The Beat

  • Honolulu to Host Symposium on Development Around Rail

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    The City & County of Honolulu and the Urban Land Institute are sponsoring a symposium on transit-oriented development on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Blaisdell Center. Harrison Rue, Honolulu’s director of TOD, said the conference will serve as a progress report about growth around the planned $5.26 billion rail line. Speakers will include Mayor Kirk Caldwell; Gil Penalosa, executive director of 8-80 Cities; Meea Kang, president of Domus Development; William Fleissig, president of Communitas Development and former Denver planning director; Cathy Camp, director of development for Kamehameha Schools;
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  • Hawaii Shark Expert to Keep Job Despite Child Porn Conviction

    ·By Gene Park
    A state employee serving a sentence for possession of child pornography is expected to keep his job when he gets out of prison. Randy Honebrink, the Department of Land and Natural Resources aquatic resource information and education coordinator, was convicted and sentenced to two months in prison and five years of supervised release in September.  He admitted to downloading two sexually explicit photographs of two boys, age 12 and 14. KHON News reports that Honebrink still retains his position with DLNR, and that he’s using his vacation leave time to serve his prison sentence. KHON reporter Brent
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  • Hawaii’s Tuna Fishing Limits Challenged

    ·By Nick Grube
    Hawaii’s holiday sashimi could be in short supply this year if conservation groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, get their way in a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday. The organizations argue the National Marine Fisheries Services violated an international agreement to end overfishing of bigeye tuna when the agency announced Hawaii longliners could exceed their annual catch quota by using unmet allotments from other parts of the Pacific. Hawaii’s bigeye tuna catch is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by conservation groups. Nick Grube/Civil Beat Civil Beat first reported on
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  • Canadian Mom Billed Almost $1 Million After Hawaii Birth

    ·By The Civil Beat Staff
    A Canadian mother is facing a nearly $1 million medical bill after giving birth while on vacation in Hawaii. The Huffington Post reports that Jennifer Huculak and her husband Darren Kimmel of Saskatchewan, Canada, came to Hawaii in October 2013, while she was six-months pregnant. Huculak’s water broke a few days into the vacation and she was put on bed-rest. Six weeks later on Dec. 10, she gave birth to her daughter, Reece, who spent two months in the NICU. After returning home to Canada, Huculak was left with a $950,000 medical
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  • Rep. Duckworth Gives Birth to Baby Girl

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hill has this item on Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) starting her second term in the U.S. Congress with a new job title: mom. “Duckworth gave birth to her daughter, Abigail O’kalani Bowlsbey, on Tuesday,” The Hill reports. “Abigail already has ties to the Senate — where Duckworth has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate to challenge Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).” U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, in red dress, at a campaign event for state Rep. Mark Takai in 2014. Chad Blair/Civil Beat More from the article: “Bryan and I
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  • US House Panel Gets Volcano Hazard Update

    ·By Chad Blair
    Pele’s latest activity is being felt all the way in Washington, D.C. “Volcano Hazards: Exploring the National Preparation and Response Strategy” was the topic of a U.S. House of Representatives hearing Wednesday. The Natural Resources Committee’s Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee heard testimony from Hawaii State Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency Director Darryl Oliveira, and Charles Mandeville, the Volcano Hazards Program coordinator with the U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at the House subcommittee hearing. U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard U.S. Rep. Colleen
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  • Study: Honolulu is the 12th Best US City for Aging

    ·By Gene Park
    It’s been widely reported that Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the U.S. for people over 65 years old. But that doesn’t mean Honolulu is the best city to age. That honor goes to Madison, Wis. among large cities (in which Honolulu was included) and Iowa City, Iowa for smaller cities.  The study was released Tuesday by the Milken Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that recognizes health economics as one of its pillars of study. Honolulu still fared well as the 12th best city to age, getting good marks for relatively low
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  • Pot Luck: Mapping America’s Marijuana Muddle

    ·By Chad Blair
    From The Economist: SMOKING, growing, buying, selling or merely possessing cannabis is a criminal offence, according to America’s federal government. Ask the states, however, and you will get almost 50 different answers. In 13 of them possession of the drug has been decriminalised, meaning that tokers face only minor penalties if caught. In 23 it has been legalised for medical use. And in four—including, following ballot initiatives earlier this month, Alaska and Oregon—cannabis has been legalised outright. In all only 22 states, fewer than half the
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  • Sen. Whitehouse Introduces Carbon Fee Bill; Schatz Is Co-Sponsor

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that seeks to put a price on carbon emissions and generate as much as $2 trillion dollars over 10 years — “all of which would be returned to the American people.” According to the office of Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, “The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act offers solutions to correct the market failure that currently allows polluters to push the costs of their pollution onto everyday Americans and their families.” The act calls for requiring polluters to
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  • NSA Reform Effort Dies in US Senate

    ·By Chad Blair
    Roll Call has this report on how an effort backed by the Obama administration to overhaul the NSA’s controversial surveillance activities died in the Senate Tuesday. Excerpt: Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voted to block the bill, which came just two votes shy of the 60 needed to come to the floor for debate. Just four Republicans joined Democrats to advance the bill: Ted Cruz of Texas, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Bill Nelson of
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  • Study: Hawaii County Has High Poverty and High Inequality

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    A new study analyzing poverty and income inequality in U.S. counties concluded that Hawaii County has high levels of poverty and inequality. The report by the Population Reference Bureau also found that while Maui County has relatively low poverty rates, it has high inequality. But it’s not all bad news for Hawaii. The report noted that Honolulu and Kauai both have low levels of poverty and inequality, and that Hawaii has low inequality compared with other states. Nationwide, income inequality has increased in every state since 1979.Click here to read the full report.
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  • Keystone Pipeline Bill Falls One Vote Short in Senate

    ·By Chad Blair
    A U.S. Senate bill aimed at approving the Keystone XL pipeline stalled Tuesday, according to Roll Call. “Republican leaders plan to bring the pipeline legislation back up next year, when GOP reinforcements appear certain to put it over the top,” Roll Call says. “The 59-41 vote fell just one vote short of overcoming a filibuster led by Democrats.” Hawaii senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono were among the 41 who voted no. A total of 60 votes was needed to overcome a filibuster. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono near  the
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  • Fuchigami to Run DOT Again; Ige Extends Jobs Deadline

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii Gov.-elect David Ige will appoint Ford Fuchigami to return to his previous role as director of the state of Hawaii’s Department of Transportation. “Ford proved to be a stellar administrator of one of the most complex and vital departments of the state, and I’ve asked him to return,” Ige said in a press release Tuesday. “I believe that he will be an important link to the city, working cooperatively on critical transportation projects such as rail.” Fuchigami had been named by Mayor Kirk Caldwell last month to lead the city’s Department of
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  • Hirono Says Child Care Bill Will Help Hawaiians

    ·By Chad Blair
    Who says Congress can’t agree on anything? On Monday the U.S. Senate passed 88-1 the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. Both of Hawaii’s senators voted in favor of the measure. Mike Lee of Utah was the lone Republican to vote against the measure, which provides federal funding to states to help parents afford child care while working or in job training programs. The measure already cleared the U.S. House of Representatives and now heads to the White House for President Obama’s expected signature. Sen. Hirono promoting quality early learning at
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  • DLNR: ‘Serious Natural Resource Damage’ Leads to Kaena Point Changes

    ·By Chad Blair
    After consulting with a community advisory group, the Department of Land and Natural Resources will implement a vehicle access permit system for the roads at Kaena Point State Park Reserve’s Mokuleia section. Beginning Dec. 1, says DLNR, anyone wanting to drive a vehicle into the Mokuleia section — the area beyond the paved parking lot — will need to obtain a free permit. (It does not apply to users who hike or bike on the dirt road behind the locked gate.) In 2011, DLNR was allowed to implement a permit system for the area, and
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  • Independent Candidate Elected Governor of Alaska

    ·By Chad Blair
    Alaska’s Republican Governor Sean Parnell conceded defeat over the weekend, meaning Bill Walker will be the only independent governor in the country. Walker, formerly a Republican, ran with Democratic running mate Byron Mallott, who will become the lieutenant governor. Independent governors are pretty rare. Hawaii, of course, had a four-way contest for governor this year, which included a Libertarian and a Hawaii Independent Party candidate. The Democratic Party candidate prevailed. Walker, a lawyer, is only the second independent to win the seat in Alaska’s statehood, according to CNN. He is a former mayor
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  • State to Hold Public Meetings on Hawaii’s Land Use System

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    The Hawaii Office of Planning is holding a series of meetings to gather public input on the state’s land use regulations. “Meetings will include an overview of the State’s land use system and participants will be asked to share their land use system experiences and offer ideas for improving the State’s land use system,” the Office of Planning said in a press release. The public meetings are part of the agency’s comprehensive analysis on how to make Hawaii’s land use process more effective and efficient. The first and only meeting on Honolulu is
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  • State: OHA Broke Sunshine Law

    ·By Chad Blair
    West Hawaii Today has this report on how the Office of Hawaiian Affairs violated the state Sunshine Law: The Office of Hawaiian Affairs violated the state Sunshine Law when trustees corresponded by telephone and email before sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rescinding an earlier letter by Chief Executive Officer Kamanaopono Crabbe. Then the board violated the law again when it refused to allow public comment before conducting a closed-door session discussing Crabbe’s conduct. That’s the finding of the state
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  • Hanabusa, Gabbard Vote Against Building Keystone Pipeline

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii’s two U.S. representatives, Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard, were on the losing side on a bill authorizing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation was approved 252-161, “with 31 Democrats joining Republicans in backing a construction permit for the controversial project, which would bring oil sands from Canada to refineries in the United States,” according to The Hill. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where incoming GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already signaled his support. The bill pits environmental groups who worry about climate change against those who say the pipeline
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  • Hawaii Can Now Test for Ebola

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii State Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division said Thursday that it can now test for the Ebola virus. “With the nation on heightened alert for possible Ebola cases, having laboratory capabilities in Hawaii allows us to have earlier results and timely support for our local disease investigations. Following national guidance, our test results for Ebola will still require final confirmation by the CDC,” Health Director Linda Rosen said in a press advisory. Rosen added, “Our state is so fortunate to have a public health laboratory with a talented and
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