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Big Island of Hawaii News, 28 March 2013 through 29 March 2013, post #615

Author:

The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii news stories through Friday, 29 March 2013:

HEADLINES:

Mayor Billy Kenoi could get a $22,000 pay raise.

Hawaii Island state Senator Russell Ruderman wants to stop geothermal “fracking.”

Hunters protest aerial hunting on Hawaii Island.

Pharmacy college improves its academic scores.

Former Kona property manager pleads not guilty to stealing rent.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Stephens Media).  If the Hawaii County Salary Commission gets its way, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi will receive a salary boost of $22,000, while other county officials could get up to 19.8 percent pay raises under a plan proposed Wednesday,

According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, the commission will hold a public hearing in April before changing or accepting the plan submitted by a three-member panel  from the seven member commission.  If the proposal is accepted, the pay raises would take effect on 01 July 2013.

Committee members told reporter Lauer that the goal of the proposal is “to make salaries more equitable so employees aren’t making more than their bosses” and to make “salaries more in line with salaries for the same job in other jurisdictions.”

Reporter Lauer adds that, although Mayor Billy Kenoi has so far rejected the pay hike, the Salary Commission “has the final say on salaries and can’t be overridden by council or administration action.”  Kenoi says “we don’t believe it’s the best time for raises…we made tough budget decisions for the past four years and we probably have another year to do so.  Kenoi indicated that he supports a 22 March 2013 letter from Finance Director Nancy Crawford, asking that “salaries remain at current levels for all positions.”

However, Salary Commission members note that the entire pay raise would increase salaries in the budget by only $224,646 per year.  Commissioner Brian De Lima tells reporter Lauer that Crawford “may have thought it would cost millions and millions when it’s only $225,000.”

Mayor Kenoi adds that “I’m not opposed to seeing department head equitably compensated, but these are still uncertain economic times.”

(Stephens Media).  On Wednesday, a group of Hawaii Island hunters expressed their displeasure with DLNR plans to conduct aerial hunts and fears of losing their hunting rights.  According to reporter Erin Miller, Palikapu Dedman of the Pele Defense League reminded members of the county council agriculture, water and energy sustainability committee of their ordinance prohibiting aerial hunting.  Dedman said “more voted for this law than you for your elections…that’s what the island thinks, that’s what the island wants, that’s what you should stand up for, what we want.”

Kona hunter Isaac Williams said he was disappointed to learn that the DLNR had sought court relief to fight the aerial eradication ban, adding “we voted against that…that’s wrong, inhumane.  They kill whatever they can, leave them in the bushes.  I could eat that, feed it to my kids.”

Hawaii Game Advisory Commission members Tony Sylvester and Mark Bartel told reporter Miller that they hoped the county council would support the aerial hunting ban.  Sylvester said he has had some backing from Hawaii Island state representatives, but had to approach an Oahu state senator for help in the state Senate.

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  According to reporter Colin Stewart, graduates from the University of Hawaii-Hilo College of Pharmacy “are helping to increase their school’s standing among competing pharmacy colleges across the nation.”

Stewart says almost 93 percent of graduates taking their North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) passed the test in 2012.

Stewart adds that score represents “an improvement of just over 80 percent put up by students in 2011, the year the first class graduated from the school…”  College of Pharmacy Dean John Pezzuto said “we were obviously happy to see that it improved…it’s all good news.  We’re on the right track.”

Meanwhile, College of Pharmacy administrators spent last week trying to get legislative approval for a new facility, and they are hoping that “a line item for the construction project will be included in the state budget.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Former Kona resident Robert Marlowe Smith has pleaded not guilty to taking thousands of dollars in rent money from properties he managed.  According to reporter John Burnett, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Smith to appear for trial before Kona Circuit Judge Elizabeth Strance on 09 July 2013 at 8:00 a.m.  Because Judge Nakamura declined to set bail in this case, Smith will be held without bail at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center.  Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Malate told reporter Burnett that the state asked that the no-bail warrant be enforced, since the “state does feel that he’s a flight risk, based on the seriousness of the offense.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  Hawaii Island state Senator Russell Ruderman wants to nip a controversial geothermal extraction process in the bud before it comes to Hawaii.  Ruderman is supporting a measure that would oppose all forms of fracking, a way of getting oil and natural gas using water and sand to widen cracks in rocks deep underground in order to access heat sources that would otherwise be out of reach.  If that process is used to tap geothermal resources, it’s called “enhanced geothermal.”

Ruderman tells reporter Tom Callis that” I felt it would be useful to be proactive…if I were a geothermal developer, I think it would be useful to know which technology is welcomed and which would be frowned upon.”

UH-Manoa geochemistry professor Don Thomas tells reporter Callis that he hasn’t hear of any material besides sand and water being used for enhanced geothermal, but he didn’t know for sure that the same chemicals used for gas and oil fracking couldn’t be used in Hawaii.  Thomas, who also heads UH-Hilo’s Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes said geothermal fracking “can cause low levels of seismic activity,” another concern expressed by state Senator Ruderman.    Thomas noted that “basically, we don’t know enough about geothermal resources in Hawaii to know whether enhanced geothermal is a technology that we may at some point need to do.”

HAWAII ISLAND WEATHER THROUGH FRIDAY, 29 March 2013:

Hilo and vicinity–Partly cloudy with a few showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly cloudy with a few upslope showers.

Highs near 77.  Lows near 64.  Winds shifting to the east, 6 to 12 mph, by Friday.

Sunrise Friday–6:16 a.m.  Sunset Friday–6:34 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Friday–12 hours,  17 minutes, and 35 seconds.

HAWAII ISLAND TIDES FOR FRIDAY, 29 March 2013:

Hilo High Tide–4:03 a.m./5:07 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–10:18 a.m./11:23 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–4:41 a.m./5:45 p.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–10:55 a.m. (only one low tide on Friday).

HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH FRIDAY, 29 March 2013:

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–flat to 1 foot.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–1 to 3 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 3 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–flat to 1 foot.

OTHER:

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Aloha,

Russ Roberts, site administrator

PRG HAWAII NEWS WITH RUSS ROBERTS

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