The Beat

  • Ige Signs OHA Budget, Bills to Promote Hawaiian Culture

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a bill that dedicates nearly $3 million of general funds to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs over the next two years. The semi-autonomous state agency that’s dedicated to Native Hawaiian issues will use 70 percent of the general funds for direct services, and match the state appropriation with $6.4 million each year. The governor also signed House Bill 207, which requires certain councils, commissions and boards to receive legal training on Native Hawaiian customs and rights. Another measure, Senate Bill 1166, clarifies the state law regarding traditional burials. “This measure just makes it crystal clear that our laws will allow for anyone wanting to exercise the traditional burial practices of Native Hawaiians, that they would be allowed to do so,” Ige said in a press release. Gov. David Ige signs the Office of Hawaiian Affairs budget on June 30. Courtesy of Gov. David Ige
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  • Ige Signs Bill to Help Undocumented Immigrants Obtain Driver’s Licenses

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed a bill into law that creates a limited purpose driver’s license for people who don’t have documents to prove they are legally allowed to live in the U.S. The governor signed the measure, House Bill 1007, on Tuesday, according to a press release. The measure was backed by the Hawaii Coalition for Immigration Reform and Filipino community advocacy groups such as the Filipino American Citizens League. But in addition to immigrants, the law applies to a range of drivers including homeless people and domestic violence victims who may not have the proper documentation. The law becomes effective January 1, 2016. Gov. Ige poses with advocates for a new limited purpose drivers license on June 30. Courtesy of Gov. David Ige
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  • Rep. Tom Brower Suffers Facial Injuries in Altercation at Homeless Camp

    ·By Richard Wiens
    State Rep. Tom Brower is recovering from head injuries suffered after he got into an altercation with homeless people while videotaping them at a Kakaako encampment, media sources reported. Brower made national headlines in 2013 after he smashed the abandoned shopping carts of the homeless with a sledgehammer in his legislative district, which includes Kakaako and Waikiki. He could not be reached for comment Monday night or Tuesday morning. Hawaii News Now interviewed two juvenile males who said the altercation started after Brower refused to stop videotaping them. They said they didn’t realize he was a legislator and now want to return his video camera to him. The altercation occurred about 5 p.m. near the Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako. Brower was treated at the Queen’s Medical Center and has since been released. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Brower suffered a concussion and facial injuries. In 2013, Brower destroyed 30 shopping carts, and admitted to leaving some behind for city workers to pick up. The rest he took to a recycling center, he said. “I got tired of telling people I’m trying to pass laws,” Brower told Hawaii News Now at the time. “I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets.” Rep. Tom Brower and his sledgehammer in 2013. Screen shot from KITV  
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  • Hawaii Medical Marijuana Business Expo Scheduled for July 17

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    Hawaii will hold its first three-day Cannabis Business Expo on July 17 at the Hawaii Convention Center hosted by the medical marijuana magazine Kaulana Na Pua. “This first-ever three day expo will provide valuable information for those with an interest in this new budding industry,” said Sen. Will Espero in a press release. The event is cosponsored by BioTrack, a seed-to-sale software development company. It will feature vendors and classes for anyone interested in getting involved in Hawaii’s cannabis industry. Seminars will cover a range of issues including banking, security and government compliance. “This expo is about putting our people back to work, providing safe access to medication, giving our patients and family members dignity, and taking charge of our safety and health concerns as consumers,” said event organizer Lynn Merrill in a press release. “The employment opportunities are limitless within the health field alone, and when you add in the actual dispensary itself, the people of our state are expecting a tsunami of economic growth.” Medical marijuana has been legal in Hawaii for 15 years, but the Legislature waited until this year to legalize dispensaries. The bill is expected to become law within the next two weeks.
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  • Homeless Czar Gets One-Month Contract Extension

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    Colin Kippen will have to show up to work Wednesday, after all. Kippen’s tenure as the governor’s coordinator on homelessness was supposed to expire at the end of June, but Gov. David Ige told reporters at Monday’s press conference that he extended Kippen’s contract for another month. This is the third time that Ige decided to keep Kippen around on an interim basis. In November, Ige first approached Kippen and asked him to stay in his post through the end of last year — only to change his mind late December and extend the offer for another six months. Gov. David Ige announced Colin Kippen’s contract extension at Monday’s press conference. Cory Lum/Civil BeatWhether Kippen, an appointee of former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, will get a fourth extension when his new contract wraps up at the end of July remains unclear. Ige said he’s now in the process of evaluating Kippen’s performance, as well as the state of Hawaii’s overall homelessness response system. To make a steady progress on the issue, the governor said it’s important that the state makes specific goals. “There are lots of details to be worked through,” he said. “Homelessness is a complex and tough issue.” But Hawaii has long been part of the nationwide effort — under a goal set by President Barack Obama in 2010 — to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year and chronic homelessness by 2017.
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  • Ige: No Plans to Use National Guard to Reopen Mauna Kea Road

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    The Hawaii National Guard is not among the options being discussed to reopen the road up Mauna Kea so construction crews can reach the site of the planned $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, Gov. David Ige said Monday. Protesters placed boulders and rock walls on the road last week, forcing work vehicles to turn around. It’s the second time an attempt to start construction has been thwarted by people who want to protect the mountain from future development because it’s a sacred place to Native Hawaiians. The road has been closed since June 24. Ige said he is working with the University of Hawaii, law enforcement and others to come up with a plan to start construction while ensuring the access route remains safe to workers and visitors to Mauna Kea. The governor said an announcement will be made when the plan is ready. Gov. David Ige at a Monday press conference: National Guard not envisioned for Mauna Kea. Cory Lum/Civil Beat  
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  • Laenani Neighborhood Park: Where the Turtle Droppings Are

    ·By Marina Riker
    Beachgoers were concerned when they saw feces lining the beach at Laenani Neighborhood Park on Monday morning. Health officials suspect the source was green sea turtles. Approximately 60 droppings washed onto the beach, while other pieces floated in the shore break. Turtle droppings aren’t a health threat, said Stefanie Weaver, an environmental engineer at the Department of Health. While a large amount of turtle poop washing up on the beach isn’t common, it’s also not unheard of, Weaver said. Apparent turtle droppings on the beach at Laenani Neighborhood Park. Cory Lum/Civil Beat She said the DOH occasionally gets calls from people who mistake turtle droppings for dog feces. The feces are hard to break apart because of green sea turtles’ plant-based diets, she said. A large amount of turtle feces could mean that there’s a large group of turtles close to shore, she said. There have also been sightings of turtle droppings on neighbor islands. Despite an overall declining trend globally, green sea turtle populations in Hawaii have actually increased more than 50 percent in the last 25 years. Also known as the honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles are listed as an endangered species, and can weigh up to 400 pounds, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
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  • Hawaii a Top Honeymoon Destination for Gay Couples

    ·By Chad Blair
    Not long after the nation’s high court made same-sex marriage the law of the land Friday, gay and lesbian couples started getting hitched all across the country (except in those few states still resisting history.) Business Insider soon published an article on the top 12 honeymoon destinations for gay couples, and Hawaii — not surprisingly — made the cut. Same-sex couples pose for a photo before a joint wedding ceremony at the Sheraton Waikiki in December 2013. PF Bentley/Civil Beat Here’s what the article had to say: Hawaii is the quintessential honeymoon destination for both gay and straight couples for good reason. Most couples opt to spend a few days in Honolulu, taking advantage of the active bars and restaurants there, before flying on to a more secluded island, like Kauai or Maui. “Most of the major hotels in Hawaii offer union ceremonies and honeymoon packages for same-sex couples,” said Ed Salvato, the editor-in-chief of gay travel magazine ManAboutWorld. “It’s part of the whole Aloha mindset, but it’s also just good business.” Hawaii was not always viewed as gay-friendly. Travel experts say the state’s tourism industry was less attractive to GLBT travelers after voters in 1998 chose to limit marriage to one man and one woman. The Hawaii Legislature and governor reversed course in 2013, of course, and most of us all lived happily ever after. Business Insider says other desirable honeymoon spots for gay couples include Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita, Mexico; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Provincetown and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  
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  • First Inouye Institute Lecture Series Features Powell, Albright

    ·By Chad Blair
    Former U.S. Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell will kick off a distinguished lecture series July 8 at the UH Manoa Campus Center. The moderator will be Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent with NBC News. Madeleine Albright. UH Manoa The Daniel K. Inouye Institute Fund, a program of the Hawaii Community Foundation, and the University of Hawaii announced Friday that the Library of Congress will host the distinguished lecture series. “Highlighting the importance Dan Inouye placed on bipartisanship and moral courage, the first annual lecture, in a series of five, will address shared values in U.S. foreign policy,” says a press release. Inouye, who died in 2012, served Hawaii in the U.S. Senate for decades. Andrea Mitchell. UH Manoa Albright was secretary of state under President Bill Clinton and Powell was secretary of state under President George W. Bush. The free public lecture will be live streamed to the second floor of the UH Mānoa Campus Center, as well as on this website. The event will also be live-tweeted via the Kluge Center’s and Inouye Institute’s twitter accounts: @KlugeCtr and @DKIInstitute (#Inouye).
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  • Ige: ‘We Will Do Whatever Is Necessary to Ensure Lawful Access’

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hawaii Gov. David Ige made his support for the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Mauna Kea quite clear in a statement Friday afternoon along with his disdain for the way protesters used rocks to block the road up the mountain: “We are a patient people in Hawaii. We listen to and understand differing points of view, and we respect the many cultures of this land, especially that of the host culture. I have done my very best to follow this process in the case of Mauna Kea and set forth a way forward that I believe is reasonable. “We expected there to be a protest when construction resumed, and there was. We hoped we would not have to arrest people but were prepared to do so, and we did when they blocked the roadway. We also saw, in what amounts to an act of vandalism, the roadway blocked with rocks and boulders. We deployed to remove the rocks and boulders, but the protesters wisely chose to remove them themselves. “And then we saw more attempts to control the road. That is not lawful or acceptable to the people of Hawai‘i. So let me be very direct: The roads belong to all the people of Hawai‘i and they will remain open. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure lawful access. We expect there to be more types of challenges, good and bad days, and we are in this for the long run. We value TMT and the contributions of science and technology to our society, and
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  • TMT: Conflict in Context

    This interactive timeline details major events in the history of telescopes in Hawaii, and the Thirty Meter Telescope specifically. We will be adding to the timeline as events occur, so stay tuned.
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  • POTUS on SCOTUS: ‘We’ve Made Our Union a Little More Perfect’ 

    ·By Chad Blair
    Reacting to Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage, President Obama said, “There’s so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to every American. But today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.” The Hawaii-born president continued: That’s the consequence of a decision from the Supreme Court, but, more importantly, it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents — parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts, and stayed strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love. “Love is love,” baby. Word. You can read Obama’s full remarks here. And you can read the court’s decision here. Meanwhile, Republican hopefuls trying to succeed the president are condemning the high court’s ruling. Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, has called for a constitutional amendment to let states define marriage. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the decision will “pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision.” And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee vowed not to “acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch.” The White
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  • Hawaii’s Senior Population Growing 4 Times Faster Than State as a Whole

    ·By Marina Riker
    U.S. Census Bureau released the 2014 state and county population information Thursday, including estimates broken down by age, sex, the five major race groups and Hispanic origin between April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014. The data found that in Hawaii, “minority” populations continue to constitute the majority of the state’s population. According to the U.S. Census, a “minority” is someone who identifies their race and ethnicity as something other than non-Hispanic white. The data also showed that Hawaii’s senior population is growing four times faster than the total population. People 65 or older accounted for approximately 16 percent of the total population in 2014, with a total of 228,154 residents. Civil Beat Minorities made up 77 percent of the state’s total population. By county, Honolulu had the greatest percentage of minorities, which comprised 80.4 percent of the population. Next, minorities made up nearly 70 percent of Kauai County, followed by Hawaii and Maui counties. Asians accounted for approximately 56 percent (alone or in combination with other races) of the total state population. Honolulu County had the largest percentage of Asians, followed by Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties. Honolulu and Kauai were the nation’s only majority-Asian counties. Native Hawaiians made up 26 percent (alone or in combination with other races) of Hawaii’s total population. Among the counties, Honolulu had the smallest percentage of Native Hawaiians, while Hawaii County had the largest, followed by Maui and Kauai. White people made up almost 44 percent (alone or in combination with other races) of the total state population. The
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  • Rocks Removed, But Road Up Mauna Kea Remains Closed

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    The gravel road leading up to the summit of Mauna Kea has been cleared of the boulders and rock structures that protesters of the Thirty Meter Telescope project had placed in the path of construction crews Wednesday. But the road remains temporarily closed until further notice. The governor’s office said in a statement Thursday that the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan authorizes the University of Hawaii to close the road in the event of hazardous conditions and emergencies. The road to the mountaintop is closed until further notice. Cory Lum/Civil Beat “Questions regarding the grading of the road leading to the summit have also been raised during this time,” the governor’s office said. “It is routine practice … conduct regular road gradings twice a week to ensure the safety and integrity of the road.” The Mauna Kea Visitors Center is closed until further notice. Protesters prevented crews from reaching the construction site Wednesday, prompting the governor’s office to announce that the project was again on hold. A dozen people were arrested for obstruction. The Associated Press reported Thursday that those arrested had posted bail and planned to return to the mountain that they say they’re protecting from desecration. Mauna Kea is a sacred site to Native Hawaiians. Gov. David Ige had called a “timeout” in April after 31 people were arrested during protests of the $1.4 billion project. Wednesday marked the attempted restart of construction.
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  • US House Clears Trade Package, Another Win for Obama

    ·By Chad Blair
    President Obama is on quite the roll, eh? On Wednesday he scored big time when the U.S. Senate sent legislation to the White House approving fast-track trade authority for POTUS. On Thursday SCOTUS upheld a key part of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s key domestic accomplishment, in a 6-3 decision. Also on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives voted 286-138 to approve a workers assistance program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) “that helps workers who lose their jobs because of increased trade,” as The Hill explains. POTUS on the links in Hawaii in December 2014. Cory Lum/Civil Beat Says the Capitol newspaper, “Two weeks ago, most House Democrats voted against the TAA bill because it had been combined with a measure to grant President Obama with fast-track authority, which makes it easier for the administration to finish a sweeping trade deal with Pacific Rim countries.” Democrats Mark Takai and Tulsi Gabbard voted “aye” on the measure. Two more huge issues on Obama’s plate coming very soon: the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, and a deadline on the Iranian nuclear deal.
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  • Hawaii Delegates Hail Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling

    ·By Chad Blair
    Obamacare remains the law of the land, having survived two U.S. Supreme Court rulings and some 50 attempts in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the landmark health insurance law. The 6-3 decision Thursday authored by Chief Justice John Roberts “is a huge victory for President Obama; it ensures that consumers purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange in roughly 34 states will continue to be able to do so,” says The Hill. Hawaii’s folks in Washington, D.C., agree. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) issued the following statement on the Affordable Care Act being able to provide federal tax credits for eligible Americans in federal and state exchanges: “This decision is a victory for all Americans across the country. Because of the Affordable Care Act, more people have access to quality health care, the number of uninsured is falling, and health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in a generation. It is clear that the ACA is a success, and today’s Supreme Court ruling will ensure every American will continue to have access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve. The debate is over.  It’s time for Congress to come together and work to build on the successes of the ACA.” Here are other reactions, as captured on Twitter: The #ACA is here to stay- today’s #SCOTUS ruling allows millions of Americans to continue to receive affordable health care #KingvBurwell — Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) June 25, 2015 Obamacare WINS!!!! 6-3!!!!! — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 25, 2015 #SCOTUS
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  • In Big Victory for Obama, US Senate Approves Fast-Track Trade Bill

    ·By Chad Blair
    The U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to approve fast-track trade authority, “securing a big second-term legislative win for President Obama after a months-long struggle,” says The Hill. Fast-track, also known as trade promotion authority, will allow the White House to send trade deals to the U.S. Congress for up-or-down votes. Just two weeks ago it seemed that Obama was headed for defeat. Most of the members of his party opposed the trade deal, arguing that it will send American jobs overseas. The north side of the White House. Cory Lum/Civil Beat But some Democrats and many Republicans said the legislation was critical to counter the influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region. Still, it was a close call. On Tuesday the Senate agreed to end debate on the bill with the bare-minimum 60 votes necessary. Wednesday’s final vote was 60-to-38, with Democrats Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono on the losing end. Later on Wednesday, senators gave approval in a voice vote to a bill that includes “trade preferences for African nations and a workers assistance program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).” The Hill says attention now goes toward “stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal Obama is negotiating with 11 other Pacific Rim nations.”
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  • Hawaii Gets Three Year Waiver Extension from Federal NCLB Requirements

    ·By Jessica Terrell
    The U.S. Department of Education granted Hawaii another three years of flexibility from federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act requirements on Tuesday, based on the state’s progress with its Strive HI Performance System. Hawaii was one of seven states granted multi-year waivers this week from most ESEA requirements, better known as No Child Left Behind. The controversial NCLB reforms measured school performance by student test scores, and placed increasing sanctions on schools and districts that failed to meet improvement goals. “This announcement truly honors the progress and hard work of Hawaii’s school leaders and educators,” Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a press statement. “This continuation of our ESEA Flexibility Waiver allows us to stay the course with the Strive HI system.” The U.S. DOE approved a one-year waiver for Hawaii in 2013. The waiver was extended again for one year in 2014. Here is a Hawaii DOE comparison of the two accountability systems.  Hawaii was granted a three year waiver this week from many of the stringent NCLB school performance requirements.
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  • Don Horner Gets Another Go on Honolulu Rail Board

    ·By Nick Grube
    Mayor Kirk Caldwell reappointed former First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors on Tuesday. Horner has been on the HART board for four years. He’s also the chairman of the Hawaii Board of Education. Don Horner was appointed to a five-year term on the HART Board of Directors. He said in a press release that he wants to “deliver a cost-effective, quality project.” Cory Lum/Civil Beat “Having someone with Don’s financial expertise and leadership skills remain with us on the board is extremely valuable, and even more important as HART contends with controlling expenses in this environment of rising construction costs,” Caldwell said in a press release. The city’s rail project, which will run from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, is facing a nearly $1 billion deficit. It’s estimated the final cost will be about $6 billion. The Legislature approved an extension of a 0.5 percent general excise tax for five years to help for the shortfall. Gov. David Ige has yet to make a decision on the bill. The HART board, which oversees the rail project, is in a state of transition as several members are leaving or being replaced. Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa will step in for Carrie Okinaga, who is leaving to work for the University of Hawaii. The Honolulu City Council will replace Keslie Hui, whose term expires at the end of the month, with local attorney Terrance Lee. And HART will begin searching for someone next
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  • Public Comment Deadline Extended for Upgrade of Red Hill Fuel Tanks

    ·By Richard Wiens
    There’s still time for public comment on the U.S. military plans to upgrade the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor after the deadline was extended Tuesday until July 20. The agreement involves the military, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health. It requires the military to take measures to minimize the threat of future leaks at the underground storage tank, the site of a major fuel leak last year. To view the agreement, obtain more information and submit comments, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/RedHill or http://www.epa.gov/region9/redhill/. After reviewing public comments, the federal EPA and state DOH and EPA may sign the agreement to make it effective, or may seek to modify it based on information received during the public comment period. The underground storage tanks, which can hold 250 million gallons of fuel, leaked 27,000 gallons in January 2014, raising concerns about potential contamination of Oahu’s water supply. The spill was the latest of dozens of leaks over 70 years. As part of the agreement, the military will install better technology to detect and prevent spills, with oversight from the EPA and DOH. The military may be fined if the work doesn’t meet certain deadlines and standards. The military will also conduct a two-year study of the hydrogeology of Red Hill, past contamination by fuel leaks, cleanup methods and risks to Oahu’s drinking water. The study will additionally evaluate options for upgrading the tanks, which should be completed in phases over the next two decades. EPA  
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Rail Protesters at Honolulu Hale: Bus Mo Bettah

·By civilbeat

Scene from earlier today outside city hall. 

Inside Honolulu reports:

Panos Prevedouros is leading a rally of anti-rail protesters in front of Honolulu Hale. There were 50-60 people chanting “Stop rail now!”

Cayetano was not expected to show up.

Tom Berg and Sam Slom were there and spoke to the crowd. 

— Nick Grube

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