The Beat

  • Group Wants $150K for Consultant to Help with Hotel Tax Revenue Recommendation

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    A working group that’s trying to figure out how just much hotel tax revenue the state should give the counties is planning to ask the Legislature for $150,000 next session so it can hire a consultant to help. The 13-member group, created under a law passed last year, released its interim report to state lawmakers Friday. The final report is due prior to the convening of the 2016 session. It’s expected to recommend to the Legislature the appropriate allocation of the transient accommodations tax revenues between the state and counties based on the division of
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  • Shark Warning Signs Posted Near Bellows

    ·By Chad Blair
    Our friends at KITV have the story: Shark warning signs have been posted near Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo Friday afternoon, according to the city’s Emergency Services Department. Two sharks, which are roughly 8 to 10 feet long, were spotted about 30 to 50 yards offshore. The sharks were seen by an off-duty lifeguard on the shoreline.  Officials say the sharks were aggressively thrashing in the water. Ocean Safety received the call at around 2:15 p.m. and lifeguards immediately cleared the water.
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  • Refunds Coming for Over 61,000 T-Mobile Hawaii Customers

    ·By Chad Blair
    More than 61,000 T-Mobile customers in Hawaii “are believed to have incurred unauthorized cramming charges” and are entitled to settlement monies. The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection announced Friday that Hawaii, along with 49 other states and the District of Columbia, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, reached a settlement calling for $90 million in payments. The settlement resolves allegations T-Mobile placed unauthorized charges for third-party services on mobile telephone bills, the DCCA said in a press release, a practice known as
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  • Air Force One Expected in Honolulu Late Friday

    ·By Chad Blair
    President Barack Obama and his family are scheduled to touch down at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam around 11:25 p.m. Friday, the White House said Friday morning. (An earlier report from the White House said Air Force One would land at 1:10 a.m. Saturday.) The First Family is expected to stay once again at a private Kaliua home, where security is already in place. Despite some very rough patches in 2014 (e.g., the midterm elections), Obama is finishing the year on a roll: normalizing relations with Cuba, a climate agreement with China, immigration reform, Internet
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  • PRP Gets $3,100 Fine For Campaign Violations

    ·By Chad Blair
    Groups affiliated with Pacific Resource Partnership, an advocacy group for union carpenters and contractors, were fined $3,100 by the state Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday for failing to report expenses and other information. The commission voted 4-0 to levy penalties on the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, Forward Progress and PRP executive director John White. Commission attorney Gary Kam told Civil Beat Thursday that the fine were based on three separate counts. The first count was for failure to report a $5,000 contribution from the Market Recovery Program to Good Beginnings Alliance, and failure to
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  • GMO Appeal Narrowly Passes Hawaii County Council

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has this report. Excerpt: The Hawaii County Council voted 5-4 Wednesday to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking a law that restricts genetically modified crops on the island. “This is an important decision with far-reaching impact on home rule,” said Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, author of the original bill limiting GMO. “It’s not just about GMO.” Puna councilmen Greggor Ilagan and Danny Paleka joined Hilo councilmen Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Aaron Chung on the no votes. They cited concerns for
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  • Hawaii’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4 Percent

    ·By Chad Blair
    Here’s some news in time for the holidays — mostly. The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations on Thursday said that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was 4 percent, down from 4.1 percent in October. Statewide, 642,850 were employed and 27,000 unemployed in November for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 669,850. The labor force has grown by 17,000 during the past year, says DLIR. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.8 percent in November. Molokai had the worst unemployment rate in the
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  • Is Hawaii Ready to Respond to An Outbreak?

    ·By Chad Blair
    A report released Thursday by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says that Hawaii scores six out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing, detecting, diagnosing and responding to outbreaks like Ebola, Enterovirus and antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” That puts us behind Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia, which tied for the top score with eight out of 10 indicators. Same goes for California, Delaware, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which each have scores of seven out of 10. Ebola. Trust for America’s
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  • Regal in Hawaii Confirms ‘The Interview’ Being Dropped

    ·By Chad Blair
    Score one for Kim Jong-un. Our media partner at KITV has this report on how theaters in Hawaii are not going to show the controversial new film “The Interview.” Turns out the rest of the nation is following suit, as Sony Pictures has decided against releasing the film amid safety concerns and theaters pulling out. Excerpt: Hawaii representatives of Regal Entertainment have confirmed that theaters in Hawaii will not be showing the movie “The Interview” after hackers threatened terrorist attacks at the places showing the comedy. Sony later said it is
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  • Lava Could Reach Pahoa Marketplace in 5 Days

    ·By Chad Blair
    KITV, our media partner, has the latest on the Big Island lava. Excerpt: Scientists say the lava flow could reach Pahoa Marketplace and Highway 130 in about five days if it advances at the average rate of the past week. This breakout of the June 27th lava flow has advanced toward the marketplace at around 310 yard per day since Dec. 9.  The leading edge is less than a mile from the marketplace. The lava is moving in an east-northeast direction and advanced about
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  • Hawaii CIO Trumpets ‘Sound Roadmap’ for Tech Transformation

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii’s chief information officer has positive things to say about the the transformation plan for the state’s antiquated information technology system. Speaking before more than 650 state and county employees at Tuesday’s Hawaii Digital Government Summit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Keone Kali congratulated his predecessor, Sonny Bhagowalia, for “laying down the foundation of our information technology transformation, and today we have a sound roadmap outlined in our technology transformation plan.” Kali said the state “remains committed to the transformative changes needed for a modern, secure and accessible digital government for the people of Hawaii.” He then
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  • US Senate Passes Tax Break Extension, Help for Disabled

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Senate passed a $41.6 billion package of tax breaks late Tuesday, “one of the last substantive moves of this Congress,” says The Hill. By a 76 to 16 vote, the Senate approved legislation “that would extend more than four dozen tax breaks” for both businesses and individuals through 2014. It’s a two-week tax bill “that nobody really wanted,” says Politico. “The bill … was the minimum lawmakers could do to prevent tax hikes for millions of individuals and businesses.” “This tax bill doesn’t have the shelf life of a carton of eggs,” Wyden said
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  • Pahoa Gas Station Closing As Lava Nears

    ·By Chad Blair
    Our media partner KITV has this report. Excerpt: Malama Mart Gas N Go fuel station in the Pahoa Marketplace has announced plans to close its fuel station at 6 p.m. Tuesday. After closing it will not sell any fuel. Aloha Petroleum will take the appropriate steps to remove the fuel from the underground storage tanks and remove equipment from the station in the next three days. The station is operated by the staff of the Malama Market and is co-owned by The Kalama Beach Corporation
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  • Kauai County Council Approval Needed to Film Meetings

    ·By Chad Blair
    A possible setback for open government and transparency on the Garden Isle, as reported in The Garden Island. Excerpt: Some Kauai County Councilmembers are defending a new rule that asks reporters and media organizations to provide a week’s notice to videotape or photograph one of their meetings. That rule, which was approved by the seven-member board nearly two weeks ago and included in their governing guidelines and procedures for the next two years, also includes a provision that allows Council Chair Mel Rapozo to assign spaces to
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  • New Hawaii County Council Members to Consider GMO

    ·By Chad Blair
    Here’s the latest on the GMO front, as reported by West Hawaii Today. Excerpt: With three new council members weighing in for the first time, the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday is scheduled to decide whether to appeal a federal court ruling overturning the county’s ban on growing genetically modified crops in open-air conditions. The council passed the anti-GMO bill in late 2013 by a 6-3 vote. Two of the no votes — Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan — are
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  • Marcus Mariota Delivers Letterman’s ‘Top 10’ List

    ·By Chad Blair
    ICYMI, check out the appearance of Marcus Mariota on Monday night’s episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The Oregon Ducks star and St. Louis High graduate delivered the top 10 things that were going through his head when he was awarded the Heisman Trophy. My favorites: No. 7 “Last Heisman winner from Hawaii: Don Ho.” No. 3 “I’d like to play in the NFL; does New York have any professional teams?” Both the New York Giants and the New York Jets are playing poorly this season. As
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  • Honolulu Property Values Jump $14B, Residential Property Up 7 Percent

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    Property values on Oahu have leapt from $200.74 billion to $214.90 billion, according to the City & County of Honolulu’s assessment of taxable real property for 2015. City spokesman Jay Parasco said in a press release that the increase was driven by new developments and improvements to existing parcels. Honolulu has seen a rash of condo developments its urban core, where prices in Kakaako jumped 75 percent earlier this year. As a whole, residential property values rose by more than 7 percent from $162.85 billion to $174.52 billion, Parasco said. But hotel and
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  • South Korea Goes Nuts Over Macadamias After Airplane Rage Incident

    ·By Gene Park
    The Korean Air “nut rage” incident unleashed a firestorm of controversy in South Korea, and a boom in sales for a locally-based macadamia nut company, according to the Associated Press. Cho Hyun-ah, a Korean Air executive and daughter of the airlines’ chairman, publicly apologized for her anger over a bag of nuts that caused a Dec. 5 Korean Air flight to turn around back to New York, just to kick off the senior flight attendant who was responsible for serving her macadamia nuts in a bag. Not surprisingly, the bizarre story has
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  • US Gets a Surgeon General, the First Time in 17 Months

    ·By Chad Blair
    A job that has been vacant since July 2013 was filled today by the U.S. Senate. In a 51-43 vote, Dr. Vivek Murthy on Monday was confirmed as the next surgeon general of the United States. Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz voted in the narrow majority. The vote fell heavily along party lines. President Barack Obama’s nomination had been opposed by the National Rifle Association, which “was unhappy with the choice of Murthy, citing tweets he had written criticizing both guns and the NRA,” according to NPR, which reported that Murthy “has said he plans to target obesity,
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  • FOIA Reform Bill Dead

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    In case you missed it, House Speaker John Boehner killed an effort to improve government transparency last week, according to at least one senator. The Senate had unanimously passed a bill to reform the Freedom of Information Act in large part by directing government agencies to presume records are public. But the House wouldn’t hear it. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, on Thursday declared the reform effort dead for the year. He had introduced the new reforms in June ahead of the 48th anniversary of FOIA’s enactment. The Hill’s Mario Trujillo has this report
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