state lawmakers consider bills that could affect the outcome of the case. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway is scheduled to hold a hearing in federal court in Honolulu on Tuesday. Associated Press.

The Department of Parks and Recreation District Permit Offices will be closed for several days in March and the first week of April as the department implements a new software permitting system. Maui News.


The public is invited to attend the State of the County address by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. on Monday. The mayor will provide an overview of his fiscal year 2016 budget submittal. Garden Island.

A Kauai County spokeswoman is headed for a new job as community outreach manager for global agribusiness company Syngenta. Beth Tokioka's last day with the county will be Monday. She starts a week later at Syngenta on Kauai. Associated Press.

J Robertson, chair of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, will be the interim director of the Kauai Chamber. Garden Island.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hawaii gets an A in education; new tests begin today; Legislature mulls rail tax, medical marijuana dispensaries, hospitals; OHA mum on geothermal money trail; Maui sugar cane burning continues; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Hawaii Department of Education
Hawaii classroom, courtesy state Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education is giving Hawaii a flawless progress report on reforms that replaced provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The report, obtained by The Associated Press, shows that Hawaii received the highest mark of “meeting expectations” for all categories of monitoring. Only a handful of states achieved such high scores, the department said.

Starting tomorrow, schools across the state will begin a new wave of standardized tests. They're called the Smarter Balanced Assessments and they're part of the national Common Core standards approach. Hawaii Public Radio.

Crucial decisions on medical marijuana dispensaries, the future of Hawaii's public hospitals and a tax to fund Honolulu's financially struggling rail project hang in the balance as the Hawaii Legislature approaches a major deadline. All bills must pass out of their chamber of origin this week, and those that don't make the deadline will die. Associated Press.

Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says that he never expected to be an elected official, and that if he hadn't run for the state's top public office, he was going to retire after his decades-long run as a U.S. congressman, he told Pacific Business News this week in an exclusive interview.

The state’s chief elections officer would have to undergo a performance evaluation after each general election under a plan approved by the state Senate. Associated Press.

Last month, in what has become an annual discussion point, state senators introduced a bill that would make it illegal, starting Jan. 1, for GMO food to be sold in the state unless it bears a label that reads, “This product contains a genetically engineered material, or was produced with a genetically engineered material.” Garden Island.

The Hawaii House voted Friday to keep its longest-serving member after a first-of-its-kind panel was convened to examine his residency and recommended that he stay. The chamber’s voice-vote decision regarding Rep. Calvin Say stemmed from a challenge over whether the Democrat lives in the district he represents. Associated Press.

Opinion: The “Lobbyist on Lanai” left a community torn apart by Big Wind. Carleton Ching's involvement with the proposed "Big Wind" project on Lanai flies in the face of the governor's empty statement that Ching "brings communities together." Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Buffer Zones: Protecting Paradise From Restricted Use Pesticides. This is not an agricultural issue, it is a health issue. Hawaii needs to put in place pesticide buffer zones and other protective measures. Civil Beat.

NOAA aims to prevent capture of whale sharks. New regulations prohibit catching the gentle giants in specialized fishing nets. Star-Advertiser.


The biggest Army exercise in Hawaii in over a decade just wrapped up, with about 5,000 soldiers playing both friend and foe as the fictional nation of Ari battled another government and Islamic extremists across a made-up Asia-Pacific archipelago. Star-Advertiser.

Saving Waikiki Beach — At Least for Now. The city hopes to raise $600,000 annually from local businesses to combat chronic erosion, but some are balking at the proposal. Would the efforts merely stave off the inevitable? Civil Beat.

The Institute for Human Services, with support from the state’s visitor industry, has started running a shuttle between Waikiki and its Iwilei shelter to help the tourist district’s unsheltered homeless residents get on the fast track to housing. Star-Advertiser.

Five companies submitted bids this week to build the three rail stations in the Farrington Highway Station Group, which consists of the West Loch Station, the Waipahu Transit Center Station and the station at Leeward Community College. Hawaii Independent.

The union that represents HandiVan drivers believes disgruntled customers should be able to call the mayor, city manager or Transportation Service Department with their complaints.The management believes otherwise. Hawaii News Now.

A former school accounting clerk arrested last month for theft and money laundering allegedly used a Halau Lokahi Charter School bank card to rack up more than $5,200 worth of purchases — including several dozen rolls of design-printed duct tape — that were shipped to her Aiea home, according to court records obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.


Less than two weeks after Hawaii Electric Light Co. selected Ormat Technologies to build the Big Island’s next geothermal power plant, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is declining to answer questions regarding its investment in a company that submitted a competing bid, claiming that information is confidential. Tribune-Herald.

Thanks to Hilo resident Dan Marks, the United States may be on its way to a Constitutional Convention. The states have been asking to convene one for years. And as Marks found out, all he had to do was ask the right person to start counting. Big Island Video News.

Two federal assistance programs are holding up money for Native Hawaiian housing on parts of Hawaii Island because of unexploded World War II bombs and other munitions that have not been cleaned up. Associated Press.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Monday for the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea summits, the National Weather Service reports. Up to 1 inch of new snow is expected to fall above 12,500 feet in elevation, forecasters said. The temperature will be in the lower 20s and visibility could be reduced to less than one-half mile at times. West Hawaii Today.


A dispute over the height of a Maalaea landfill has led to a warning letter from Maui County, the shutdown of the facility and a request for a ruling Tuesday from the Maui Planning Commission. Maui News.

Maui County Council members will take up Monday morning a bill that aims to provide "uniformity and parity" in agricultural real property tax assessments, according to an announcement from Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama. Maui News.

Sugar cane smoke will soon rise again over Maui as the state Department of Health continues its annual practice of approving a permit to burn fields without holding a public hearing, despite persistent requests of opponents who worry the widespread smoke endangers the health of island residents. Civil Beat.

A community meeting to address planned improvements to the Hāna Bay septic system is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Maui Now.

A Maui County Council committee will review a proposed resolution urging the state Board on Geographic Names to change the name of Iao Stream to Wailuku River. Maui News.


A group of four Kauai County officials charged with trimming costs say they have identified close to $400,000 in salary and benefit savings for next year’s budget. Garden Island.

As the draft conservation plan and environmental assessment nears the end of its public comment period, officials at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge are already talking about changes they want to see. Garden Island.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hawaiian Airlines cuts legroom, chief elections officer could face reviews, Honolulu committee advances Hoopili development, snubs Malaekahana, new charter school approved, Maui hospital denied, Kaui forest to be burned for fuel, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaiian Airlines interior © 015 All Hawaii News
Hawaiian Airlines passengers won't be able to recline their seats on any interisland flights by the end of this year. The state's largest carrier said Thursday it is retrofitting the 18 Boeing 717 aircraft it uses on interisland routes with new lightweight seats that will reduce legroom by about an inch under a reconfiguration and allow the airline to add five to 10 more passengers on each flight. Star-Advertiser.

The state's chief elections officer would have to undergo a performance evaluation after each general election under a plan approved by the state Senate. The bill, SB 622, requires the Elections Commission to provide the written performance evaluation to the Legislature. Associated Press.

Despite concerns from the departments of Health and Human Services, Hawaii lawmakers are pushing forward bills that would help the adult care-home industry make more money while potentially compromising the quality of services provided to those most in need. Civil Beat.

A bill that would make an exception for married couples who do not receive Medicaid to live together in the same Community Care Foster Family Home is advancing through the state House of Representatives. Star-Advertiser.

As a mark of respect for the late former state Rep. Diana “Mele” Carroll, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawaii shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawaii National Guard, from sunrise to sunset Friday to recognize services held on Oahu and Sunday, which is the day services will be held on Maui. West Hawaii Today.

The commercial solar energy market in Hawaii has turned into a race of sorts, a race for businesses to get their systems in place before a federal tax credit sunsets at the end of 2016. Pacific Business News.


The City Council Zoning and Planning Committee gave a preliminary thumbs up Thursday to one landscape-changing development scheme and a thumbs down to another one. A rezoning request for D.R. Horton Schuler Division's 11,750-home Hoo­pili project in West Oahu advanced 5-0. But Hawaii Reserve Inc.'s plan to develop a section of Malaekahana, between Laie and Kahuku, appears to be in serious jeopardy. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee approved a planning document for the North Shore on Thursday but amended it to remove a highly controversial new residential community at Gunstock Ranch in Malaekahana. Civil Beat.

Ho’opili, a major residential and commercial project on O’ahu cleared its first major hurdle today following the completion of public testimony before a Honolulu City Council Committee. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Honolulu City Council committee has advanced a proposed development in West Oahu. The council’s zoning committee gave the green light Thursday for Hoopili’s next step. KHON2.

One controversial housing development has hit a major roadblock, while another in Kapolei has been given the green light to go ahead.The Honolulu City Council's Zoning Committee approved Bill 47 without including Envision Laie, a proposal that would have included nearly 900 new homes at Malaekahana in the Koolauloa section of Windward Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

After more than four hours of testimony Thursday, the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee approved the removal of language from the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan that could have paved the way for 875 homes to be built on land at Malaekahana. KITV4.

Oahu communities roundly oppose Malaekahana development. At a press conference today, the opposition to Malaekahana development expressed their reasons for supporting zoning chair Ikaika Anderson's proposed amendments to Bill 47. Hawaii Independent.

Elected leaders at Honolulu Hale and the state Capitol have been watching closely to see how their colleagues across Punchbowl Street will respond to rail's budget crisis. Now at least one Hono­­lulu City Council member appears concerned that his chamber might have waited too long to weigh in on a rail tax extension. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Pacific Health, the state's largest medical provider, is exploring a purchase of all or part of the financially struggling Wahiawa General Hospital. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Oahu General Plan Provides Diversification and Sustainability. The Oahu General Plan is not perfect but it provides land-use diversification and sustainability for our small island home. Civil Beat.


The state’s only new charter school is set to open its doors in Ka‘u in July, following unanimous approval of its facilities Thursday by the Windward Planning Commission. West Hawaii Today.

Just over a year after North Hawaii Community Hospital merged with The Queen’s Health Systems, the Waimea facility is adding new equipment, rebuilding a management team and laying groundwork for stabilizing its workforce. Efforts to recruit badly needed doctors are also moving ahead, although more slowly than many would like, the hospital’s president Ken Graham told West Hawaii Today in an interview.

Christina (Tina) Neal has been chosen to serve as the new scientist-in-charge of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Neal succeeds Jim Kauahikaua, who served in the position for the past 10 years. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's new scientist-in-charge is coming to Hawaii from Alaska where she has been mapping and studying active Alaskan volcanoes for more than two decades. Garden Island.

Home prices on Hawaii's Big Island rose by single digits in February, while sales of condominiums rose and sales of single-family homes fell, according to data released by Hawaii Information Service on behalf of Hawaii Island Realtors. Pacific Business News.


A Maui County Council committee decided Thursday to re-examine rules and guidelines in the county's transportation contract for residents with disabilities with Maui Economic Opportunity amid recurring complaints from riders. Maui News.

The state Health Planning and Development Agency has ruled against Regency Namakua's application to build a 40-bed skilled nursing and intermediate-care facility at the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. Maui News.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza and District Court Judge Adrianne Heely will hear Maui County's environmental cases when the new statewide environmental court program comes on line beginning July 1. Maui News.


Legal costs and fees to defend County of Kauai officials in two lawsuits filed by county employees totaled a little more than half a million dollars before settlements were reached, according to documents obtained by The Garden Island.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources and private partners have launched a $1 million-plus project that aims to remove 15,000 tons of burned pine and eucalyptus trees, many of them dead and standing hazards, and then replant with healthy hardwoods, including a large section of natives such as koa. As part of the project, the logs will be hauled off to Kauai's new $90 million Green Energy biomass plant, where they will be burned to generate electric power. Star-Advertiser.

The state has started cutting down trees on 300 acres of Kauai forest reserve that were scorched by wildfire in 2012 and sending the wood to be processed at a new biomass-to-energy plant. Associated Press.

The median price of a single-family home on Kauai shot up by more than 46 percent in February as the median price on the North Shore passed $1 million, according to data released by Hawaii Information Service on behalf of the Kauai Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Endangered Hawaiian monk seal joins manta rays in rare video, Honolulu rail takes a drubbing at Legislature, Hawaii GOP tries to make budget more transparent, FEMA extends lava emergency funds, Mokolele Airlines founder tapped for county post, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Incredible video of a monk seal up close and personal during a manta ray dive on Hawai'i Island is unlike anything you've seen before. Hawaii News Now.

New Online Tool Aims to Make State Budget More Transparent. Hawaii House, Senate Republicans launch Hawaii Open Budget Initiative. Civil Beat.

There are going to be vacancies on the Hawaii State Ethics Commission and the Campaign Spending Commission. The Judicial Council is seeking applicants to fill them. Associated Press.

A group of state lawmakers wants to strengthen the state's response to incidents of sexual assault. A proposal in the state Senate would re-establish a statewide sexual assault response program that lost its funding. The proposal also would add new steps to the assault-response process. Associated Press.

A bill to authorize the first legal medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii cleared a critical hurdle at the Legislature this week by winning approval from the House Finance Committee. That nod from the powerful committee that controls state funding means the bill is now positioned for a vote by the full state House of Representatives. Star-Advertiser.

Two contentious bills relating to aquarium fishing are dead in the state House of Representatives. West Hawaii Today.

A bill that seeks to make a voluntary pesticide disclosure program mandatory made it through its final stage of review in the Senate. But Senate Bill 1037 did not advance without undergoing substantial changes. Garden Island.

When the Hawaii Legislature passed Senate Bill 1087 in 2013, the bill was hailed as a way to democratize access to energy-saving technology, such as rooftop photovoltaic installations. Nearly two years later, as the program anticipated in the legislation is beginning to take shape, its scope is far more modest and bears little resemblance to the hype. Civil Beat.

A weather camera system proven to be effective in Alaska could prevent potentially fatal accidents for Hawaii's small planes and helicopter tours, but the Federal Aviation Administration will delay the installation of such a system for the Islands and the Mainland, citing budget issues and competition from other FAA programs. Pacific Business News.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa this week announced the creation of the Hawaii Groundwater &Geothermal Resource Center, an online clearing house of data on island — and state — water wells and also the volcanic hotspots where new geothermal ventures could be added to the often controversial existing ones. West Hawaii Today.

Amid a day packed with blunt questions and impassioned testimony on the future of Oahu rail, state lawmakers advanced bills Wednesday that would extend the state tax funding most of the cash-strapped project. Star-Advertiser.

If there was one message state lawmakers wanted to send Wednesday to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and others trying to build the city’s $6 billion rail system it was this: Show us some skin. Committees in the House and Senate passed different measures that would severely limit how much tax revenue the city can collect for its beleaguered rail project, which is now facing a nearly $1 billion deficit. Civil Beat.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee conducted a 4-hour hearing today on a proposal to extend Honolulu’s half-of-a percentage share of the state’s excise tax to fund budget shortfalls for rail transit. Hawaii Public Radio.

A state Senate panel is approving a bill extending a surcharge to the general excise tax Honolulu imposes to raise money for its rail line. Associated Press.

Groups opposed to development in Malaekahana voiced their concerns about the Envision Laie plan at a Honolulu Hale news conference Wednesday, the day before the issue will be heard by a Honolulu City Council committee. Star-Advertiser.

A plan to set aside a limited number of city-controlled parking spaces for car-sharing company operations cleared the City Council Budget Committee Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

At the February 10, 2015 Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting, the board members present voted unanimously (14-0-0) to oppose House Bill 1322 (relating to a homeless person’s bill of rights). The bill has since crossed over to the Senate side. Hawaii Independent.

The state Department of Agriculture is asking for the public's assistance in tracking down the source of a recently discovered coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation in Nanakuli. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s ban on plastic bags goes into effect on July 1 so that means no more plastic bags when you check out. KHON2.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency expanded its public assistance program for the June 27 lava flow to include debris removal and infrastructure repairs, the agency announced Wednesday. That move amends President Barack Obama’s disaster declaration from Nov. 3 and allows Hawaii County to seek reimbursement for the cost of reopening the Pahoa solid waste transfer station. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Billy Kenoi has tapped the founder of Mokulele Airlines to head the county Department of Research and Development. Rebecca Kawehi Inaba, 50, a former pilot who created her own airline and then went on to form several other companies, most recently the Fit Xpress Hawaii Inc. women’s gym in Kailua-Kona, was unanimously confirmed Wednesday by the Hawaii County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Vietnam War veteran Charles Thompson stood up and pleaded for quicker medical care and help at a town hall meeting Wednesday for one reason — his grandson. It was his third time requesting assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. West Hawaii Today.


Stunning images of Maui’s past are captured in present day photography as resident Daniel Sullivan brings the story of the island’s King’s Highway to light. Maui Now.

The Maui County Council confirmed the reappointment of John D. Kim as Maui County prosecuting attorney at a special meeting Tuesday. Maui News.


The wait for a four-lane highway across the Lihue Mill Bridge will come to an end soon as state Department of Transportation officials prepare to reopen the final two lanes needed to complete the nearly two-year, $43.5 million project. Garden Island.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Honolulu airport weak link in pregnant Chinese migration; medical marijuana dispensaries, pesticide disclosure, Maui hospital privatization bills advance; prison guard sick days out of control; rail costs skyrocket; Maui prosecutor retained, geothermal lawsuit continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Honolulu International Airport © 2015 All Hawaii News
Some pregnant Chinese nationals bound for "birthing houses" in Los Angeles to deliver their babies as U.S. citizens were instructed to enter America through Honolulu Airport, where custom inspectors were considered to be more lax, according to federal affidavits unsealed Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

With Clayton Hee Gone, Campaign Finance Reform Is Moving Forward. Among other measures, Hawaii lawmakers are advancing bills to address the influence of super PACs and other outside money. Civil Beat.

A bill that would create a statewide medical marijuana dispensary in Hawaii is moving on to the full House of Representatives. The state Department of Health estimates at least 13,000 people qualify for medical marijuana in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

On Tuesday, the full Senate passed a bill that would require agricultural pesticide users to disclose their usage of the chemical to neighbors sharing fence lines with their fields. KITV4.

Tokuda Shoots Down Pesticide Buffer Zones Bill Without a Hearing. Despite pressure from its supporters, the Hawaii senator refuses to call a hearing for a bill to require buffer zones around schools. Civil Beat.

Nearly half of the corrections officers at four prisons across the state called in sick on Super Bowl Sunday this year, a problem a key lawmaker called “disturbing,” prompting him to call for prison sick leave audit. All told, 251 guards at eight prisons called in sick on the day when families and friends gathered at parties statewide to watch the final football game of the pro season. Hawaii News Now.

There are two new Republicans in the State House of Representatives this session. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Public Utilities Commission is giving a seat at the table to all 28 interested parties who applied to be part of the agency's decision on whether to approve the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Inc. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has granted access to all of the entities that seek have a say in the acquisition application of NextEra Energy Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Co., which is currently being reviewed by the state agency. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has appointed nine new members to his administration who will serve on his communications team and in the departments of Health and Public Safety. The appointments, announced Tuesday, are not subject to Senate approval. Civil Beat.

Governor David Ige today announced appointments to his administration in the departments of Health, Public Safety and Transportation, as well as to his communication team. None of the appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Hawaii Independent.

Former TV anchorwomen Jodi Leong and Yasmin Dar have been appointed to Gov. David Ige's communications team and will help craft the way the governor's messages get out to Hawaii residents. Star-Advertiser.


Each of the new bids opened Tuesday to build three West Oahu rail stations came in above estimates, indicating that transit officials have yet to pin down the true picture pertaining to how much the island's elevated rail system will cost. Star-Advertiser.

Officials at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation had known for months the city’s rail project was headed for serious financial trouble but didn’t fully share that knowledge with the public until last December.Civil Beat.

Turtle Bay Resort has settled a lawsuit with Keep the North Shore Country, bringing the resort one step closer to completing its $48.5 million conservation easement. The Senate money committee is taking up a bill Wednesday that would extend funding for a conservation easement that's taking longer than expected to complete. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration is now exploring the possibility of holding onto some of the city's affordable-housing projects and converting some units into permanent shelter for the homeless and those in low-income brackets. Star-Advertiser.

The Army is hosting a meeting in Waianae this week on a study related to Makua Military Reservation. The study assesses whether military training at Makua poses a health risk to those who eat limu or seaweed, sea cucumber and octopus caught in the ocean nearby. Associated Press.

Manoa neighborhood board to hear testimony about renovating Paradise Park. KHON2.


The dispute about nighttime well drilling at Puna Geothermal Venture remains headed toward litigation after a compromise proposed by Hawaii County Council member Margaret Wille failed to gain support from either side of the issue. Tribune-Herald.

VIDEO: Puna Pono Alliance Opposes Geothermal Mediation Measure. Big Island Video News.

Dozens of people came out Tuesday to support two nonbinding resolutions asking the county administration to seek long-term contracts to divert materials from the county’s two landfills. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. David Ige extended the emergency proclamation for the lava flow Monday until the end of the year. The proclamation initially was issued Sept. 5. The move grants the governor emergency powers to respond to the lava flow until Dec. 31. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County Council votes to approve Prosecutor J.D. Kim after bizarre hearing. MauiTime.

The state hospital system has been losing tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, and frustrated state lawmakers Tuesday moved a step closer to authorizing a partnership between the state-owned Maui Memorial, Kula and Lanai Community hospitals and a private health care provider to try to finally curb those losses. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would allow the Maui region of the Hawaii state hospitals to enter a private partnership passed the Hawaii House of Representatives Tuesday morning and may continue to the Senate chamber after a final floor vote. Pacific Business News.

Former Maui County mayoral candidate Beau Hawkes, who was seen being Tasered as he ran from a police officer in a video that went viral, was sentenced Monday to a 30-day jail term for disregarding the officer's orders and driving away from a traffic stop last year. Maui News.

Members of the Sugar Cove Association of Apartment Owners have submitted plans to the state to protect their 4-acre Spreckelsville oceanfront property from erosion on a nearly 520-foot shoreline. Maui News.

Low sugar prices and rainy conditions led Alexander & Baldwin's agribusiness sector, which is predominately Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on Maui, to suffer an $11.8 million operating loss in 2014, the company reported in its full-year and fourth-quarter earnings report released Monday. Maui News.


A retired Kauai resident has pledged to match up to $100,000 in donations to pay for attorney fees and hire experts in Friends of Mahaulepu’s ongoing effort to stop a proposed dairy on Kauai’s south side. Garden Island.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hawaii Sunshine Law under attack, Kauai seed company lays off workers, pesticide disclosure bill advances, Omidyar slips in billionaire rankings, Oahu debates farms versus housing, schatz lawsuit dismissed, more government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Robert Harris
Hawaii Legislature opening day 2015, courtesy Robert Harris
There are six new members serving their first term in the State House of Representatives.  They are referred to as the “Freshman Class.” Hawaii Public Radio.

Elected officials from Maui County are urging the Legislature to relax the state's open-meetings law in a way that would allow several County Council members to attend community or private meetings and discuss Council business during those meetings. Star-Advertiser.

The longstanding debate on pesticide disclosure is playing out in the state Legislature as lawmakers consider a measure that seeks to make current, voluntary reporting guidelines mandatory. Garden Island.

Pierre Omidyar, the eBay founder who lives in Honolulu, saw his ranking on Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest people slip this year, while Larry Ellison, the billionaire executive chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle Corp. who owns the island of Lanai in Hawaii, held on to his No. 5 spot. Pacific Business News.

A legal challenge to Brian Schatz’s 2012 appointment to the U.S. Senate has been dismissed. Judge Derrick Watson of the District of Hawaii ruled Feb. 23 that Hamamoto v. Abercrombie is moot, as the plaintiffs waited too long to bring their case. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is seven months into the state’s food safety rating program and nearly half the restaurants on Oahu have been inspected. But a website to notify the public which restaurants have passed inspection is still in the works. KHON2.

The albizia was first brought to Hawaii for reforestation and it has now become the enemy. This year, it takes one of the top 10 spots on the state's worst invasive species list. KITV4.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii's profits jumped in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $1.4 million, compared to $200,000 in the same quarter the year before, as it gained more members. Pacific Business News.


Most of a 6.5 percent increase in Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's operating budget will be earmarked for no-frills, essential, "fiscal stability" initiatives like catching up on mandatory contributions for the government employees health fund, paying off more debt and shoring up the rainy day fund. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is emphasizing fiscal austerity in his 2016 fiscal year budget, which includes reductions in capital spending and no new taxes or fees. Civil Beat.

Although the city’s proposed operating budget of $2.28 billion for fiscal year 2016 increases spending by 6.5 percent, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal doesn’t contain any new revenue enhancers. KITV4.

Mayor Caldwell is on the mainland so managing director Roy Amemiya went over the budget highlights. He says the greatest challenge the city faces is $1.7 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health benefits. The budget earmarks $50 million dollars for that. KHON2.

2015 State of the City Address. Transcript of Mayor Caldwell's third state of the city address. Hawaii Independent.

Honolulu officials are poised to approve a long-planned development that would replace nearly 1,300 acres of prime farmland in West Oahu. No one really knows if this is a problem for a state that ships in at least 85 percent of its food from the mainland, because no one really knows how much usable farmland is left. The most recent city study was conducted by a consultant who has also worked for the project developer. Civil Beat.

Residents, labor union members and farmers packed a room at Kapolei Hale Monday night and debated whether Hoo­pili, a proposed 1,554-acre development plan by D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes, should be built on prime agricultural land between Ewa and Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee intends to consider a planning document for the North Shore on Thursday that includes a highly debated proposal to allow a new residential community in Malaekahana. Civil Beat.

City Council to decide the fate of Malaekahana. Zoning committee chair Anderson will introduce amendments that would kill most of the controversial proposed “Envision Laie” development on the rural northeast coast of Oahu. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Stop the Malaekahana Development. The City Council should put the brakes on a proposal to expand urban boundaries and build another North Shore town. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa announced Monday that it will officially ban smoking on campus, effective July 1, becoming the second smoke-free campus in the state after Kapiolani Community College. Star-Advertiser.

A pension fund for workers in Australia has become part-owner of Hawaii's largest shopping center. AustralianSuper bought a 25 percent interest in Ala Moana Center from Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc. for $907 million Friday. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama has officially renamed the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Waikiki as the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department is changing one way they identify suspects in cases. Following a nationwide trend, HPD is changing the photo lineup policy.  It's an effort to prevent falsely identifying suspects. Hawaii News Now.


The same names keep recirculating on county boards and commissions, due in part to a shortage of volunteers willing to step up. And even after drawing upon all the familiar faces, Mayor Billy Kenoi still has 25 to 30 openings to fill. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources approved Friday a pair of lease extensions for Uncle Billy’s Hilo Hotel and the Country Club condominiums. Tribune-Herald.

A 485-acre tract of North Kohala land on the road to Pololu Valley is set to be sold. The stretch of pasture and forest land is in a north Texas bankruptcy court, where a hearing on a possible sale and offer of $2.87 million is set to be considered by a judge March 18. West Hawaii Today.


The State Commission on Water Resource Management begins a contested case hearing today on a petition to amend interim instream water standards for 27 streams in East Maui. Maui Now.


A Kauai seed company let 23 employees go on Monday. Syngenta AG, a global Swiss agrochemical company with a research center in Kekaha, laid off workers at all levels. Garden Island.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hawaiian Electric Co. barred from denying solar applications, excise tax surcharge advances, Calvin Say cleared, police kill, injure civilians during busy Big Island weekend, Honolulu, Hawaii County, Kauai mayors offer basic budgets, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 all Hawaii News all rights reserved
Solar panels in Hilo © 2015 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission says Hawaiian Electric Co. can’t deny rooftop solar applications for any reason except technical difficulties. An agreement signed Friday by commission Chairman Randy Iwase and electric company CEO Alan Oshima says the utility has a duty to approve photovoltaic systems. Associated Press.

The price of oil has plummeted by more than 50 percent since July, falling to its lowest point in six years and buoying the hopes of cash-strapped residents that they will see major reductions in their electricity bills. But as statements covering February power usage begin rolling out, those residents may be disappointed by the relatively moderate dip in rates. Hawaiian Electric customers on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui will still be paying two to three times the national average for electricity. Civil Beat.

A proposal in the state Legislature that would give all Hawaii counties the opportunity to enact a 0.5 percent surcharge for public transportation projects on top of the 4 percent general excise tax is gaining some traction. Garden Island.

A Hawaii senator who is backed by the state’s powerful police union hit the brakes on a bill Friday that would have made public the names of officers suspended for misconduct. Civil Beat.

A coalition representing Native Hawaiian homesteaders has created a plan outlining ways to improve the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Their plan calls on the state government to fully fund the department, which is responsible for administering the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission Act. Associated Press.

A special panel of state lawmakers decided that Rep. Calvin Say meets the qualifications to serve in the House of Representatives, saying there was no compelling evidence behind a group of voters’ claims that Say doesn’t live in the district he represents. The House committee had been formed to investigate the latest challenge to former Speaker Say’s residency. Associated Press.

The commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor-based Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Mississippi was relieved of his duties Friday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy said. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: A controversial staff hire and her persistent digs at the president have caused many to question U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Whether the criticism endures depends in large part on her. Civil Beat.


After delivering a no-frills State of the City speech last week, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will likely submit an equally low-key budget package to the City Council on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council is seeking qualified applicants for the vacant post of city clerk. Former City Clerk Bernice Mau retired last year. Glen Takahashi, assistant city clerk, has been acting clerk since then. Star-Advertiser.

The Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services has received a $246,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for its programs that assist Hawaii public housing residents. Pacific Business News.


Union-negotiated pay hikes and federal and state mandates contributed to a workaday county budget expected to rise 4.3 percent to $434.7 million next year. The 2015-16 spending plan released by Mayor Billy Kenoi late Friday has few new frills, projects or services. West Hawaii Today.

A 31-year-old Hilo man is hospitalized in critical condition after a police-involved shooting late Saturday night in downtown Hilo, police said. Lt. Greg Esteban said two officers were involved in the shooting, which occurred on the Kilauea Avenue extension in downtown Hilo, shortly before midnight. Tribune-Herald.

A 63-year-old Michigan man was killed Sunday after being struck by an on-duty Hawaii Police Department officer in what the Hawaii County Fire Department described as a hit-and-run incident on Waikoloa Road in South Kohala. West Hawaii Today.

Following an outcry from local landscapers, Hawaii County has postponed implementing a program requiring commercial operators to haul their green waste to the landfills rather than dumping it at transfer stations. The program, originally slated to go into effect Monday, won’t be implemented until July 1. West Hawaii Today.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is apparently looking into whether the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation is operating in compliance with federal clean air regulations. The agency sent a seven-page letter to the state's last remaining sugar grower Nov. 24, asking for documents and records about its biomass energy plant and cane burning operations. Star-Advertiser.

In a sign of Maui's worsening doctor shortage, Maui Memorial Medical Center is working on a contract with Kaiser Permanente to have its pediatricians cover patients at the hospital after private physicians told hospital officials they would no longer provide the service as of May 1. Maui News.

Alarm bells were rung again at the state Capitol on Friday, warning of the dire financial condition of Maui Memorial Medical Center and the Maui region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui News.

By early next month, a 40-bed skilled nursing and intermediate care facility may get the green light from the state to begin construction at the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei. Maui News.

Cary & Eddie's Hideaway Restaurant and Bar served its final last call Saturday night after being a mainstay eatery on Maui for 15 years. Maui News.

Rules for drones proposed. Maui enthusiasts offer differing opinions on FAA regulations. Maui News.


Kauai County will start to charge property owners for garbage pickup based on the size of their trash bin. Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. says the county is trying to reduce the waste going to the landfill. Associated Press.

County Managing Director Nadine Nakamura and Ernest Barreira, county assist procurement officer and budget team leader, presented the mayor’s budget analysis and recommendations at the Kauai Police Commission meeting Friday. The mayor intends to spread $8.2 million in cuts across all departments, agencies and offices. Garden Island.

For a little more than two decades, efforts have been made to divert not just discarded items but especially green waste from the Kekaha Landfill. Garden Island.