Thursday, July 13, 2023

Hawaii schools not prepared to prevent violence, Green talks sustainability in UN keynote address, group sues over state plan to release bioengineered mosquitoes to save rare birds, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s public schools lag in violence prevention, experts say.  Hawaii’s public schools are lagging behind severely on student monitoring to prevent school shootings, with only one out of the state’s 295 public and public charter schools operating a “behavioral intervention threat-assessment team” that meets national best practices, some local and national experts said this week. Star-Advertiser.

5 More Bills Become Law Without Governor’s Signature. 
The 5 new laws "are more beneficial than objectionable," the Office of the Governor says, and reflect strong stakeholder support. Big Island Video News.

Green highlights Hawaii’s sustainability plans in keynote address at UN meeting.  Gov. Josh Green delivered a keynote address in New York on Wednesday as he headed up a panel focusing on sustainable development at the United Nations. Hawaii News Now.

Review finds work still needed to reach Hawaiʻi’s 2030 sustainability goals. According to the state’s second Voluntary Local Review, the islands are on track to meet targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency, but not for clean transportation, with a goal of reducing petroleum usage to 165 million gallons per year. The most recent data shows 472 gallons per year were used. Big Island Now.

Plan to save native birds by targeting mosquitoes faces new legal challenge.
After years of planning and studies, DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife is ramping up its program to reduce mosquitoes that harm native bird species. But now, a non-profit is asking a judge to halt the process. Hawaii News Now.

Report examines ‘long COVID’ in Hawaii. Reports of “long COVID-19” are rising throughout Hawaii, especially among Native Hawaiians and Filipinos, according to a new report from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, or UHERO. Tribune-Herald.


Council votes to require overdose drug for Oahu bars.  Honolulu will mandate that about 850 bars, nightclubs and restaurants serving alcohol in the city be required to have naloxone nasal spray on hand to counteract opioid-­related overdoses. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Honolulu City Council Delays And Defers Liquor Commission Nominations.  Two nominees don't currently meet state residency requirements. Civil Beat.

Court Rules In Favor Of Hawaii Charter School In ‘Strip Search’ Lawsuit. A circuit court judge sided with Kapolei Charter School and its director Wanda Villareal who claimed a 2019 search of three students accused of smoking cannabis and vaping on a field trip was lawful. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.   Star-Advertiser.

HPD recruit hospitalized in serious condition after accidentally shooting himself. A Honolulu Police Department recruit accidentally shot himself at the academy on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Prominent Honolulu Condo Directors Pay $600,000 To Settle Retaliation Claim. The case pitted a retired Army colonel against executives with leading developers MacNaughton and the Kobayashi Group.The directors of a landmark Honolulu condominium have agreed to pay $600,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a fellow director who alleged he faced retaliation for raising concerns about the condo board. Civil Beat.

Residents say affordable housing is still out of reach. Hawaii’s housing crisis drummed up emotions during the Wednesday, July 12 Honolulu City Council Meeting. Many residents testified on plans for affordable housing and said those developments are still far beyond their reach.  KHON2.

Workers strike at Oahu nursing home
. Staff at Oahu Care Facility, a Honolulu nursing home, went on strike Wednesday to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Female Inmate’s Case Raises Concern About Prolonged Pretrial Detainment At Hilo Jail. Henrietta Stone, 65, has been locked up since 2017 while the court determines if she is mentally fit. A woman accused in the death of her 9-year-old granddaughter has been held in the Hilo jail for six years without trial while her mental condition is evaluated, the second case of its kind to surface publicly in recent weeks. Civil Beat.

Wetter-than-normal trend continues for S. Kona, but in East Hawaii, June was abnormally dry.  The Kona coffee belt experiences its rainy season when most of the rest of the state experiences its dry season, starting in May and extending into the summertime. Tribune-Herald.

Rare sighting of a humpback whale off Kona. While Hawai‘i’s waters are home to a variety of whale species year round, including short-fin pilot whales and false killer whales, the more photographed humpback whales are almost never seen in Hawaiian waters this time of year.  Big Island Now. KHON2.


EV chargers coming to Maui under federal program. The Puunene Park and Ride is poised to be one of the first in the state to receive electric vehicle chargers through the multibillion-dollar National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Maui News.

Maui County reopens Alelele Point access with limited hours.  The road has been closed since May 10 due to safety concerns from rockfall. It connects the communities of Kīpahulu and Kaupō. Hawaii Public Radio. Maui News.

Hawaiʻi Land Trust awarded $803,700 grant for Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge.  The funds will be used at the 277-acre Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge on Maui.  It will also fund restoration of taro fields and the fishpond at Kapoho, which is located within the refuge.  Maui Now.


Only five ‘akikiki left on Kaua‘i and their chances of survival are slim.
Only five of the native Hawaiian honeycreeper species, ʻakikiki, are left in the wild and chances of saving them are growing increasingly dire by the day, according to state officials.  Kauai Now. KHON2.

‘Stop it now’: Residents call for stricter review of $200M luxury development planned for Poipu. Kauai activists have been trying to stop a $200 million luxury condo development in Kiahuna for years. Separately, another home is being built nearby just feet from a heiau. Hawaii News Now.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Some restaurants add 10% 'supply chain' surcharge, Hawaii law school treats Supreme Court justices to luxurious trips, Waikiki church told to quit feeding homeless, nepotism law goes into effect, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Some Hawaii restaurants now adding 10% Supply Chain fee. Some restaurants are now adding a 10% charge to your check, calling it a Supply Chain Adjustment. In some cases, customers don’t know about it until they get the check. KHON2.

UH law school not alone in offering luxury trips to Supreme Court justices. Supreme Court justices and donors mingle at campus visits. For decades, the University of Hawaii law school has marketed its Jurist-In-Residence program to the Supreme Court as an all-expenses-paid getaway, with the upside of considerable “down time” in paradise. Associated Press.

Anti-nepotism law takes effect in Hawaii.  A new law took effect Tuesday prohibiting nepotism across state government — particularly for the 60,000 employees in the executive branch — but notably exempts the state Legislature and Judiciary. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Hawaii ahead of the pack in installation of EV fast chargers. Hawaii is the first out of the gate to award a contract for federally funded fast chargers to be deployed across the state. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii ranks 2nd in the nation for fatal crashes involving distracted driving. A new analysis shows Hawaii has the second highest rate of fatal crashes involving distracted drivers in the nation, just behind New Mexico. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Department of Public Safety names new corrections deputy director.  Sanna Munoz, who had served as the domestic violence unit probation supervisor for the state Judiciary Adult Client Services Branch in the Third Circuit, will serve in her new role starting Aug. 1. Star-Advertiser.

As trash continues to pile, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi officials discuss landfill siting options.   Landfill siting on Oʻahu and Kauaʻi hit roadblocks with Act 73, which created buffer zones and limitations on potential new sites. Hawaii Public Radio.

Struggles continue despite more positive outlook on COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization’s third public-health report, released today, reflect a more positive outlook on the pandemic. Star-Advertiser.


Facing ‘heavy-handed’ city pressure, Waikiki church will stop its daily free meal service.  A Waikiki church that’s been serving free meals to the needy for more than five decades says it will end its daily lunch line at the end of the week. Hawaii News Now.

Navy Awards Red Hill Contract To Company Just Raided By Feds .
The Navy said on Tuesday that it has officially parted ways with a contractor the military blames for spilling firefighting chemicals at Red Hill last year.  Civil Beat.

City suspends another reviewer who cleared ‘monster home’ plans. The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting has suspended the registration of another third-party reviewer who approved plans for “monster house” projects that are not in compliance with city ordinances. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Tells Tow Company To Stop Charging $900 Fees. The City and County of Honolulu has told its towing contractor to temporarily stop charging an additional tow fee while it investigates all the instances it has been applied this year. Civil Beat.

Care facility nurses announce 7-day strike amid ‘shameful’ wage dispute. Nurses and nurses aides at Oahu Care Facility in McCully-Moiliili have announced a seven-day strike amid an ongoing wage dispute. Hawaii News Now.

DHHL holds groundbreaking ceremony for East Kapolei housing developments.  The first phase of development will consist of 127 single-family residential lots across 24 acres. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Kimo Alameda to announce 2024 run for Hawai‘i County mayor.  Kimo Alameda, who has been lead of the Hawai‘i Island Fentanyl Task Force and vice president of business development for Hawai‘i Island Community Health Center since 2022, is stepping away from those roles to pursue a bid to become the next mayor of Hawai‘i County in 2024. Big Island Now.

New pilot program aims to encourage pono behavior.  A partnership between the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii County and the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau announced two conjoined programs that will employ local stewards to educate visitors to Richardson and Lehia beach parks in Keaukaha. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawai’i County unveils first hybrid hydrogen- and electric-powered bus.  When Hawai’i County officials unveiled the Big Island’s first hybrid hydrogen and electric bus, people were pleased by the soft sound, clean air and lack of nauseous gases. Big Island Now.

Hilo resiliency hub clears final EA.  The Keaukaha Pana‘ewa Farmers Association plans to build a “resiliency and agricultural innovation hub” on Railroad Avenue on the same state-owned 10-acre parcel where the Pana‘ewa Farmers Market is held every Saturday. Tribune-Herald.


What to do with a gas tax with so many EVs on the road? Maui eyes a ‘road usage charge’.  Maui County Councilmembers discussed a new state charge on Tuesday that could also be implemented on the county level. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

DesJardins sworn in as first deputy corporation counsel.  Mimi DesJardins, a former judge and longtime attorney who ran a solo law practice for 20 years, was sworn in June 30 as first deputy corporation counsel for Maui County. Maui News.

New youth shelter in Wailuku will offer mentorship and temporary housing. Hale Pono teen shelter is located in Wailuku and will offer 13 beds for youth ages 12 to 17.  Hawaii Public Radio. Maui Now.

Maui Brewing Company in Lahaina closed due to roach, rodent infestation.  The restaurant, located at 4405 Honoapiilani Highway, received a red placard on Monday by the DOH Maui Food Safety Branch.  Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  KITV4.


Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative to hold annual membership meeting on July 20.  Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative members are invited to attend the cooperative’s annual meeting on July 20 at the Kauaʻi Philippine Cultural Center in Puhi. Kauai Now.

Almarza named Kaua‘i United Way executive director.  Lori L. Almarza is the Kaua‘i United Way executive director, announced the board of directors of Kaua‘i United Way on July 5. Garden Island.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Inaugural summit to strengthen Japan-Hawaii ties, Honolulu OKs property tax breaks, Green criticized for water bill veto, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii, Japanese leaders to share ideas at inaugural summit. Hundreds of senior government officials and business and civic leaders from Japan and Hawaii are expected to attend an inaugural summit celebrating the ties between the two countries this month in Waikiki. Star-Advertiser.

DOD's Kathleen Hicks tours Navy shipyard prior to slated $6B military construction. Upgrades in the Navy’s shipyard on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam are underway. More than $6 billion in military construction will occur in Hawaiʻi over the next five years, Department of Defense Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks said.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Gov. Josh Green is criticized for vetoing ‘critical’ water bills. Gov. Josh Green has come under fire for vetoing a couple of bills that environmentalists say were needed to deter and respond to drinking water crises such as the one triggered by the Red Hill fuel leaks. Star-Advertiser.

DOE welcomes dozens of teachers from the Philippines into Hawaii classrooms.  The state Department of Education says it will begin the school year with about 300 teacher vacancies ― so the 80 teachers welcomed from the Philippines on Monday is significant. Hawaii News Now.

State plans rapid rollout of raised pedestrian crosswalks, citing encouraging new data
. The state is planning a rapid expansion of raised pedestrian crosswalks following new data that shows the traffic measures are working to reduce crashes on Hawaii’s roads. Hawaii News Now.

Kamehameha Schools trustees want a fresh review of existing selection process.
In May, the current KS Board of Trustees petitioned the court to perform a fresh review of the process, which has been in place for the last 22 years. Hawaii Public Radio.


Honolulu City Council OKs property tax relief measures.  The Honolulu City Council has approved two real property tax relief measures aimed at helping homeowners and the island’s vulnerable residents. Star-Advertiser.

Proposed City bill to penalize lies made to inspectors.  The Honolulu City Council will be introducing a measure this week proposing to penalize people for making false statements to a city official which could be penalized as a misdemeanor offense. KHON2.

In bid to combat crime, city hires private security guards to patrol Waikiki after dark. Private security teams are being used to patrol Waikiki at night as part of a new city effort designed to target crime in the state’s no. 1 tourist destination. Hawaii News Now.

Initial paid rail ridership more than doubles after revision.
The number of passengers paying to ride the Skyline rail system for the initial five days after free fares ended July 4 has leaped to 18,329 from 8,127 because passengers who transferred from TheBus were not originally counted as train riders, the city Department of Transportation Services said Monday. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Navy gives BWS green light to test its wells after initially denying request.  In a major development, the Navy will allow the Board of Water Supply to test the drinking water at the military’s Red Hill shaft after denying the request months ago. Hawaii News Now.

DHHL project breaks ground in West Oahu as part of push to ease housing crisis. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands broke ground Monday on the third phase of construction at Kauluokahai — a Native Hawaiian master-planned community coming to Kapolei. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s Aging Population Is Straining EMS Services. Expanding This Program Could Help. Efforts to address the nonemergency needs of Honolulu's homeless community could provide a model for helping seniors with minor medical issues. Civil Beat.

Miske’s Half-Brother Wants Release To House Arrest Pending Trial. During a hearing in federal court on Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys sparred over a motion asking the judge to reconsider a 2021 ruling that has kept John Stancil, the half-brother of accused racketeering boss Michael J. Miske Jr., behind bars pending trial. Civil Beat.

Could building a new racetrack stall illegal street racing? Racing enthusiasts are still waiting for a new racetrack nearly a decade after the last one closed. Many said building a new park would cut down on illegal street racing but according to the city, there are still many roadblocks that need to be worked out before it can happen. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Big Island’s Waikoloa Village Has Growing Pains. Residents Want The County To Step Up. Neglected parks, a dangerous main intersection and a single road in and out are just some of the challenges. Civil Beat.

Final EA Published For Keaukaha Panaʻewa Farmers Association Hub. The Keaukaha Panaʻewa Farmers Association is moving forward with the development of a Resilience and Agriculture Innovation Hub. Big Island Video News.

Lawmakers seek funds to widen street, improve its intersection with Kilauea Ave.  Among three requests for federal funding drafted by Hilo Rep. Richard Onishi earlier this year was a proposal for $25 million that would be used to widen Puainako between Highway 11 and Kawili Street in an effort to reduce congestion on the heavily used road. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Council committee to receive presentation on road usage charge project. A Maui Council committee will hear a presentation Tuesday on a proposed road usage charge pilot project, a method to pay for infrastructure such as roads and bridges based on miles driven instead of gallons of gas purchased. Maui Now.

Lawsuit claims MPD recruit who nearly died suffered from ‘Beat Down’ hazing ritual. A Maui police recruit who nearly died during a training exercise last year has filed suit, alleging she was put through a hazing ritual called “Beat Down Friday.” Hawaii News Now.

Final credits roll for Maui’s Consolidated Theatres. The decades-old Consolidated Theatres in Queen Ka’ahumanu Center showed its final movie Sunday night as the longtime cinema brought operations to a close. Maui News. Maui Now.


Climate Action Forum on reclaiming Coco Palms wetlands.  Local environmental groups Zero Waste Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition and the Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i Chapter – which make up the Kaua‘i Climate Action Forum – will discuss “Building Climate Resilience” by reclaiming the Wailuanuiaho’āho Wetlands, also known as Coco Palms Resort, at its July 12 online forum. Kauai Now.

Wilcox Medical Center on Kaua‘i renovating Emergency Department waiting room.  Wilcox Medical Center in Līhu‘e – the largest medical center on Kaua‘i – will be renovating its Emergency Department waiting room. Work is anticipated to take approximately one week and will conclude by July 19. Kauai Now.

Monday, July 10, 2023

National parks more popular, Green signs last round of bills, apparent homicide in Oahu jail, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Visitor numbers show Hawaii’s national parks continue to enthrall. Attendance this year at the state’s three major national park sites is on track to surpass 2019 visitor totals, before the COVID-19 pandemic virtually shut down tourism to the islands.  Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Josh Green signs 13 bills into law. Gov. Josh Green signed 13 bills at the state Capitol that aim to improve care for kupuna, encourage awareness and adaptability for disabled individuals, and make access to technology easy for those who are multilingual. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.  Hawaii News Now.

Green signs coffee bills into law.  Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday signed two coffee bills into law — one aimed at labeling practices for coffee crops originating in Hawaii and the other that will expand the fight against blights affecting the iconic crop. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News.

Land And Power 2023: How One Influential Hawaii Senator Is Using Public Agencies To His Advantage. A decade after his controversial Public Land Development Corp. was dissolved in the face of a public outcry, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz is using other agencies to buy and develop land. Civil Beat.

Pools at Hawaii state Capitol might stay dry. The  state Department of Accounting and General Services has more than $40 million in legislative appropriations to perhaps vanquish all the trouble by fixing leaks, along with structural damage and electrical problems they have caused, and possibly convert the water features into waterless platforms resembling pools. Star-Advertiser.

New regents chair sees great things ahead for University of Hawaii.  As the University of Hawaii is at a critical crossroads as an “indigenous serving institution” — co-manager of the cultural flashpoint that is Mauna Kea, keeper of a long-beleaguered athletics program, political victim of severe budget cuts and a governance tug of war and more — revving at its center is Alapaki Nahale-a, the newly elected chair of the UH Board of Regents. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two new members join the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Board of Directors. Two new members of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Board of Directors were appointed by Governor Josh Green, M.D. Hawaiian Airlines’ Blaine Miyasato and the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s James Kunane Tokioka fill seats for four-year terms that expire June 30, 2026. Maui Now.

Hawaii Kava Growers Hope To Convince Food Regulators It’s Safe To Eat. The plant is the focus of new studies about its potential therapeutic benefits. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s Cesspool Crisis Has A Long History. It’s Not Over Yet.  Concerns about the proliferation of cesspools and their impact on nearshore waters and our drinking water supply date back more than a century.  Civil Beat.

Rising debt steers Hawaii consumers toward bankruptcy. 
Hawaii bankruptcies continue to remain historically low, but local attorneys say the number of monthly filings belie the reality that many consumers are in financial straits. Star-Advertiser.


Federal grant awards Hawaiʻi $4M to update climate action plan. The funding comes from the EPA's Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. Hawaii Public Radio.

HPD investigating apparent homicide at OCCC after inmate found dead in cell. Honolulu police have opened a murder investigation after an inmate at the Oahu Community Correctional Center was found dead in his cell on Thursday night. Hawaii News Now.

For 45 years IHS has provided aid to homeless in innovative ways. Forty five years ago this month, what is now the Institute for Human Services opened Hawaii’s first and what has become its largest homeless shelters, playing a critical role in recent years as the exploding homeless population gave the state at one point the ignoble distinction of having the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country. Star-Advertiser.

Parts of east Oʻahu shoreline to be designated to Kaiwi Coast State Park. 
On Thursday, Gov. Josh Green stood from the Makapuʻu Lighthouse Lookout to sign Senate Bill 1254, which establishes a pathway to designate lands from Makapuʻu to Wawamalu as part of a state park. Hawaii Public Radio.

Stricter rules sought for popular Oahu beach recently marred by illegal parties.  A popular beach on Oahu’s east side that was spotlighted during the pandemic for illegal parties could be getting tougher rules and regulations. It’s part of plans to make the Kaiwi Coast a state park. Hawaii News Now.

Former HPD chief Lee Donohue dedicated 40 years to the force. Former Honolulu Police Chief Lee D. Donohue died Sunday morning at Straub Medical Center following an extended illness. He was 80 years old. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Hawaii Island

‘We have skin in the game’: Hilo Harbor land acquisition plans questioned by community, businesses.  Keaukaha community members expressed concerns Wednesday night over the state’s plans to acquire almost 10 acres of privately owned land near the entrance to Hilo Harbor. Tribune-Herald.

Police investigate Hilo tax preparer who allegedly left customers in limbo.  Detective Paul Mangus recently confirmed that the Hawaii Police Department’s East Hawaii Criminal Investigations Section has received “at least 20” complaints and is investigating the tax preparer Hilo Income Tax Service and its enrolled agent, Michele Slone. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County’s tax surcharge proposal passes first reading.  With some calling it a hard decision, Maui County Council members gave the first of two required approvals Friday to adopt a surcharge on top of the state’s general excise tax to fund housing infrastructure in the county.  Maui News.

Bill to regulate air and replica guns nears final passage.  A bill that would limit air and replica guns in certain public spaces was passed on first reading by the Maui County Council on Friday.  Maui News.

Biden Officials Had To Charter A Plane So They Wouldn’t Get Stuck On Molokai.
The group didn't trust Mokulele Airlines' scheduled flights, underscoring the difficulties island residents have accessing health care and other services. Civil Beat.


Blessing held for Kalaheo water project.  The county Department of Water and contractor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc., held a blessing to commence the Kalaheo Water Systems Improvements Project late last month. Garden Island.

Emergency repairs planned for Wainiha bridge.  Kūhiō Highway (Highway 560) will be intermittently closed at the Wainiha double bridges while emergency repairs are made to Wainiha Bridge No. 2 early this week. Kauai Now.

Friday, July 7, 2023

New state laws address highway safety, driver's licenses, shoreline protection; Honolulu rail CEO wants tax extended, Kauai managing director moves to Schatz' office, beers created from rice, ti root, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiʻi Roadway Safety Bills Signed Into Law. Seven bills relating to roadway safety in Hawaiʻi were signed into law by Governor Josh Green on Thursday, during a ceremony on Oʻahu. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

A new law makes driver license renewal easier.
You will eventually be able to renew your driver’s license online or by mail. It was a bill that Governor Josh Green, M.D. signed into law on Thursday, July 6. KHON2.

Increased fines, drones to protect Hawaii shorelines . Governor signs measures to boost coastal management, enforcement.  Gov. Josh Green signed a handful of bills Thursday related to coastal protection. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

In fight against erosion, new legal weapon targets homeowners who go rogue. As ocean levels rise, new rules give the state more power to keep people from breaking the law to protect their properties from erosion. Hawaii News Now.

Preschool educators stipend program finally launches.  Despite a two-year wait to fully launch Hawaii’s first public stipend program for early-childhood educators, state officials are hopeful that it will make big strides toward solving a chronic and severe shortage of teachers and caregivers for keiki ages 0 to 5. Star-Advertiser.

DOE spent $168M on bell and alarm system, but more than half of schools still don’t have it. More than half of Hawaii’s 255 public schools rely on aging bell, alarm and P.A. systems due to delays in installing promised high-tech upgrades. Hawaii News Now.

Civil rights attorney to file class action against Hawaii education, health departments. A Honolulu attorney says he's a few weeks away from filing a class action lawsuit against the state over special education services. KITV4.

President’s commission meeting in Hawaii OKs broad set of recommendations. For the first time, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders convened for its quarterly meeting outside of Washington, D.C. Star-Advertiser.

Native Hawaiians discuss housing challenges with U.S. HUD Secretary.  The visit served as an opportunity for HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda and HUD Regional Administrator Jason Pu to listen to the struggles, successes and valuable feedback shared by the community.  Big Island Now.

Hawaii, Honolulu score $4M for climate action plans. The funding — $1 million to Honolulu and $3 million to the state — was announced Thursday in Honolulu by Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. Star-Advertiser.

83,000 Hawaii homes dispose of sewage in cesspools. Hawaii has 83,000 cesspools — more than any other state — and about 20% are less than 0.6 mile from shore. Six years ago, Hawaii mandated the removal of all cesspools by 2050. Associated Press.


Honolulu City Council trio needed to reject 64% pay raises in writing. In the days leading up to the controversial start of the salary increases for Hono­lulu’s top elected and appointed officials, Council members Augie Tulba, Andria Tupola and Radiant Cordero were each required to submit a memorandum to the city stating their rejection to the expected $44,400 pay bump — to $113,304 from $68,904. Star-Advertiser.

Businessman Accused Of Bribing Honolulu Prosecutor Points Finger At Feds. 
If convicted of bribing former prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, the 79-year-old Dennis Mitsunaga could go to prison for the rest of his life.  Civil Beat.

Rail CEO looks to extend the system — by extending rail surcharge.
Mostly with money from the half percent general excise tax, HART has spent about $5 billion so far to get the first 11 miles up and running, construct most of the way from Pearl Harbor to Middle Street and begin utility work on the final segment to Kakaako. Hawaii News Now.

Rail Contractor Sues HART Over Construction Delays.
Contractor STG is seeking more than $99 million in damages, and says HART "has only itself to blame." The contractor hired to build the 5-mile airport segment of the Honolulu rail line is suing the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, alleging HART’s failure to address problems with the relocation of utilities along the line has caused expensive construction delays. Civil Beat.

Rail ridership falls as paid service begins.  The first day of paid rail ridership saw a drop in interest, as expected, with only 1,245 passengers boarding Skyline trains. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

State agrees to purchase and maintain Wahiawā Irrigation System, Lake Wilson.  Gov. Josh Green signed a bill Wednesday that requires his office to negotiate the purchase of Wahiawā Dam, Lake Wilson, and its associated spillways and irrigation ditches.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Kaiwi coast scenic area on Oahu could become state park.  Hawaii might have a new state park by this time in 2024 covering about 340 acres of mostly natural coastal land in East Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu housing market cooled off in June.  The median price for single-family home resales stabilized in June but remained above seven figures at $1,050,000. That was down 4.5% from $1.1 million a year ago and off 5.3% from $1,109,000 in May, according to data released Thursday from the Honolulu Board of Realtors.  Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

County Council approves creation of Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience. The Hawai‘i County Council on Wednesday approved the creation of a cabinet-level Office of Sustainability, Climate, Equity and Resilience — and a new section of county code to govern it — that will lead the County’s efforts to ensure the island can withstand the effects of climate change. Big Island Now.

Council rejects plan for downtown Hilo. A proposal to create a Business Improvement District to revitalize downtown Hilo has been decisively killed after pushback from area business owners. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Wants To Use Opioid Settlement Money To Open Its First Detox Facility. Hawaii County will receive $489,000 in opioid settlement funds this year and just over $100,000 annually thereafter through 2038, Mayor Mitch Roth announced Thursday.  Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.

How ‘ōkolehao, an alcoholic spirit made of tī root, could change the liquor industry. Hawaiʻi's first-ever alcoholic spirit made from the root of the tī plant may soon get a boost in popularity from a Big Island brewery.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Keaukaha speed limit change advances. A proposal to reduce the speed limit on Kalanianaole Street is closer to reality after passing a Hawaii County Council committee Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.


For the second month in a row, visitor arrivals slowed. In May, there were 240,407 visitors to Maui, down 2.8 percent compared to May 2022 when there were 247,280 visitors, and down 4.5 percent versus May 2019 when there were 251,665 visitors, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. Maui News.

Can’t Afford To Junk Your Car? Maui Will Tow And Recycle It For Free. Officials estimate 2,500 vehicles are abandoned each year in the county. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

Kamehameha Schools acquires thousands of acres at Kaupō Ranch and Hāmākualoa, Maui. Kamehameha Schools announced today its acquisition of more than 4,500 acres of land from Kaupō Ranch Ltd. on southeastern Maui for approximately $21 million.  Maui Now.


Matsuyama named Kauaʻi County’s managing director, replacing Dahilig who joins U.S. Sen. Schatz’ office.  Kauaʻi native Reiko Matsuyama has been appointed as the new managing director of the County of Kaua‘i by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami. Kauai Now.

And so we wait': Kauaʻi doctor underscores dialysis needs on island.  The capacity of dialysis treatment on Kauaʻi is critical, according to a local doctor. Dr. Raymond Petrillo, Kauaʻi’s sole kidney doctor, operates his private practice, Island Kidney Care, in Lihuʻe and Waimea.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Rice beer on tap on Rice Street. Rice grower Jerry Ornellas said when the first batch of Jerry’s Rice Beer — the name assigned to the rice-based beer by the Kaua‘i Beer Company — went online on Monday, it was the first time in more than 60 years that Kaua‘i-grown rice was used commercially. Garden Island.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Governor signs climate change, ag bills; COVID-19 cases remain steady, community opposition stymies homeless housing, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Governor signs climate change bills into law. Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday signed a handful of measures that aim to fight climate change and move the state closer to achieving its ambitious climate goals. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now.

Hawai’i Gov. Green signs into law 10 bills supporting local agriculture. The measures enhance local food production through the acquisition of the Wahiawā Irrigation System; provide funding to deal with little fire ants and coffee pest control; expand coffee labeling regulations; and increase penalties for pesticide violations. Big Island Now.

Environmental Groups To Governor: Don’t Veto Water Protection Bills. The governor has expressed his intention to veto HB153, which would allow the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management to issue fines of up to $60,000 per day to those who violate the state water code. The current limit is $5,000 per day. Civil Beat.

Governor to attend high-level political forum, National Governors Association meeting. Governor Josh Green, M.D., will travel to New York City from July 9-14 to attend the United Nations High-Level Political Forum and the National Governors Association 2023 Annual Meeting. Maui Now.

Torched toilets, cracked sinks: Statewide spate of vandalism at parks prompts alarm. Parks officials statewide are begging vandals to stop destroying public parks facilities and asking park users to be on the lookout. Hawaii News Now.

State's new task force wants to spark change against booming illegal firework industry.  Both consumer and large aerial display fireworks are illegal in the state, and an inter-governmental group has its eyes on tackling the issue. Hawaii Public Radio.

State's first medical kauhale village reportedly full after 1 month. The 10 tiny homes were built for patients discharged from hospitals who would otherwise be released onto the street. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s COVID-19 cases ‘pretty steady’. On Wednesday, the state Department of Health reported a daily average of 71 cases, an average positivity rate of 8.4%, and average of 48 COVID-19 patients hospitalized over the week. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu Struggles To Use Funding It Sets Aside For Community Facilities. In recent years, Honolulu has set aside millions of dollars to try to address the city’s growing homeless population but community opposition and difficulty finding suitable projects and sites is thwarting its efforts.  Civil Beat.

New 13-Hour Shifts For HPD Patrol Officers Are Raising Concerns
.  The Honolulu Police Department plans to move patrol division personnel to 13-hour shifts starting in August. Civil Beat.

Authorities end search for Honolulu police officer who allegedly fled arrest. The search has ended Wednesday for a Honolulu police officer who allegedly fled his arrest for a restraining order violations. Hawaii News Now. KITV4

Affordable housing near Halawa rail station begins construction. Construction has begun on a low-income rental housing tower near one current end of the city’s operating rail line after a three-year delay. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Over 71,000 passengers ride Skyline in first 5, free days.  More than 71,000 passengers boarded the city’s new Skyline rail system over the initial five days of free rides — with the first full day of paid rides expected to provide the first real indication of how much interest people have in riding rail’s initial 11 miles. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.  KITV4.

Hawaii Judicial Commission Releases List Of Circuit Court Contenders. On Wednesday, the State Judicial Selection Commission released a list of six nominees for a recently vacated seat on the Circuit Court of the 1st Circuit, giving Gov. Josh Green 30 days to choose a name from the list. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Wastewater surveillance data may indicate potential increase in Big Isle COVID cases. Two more deaths from COVID-19 were recorded in Hawaii County this week, bringing the county death toll since the pandemic began to 247 people. Tribune-Herald.

Kailua-Kona man, 20, dies after Fourth of July fireworks accident.  A 20-year-old Kailua-Kona man who died after a fireworks accident during Fourth of July celebrations is the second reported death from fireworks in the state this year. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Waikoloa affordable housing ready for occupancy.  The project’s 110 rental units will begin filling with families this month following completion of construction of the estimated $46 million project developed by nonprofit Coalition for Specialized Housing and partner GSF LLC. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.

Resolution urges governor to issue emergency proclamation for Uncle Billy’s.  A Hawaii County Council resolution urging the governor to take action to remove the derelict former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel received wide support Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.


Public presentation questions sentencing of men convicted in West Maui hate crime.  A public presentation held on Wednesday night at the University of Hawaii Maui College raised concerns about the recent sentencing of two men involved in a high-profile hate crime that took place in West Maui in 2014. Hawaii News Now.

MPD investigating possible human remains discovered in Upcountry Maui.  Maui police are investigating after the discovery of what’s believed to be human remains in a remote area of Upcountry Maui. Hawaii News Now. Maui Now.  KITV4.

Maui firefighters respond to 20 emergency calls on Fourth of July holiday. The majority of these fires were small brush fires and rubbish bin fires which could be quickly extinguished, according to department reports; however, there were two brush fires that required response from multiple units. Maui Now.

Maui Humane Society to reduce pet adoption fees for “Empty the Shelters” event, July 6-31.  From July 6 to July 31, BISSELL Pet Foundation’s Summer National “Empty the Shelters” will occur at more than 335 shelters in 44 states with pets available for adoption for just $50 or less, including Maui Humane Society. Maui Now.


Domestic passenger count tops 80,000 in June at Lihu‘e Airport.  The number of people offboarding domestic flights at Lihu‘e Airport climbed to its highest reading of the year last month, as the summer tourism season took flight on the island of Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Average daily room rate rises in May. Stout visitor spending totals through the first five months of the year have been fueled, in large part by an accommodation sector that is experiencing a big upswing in room rates on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Hawaii recycling program beyond redemption? Plus, you can’t say 'FCK' on your license plate, state Capitol to install metal detectors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

DOH recycling program receives 2-year audit. Although the refund and recycling program’s issues involving fraud have reportedly waned, the audit did find that what it called a “significant deficiency” in internal controls to curb the problem of fraud as well as the ongoing reliance on third-party certifications remained — meaning an increased risk of fraud is still of concern. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Court: You Can’t Say “FCK” On Your License Plate.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a loss for Honolulu resident Edward Odquina, who in 2021 applied for and received a personalized plate with the message “FCKBLM.” Civil Beat.  Star-Advertiser.  KHON2.  KITV4.

Hawaii losing economic strength, economist says.  Inflation has stabilized in Hawaii, but what is of concern to one of Hawaii’s leading economists is the state’s gross domestic product, which over the past five years has fallen way behind the national economy. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Chamber of Commerce Seeks To Rein In Red Tape To Help Businesses. A new web portal is part of a long-term approach to improving the business environment in the state. Civil Beat.

State Capitol to get metal detectors after lawmakers and aides say they don't feel safe.  The Hawaiʻi State Capitol will have metal detectors installed at three entrances starting July 10, state agencies said Monday. Associated Press.

State Legislature plans to not override any items on governor's veto list. After consultation, the state Legislature will not override any bills or line-items that Gov. Josh Green intends to veto. Hawaii Public Radio.

Competitive Hawaii proposals sought to fight homelessness with federal funds
. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, who wrapped up a two-day visit to Hawaii on Monday, encouraged local government leaders, developers, nonprofits and others to compete for a share of about $3.1 billion to be made available soon under the agency’s Continuum of Care program. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Housing Authority seeks 10,880 more affordable units. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority has taken on the monumental task of taking its inventory from 1,187 units to an additional 10,880, announcing Monday that it has chosen a developer for its Ka Lei Momi Redevelopment Project at nine existing housing properties over the next decade and beyond.  Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Big Island Now.  KHON2.

Gov. Green signs bills to improve school facilities, curricula.  Measures giving the state’s new School Facilities Authority access to millions more dollars and dramatically broader flexibility to build teacher housing and preschool classrooms were among a group of education-related bills signed into law by Gov. Josh Green in a ceremony Monday. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News.  Maui Now.

Hawaii’s Parole Board Is The Most Powerful In The Country. That May Change. The paroling authority sets the minimum terms that inmates must serve before they can be released from prison, a task that other states assign to judges. Civil Beat.


City Officials’ Pay Raises Weren’t Included In The Budget. Now What? The city charter mandates that these raises be delivered, meaning officials have to scrape together the money from other sources. Civil Beat.

Report: Despite cooling housing market, Oahu rents continue to soar.  During the past five years, average studio rents in Honolulu are up 25% to more than $1,600 a month while four-bedroom apartments are up 22% to nearly $3,700.  Hawaii News Now.

Oahu’s traffic-related fatalities remain high. At roughly the halfway mark, the number of traffic­-related fatalities in Hawaii is lower than at the same time in 2022. Star-Advertiser.

State, city strain to keep traffic signs clear of overgrown foliage.  Since the COVID-19 pandemic, labor shortages in state and city maintenance departments and a switch to sustainable yet less efficient weedkiller have hampered the frequency and quality of roadside maintenance. Star-Advertiser.

Ex-Gangsters, Grandmas And The Good Word Take On West Oahu’s Game Rooms.
An unlikely alliance is working to disrupt illegal gambling on the west side. Civil Beat.

State finds new operator for low-income complex. A private development partnership has taken over the Kulia i ka Nu‘u low-­income rental housing complex in Waianae under a state land lease arrangement that includes a planned renovation of the property. Star-Advertiser.

There’s a new viewing platform atop Koko Crater Stairs
. The new viewing platform at the summit of the popular Koko Crater Stairs in Hawaii Kai has been completed. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Public meeting planned for proposed traffic improvements near Hilo Harbor. The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation is hosting a public meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. today (July 5) to provide information about its proposed land acquisition for traffic improvements on Kalanianaʻole Street adjacent to Hilo Harbor. Big Island Now.

Following HSTA concerns, crews complete mold abatement effort at Hawaii school. Holualoa Elementary School students and staff will start the school year with an updated look following a $1.27 million renovation project that addresses campus-wide environmental concerns. Hawaii News Now.

Waipi‘o Valley Road phase one work completed.  One phase of work on the Waipi‘o Valley Road is over, but the rest is still a long way off. Tribune-Herald.


Service outage cancels 2 committee meetings. Full council to meet Friday to discuss bills on tax surcharge, air guns, water rules. Two Maui County Council committee meetings that had been scheduled for Wednesday had to be canceled due to a service outage of the digital platform that hosts the council’s meeting documents, Presiding Officer Pro Tempore Tasha Kama announced Monday.  Maui News.

Conservation land designation resurfaces for discussion in committee on Thursday. The Maui Council committee on Agriculture, Diversification, Environment and Public Transportation will reconvene July 6 at 1:30 p.m. to discuss Resolution 23-146, requesting that the Conservation Planning Committee review and provide recommendations on the possible acquisition or management of certain lands for conservation purposes. Maui Now.

Committee agrees to revise proposed renaming of Puamana burial site to include Waianuʻukole. The Water and Infrastructure Committee agreed on a proposal Monday to rename Puamana Beach Park in Lahaina to Puamana Cultural Preserve at Waianuʻukole.  Maui Now.


Visitor spending climbs past $1B in 2023 on Kaua‘i.  That was up 31.1 percent from $823.9 million in the same five-month period of 2022, and 40.7 percent from $767.6 million in the same five-month period of pre-pandemic 2019. Garden Island.

Nagramada takes Island School helm. Island School announced that Nancy Nagramada will be head of school. She assumed the role on July 1. Garden Island.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

First Honolulu rail segment opens, HUD Secretary visits Hawaii, Kona child psychologist charged with sexually assaulting minor, Kauai ex-councilman drug ring supplier sentenced, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Governor Signs Tax Relief And Budget Bills. Not everything he originally proposed made it into the tax relief bill. He said those omissions will be revisited in the future. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.  Kauai Now.  KITV4.

HUD Secretary in Hawaii July 2-3 to discuss affordable housing.  The head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will visit Oahu to meet with local officials and residents who use its Housing Choice voucher program known as Section 8. Hawaii News Now.

How a lapsing birth attendant exemption affects access to care in Hawaiʻi. When the state Legislature failed to pass a bill to extend birth attendant exemptions under the state midwifery laws and add additional licensing pathways this session, it affirmed the end of a three-year exemption period. Hawaii Public Radio.

Affirmative action ruling could test admission policies at Hawaii schools.  The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week striking down affirmative action in college admissions and favoring a “colorblind Constitution” has some educators and legal experts debating whether there may be ripple effects for Kamehameha Schools, the University of Hawaii and other entities and programs that are focused on Hawaiian people and culture. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ed Case Honored For Work On World’s Oceans. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation lauds the Hawaii congressman's stewardship. Civil Beat.

Hawaii faces higher temperatures, drought as El Nino takes hold.  The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting higher-­than-average temperatures and below-average rainfall for the rest of the calendar year and into January.  Star-Advertiser.

Defense contractor Hawaiian Native Corp. is under investigation. The federal Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Internal Revenue Service are investigating potential financial and tax crimes by defense contractor Hawaiian Native Corp. and its 11 Dawson subsidiaries. Star-Advertiser.


Rail ridership projections, revenue uncertain after Skyline opens.  Even with the first phase of the $9.8 billion rail line officially open, it’s still unclear how many passengers are needed to ride the system, how much revenue they would generate and what the real costs of maintenance will be.  Star-Advertiser. KITV4.  Hawaii News Now

Tommy Aiu Is Out As Honolulu Rail’s Private Security Chief. 
As the first 10 miles of Honolulu’s rail transit line open for service, the city job to oversee private security along the system’s stations, platforms and driverless trains remains vacant. Civil Beat.

City compliance expert calls for urgent changes to embattled liquor commission.
On Thursday, the city’s compliance expert Hui Chen shared her report to Honolulu Liquor Commission’s board members and gave suggestions on how they can improve the organization. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

New animal control agency takes helm.  The Hawaii Police Department on Saturday relinquished responsibility over animal control services to the newly formed Animal Control and Protection Agency under the Office of the Mayor. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Expanded West Hawaiʻi Golf Subsidy Begins.  This year’s program - subsidizing golf opportunities at The Village Course at Waikoloa and Makalei Golf Club - will run from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024. Big Island Video News.

Kona psychologist who treats children accused of sexually assaulting minor. A 71-year-old clinical psychologist who specializes in treating children and teens who are dying or are chronically ill pleaded not guilty today in Kona Circuit Court to charges he sexually assaulted a minor. Tribune-Herald.


Emails Reveal A Maui Developer’s Influence Over New Water Board Member.  While the Maui County Council was publicly vetting applicants to steer the new East Maui Community Water Authority, a local developer was working behind the scenes to convince the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to change its nominee.  Civil Beat.

Lawsuit challenges a new gun ban on Hawaii beaches.
  Three Maui residents are suing to block the measure, arguing that Hawaii — which has long had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and some of the lowest rates of gun violence — is going too far with its wide-ranging ban.  Associated Press.

Maui County has highest share of ‘severely rent burdened’ households. Maui County leads the state with the highest median asking rent, the highest median condominium price and is the most “severely rent burdened” in the state with renters paying more than 50 percent of their income toward rent, according to a recent report.  Maui News.


Supplier in ex-Kauai council member’s drug ring is sentenced. A 41-year-old Kauai woman who was a backup supplier of methamphetamine to former Kauai County Council member Arthur Brun’s drug-trafficking organization was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Kaua‘i refuse stations’ chronic closures due to “antiquated” equipment; upgrades coming. The construction projects for these upgrades are scheduled to go out to bid this summer. Actual construction of the refuse transfer station improvements will take place in a phased rollout.  Kauai Now.

Low rainfall keeps Kaua‘i surf spots clean despite chronically polluted streams. The dry season has been kind to Kaua‘i’s waters, as low rainfall protected much of the island’s surf spots from runoff pollution this month, according to Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Blue Water Task Force. Garden Island.