The Beat

  • Honolulu Rail Funding Continues to Lag

    ·By Sophie Cocke
    The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation brought in $48.5 million in GET surcharge revenue this quarter, covering July through September, according to a HART press release. So far, the rail project has accrued $1.35 billion in GET revenues, which are derived from a .5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax. “The steady GET surcharge revenue, along with the $1.55 billion in secured federal funds shows our funding remains strong for the project,” HART CEO Dan Grabauskas is quoted as saying in the press release. What city public information officers chose not
    Read more
  • Politically, Hawaii Is Not the ‘Bluest’ State

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii is often called the “bluest” state when it comes to politics. Turns out we’ve got a shade of purple. The Hill has ranked all 50 states on a red to blue scale. It’s based on voting history and the party breakdown in Congress and state capitals. “Washington, with same-sex marriage, legalized marijuana sales, the highest minimum wage in the country and Seattle’s liberal ethos, tops the list,” says the report. “All of the most liberal states are on the coasts or the Midwest, leaving the South and West to the redder
    Read more
  • Democratic Poll Shows Takai Ahead of Djou by 7 Points

    ·By Chad Blair
    Roll Call reports that a new Democratic Party poll shows its nominee in Hawaii’s open U.S. House of Representatives contest has a 7-point lead over the Republican. “State Rep. Mark Takai, a Democrat, led former Republican Rep. Charles Djou, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey, which was conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call,” Roll Call said today. It ads, “Public polling has shown a closer race, either a dead heat (today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser) or with Djou slightly leading Takai (Civil Beat’s Sept. 24 poll). Both are seeking
    Read more
  • Say Hello to Hawaii’s Latest Insect Pest

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii Department of Agriculture says a new insect pest has been discovered on Maui that threatens lots of crops. The bagrada bug, also known as “the painted stink bug,” was detected last week in a student garden by faculty at the University of Hawaii Maui College campus. “The bagrada bug is a serious pest of many major vegetable crops in Hawaii,” Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said in a press release today. “We are surveying the state for any other infestations of this pest and also working on
    Read more
  • Lava Less Than a Half-Mile From Pahoa (Photos)

    ·By Eric Pape
    Lava continues to advance toward inhabited areas of Puna on the Big Island. In recent days, it has crept across a dirt road on a private ranch as it moves toward Pahoa, according to Big Island photographer Josiah Hunt, whose work is visible below. Big Island Video News says the lava is speeding up, and that it advanced 425 yards in a day, leaving it 0.3 miles from Apa’a Street. Check out Josiah’s pictures… Lava .3 miles from Pahoa. Josiah Hunt Josiah
    Read more
  • Three Cases of Measles Confirmed in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii’s Department of Health today said it has confirmed three cases of measles in the state, one on Maui and two on Kauai. “The cases on the two islands are not related to each other and have separate travel histories, but all cases are unvaccinated young adults with recent travel either to the Philippines or Indonesia and Malaysia,” according to a DOH media advisory. “Measles is highly contagious, spreading through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing, and infecting 90 percent of the contacts who are not immune” said Dr. Sarah
    Read more
  • Another Shark Sighting Closes Maui Beaches

    ·By Chad Blair
    For a third time this week, a Maui ocean user encountered a shark in murky water. This one happened today around 10 a.m. That’a according to officers for the Department of Land and Natural Resources’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (aka DOCARE), who report that two women from Kihei — ages 53 and 46 — “were about 200 yards off Waipuilani Beach Park, stand-up paddle boarding in five to six feet of water when one saw a shark approaching the other’s board.” DLNR explains that one of the women said a tiger shark
    Read more
  • In Race for Hawaii Governor, Ige Leads — in Fundraisers, That Is

    ·By Chad Blair
    Fresh poll numbers for Hawaii’s top political races (sans the federal offices) are expected any day now, but by another metric there is already a clear frontrunner: David Ige, the Democratic Party nominee for governor, has held 15 campaign fundraisers since the Aug. 9 primary. They have ranged from the high rollers — e.g., up to $2,500 a head at the Waialae Country Club — to more modest events — $40 apiece at the Koolau Ballrooms. Several have been with Ige’s running mate, Shan Tsutsui — like this one for $1,000 per person at
    Read more
  • Predictions for Hawaii’s 2014 Elections from National Analysts

    ·By Chad Blair
    Early voting has begun and the general election is just under two weeks away. Who will win the big races in Hawaii — for governor, the U.S. Senate, the 1st Congressional District and the 2nd Congressional District, according to the national experts? In short, Democrat David Ige has the edge over Republican Duke Aiona for governor, as does Democrat Mark Takai over Republican Charles Djou in the CD1 contest. Democrats Brian Schatz and Tulsi Gabbard, meanwhile, need not fear Republicans Cam Cavasso and Kawika Crowley in their Senate and CD2 races, respectively. Here’s the
    Read more
  • Hawaii Family Advocates vs. United Public Workers

    ·By Chad Blair
    Two important groups in Hawaii have issued their candidate endorsements for the general election and — no surprise — there is not a lot of overlap. It’s an example of how there remain clear ideological divisions in our aina, in spite of all-in-the-ohana pretensions. One group, the Hawaii Family Advocates, supports these legislative candidates who voted against same-sex marriage legislation last fall: Richard Fale (a state House representative now running for state Senate) and House Reps. Clift Tsuji, Justin Woodson, Mele Carroll, Jimmy Tokioka, Gene Ward, Isaac Choy (who actually skipped the
    Read more
  • Schatz Endorses Preschool Ballot Campaign

    ·By Alia Wong
    Sen. Brian Schatz is publicly supporting the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to use public funds to pay for private preschool programs. The Good Beginning Alliance campaign — “Yes on 4″ — already has the support of a range of business groups, private preschool providers and Native Hawaiian advocacy organizations. It’s been raising and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Advocates say the passage of Question No. 4 is key to expanding access to preschool for more of the state’s 4-year-olds. They say it would allow the state
    Read more
  • Hawaii Rep. Awana: Don’t Dump Illegal Fireworks on Waianae Coast

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hawaii Rep. Karen Awana sharply criticized a plan Monday that calls for using a rural property on the Waianae Coast as a place to store and dispose of a large cache of illegal fireworks. The commercial-grade fireworks are the remnants of a stash that was involved in the 2011 explosion at a Waikele storage bunker that killed five people. “This plan to bring hazardous fireworks into our backyard is downright exasperating,” Awana said in a statement. “Both the state and city have used the Waianae Coast as a dumping ground for far too
    Read more
  • FAQs on Ballot Question Raising the Judicial Retirement Age

    ·By Chad Blair
    The Hawaii State Judiciary says that it has been receiving “quite a few inquiries” regarding constitutional amendment Question No. 3, which will appear on this November’s ballot along with four other questions. That question asks voters to decide whether judges’ mandatory retirement age should be raised from 70 to 80. The Judiciary can’t take a position on the matter, but it has released some frequently asked questions to help the media and the public: Q: What language will be presented on the November ballot? A: Hawaii voters will decide whether to extend the mandatory retirement age
    Read more
  • 9th Circuit Says Hawaii Gay Marriage Suit Is Moot

    ·By The Civil Beat Staff
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has vacated a federal district court’s judgment in Jackson v. Abercrombie. The lawsuit challenged Hawaii’s 1998 ballot decision to give the Hawaii Legislature the authority to restrict marriage to one man and own woman. U.S. District Court Alan Kay in 2012 upheld Hawaii’s prior marriage law excluding same-sex couples. But last week the 9th Circuit “remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case as moot because the Marriage Equality Act,” according to a press release from Honolulu law firm Alston Hunt Floyd
    Read more
  • Appeal Denied for Federal Relief for Iselle Damages

    ·By Chad Blair
    All eyes are still on Hurricane Ana as it gradually moves away from the islands, but the Hawaii Tribune-Herald has this article regarding news Friday about the last big storm to pass through: Hawaii County officials announced an appeal for federal relief funding for damages wrought by Tropical Storm Iselle was denied. The Oct. 7 appeal was submitted in response to an Aug. 28 decision by President Barack Obama to not declare a major disaster in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle. The storm, which made landfall
    Read more
  • Hirono Cancels Guam Trip Due to Hurricane Ana

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii was expected to be in Guam today and tomorrow to meet with community leaders and to discuss issues related to the Compacts of Free Association and veterans affairs. But Hurricane Ana changed all that. I had blogged earlier today that Hirono’s visit was to coincide with a visit from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kiaaina. According to the Guam Women Chamber of Commerce, “both officials will be the guest speakers at the group’s special general membership luncheon meeting at the Hilton Guam Micronesian Ballroom on
    Read more
  • Gabbard Wants CDC to Increase Incubation Period to Prevent Ebola Spread

    ·By Chad Blair
    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard today called on the Center for Disease Control to implement stricter incubation guidelines for people who have been in contact with patients “confirmed or suspected” to have the Ebola virus. According to a press release from her office, Gabbard is calling on the CDC to increase the quarantine and restriction period from the 21-day standard to 42 days, “based on the latest scientific studies and the World Health Organization report that the incubation period for the deadly Ebola virus can extend as long as 42 days.” On Friday, Gabbard called
    Read more
  • Windward Community College Gets $9.9M for Native Hawaiians

    ·By Alia Wong
    Windward Community College says it will develop a Hawaiian immersion childcare center and improve its science, technology, engineering and math programs with a new $9.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, which lasts five years and is titled “Hanai a ulu: Feed and Grow—Nurturing student parents and STEM at Windward Community College,” is aimed at enhancing Native Hawaiian students’ success. Forty-two percent of the college’s students identify as Native Hawaiian. Windward Community College will use its $9.9 million grant to support Native Hawaiian education.
    Read more
  • Do You Have a 7-Day Disaster Supply Kit?

    ·By Chad Blair
    Kudos to Honolulu City Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine for sending out a reminder of the need for a 7-day disaster supply kit. The city’s Department of Emergency Management advises Oahu residents to prepare one. Strong winds, flooding rains and storm surge could result in evacuations. “With Hawaii’s remoteness it could be as long as a week before a full disaster relief operation can be initiated,” says the department. “Hawaii residents need to be prepared to take care of all of their emergency needs and those of their family for at least seven days
    Read more
  • Special Edition on Storm Risk Tonight on PBS Hawaii’s ‘Insights’

    ·By Chad Blair
    Libraries and schools are closing, flights may be changed and lots of events are being canceled on several islands in anticipation of a potential hurricane arriving as early as Friday. Check out this link to see what’s been canceled as well as this link. Add to the list of changes the latest episode of “Insights” on PBS Hawaii, which was originally scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m. and featuring the Kauai mayoral candidates. The program has now been postponed due to preparations for Tropical Storm Ana. In its place, PBS Hawaii will
    Read more