Call for Council to Investigate Caldwell’s Zoo Coverup
How States Can Shape Obamacare’s Replacement
Pentagon: North Korea Can Launch Nukes, But Might Miss Target
Top HS Teams Face Off in Hawaii LifeSmarts State Competition
After Three Years of Chaos Kauai to Repeal Anti-GMO Ordinance
KE: In a move that marks a dramatic shift in the island's political landscape, the newly installed Kauai County Council has introduced a bill calling for a repeal of the contentious Bill 2491/Ordinance 960.
The measure, which sought to control pesticides and GMO crops, was introduced by then-Councilman Gary Hooser in 2013, launching a bitter debate that polarized the community.
But in the years since it was passed, it was overturned by the courts and voters rejected the three councilmen — Hooser, Jay Furfaro and the late Tim Bynum — who ushered it through the Council.
On Wednesday, the Council will consider a bill to remove the illegal law from the county's books, and it appears they easily have the votes to approve it.
The repeal bill, introduced by Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Vice Chair Ross Kagawa, states simply:
The Kaua’i County Council finds that by Judgment issued in Syngenta Seeds, Inc., et al. v. County of Kaua’i, Civ. No. 14-00014 BMK (D. Haw. filed Aug. 25, 2014), the Court declared Ordinance No. 960, codified as Chapter 22, Article 23 of the Kaua’i County Code 1987, as amended, “is preempted by state law and is therefore invalid.” On November 18, 2016, the District Court’s Judgment was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Syngenta Seeds, Inc., et al. v. County of Kaua’i et al., No. 14-16833, D.C. No. 1:14-cv-00014-BMK. Accordingly, the purpose of this Bill is to repeal the invalid law.
It's been a long, hard road to get to this point, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, destroying political careers and leaving lingering resentments and animosity that continue to divide families and neighborhoods.
Perhaps now the healing can begin….
read … Healing
A&B Loses Half of its Water Allotment to Activists
MN: …The state Board of Land and Natural Resources is allowing Alexander & Baldwin to continue diverting East Maui streams, even though the company’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. is ending sugar cane production this year.
The Sierra Club of Hawai’i said it was “disappointed” with the board’s decision, despite more than six hours of public testimony, an executive session and extensive board discussion.
A&B issued a statement Friday afternoon. It said: “The BLNR today approved the reauthorization of the East Maui water revocable permits, amidst support from farmers, the county of Maui and a significant number of Maui residents. Their approval will allow East Maui Irrigation to continue to reliably supply water to the county’s Upcountry Maui water system and the Kula Ag Park, and to new diversified agricultural activity, which we hope to increase over the course of the year on our former sugar lands.”
According to the Sierra Club, more than 100 people attended the board meeting, with over 40 testifiers speaking against the renewal of A&B’s water permits.
The board’s decision to renew four revocable permits came with amendments.
According to the Sierra Club, those amendments included: capping A&B’s extraction of East Maui water at 80 million gallons per day, down from 160 million gallons; ordering A&B to fully restore stream flow in seven East Maui streams used for taro farming; adding Honomanu Stream to the list of streams to be restored; and requiring the removal of all structures from streams impeding the health of the native stream species.
“While today’s ruling does not in any way adequately address the injustices done to the people of East Maui, it signifies that A&B will no longer get everything it wants with no questions asked,” said Adriane Raff Corwin, Sierra Club Maui coordinator. “This ruling does provide the community with new tools to protect some of the streams and the Sierra Club of Hawai’i will be watching closely to ensure they are fully implemented.”
read … Drowning
Condos Next: Activists Water Grab Will Hinder Transition of Ag Lands to New Crops
KE: …Under yesterday's BLNR action, the company is limited to 80 mgd and it must fully restore water to 15 east Maui streams.
But activists rejected even that compromise as inadequate. They want all diversions to end until the company can prove it needs the water. Like they'd ever give it back once A&B gave it up. And what would happen to ag in Central Maui then?
A&B officials argued that they must show they have sufficient water to attract the investment needed to transition 36,000 acres of HC&S lands from sugar into diversified ag.
Meanwhile, A&B and other revocable permit holders are continuing to seek water licenses through a process that has been poorly managed by the state, leading to lengthy delays….
(Visualize Central Maui as Central Oahu)
read … Precisely as they Intend
Snippy Caldwell Drowning in Sewage Lies
KHON: …Sources tell us there was a mix-up involving which pump station was working at the time, and the problem was made even worse because crews mistakenly dumped the collected sewage into the wrong pump station.
When it happened on Nov. 30, the city announced that more than a thousand gallons had spilled. The city said it knew by the next day that more than 200,000 gallons had spilled, but didn’t release that information until KHON2 pressed officials about it.
Now there could be even more to this spill.
The city was supposed to file a spill report with the state Department of Health this week, which would have answered some of our questions. But the city has asked for an extension, and it’s still not clear why.
There are two pump stations in this area that handle the sewage, known as West Beach Pump Station 1 and West Beach Pump Station 2.
On the day it happened, the city sent a news release at 3:47 p.m. saying a 16-inch main broke at the number 1 pump station. Crews are trying to capture as much of the flow and distributing it to the West Beach pump station 2.
Hours later, at 7:15 p.m., the city sent another release saying it was a 20-inch force main that broke and it was at pump station 2.
Is it just a typo, a clerical error? Or did city crews collect the spilled sewage and put it in pump station number 2, not realizing that that was where the broken pipe was? If so then even more sewage could have spilled? …
“We are now working with the Department of Health and there will be a report given to the Department of Health that will give all the information to everyone in the world as to the amount,” he said snipped at a press conference….
read … More questions surface over possible mix-up during sewage spill near Ko Olina
12% raise for Maui county officials approved Without Public Notice
MN: The Maui County Salary Commission approved a 12 percent pay increase Friday for Mayor Alan Arakawa, his department directors and their deputies, although a problem with the posted meeting agenda could void the pay hike, at least temporarily….
The agenda for Friday’s commission meeting did not say that a pay increase for any department head or deputy or even the mayor would be discussed or acted upon. There is an agenda heading that says “deliberation and decision making,” but it does not say what matters would be deliberated or decided upon.
In an email to The Maui News on Friday afternoon, the director of the state’s Office of Information Practices said: “It is questionable whether a member of the public could reasonably have understood from the agenda . . . that the Maui Salary Commission would be considering pay raises for Maui County directors and deputy directors.”
But OIP Director Cheryl Kakazu Park added: “Nevertheless, without having an appeal filed and the opportunity for the board to present its side of the story, OIP can only offer general advice and cannot give an opinion on whether a violation occurred.”
Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said: “The deputy corporation counsel assigned to the Salary Commission is reviewing the matter and will be advising the commission.”
read … 12%
Trump administration could be good for local construction unions
HNN: …attorney Richard Rand, who has practiced labor and employment law in Hawaii for more than 28 years, doesn't think a Trump administration will bring sweeping changes to workplaces.
"I think you'll see some changes but not the radical changes people are concerned about," he said.
The fear Rand says local labor may have is misplaced, he adds.
He said there are laws -- and precedent -- in place that make it unlikely workers' rights will roll back.
"There are so many well-established laws that have existed for decades, so you're not going to see the type of radical change that I think some people are concerned about," Rand said.
He added that a Trump administration could actually be good for local construction unions, given his promise to address America's aging infrastructure….
read … Jobs
792 Households Receive Emergency Housing Assistance
SA: State money through Aloha United Way has helped more people than expected and showed how many residents are living on the edge of homelessness.
Since April far more households than imagined — 792 — were at risk of becoming homeless in the islands. But it took only a one-time payment of $1,046, on average, to keep them from ending up on the streets.
The sheer number of families at risk of becoming homeless surprised officials at Aloha United Way, who have been tasked by the state Legislature to distribute $4.7 million in state money across the islands to get homeless people housed and, just as important, keep families in their homes through one-time rental subsidies.
The original goal in early 2016 was to evenly distribute the money between the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless as Hawaii struggled with the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country.
But most homeless people applying for the state aid through AUW do not have enough steady income to ensure they can continue paying for their rental units once the one-time subsidy runs out.
So 73 percent of the money continues to go to families at risk of becoming homeless to keep them housed….
read … More families at risk of homelessness than expected
Only 32% of Gay Marriages Local
HTH: …Most same-sex couples have opted for small ceremonies, Higashino said, and the vast majority are out-of-state couples.
Statewide, 68 percent of same-sex marriage licenses issued have involved a couple in which one or both members were nonresidents. That number is 65 percent among all marriages.
It’s difficult to gauge how much money same-sex unions have added to the island’s economy….
read … Off