Gov. Neil Abercrombie has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Monday to honor the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela reminded us all of our common humanity. He was the symbol and the living reality of what perseverance and determination a human being can bring to bear on behalf of the freedom of us all,” the governor said in a statement.
President Barack Obama has also ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff.
Photo: Madiba. (symphony of love)
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz wants his colleagues to pass a 10-year ban on undetectable firearms, “including plastic and 3-D printed guns, which do not show up on x-ray machines or through metal detectors,” according to a press release.
The current ban is set to expire this Monday. The House of Representatives passed a ban on undetectable firearms last week on voice vote, and the Senate expects to take up the measure Monday. But the measure, introduced by Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), is just a straight extension of existing law, originally passed in 1988 and later extended.
Schatz is a co-sponsor of the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which was introduced in April. According to Schatz’s office, he and other Democrats will try to amend the House extension bill to include more safety measures.
Photo: Plastic gun screen shot, Dec. 7, 2013. (Mashable)
From The Maui News:
The unprecedented spike in shark incidents this year in waters off Maui have caused an upsurge of oceangoers buying pricey shark repellent devices they say are worth the money. Read more.
And here’s the latest in other neighbor isle gov’t and politics:
Photo: SeaWorld shark. (Ray_JRM)
It’s been 72 years since the Day of Infamy, and a Twitter account posting as the USS Arizona commemorates this by live tweeting Pearl Harbor’s past and present.
The account has been mixing live tweets of today’s 72nd annual remembrances, and tweeting in present tense as if the attack is happening now.
It’s becoming a regular practice for many Twitter accounts. Most recently, the History Channel live tweeted President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, from his arrival in Dallas and beyond.
If the practice seems macabre, the USS Arizona keeps it grounded in reality by interspersing tweets of today’s ceremonies, including photos of the survivors. There were about 50 of them attending today’s events.
The feed began with tweets of preparations in Japan as they began the attack.
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
The tweets became all the more chilling. This tweet was posted at 7:55 a.m., just as participants in today’s events fell into a moment of silence to mark the beginning of the attack.
….AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR. THIS IS NO DRILL…. #PeralHarbor72— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
At 8:05 a.m., the USS Arizona herself was under attack, eventually leading to the deaths of 1,177 crewmen.
The USS Arizona has come under attack….. #PearlHarbor72— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
USS Oklahoma survivor Paul Goodyear once again attended this year’s ceremonies. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting him in 2007, when I covered the Pearl Harbor ceremonies for the late Honolulu Star-Bulletin. It warms my heart to know he’s returned.
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
Twitter is often used these days to document disasters and wars, and no doubt such an attack would be hitting the feeds today.
But as memories of the attack fade as the number of survivors dwindle, today’s feed is also a showcase on how social media can continue to educate on this day of remembrance, and infamy.
— USS Arizona (@USSArizona)
Photo courtesy of USS Arizona Memorial
— Gene Park
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has contracted SMS to conduct a phone survey over the next few weeks of residents and small businesses ”to find out how people in Hawaii are using their Internet connections today and how they plan to use Internet service in the future.”
That comes from a DCCA press release, which explains that “the survey is part of the state’s effort to improve the broadband capabilities, address anticipated future needs and ensure that Hawaii is competitive with the rest of the world as a venue for digital commerce. …”
The phone calls will be made to businesses during weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and to residences from noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The calls are confidential, and the survey is being conducted in conjunction with DCCA’s broadband speed test campaign.
Photo: Speed test. (Sean MacEntee)
Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1. That’s good news for Hawaii, which has a sizable vet population.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs (and Kauai boy) Eric K. Shinseki, in a press release. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”
For the first time, the VA says, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. For veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available here.
Photo: Gen. Eric Shinseki. (Secretary of Defense)
The Kailua Neighborhood Board wants the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to convene a group of community leaders to help plan the restoration of Kawainui Marsh in east Oahu.
The neighborhood board voted unanimously on Thursday evening for the motion, which asks the state to give Kailua residents more input over development plans for the marsh.
David Smith, the DLNR’s forestry and wildlife manager for Oahu, said Friday that there is already a community advisory group participating in the planning process. He said the neighborhood board’s motion is not binding because the project is being conducted by the state.
The neighborhood board rejected state’s proposal for the marsh in September, criticizing it as prioritizing tourism over environmental conservation.
"We don’t feel like it’s a way to protect the marsh," said Charles Prentiss, chairman of the board. "It’s just a way to take advantage of it."
Prentiss said the current proposal includes thousands of feet of boardwalk, a museum and a visitors’ center, among other things.
Smith said the plan has been in the works for several years and that it is just a description of what development is possible, rather than a definitive statement of what will be built.
The neighborhood board also criticized the lack of transparency in the planning process for the marsh.
Smith disagreed, saying there have been four public hearings about the project in the past year. An official from the planning agency developing the marsh was not immediately available to comment.
Prentiss said the state should do more to conserve the ecology of the marsh, particularly the endangered birds.
The marsh holds significance in Native Hawaiian culture and is on an international registry of important wetlands.
— Anita Hofschneider
The price of doing business with the City and County of Honolulu could be going up
Recently, the Department of Planning and Permitting submitted a bill to the Honolulu City Council that seeks to raise various permitting fees, such as those related to zoning, development plans and environmental impacts statements.
According to DPP Director George Atta, many of these fees have remained stagnant for more than 10 years. He said that with the inflation and the increasing cost of government that a change was “necessary.”
"While there are many proposed changes, the total projected revenues from these amendments are not high," Atta said in a statement. "We believe the proposed changes will not have a significant impact on smaller projects because the increases will be modest."
The city anticipates DPP can generate between $500,000 and $1 million new revenues if the new bill is passed.
All the changes are laid out in the text of Bill 70, which you can find here. The new fees are those that are underlined.
Photo via Flickr courtesy of coconut wireless.
From Damon Tucker:
A new Christmas tradition is taking place in remote forests above Hilo. Early in the morning, volunteers scan the trees, looking for jewels far more beautiful than any Christmas ornament. These volunteers are on a quest to find Hawai‘i’s rarest native birds.
The forests of Kulani are part of the Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve managed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Read more.
And here’s the latest in other neighbor isle gov’t and politics:
Photo: Elepaio (HarmonyonPlanetEarth)
Tensions have been running high between the Caldwell administration and the Honolulu Ethics Commission over the past several months due to concern that city attorneys are trying to undermine the agency’s authority.
Serious questions have also been raised about top executives interfering with ongoing ethics investigations by refusing to release certain information, causing the commission to consider legal action against the city and its employees.
But Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, the man who could likely ease the tension between his cabinet members and the commission, has remained silent.
At least, until now.
Caldwell recently told KITV4 that he supports a recent directive from Corporation Counsel Donna Leong that said city employees can now seek ethics advice from her office instead of the Ethics Commission.
This concerns the commission and its staff because it could lead to conflicting ethics advice for city employees.
But in an interview with KITV, Caldwell quickly dismissed this notion, saying that the city’s attorneys are quite familiar with ethics rules and well qualified to provide advice.
"The city corporation counsel is someone you go to get advice from. I do. We do on all the different issues we undertake," Caldwell told KITV. "They review. It’s something that’s proper to do."
What this means long-term at the city’s program remains to be seen.
But right now it’s clear the mayor and Ethics Commission don’t seem to be on the same page.
You can find the entire KITV report here.
Photo: Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell talking to KITV4. (Screen shot from KITV)
The Republican who lost to Democrat Tulsi Gabbard in last year’s race for the 2nd Congressional District seat is running again.
Kawika Crowley — known as “The Smoking Guy” because of his advocacy for tobacco use — will be holding a sign-waving “marathon” Monday on Kamehameha Highway near HPU’s Windward campus.
His platform, according to a media advisory, includes legalization of marijuana in Hawaii, addressing the “stinking mess at DHHL" and the reduction of federal spending that has left us ”with a Federal Government that has become an addictive, morbid, Obese, Fat Ass Sow force-feeding us with her nipples, the size of Mauna Kea.”
Crowley lost to Gabbard 77-19 percent last fall but still picked up 40,000 votes.
Photo: Kawika Crowley. (Civil Beat)
Millie Akaka, Jean Ariyoshi and Irene Hirano Inouye are hosting a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
It’s set for Dec. 17 in Pacific Heights on Oahu. Suggested donations are $500 (guest) and $1,000 (sponsor).
Other notable female Democrats on the Women for Colleen Hanabusa Committee (members seek to contribute or raise $2,600) include state Sens. Jill Tokuda and Michelle Kidani and state Rep. Sylvia Luke.
Photo: U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. (Courtesy)
VoteVets, a national veterans advocacy group, has endorsed state Rep. Mark Takai in his campaign for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.
The same group helped send Tulsi Gabbard to the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2012.
“VoteVets was certainly an important contributing factor in Tulsi’s decisive victory,” said Maj Gen (Ret.) Ed Richardson, one of the co-chairmen of the Veterans for Takai.
Takai, a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, recently received the backing of Iraq War hero and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
Photo: Rep. Mark Takai. (Courtesy)
Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law on Thursday, prohibiting biotech companies from operating on the Big Island and banning farmers from growing any new genetically altered crops.
The bill exempts the island’s GMO papaya industry.
Kenoi said that the new law signals the county’s desire to encourage community-based farming and ranching, as opposed to playing host to global agribusiness corporations in a letter to council members announcing his decision to sign the bill.
None of the biotech companies that have taken up root in Hawaii in recent years, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer, operate on the Big Island. The new law makes sure that remains the case.
"Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources," Kenoi wrote to council members. "We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world."
Kenoi said debate over the bill at times grew “divisive and hurtful” and that some of the island’s farmers have been “treated disrespectfully.” He urged community healing.
"We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector," he wrote. "It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors."
The majority of Hawaii’s farming industry opposed the bill.
Passage of the Big Island bill comes just weeks after Kauai passed its own law relating to GMO and pesticide disclosure. A bill similar to Kauai’s law is expected to be introduced in the Maui County Council on Friday.
Photo: Mayor Billy Kenoi (Civil Beat)
— Sophie Cocke
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is planning to ask for $40 million in general obligation bonds from the state Legislature to conserve land at Turtle Bay Resort.
The hotel’s expansion plans have faced significant resistance from residents who hope to contain urbanization on Hawaii’s most populated island.
The state Legislature passed a resolution last spring asking Abercrombie to create a working group tasked with figuring out a plan to protect undeveloped land at the resort.
The group sent a letter to Abercrombie on Nov. 30 stating that it will continue to negotiate with Turtle Bay Resort to figure out how much it would cost for the state to buy a conservation easement.
Abercrombie said he will ask for $40 million to fund the effort as part of his budget request for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Turtle Bay Resort is currently planning to more than double the number of rooms at the resort. Opponents of the plan are worried about the impact on the environment and endangered species, as well as how more development could change the rural character of Oahu’s North Shore.
Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. (Courtesy of Scott McLeod via Flickr)
Read Civil Beat’s past coverage of the issue: