The Beat

  • Honolulu Mayor Lends Support to Democratic Candidates

    ·By Nathan Eagle

    Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been lending his support to fellow Democrats he’d like to see win this November, namely state Sen. David Ige in his bid for governor and state Rep. Mark Takai in his run for Congress.

    Caldwell endorsed Gov. Neil Abercrombie for re-election back in July. But he’s apparently put the governor’s stunning two-to-one loss to Ige in the August primary behind him. 

    The mayor is hosting a fundraiser for Ige’s campaign, which could definitely use the cash, next week at the Honolulu Country Club. The

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  • Trending on Twitter: Duke Aiona’s Brain!

    ·By Chad Blair

    Screen shot from Duke Aiona’s Brain, Oct. 1, 2014.


    It began with little fanfare the night of the PBS Hawaii “Insights” program Sept. 25, which featured the four candidates vying to be governor. There on the TV was Democrat David Ige, Republican Duke Aiona, independent Mufi Hannemann and Libertarian Jeff Davis, talking politics.

    Someone was watching closely and decided to set up a new Twitter account. Here’s the first tweet:

    Ige sounds like Kermit the Frog. #higov#pbsinsights

    — Duke Aiona’s Brain (@DukeAionaHI) September 26, 2014

    The digs just started

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  • Hawaii Voting Registration Deadline Is Oct. 6

    ·By Chad Blair

    The deadline to register to vote in the general election is Monday, Oct. 6. So, “no vote, no grumble,” OK?

    Drive-thru voter registration will once again be held on that day at various locations (see below). Individuals may drive to designated locations and register on the spot.

    “We hope people will take this opportunity to register to vote. It’s quick and easy. Just stay in your car and an election official will have you registered in minutes,” said Chief Election Officer Scott Nago in a press release today.

    A total of 1,200 individuals registered during the primary

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  • Solicitation With Birds, or Merely Extending the ‘Aloha Spirit’?

    ·By Chad Blair

    Check out this story from Courthouse News Service about a man who said he was “merely extending ‘his aloha spirit’” in photographing people with his birds and should not have been convicted of solicitation.

    Prosecutors had charged James Abel in 2012 with soliciting with live animals in public in Waikiki. He was convicted and charged $330.

    The Intermediate Court of Appeals affirmed Abel’s conviction, says CNS, “crediting the state’s contention that it need not prove that an actual request for money occurred.”

    But, on Sept. 24, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled

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  • Want Data on Asian-Americans? There’s An App for That

    ·By Chad Blair

    The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, in partnership with, has launched, “the most comprehensive hub of government data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

    That’s according to the White House, which issued a press release today. The goal is to help policymakers and the public “understand and address disparities in socioeconomic status, educational attainment, health, and other areas of importance to the AAPI community.”

    Says WHIAAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, “The launch of marks an important milestone for better understanding and responding to the

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  • Hawaii’s Sakai Named ‘Outstanding Director of Corrections’

    ·By Chad Blair

    Hawaii’s prison system may be plagued with lots of problems — e.g., escapees, suicides, overcrowding, visitation cancellation — but the Association of State Correctional Administrators says Public Safety Director Ted Sakai is the recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Director of Corrections Award.

    The group’s current president and commissioner said in a press release, “It was evident that this year’s recipient has made many contributions over the years and even more importantly has touched a number of lives throughout his service as Director. He has an uncanny ability to not only lead effectively, but

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  • Study: Hawaii the 5th Worst State for Teachers

    ·By Alia Wong

    Hawaii is one of the worst places in the country to work if you’re a teacher, according to a new study from WalletHub, a personal finance social network.

    Overall, the Aloha State ranked fifth worst, according to WalletHub’s analysis of 18 metrics including topics such as salary, demographics, student-to-teacher ratio and commute time.

    Hawaii’s worst scores — lists on which it ranked 51st — were for “Average Starting Salaries” and “Median Annual Salaries.” Both categories are adjusted for cost of living.

    For Hawaii teachers, the starting salary (for those with a bachelor and training

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  • US Labor Dept Gives $10M to Hawaii Community Colleges

    ·By Alia Wong

    The state’s seven community colleges are receiving nearly $10 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to support job-training programs in the information technology and health care industries.

    All in all, the labor department is setting aside more than $450 million in grants this year to community colleges across the country — marking the last year of a four-year initiative that will have given schools $2 billion total.

    The idea is to expand the capacity of community colleges to provide training in partnership with local employers.

    Health aides, such

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  • Cavasso Calls for Series of Debates With Schatz

    ·By Chad Blair

    U.S. Senate candidate Cam Cavasso is trying to get Sen Brian Schatz to debate him, but it’s an uphill battle.

    Cavasso, the Republican, wrote to Schatz a couple days ago suggesting the Democrat join him for one forum each on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Molokai and the Big Island next month.

    “I believe it would be respectful to the people of Hawaii for us to debate the issues important to the voters of Hawaii,” Cavasso said in a press release. “The people of Hawaii deserve to be informed as to our respective

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  • Gabbard Meets Indian Leader, Attends NYC Speech

    ·By Chad Blair

    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York City today, calling the experience “wonderful.”

    According to her Twitter feed, Gabbard was among 18,000 people in attendance for Modi’s speech at Madison Square Garden.

    Describing the energy in the arena as “electric, inspiring, positive,” Gabbard called Modi’s speech “incredible.”

    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard meets India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi.


    Highlights of the speech:

    .@narendramodi wants to destroy old laws that are no longer used or applied, rather than tout many new

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  • Director of City’s Community Services Department Steps Down

    ·By Sophie Cocke

    Pamela Witty-Oakland, who has helped spearhead the city’s fight to reduce homelessness, has stepped down from her position as director of the city’s Department of Community Services. It’s not clear if Mayor Kirk Caldwell has chosen her replacement. 

    Witty-Oakland’s last day was a week and a half ago, according to the community services department. 

    Pamela Witty-Oakland, director of the Department of Community Services, answers questions from the City Council earlier this year.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Earlier this month, Civil Beat asked the mayor’s

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  • ACLU Sues Arizona Over ‘Revenge Porn’ Law

    ·By Chad Blair

    The ACLU of Arizona is suing its state over a “revenge porn” law, arguing that “it violates freedom of speech,” The Christian Post reports.

    The ACLU says the law is too narrowly written and could have unintended consequences.

    The lawsuit was brought on behalf of several artists, book stores and others who worry that the law, says the ACLU, “could be applied to any person who distributes or displays an image of nudity — including pictures that are newsworthy, artistic, educational or historic — without the depicted person’s consent, even

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  • Caldwell to Sign Plastic Bag Ban Amendment

    ·By Sophie Cocke

    Mayor Kirk Caldwell plans to sign Bill 38 into law on Thursday, which amends a ban on plastic and non-recyclable paper check-out bags which passed in 2012 and is set to take effect in July 2015.

    The amendment adds “biodegradable” plastic bags to the ban because of a dispute over what this entails exactly — there isn’t an industry standard that defines “biodegradable,” according to a press release from the mayor’s office. Instead, the bill allows certified compostable bags, which carry a logo approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute.

    Honolulu is the only county left

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  • Nevada Journalist Unhappy With Ige’s Gambling View

    ·By Chad Blair

    For David Ige, it’s “No Viva, Las Vegas!”

    The Democratic state senator running for governor of Hawaii was recently asked about how he feels about legalizing gambling in the 5oth state. He opposes it.

    Well, Nevada journalist Jon Ralston was listening in and accused Ige of “trashing” Sin City. Here’s what Ige said:

    “I’ve spoken with many in the visitor industry and they do believe that legalized gambling would be devastating to their industry. I’ve talked with hotel owners who lament about the fact that, you know, when you see people

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  • Nonprofits Appeal Court Decision That Killed Kauai Anti-GMO Law

    ·By Anita Hofschneider

    Four nonprofit groups are appealing a federal court decision that overturned Kauai County’s highly debated anti-GMO law.

    The Kauai County Council also approved up to $12,750 for the appeal last week.

    Bill 2491, also known as Ordinance 960, required large agricultural companies to share details about their use of restricted pesticides, respect buffer zones when spraying pesticides, and disclose their cultivation of genetically modified crops.

    A federal judge struck down the law last month, concluding that the county doesn’t have the right to regulate pesticides and genetically engineered crops.

    Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho

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  • HECO Begins Smart Grid Rollout on Oahu

    ·By Sophie Cocke

    Hawaiian Electric Co. customers in Moanalua Valley and portions of Pearl City, Kaimuki, Diamond Head, Kahala and Waikiki can now track their electricity use down to 15-minute intervals through a new online portal called “My Energy Use.”

    The “smart grid” technology is designed to give customers more awareness and control over their electricity use and help HECO more easily detect outages and speed power restoration. The technology, which consists of a wireless communication network that is integrated into the electric grid, is also designed to help HECO add more renewable energy

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  • Chemical Odor Sends 50 Honokaa Students, Staff to Hospital

    ·By Alia Wong

    Honokaa Elementary and Honokaa High and Intermediate schools closed early today after a “strong chemical odor” sent 40 students and 10 adults from the high school to nearby medical centers, according to the Department of Education.

    Those affected reported symptoms including nausea, dizziness and respiratory problems. There were no reports of medical issues at Honokaa Elementary, which is located across the street from the high school.

    According to hazardous materials investigators, the odor was traced to a nearby resident who was using a mix of chemicals to spray his yard. Honokaa is located near Waimea on

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  • Caldwell Fundraiser Pumps the Tourism Industry for Cash

    ·By Nick Grube

    Talk about good timing.

    An hour before Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed bills designed to push the homeless out of Waikiki and stop them from urinating and defecating in public, his campaign fundraiser Mitchell Imanaka blasted out a message about an upcoming donor event at the Trump International Hotel.

    The Sept. 16 email, recently obtained by Civil Beat, doesn’t specifically list the recipients, but it’s clear that it was tailored to those who are involved with Hawaii’s multi-billion-dollar visitor industry. It also aims to recruit as many potential donors as possible to

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  • Gabbard, Hanabusa Split on Auditing Federal Reserve

    ·By Chad Blair

    U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa split their votes yesterday on a bill calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve System.

    Gabbard was among 106 Democrats who voted in favor of the measure in the 333-92 vote.

    Hanabusa sided with 92 Democrats, including leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, in opposing the bill. One GOP member also voted with Democrats.

    The Fed building in D.C.

    Flickr: Tim Evanson

    According to The Hill, the bill would “require the comptroller general to conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve’s board of

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  • Record Number of Hawaii Public School Students Get AP Honors

    ·By Alia Wong

    A record 492 students from public schools across Hawaii have earned awards for exceptional achievement in their college-level Advanced Placement courses, according to the College Board, the company that administers the exams.

    Students who perform well on their exams typically earn college credit or advanced placement in college courses. The ones who do exceptionally well also earn “AP Scholar Awards.” About 20 percent of the 2.1 million students who took AP exams last year performed at a level high enough to get those awards.

    A high score on an AP

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