Welcome to Inside Honolulu! There’s not much on the official schedule at Honolulu Hale this week, but there’s always something going on. Civil Beat is reporting from the inside.

6:39 p.m. Still no permanent budget director at Honolulu Hale, mayor weighs options

With about 14 weeks to go until he has to present his first budget as mayor, Peter Carlisle still hasn’t made his nomination for the director of Budget and Fiscal Services.

“We’ve interviewed a number of people,” Carlisle said. “It’s been a healthy number of people with different personalities and different backgrounds. We’re in the process of trying to figure out whether we’ve done enough, whether we need to do more, and who will be best suited for the challenge.”

6:30 p.m. Carlisle slashing construction budget

Mayor Peter Carlisle said he will drastically reduce funding for construction, and wants to understand why the city budget for longterm construction projects — not including the city’s rail plan — was more than double the recommended amount last year.

“We’ve been told all along that the capital improvement plan should be a certain amount, that it should be kept at $125 million dollars,” Carlisle told Civil Beat. “That’s been the recommendation over and over and over again by the budget people. What happened last year is that went up to $288 million, which was more than double. I want to find out what that money was (that was) spent.”

Carlisle said he’s already stopped one construction project that was too costly, but won’t name which project since its planners may present an alternative.

“I have to make sure I give that (proposal) a fair hearing,” Carlisle said. “There are going to be projects that people want to occur that we simply cannot afford, and some of them are projects that have merit and you certainly hope they could happen, but they can’t.”

2:23 p.m. Cachola still waiting for rail contract

City Council member Romy Cachola is still waiting for a copy of the city’s contract with Kiewit, as part of its multibillion-dollar rail project.

After confronting Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka about the contract being public record on Friday, Yoshioka said he would try to get it to Cachola as soon as possible.

Yoshioka followed up with Cachola on Friday as promised. Yoshioka told Civil Beat his office will give a version of the contract — with some private information redacted — to Cachola this week. But a City Council administrator confirms this afternoon that it hasn’t happened yet.

1:02 p.m. New traffic light proposed at site of pedestrian fatality

City Council member Rod Tam filed paperwork requesting a traffic light to be installed at the intersection of Nuuanu Avenue and Kauila Street. An 82-year-old woman was struck by a car in the crosswalk of that intersection early Friday morning. She later died at the hospital.

11:54 a.m. Algae-to-energy pilot farm planned for Wahiawa

Ohio-based alternative-energy company Phycal has its sights set on Wahiawa for the site of a massive pilot program that would convert algae into energy.

“This is at Poamoho Camp,” Phycal President Kevin Berner said. “That entire area, which is old plantation housing, and this 51-acre parcel of land, has been rezoned into something called an ag-cooperative. What we do is we provide agriculture income to them. We rent the land.”

The company’s goal is to use 34 acres of that land to demonstrate the viability of growing and harvesting algae, extracting algae oil and converting that oil into renewable fuel. Phycal said the $65-million algae farm will need 30 workers.

Berner testified before the officials from the Department of Planning and Permitting at Honolulu Hale Monday morning. Cameron Black, a renewable energy permitting analyst from the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, also testified in support of the project.

“We’ve applied to the Department of Energy, they have selected our project for funding,” Berner said. “Everything we’re going to do on the ground in Hawaii, we already do back in Ohio. Here in Hawaii is where we’re going to build the pilot farm. The pilot farm will be much larger than anything we’ve done on the mainland. We’re pretty jazzed.”

11:11 a.m. Massive energy project in Wahiawa, minimal exposure about public hearing

Didn’t know about the Department of Planning and Permitting public hearing this morning? That’s probably because the only public notice was in the Nov. 5 edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. (That’s all that’s required by law.)

On the docket: Assessment of a major algae-to-energy project in Wahiawa.

DPP permitting chief Elizabeth Chinn headed up the public hearing, and said she’s not in charge of giving public notice. Her hearings officer said she sometimes lists upcoming hearings on the DPP website, but not always.

DPP will accept public testimony by Monday, Nov. 22. Director David Tanoue‘s decision on the project will be put into writing by Dec. 27, 2010.

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