The Beat

  • Maui County Hires Firm to Study Utility Options

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Maui has hired an Oklahoma-based firm to study utility options for the community to give it a better sense of whether the proposed $4.3 billion sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to NextEra Energy is in the county’s best interest. Guernsey, an engineering, architectural and consulting company, was awarded a $70,000 contract to do the study by mid-October. “We have the natural resources to wean ourselves off of oil here in Maui County, but in order to do that we need a utility that will be able to evolve with the changing energy industry,” Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a release Tuesday. A wind farm is seen on a mountain ridge on Maui, which recently hired a firm to study utility options for the community. Nathan Eagle/Honolulu Civil Beat “Hopefully this study will be able tell us what is the best option for this type of utility evolution,” he said. “This is important information that we can use to decide what’s best for the future of Maui County.” HEI is the parent of Maui Electric Co., which serves Maui, Lanai and Molokai; Hawaiian Electric Co., which powers Oahu; and Hawaiian Electric and Light Co., which serves the Big Island. Arakawa formed a group this summer to look at what it would mean for Maui to break away from HEI, which is something the Big Island is exploring too. Guernsey, which was chosen by the mayor’s Office of Economic Development, is expected to come up with an “options analysis of the alternative forms of ownership and the alternative
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  • Ignacio, Jimena — Kevin? How Storms Are Named in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    Confused about how names are designated for major storms in Hawaiian waters? It all depends on where, exactly, the storm forms. Hurricane Jimena is the ninth major storm in the region. It follows Guillermo, Hilda and Ignacio. Those names come from the 2015 list of cyclone names formed in the Eastern North Pacific this year, which means storms formed east of 140 degrees longitude. (To provide some bearing, Honolulu is located at 157 degrees longitude.) Hurricanes Kilo, Ignacio and Jimena. NOAA The Eastern North Pacific list this year begins with Andres and ends with Zelda. A current tropical depression named 14-E could become Tropical Storm Kevin or Hurricane Kevin, says the National Weather Service in Honolulu. The lists for Eastern Pacific Names is recycled every six years. Meanwhile, cyclones that are formed west of 140 degrees longitude are given Central North Pacific names. Kilo and Loke have already been named; Malia is next. The Central North Pacific list for 2015 begins with Ana and ends with Walaka — Hawaiian names. There are three other lists for Central North Pacific cyclones; once one list is used up, new names come from the top of the next list. Interestingly, the NWS provides a pronunciation guide for Eastern names (e.g., Guillermo is gee-YER-mo, Ignacio is eeg-NAH-see-oh) but not for Central names. This list of storm names may come in handy, given that hurricane season in Hawaii is only at its halfway point. It runs from June through November.
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  • Honolulu Earns a C Grade for Small Business ‘Friendliness’

    ·By Chad Blair
    Small business owners give Honolulu an average C grade for business friendliness, according to Thumbtack’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. “Honolulu small businesses tell us there is room for improvement in local regulations, but the city does a great job with proactive outreach and support,” Jon Lieber, an economist with Thumbtack, said in a press release. Key findings for Honolulu, which had a D grade in 2013, include: an A- for training and networking programs; a B- for licensing regulations; a D for ease of starting a business; an F for labor regulations; and a B as a place business owners would encourage others to start a new business. Bishop Square in downtown Honolulu. Chad Blair/Civil Beat Nearly 18,000 U.S. small business owners responded to this year’s survey, says Thumbtack, including 37 in Honolulu. The survey may come as a surprise to local business owners who have long complained about how hard it is for small businesses to survive here — something the new survey hints at. “Hawaii is a very difficult state to do business in,” said one property manager in Honolulu who was not identified in the survey. “It takes a long time to process business registrations. There is a service tax that is charged on gross proceeds and does not factor in expenses.” The property manager added, “Also, a full-time employee is anyone working more than 20 hours, and employers are required to pay almost 100% of health insurance costs.” Thumbtack, which bills itself as “a technology-based marketplace,” gave Hawaii an overall grade of
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  • Ignacio Weakens and Moves Farther North of Hawaii

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Chalk Hurricane Ignacio up as the latest storm to loom near Hawaii before veering away. Ignacio had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane and was tracking well north of the islands Monday morning. It was located roughly 460 miles east of Honolulu, the Weather Channel reported. The center of Ignacio will pass north of Hawaii through midweek, with the effects likely limited to high surf on east- and southeast-facing beaches. High surf warnings and advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service. Farther east, it’s still too soon to know if Jimena, a Category 4 hurricane, will eventually threaten Hawaii, the Weather Channel reported. NOAA    
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  • One-Stop Center to Help Micronesians Opens in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    A “one-stop center” pilot project that aims to help Micronesians in Hawaii was opened in Kalihi Friday. The center wants to serve as a “central hub” linking Micronesian communities, families and individuals with public services and other resources. The Hālau Ola One-Stop Center is located at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church at 720 N. King Street in Honolulu. “In addition, the center will connect the Micronesian community with federal, state and county representatives and agencies to further advocacy and self- empowerment,” according to a press release. An opening ceremony for a new “one-stop center” in Kalihi to help Micronesians in Hawaii. We Are Oceania The one-stop center is run by We Are Oceania (WAO), which advocates for Pacific Islanders from the Micronesia region living and working in Hawaii. The Micronesian population in Hawaii, which hails from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other islands, is estimated to total between 15,000 and 17,000 people. “The Micronesia region faces many challenges such as U.S. militarization and weapons testing, loss of land from rising ocean levels, and lack of a sustainable, local food supply,” said WAO’s program director, Josie Howard. “Limited options force many Micronesians to leave their home in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many individuals and families legally come to Hawaii to seek proper medical treatment, a better education and other opportunities  that are unavailable in their home community.” The grand opening of the Hālau Ola One-Stop Center drew guest speakers from the
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  • Hurricane Ignacio Slowly Moving Toward Hawaii

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hurricane Ignacio is continuing to move northwest toward Hawaii, potentially reaching the Big Island on Monday morning and then crossing over the rest of the islands, according to the National Weather Service’s forecast Friday. Maximum sustained winds were near 90 mph and the storm was moving 8 mph. A flash flood watch is in effect for Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau. Hurricane Ignacio was tracking toward Hawaii, according to Friday’s forecast. National Weather Service “We understand the public is fatigued from experiencing four major approaching storms so far this season, but we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Doug Mayne, state administrator of emergency management, in a release Friday. “Severe weather associated with Ignacio is expected, and with Jimena not far behind, we need to ready ourselves and our loved ones as much as possible with the time we have. We will continue to work with our county, state and federal partners and leadership to monitor the storms and provide the public with timely updates as we receive them.” Ignacio may strengthen more through Saturday, according to the forecast. It was a Category 1 hurricane 840 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 8:30 a.m. Friday. East- and southeast-facing shores of Hawaii Island and Maui can expect advisory-level surf Saturday and warning-level increases Sunday through Monday, the release said. Tropical storm force winds could begin to impact Hawaii Island as early as Sunday evening. The public is urged to be cautious and continue
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  • Another Wastewater Spill Closes Windward Beaches, Including Sandy

    ·By Marina Riker
    About 1 million gallons of treated but not yet disinfected wastewater have spilled on the Windward Shore, forcing health officials to close beaches from the Halona Blow Hole to Erma’s Beach on Thursday. Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, said the wastewater hadn’t yet been disinfected with chlorine at the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is located across from Sandy Beach. Hawaii American Water, the company that runs the plant, said that the spill happened after an underground electrical cable shorted out because of heavy rains, interrupting the chlorination system, the Associated Press reported. The wastewater flowed from the treatment plant for about five hours. Visitors enjoy the water at Sandy Beach in happier times — a month ago. Cory Lum/Civil Beat On Monday, 393,000 gallons of wastewater spilled out of manholes near Ala Moana Park, with 129,000 gallons entering the ocean. That caused officials to close popular coastal areas from Kuhio Beach to Point Panic. Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park were reopened Wednesday despite brown water conditions still being in effect. Meanwhile, another 24,000 gallons were spilled near Hickam Beach on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Monday. Officials are telling the public to stay out of those waters as well. All of the mishaps have been partially blamed on recent heavy rains.
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  • What Are Hawaii’s Most Popular Baby Names?

    ·By Marina Riker
    “Liam” and “Olivia” were the most popular baby names in Hawaii last year, and a “Game of Thrones” character’s name even made the girls’ top 10 list, according to the recently released Hawaii Data Book. “Aria” tied with “Isabella” for No. 7 on the girls’ list. Maisie Williams plays “Arya Stark” on “Game of Thrones.” Heather Paul/Flickr.com “Arya Stark” is the name of the headstrong, pre-teen daughter of a lord in HBO‘s hit show, based on the George R. R. Martin novels. The name started to grow in popularity following the success of “Game of Thrones,” and eventually became the fastest-growing name for a baby girl in the country. This is the second time “Aria,” which includes other spellings of the name, has made it onto Hawaii’s top 10 list. Last year’s Data Book had the name ranked 10th most popular baby. Source: Hawaii Data Book, 2014 Civil Beat
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  • Air Force to Develop Renewable Fuels Through $20 Million Microgrid Project

    ·By Todd Simmons
    U.S. Air Force researchers will develop a microgrid demonstration project for renewable fuel sources at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam under a new $20 million agreement announced today by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Under the deal, the Air Force Research Lab and the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies will create a “microgrid testbed” for development and testing of alternative fuel sources – a project Schatz said will strengthen energy resilience for the 154th Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard and possibly have implications far beyond that. Asst. Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine, center, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, right, tour Pearl Harbor-Hickam facilities that will be part of a microgrid demonstration project focused on development of alternative fuel sources. “Assured access to energy is essential to the Air Force’s mission. Without it, the Air Force could not fly its aircraft or power the flight simulators, alert facilities and other equipment that are critical to sustaining the readiness of our airmen at installations like Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,” said Schatz in a statement released after he and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine toured base facilities that will be included in the work. The microgrid testbed project “will help ensure that the Air National Guard has access to the energy it needs to execute its defense and homeland security missions, while providing a proof of concept that alternative energy and microgrid technologies can support the Air Force’s broader energy security goals,” he said. Initial work will entail development of a
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  • July Broke Hawaii’s All-Time Record for Monthly Tourist Arrivals

    ·By Marina Riker
    Hawaii hosted more visitors in July than ever before, and they spent a record $1.4 billion, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Since January, visitors have spent $9 billion in the Aloha State, a 3.6 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, visitor arrivals have gone up 4.2 percent. Visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Chad Blair/Civil Beat There was an increase in tourists from the mainland and Canada, who also spent more on their vacations. However, there were fewer visitors from Japan, who spent about 10 percent less than they did last year. “The growth we have been experiencing is keeping us on track for another milestone year for Hawaii’s visitor industry,” said George Szigeti, the president of the HTA. “While the growth is not as significant as in previous years, we are still projecting to reach new records in spending and arrivals for 2015.”
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  • Ige’s Team Cuts Kakaako’s Homeless Population by 10 Percent

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that his leadership team worked with a group of service providers to relocate about 10 percent of homeless people who were living at the encampment in Kakaako. The team found spaces for 28 people — five families and six single adults — at Next Step and Institute for Human Services shelters, where a total of 27 people had recently left and moved into either permanent or longer-term transitional housing. According to a survey conducted during the week of Aug. 3, nearly 300 people — including 31 families — were living at the Kakaako encampment. Scott Morishige, who officially began his tenure as the governor’s coordinator on homelessness on Monday, said in a statement: “This movement of individuals and families from the streets into temporary shelters is significant because their lives have been changed for the better and because it demonstrates the positive outcomes we can achieve when the city and the state work together. Delayed enforcement in the area helped service providers move more people into shelters.” The governor’s leadership team found spaces at Next Step (above) and Institute for Human Services shelters for 28 people who were living at Kakaako’s homeless encampment.
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  • Hawaii DLNR Official Has Close Connection to Virginia Shootings

    ·By Richard Wiens
    The top communications official for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources hired and fired the man suspected of fatally shooting two former colleagues, a TV newswoman and a cameraman, in Roanoke, Virginia, on Wednesday morning, Hawaii News Now reported. Dan Dennison, now senior communications director for the DLNR, was the news director of WDBJ in Roanoke from 2011 to 2013. He told HNN that he hired and fired Vester L. Flanagan, the shooting suspect who killed himself hours after the shootings. Dennison said Flanagan, who was hired in 2012, was terminated in 2013, largely for performance issues. “You just never know, when you’re going to work, how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way as we saw in Roanoke this morning,” Dennison told HNN. Dennison added this about Flanagan, who also went by the name of Bryce Williams: “He had a level of a long series of complaints against coworkers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station. That really had nothing to do with his termination, and after a lot of investigation both internally and externally, all of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely under along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.” Dan Dennison recently accompanied DLNR Director Suzanne Case on a visit to the Civil Beat Editorial Board. Cory Lum/Civil Beat  
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  • Getting Tropically Depressed Yet? Ignacio is Next Storm in Line

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Now that Kilo, the sometimes-hurricane, sometimes-tropical storm and sometimes-tropical depression, seems destined to stay off Hawaii’s shores and just cause heavy rain, it’s apparently time for a new character to take the stage in this season’s Central Pacific parade of storms. The Weather Channel reported Tuesday afternoon that Ignacio has developed into a tropical storm with likely hurricane status in its future as it churns in our general direction. According to the report: • Ignacio is located about 1,530 miles east-southeast of Hilo. • The storm is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane later this week as it moves in a west to eventually west-northwest direction. • Ignacio is not a threat to land over the next few days, but if it remains organized, it’ll come close to Hawaii early next week. NOAA/National Weather Service
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  • Catholic Cardinal’s Hawaii Vacation Ends In DUI Arrest

    ·By Chris D'Angelo
    One of the Roman Catholic Church’s most senior clergymen was arrested last week for driving under the influence during a trip to Hawaii. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday that 79-year-old Cardinal William Joseph Levada, of Menlo Park, California, was stopped at about midnight Thursday in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island after a patrol car saw him swerve. Levada, formerly the highest-ranking American official in the Vatican, was charged with driving under the influence and was released from police custody after posting $500 bail. In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post by a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Levada said, “I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully cooperating with the authorities.” Cardinal William Joseph Levada Levada, the former archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, was reportedly vacationing with other priests on the Big Island when the arrest occurred. When asked how the archdiocese handles situations like this, spokesman Michael Brown said that in this specific case, “‘punishment’ is not a factor.” “Speaking generally at all levels of the organization, such things would be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” he wrote in an email to HuffPost. “Where a lapse in judgment occurred, the matter would probably be considered less serious. If the matter seemed to indicate a more serious problem, this would be treated more seriously. This would be true at all employee levels.” Catholic cardinals, traditionally seen as “princes of the church,” are appointed by the pope and are second to him in terms of church hierarchy. Currently, there are 219 cardinals worldwide, including 15
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  • Former Hawaii Gov Linda Lingle Settles Into New Role

    ·By Nick Grube
    Linda Lingle says she’s not giving political advice to her new boss Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, even though he considers her a “superstar.” The former Hawaii governor, who spent eight years at the helm of the Aloha State, is now earning $198,000 as Rauner’s chief operating officer. But in a recent interview she insists she’s only helping with the day-to-day operations of the state. NPR Illinois reporter Amanda Vinicky caught up with Lingle during the Illinois State Fair as part of on ongoing feature that takes a look at political insiders working in the Land of Lincoln. You can check out the piece here. Vinicky talked with Lingle during a parade, and had her interview cut short by Rauner’s handlers after only a few minutes. Much of the focus is on Illinois’ budget challenges. Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is now working in Illinois alongside Gov. Bruce Rauner. Courtesy of the Lingle campaign
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  • Kilo ‘Less of a Threat’ to Hawaii, But Still May Become a Hurricane

    ·By Richard Wiens
    UPDATE: Tropical Depression Kilo is expected to mill around in the waters well west of the islands the next few days, the Weather Underground reported. “Kilo will still likely organize into a hurricane, but the latest forecasts … keep the storm well to the west of Hawaii for at least the next five days,” the website reported Sunday. But always, it seems, there’s another threat brewing. “Hawaii should keep an eye on three tropical disturbances to its east, in the waters of the Eastern Pacific to the southwest of Mexico,” the website reported. The latest satellite image of Kilo courtesy of NOAA. NOAA  
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  • Hawaii Spends More on Rent Than Any Other State In the US

    ·By Marina Riker
    It probably comes to no surprise for many Hawaii residents that we spend more on rent than any other state, according to the recently released Hawaii Data Book. The Aloha state’s median monthly rent is $1,414 – over $100 more than any other state in the country. West Virginia residents spent the least amount on rent, with a median of $620 per month. Across the country, more people than ever are renting instead of buying homes. Yet being a renter isn’t getting any easier. Nationwide, approximately half of all renters spent more than 30 percent of their paycheck on housing in 2013, according to a recent study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.  About half of those households spent more than half of their monthly income on rent and utilities. Meanwhile, Hawaii ranks third for the highest percentage of monthly income spent on rent at nearly 33 percent, according to the Hawaii Data Book. The only two states that surpassed us were California and Florida, spending approximately 33.8 and 34.1 percent, respectively.
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  • Hawaii’s Unemployment Rate Has Dropped to Lowest Point Since Recession

    ·By Marina Riker
    Hawaii’s unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest point since the recession. The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, down from 4 percent in June. Department of Labor & Industrial Relations The last time Hawaii’s unemployment rate was that low was in April 2008 when it was at 3.6 percent. Statewide, 648,050 people were employed while, 24,750 were unemployed in July. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in July, the same as in June. Department of Labor & Industrial Relations
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  • Hawaii Senate Minority Celebrates 56 Years of Statehood

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii State Sen. Sam Slom, the only Republican in the 25-member chamber and one of only eight Republicans in the 76-member Hawaii Legislature, says he is celebrating Admissions Day Friday — even though few others bother to do so. A press release from Slom’s office notes that the occasion “is often met with apathy, disinterest and even controversy.” Instead, Slom thinks the 56th anniversary of statehood should encourage celebration “and reflection upon what was achieved by those who voted overwhelmingly in favor of statehood in 1959.” A Hawaiian flag at a Mauna Kea demonstration fronting the Hawaii Convention Center earlier this month. Cory Lum/Civil Beat Statehood efforts, his office explains, have been documented as early as 1919, “when Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole introduced in Congress the first bill calling for Hawaii’s admission to the United States.”  Slom states: “When President Eisenhower signed the Admission Act into law in 1959, Hawaii’s people celebrated in the streets. We were united and proud to be American as well as Hawaiian. It was a major victory for those who spent years hoping for and working towards statehood. We were excited to be the 50th State. Hawaii has been a pace setter in many social, economic and cultural developments since then. “Now, 56 years later, many of the gains that were achieved, and benefits enjoyed from statehood, are largely overlooked, taken for granted, or criticized. We should build on our statehood experience and make it better while recognizing the freedoms and many
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  • Nonprofit Accepting Donations for Disaster Relief in Saipan

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    A Hawaii nonprofit is accepting donations this weekend to help victims of Typhoon Soudelor in Saipan. The storm hit Saipan over two weeks ago, but residents are still without electricity and running water because over half of the power infrastructure was destroyed. Hundreds of residents became homeless, and are living in shelters, in their cars or in tents. Reach Out Pacific, in conjunction with state Sen. Glenn Wakai’s office, is accepting batteries, sleeping bags and other goods at the Safeway on Pali Highway on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Children sleep at a shelter in Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor destroyed their home. Courtesy of Dan Lin According to a press release from Wakai’s office, the group is looking for “bottled water, tents, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, baby/disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, batteries (all sizes), battery operated lanterns, flashlights, gently used clothing (infant to adult, all sizes).” Wakai’s press release said the donation drive is being organized by former Northern Marianas resident LJ Duenas. “I have experienced many typhoons during my time on Saipan, but I have never seen anything like this before; the destruction is surreal. Priorities have changed. Life has changed on Saipan. Let’s share our Aloha with those in Saipan,” said Duenas. On Saturday morning, the group will pick up donated medical equipment from Castle Hospital and 60 mattresses from Trump International. Matson is donating a container, and Pacific Transfer, Safeway and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman are also assisting. A
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Attorney: Pesticides At Waimea Canyon Middle School Violate Law

·By civilbeat

From The Garden Island:

Atrazine, chlorpyrifos and bifenthrin somehow made it inside Waimea Canyon Middle School. And according to an attorney, federal regulations forbids it from ending up there.

“Because the health risks are often unknown and evolving, this is one reason why pesticide labels expressly prohibit drift,” said Kyle Smith, one of the two attorneys representing the Westside community in a lawsuit against Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

In less than three years, the three restricted-use pesticides have been detected in water or ambient air samples collected at the school, nestled among a checkerboard of agricultural lands farmed by bio-tech seed companies on Kauai’s Westside. Read the full story.

And here’s the latest in other neighbor isle gov’t and politics: 

PUC looks at linking Maui, Oahu power grids

Kauai’s Common Grounds expansion causes stir

First Wind Unveils Makamakaole Endangered Bird Project

Coffee and gift shop opens at Rainbow Falls

Mad Marlin sports bar already established itself in Kailua-Kona

KPD graduates largest recruit class

County finally seeks Food Basket donation accounting

Kauai Community College opens doors to vets

DLNR: We haven’t forgotten game management plan

Lanai residents give Ellison thumbs up, so far

Two top commercial real estate sales close in West Maui

Officials say Big Isle illegal hunting is growing problem

KIUC annual membership meeting set for Thursday

$30M expansion under way at NEHLA

Waimea Canyon courtesy Grandpa & Grandma T.

p class=”p1″>—Chad Blair

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