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NEWS FLASH - BREAKING NEWS FROM MAUI COUNTY - ARCHIVE
Aloha! it's ~

JANUARY, 2010
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NEWS FLASH - January 31, 2010 5:40 p.m.

Election Season Begins Tomorrow in Hawai'i

The 2010 election season in Hawaii officially begins Monday when candidates can start filing for office.

The state Office of Elections says nomination papers are available on its Web site.

The papers can be filed at the Office of Elections in Pearl City or at county offices throughout Hawaii.

The candidate filing deadline is July 20.

This year, Hawaii voters will be choosing a new governor, because Gov. Linda Lingle is barred by term limits from seeking another four years in office.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is leaving Congress to campaign for governor. He is expected to be challenged in the Democratic primary by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona hopes to succeed Lingle.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 31, 2010 6:35 a.m.

Governor Renews Call to BOE to End Furlough Fridays

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle yesterday renewed her call for the Board of Education (BOE) and Department of Education (DOE) to accept her plan to restore the majority of the remaining teacher furlough days to immediately return Hawai‘i students to the classroom.

The Governor’s plan to use $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund to re-open schools for all but three of the remaining furlough days this semester and next school year has been stalled by the unwillingness of the BOE and DOE to agree to present the plan to the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association (HSTA). Despite a number of meetings and communications between the Lingle-Aiona Administration and the BOE and DOE to answer their questions and provide detailed financial information on how the $50 million would sufficiently allow schools to operate on furlough days, the BOE and DOE have refused to allow the plan to move forward.

“The community has made it very clear that they want an immediate and complete solution that gets our students back into the classroom where they can continue learning,” said Governor Lingle. “The plan we have presented, which is reasonable, generous and workable, would accomplish this by using up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund.

“At this point, the Board of Education and Department of Education are standing in the way of resolving the furlough issue and preventing students from returning to school,” the Governor said. “The BOE and DOE owe parents, students, teachers and the general public an explanation on why they refuse to even present this plan to the teachers.

“The clock is ticking. The longer the BOE and DOE stonewall, the more our students will lose out on classroom time. In addition, the longer the BOE and DOE wait, the more likely it will be that the Rainy Day funds will be used to fill other needs in our community,” Governor Lingle added.

On Jan. 8, the Governor proposed a new plan to use $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund to return students to school for 24 of the 27 furlough days. Since then, two furlough days (Jan. 15 and 29) have passed, keeping students and teachers out of school.

Under the Governor’s latest plan, up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund would be used to restore 12 furlough Fridays – five this semester and seven in the 2010-2011 school year. An additional 12 instructional days – two this semester and 10 in the next school year – would be gained by using days when teachers are paid to be in their classrooms but do not teach students.

The Governor’s most recent solution to resolve the furlough Friday issue and return children to school builds on her original plan offered on November 15, 2009, to end all 27 furlough days by using $50 million in Rainy Day funds to restore 12 furlough days while also converting 15 non-instructional days into classroom teaching days. By solving the furlough issue for this semester and next school year, teachers and students would be able to focus on the lessons in the classroom, rather than being distracted by drawn-out furlough negotiations.

In contrast, the HSTA/DOE/BOE have proposed using two-thirds of the $50 million offered by the Governor to restore only seven days of instruction time for the students this semester only, without addressing any furlough days for the next school year.

(Report Provided by the Office 0of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 30, 2010 1p.m.

Wailuku Loan Company Ordered to Stop Taking Deposits

A Wailuku industrial loan company that was ordered to stop taking deposits and investment money from customers has filed for bankruptcy.

Maui Industrial Loan & Finance Co. Inc. is seeking to liquidate its business after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Thursday. The company said its liabilities totaled $16.2 million, the bulk of which was owed to more than 60 individuals and others who had unsecured claims.

The filing came about two and a half months after Hawai'i Commissioner of Financial Institutions Nick Griffin issued a cease and desist action against the Wailuku firm, saying Maui Industrial was licensed to make loans and not take or solicit funds, deposits, investments or other instruments of borrowing.

The Maui News also reported this week the firm's president, certified public accountant Lloyd Kimura, was facing lawsuits for unpaid loans, foreclosures and other claims for a commercial condominium he developed on Maui. The newspaper reported the firm also operated under the Maui Finance Co. name.

The filing made by Honolulu attorney James Wagner for the firm lists Maui Industrial Loan's assets as totaling $7 million. This includes $4 million in estimated accounts receivable and an estimated $3 million from potential counterclaims.

Only one secured creditor was listed for the bankruptcy — American Savings Bank is owed $723,480.

The remainder of the money, some $15.5 million, is owed to individuals, companies and trusts who don't have secured claims. Most of the unsecured creditors are tied to individuals and businesses on Maui.

These claims range from a $1,364 promissory note to an individual trust in Kula, to $2.04 million owed under a promissory note to a trust that is managed from Honolulu.

Kimura could not be reached for comment yesterday. Calls to Maui Industrial's office were unsuccessful because the telephone number was no longer in service.

A creditors meeting and appointment of a trustee has been scheduled for March 9 at the J. Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 30, 2010 7:45 a.m.

'Maui College' May be Official Soon

KAHULUI, Maui - Although the formal designation is not expected until next month, University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood told a group of Maui business leaders Friday that she is ready to start calling MCC "Maui College."

Formally, the new name is proposed as the University of Hawaii-Maui, Maui College, a step ahead from Maui Community College (MCC).

At a Business before Hours breakfast sponsored by the Maui Chamber of Commerce at the Elleair Ballroom, Greenwood said it might sound a bit like "inside baseball," but "it means a lot symbolically." Already, MCC has been advanced from the junior to the senior commission in accreditation, in recognition that it now provides upper-level courses.

It has done so for years, but it is now providing more courses and more four-year degrees on campus.

"Nobody should think they cannot get the education they need in the state of Hawaii," Greenwood told about 50 people.

And for the most part, they can now get it without having to travel to another island, she said. Greenwood said it's fine if people want to go to the Mainland for personal reasons, but she said they should not feel they have to go because Hawaii cannot accommodate them.

Most of her talk concerned the economic impacts of the UH system.

Coming in, enrollment is booming. MCC is now the largest Neighbor Islands' educational institution within the state university, with 4,093 students. At UH-Manoa, applications for the fall semester are 25 percent ahead of last year.

"It's a reflection of the economy," Greenwood said. People who have lost their jobs go back to school, or young people who had planned to defer college for a few years to work "find there is no work force to go into."

Beyond that, she said, American workers need to get used to the idea that they will be going back to school anyway. Typically, a worker in his or her 30s or 40s will work for five to seven employers over a lifetime. That will require retraining or additional training.

She said 45 percent of the coming jobs in the islands will require a bachelor's degree.

At the same time, schools and teachers need to rethink the way they accommodate these late learners. Responding to a question about selection and remediation, Greenwood said it isn't always a matter of students who missed or skipped basic courses. It's also that people who haven't been in school for decades may need a refresher.

MCC Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto said the inquiry is also designed to tell the school how to ease the returning students in at the proper level as quickly and easily as possible. New computerized instructional software can tell a teacher where a student is hung up. That's something a teacher can't always detect just by watching a student who might be clammed up in class.

Greenwood said she rejects the claim that "I'll never need that math in the job I am planning for." At least 90 percent of those new, desirable jobs will require the ability to quantify, and the goal will be to turn out students who know math at least up to calculus.

The reason those jobs are more desirable is that they will pay a million dollars more over a lifetime than jobs requiring only a high school diploma, she said. She cited the MCC courses in dental hygiene and dental assisting as the kinds of paying jobs where there is a big demand. On the other side, she cited the amount of money and jobs the university brings in as an economic engine.

Last year, UH researchers garnered $400 million, and if the pace so far this quarter keeps up, UH will surpass half a billion in extramural grants for the first time.

She compared that with the $345 million in state general fund appropriations made to the school.

She said the Legislature will be asked to approve a general obligation bond issue to pay for university maintenance and repair.

That will boost the economy three ways, she said. First, it will put construction workers on the job right away. The university also wants to build new plant, but that will take years. Fixing roofs can start immediately. It will allow faculty to compete better for research funding, Greenwood said.

The final point, Greenwood said, is more subtle. Research grants include a contribution toward school services and overhead. For other high-ranked research schools, the amount is sometimes 60 or 70 percent. For UH grants, it averages 37 percent.

These overhead payments are determined on a complicated scale, but an up-to-date physical plant earns more points and more money.

She said the university is preparing another capital fund drive. The recently completed drive pulled in more than $300 million. It also attracted 90,000 new donors, with 79 percent of them from the islands.

That shows people support and care about the university, she said. The target of the next drive is not firm but is likely to be around half a billion dollars, Greenwood said.

State funding has been cut by $192 million over the past two years, so trimming the budget "is a very, very hard thing to do," she said.

"Higher education is forever changing for all of us," Greenwood said.

Reach Harry Eagar at heagar@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 30, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Ulupono Takes Over Kapalua Farms With Major Investment in Maui Ag

Pierre Omidyar, who invested in Maui Land & Pineapple Co. stock when the company was being pushed in a greener direction, is now supporting a for-profit/charitable combination that is taking over ML&P's Kapalua Farms, one of the largest organic farms in the state.

Since ML&P also closed its Maui Pineapple Co. subsidiary, then leased much of its land and equipment to the upstart Haliimaile Pineapple Co. this month, the handover takes ML&P completely out of agriculture.

On Friday, Ulupono Sustainable Agriculture Development LLC, a subsidiary of the Ulupono Initiative, announced it would be assuming operations of Kapalua Farms, which not only supplies vegetables and eggs to ML&P's Kapalua Resort but also conducts research into new methods of producing food on Maui. Ulupono Initiative is a Hawaii-focused social investment organization founded in June with backing from Omidyar and his wife, Pam. He was a founder of eBay, and they now live in Hawaii.

Warren Haruki, chairman and interim chief executive officer of ML&P, said, "We are pleased to partner with Ulupono Sustainable Agriculture Development as they assume operations of Kapalua Farms. Our desire was to find an operational partner that would be able to continue organic farming operations and to maintain Kapalua Farms as a community resource, employer and provider."

Robin Campaniano, a general partner of Ulupono Initiative, said, "We also plan to maintain the farm as a resource to the community by expanding its community gardens, continuing to provide educational opportunities for local schools, such as Lahainaluna High School and Maui Preparatory Academy, and partnering with the universities to do innovative research and crop development."

Kyle Datta, a general partner of Ulupono Initiative, said it will take over equipment and 158 acres of land near the entrance to the resort. The company has plans to eventually expand operations.

"Our business plan for Kapalua Farms is to demonstrate that commercial-scale organic vegetable farming can be competitive with imported, conventionally grown produce," Datta said.

That could add as many as 20 jobs at the farms over the next two or three years.

The initiative is structured to operate both for-profit businesses and nonprofit ventures to improve sustainability and the quality of life for Hawaii residents in three main areas: renewable energy, food production and waste reduction.

Ulupono's first investment was in Reuse Hawaii, which demolishes buildings on Oahu and reclaims fixtures and materials.

It also is supporting Sopogy, a solar energy business.

Datta said both sides, profit-making businesses and grants, have the same entrepreneurial orientation. What all ventures share is "really good managers" who will "in future decades, we hope, change the direction of our society."

Ulupono is not so much an operator as a supporter of operating businesses, Datta said. Also, it intends to foster collaboration among like-minded ventures to get the benefit "of all of us working together."

It plans to support the ventures it sponsors for a long time. "This is not a sprint," Datta said Friday.

He said many people for a long time have been working hard to try to bring the state to where it is on sustainability. Ulupono wants "to help in that direction," Datta said.

Reach Harry Eagar at heagar@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 29, 2010 2:05 p.m.

Wailuku House Fire Quickly Extinguished by Fire Crews

WAILUKU, Maui, Hi - A fire first reported at 7:05 a.m. today was determined to be accidental by fire officials. A fire that started in a two-story home in Wailuku on Nani Street burned an upstairs 20 ft x 30 ft ohana unit. There were no injuries.

Twenty fire fighters brought the fire under control by 7:12 and it was extinguished by 7:16 a.m. Crews were able to access the upstairs unit through an exterior stairwell. Estimated damages are $2,500 to contents and $5,000 to structure. Much of the damage is due to smoke from the fire. Two individuals were displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross. No other structures were affected.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 29, 2010 1:45 p.m.

Hundreds of Reef Fish Found in Big Island Dumpster

Residents, environmentalists and commercial tropical fish collectors are outraged by the discovery of 610 fish in a trash bin at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

Tipped off by a fisherman, employees from the state Division of Aquatic Resources' Kailua-Kona office went diving in a Dumpster near a launch ramp Monday. They retrieved two bags of dead fish.

Of the 610 fish counted, 551 were yellow tang — a species that represents more than 80 percent of the aquarium catch in West Hawaii waters. The remaining 59 fish comprised six other species, including butterflyfish and surgeonfish. All of the fish had no outward signs of illness or injury, said Bill Walsh, state aquatic biologist.

Nearly half of the yellow tang were "recruits," very small individuals newly settled on the reef. Recruits usually start settling in the summer and by December are larger in size, which leads the Division of Aquatic Resources to believe these yellow tangs were not collected recently. Still the state agency doesn't know who is responsible or exactly why the fish were dumped.

While not illegal, the dumping was deemed a travesty or a shame by many who called Stephens Media on Thursday. Some said the license of the person responsible should be taken away. Others demanded that local tropical fish collectors develop and enforce a stringent code of conduct.

"Locally, there have been concerns about the aquarium industry," Walsh said. "This includes issues with inconsistent, poor and absent reporting by some collectors and wholesalers. There's also the renegade element or lack of responsibility from a number of collectors who are systematically poaching fish in marine protected areas. ... Many people feel we are granting (tropical fish collectors and exporters) a tremendous privilege by allowing them to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on our reefs and we're getting nothing in return."

Ron Tubbs of R.T. Distributors, said the local tropical fish collectors he knows are "extremely upset" by the fish dumping and hope it never happens again.

"This is an isolated incident due to some kind of mistake that rarely happens," he said. "Mechanical pumps fail, big surf make for difficult and dangerous catch returns, live wells on boats can malfunction, and pipes leak along with other malfunctions, which could have possibly been the cause of this huge loss."

Tubbs said the Hawaii Tropical Fish Association and others are trying to find the person responsible.

"I am positive the huge loss of fish was not intentional. Fish collectors love the ocean and the fish. This is why we all got into the fish business," Tubbs said. "We work very hard to keep all fish live and very healthy. Nearly all fish collected arrive to the hobbyist alive. If care is not taken, collectors do not get paid."

Randy Fernley, owner of Coral Fish Hawaii on Oahu and a Hawaii Tropical Fish Association executive member, has been collecting fish in Hawaii for more than 25 years. He said his fellow association members do follow a code of conduct. The dumping, he said, hinders the progress and hurts everyone in the industry.

"Whoever did this doesn't deserve to be in business," he said. "We understand the shock and dismay. Something needs to be done and the association will do everything it can to help resolve this."

(Report Providedby West Hawaii Today)

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NEWS FLASH - January 29, 2010 1:05 p.m.

Civil Unions Off the Table Indefinitely

The state House voted today to indefinitely postpone action on a civil-unions bill this session.

The voice vote defers any action on the bill unless two-thirds of lawmakers vote to bring the bill back for consideration.

Several gay activists in the House gallery chanted "roll call!" But the House quickly moved on to other items on the agenda. Some activists screamed "shame!" as they filed out of the gallery, and the House broke for recess.

The state Senate last Friday passed a civil-unions bill that would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

The state House had voted 33-17 last session for a civil-unions bill that only applied to same-sex couples.

Support for the bill in the House slipped out of concern with taking another vote during an election year.

"This is a temporary victory that only seeks to delay a meaningful decision on traditional marriage," said Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, in a statement released following the House action. "The State Legislature will continue to play political hot potato with the institution of marriage until the people of Hawai'i are allowed to vote on it once and for all."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 29, 2010 10 a.m.

Sugar Hangs on On Maui - For Now

WAILUKU — Sugar production on Maui got a reprieve yesterday, at least through the end of the year.

Alexander & Baldwin Inc.'s board of directors met in Honolulu yesterday morning to mull over shuttering its Maui subsidiary, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., after it recorded about $45 million in losses over the past two years.

In a statement, the company said it would continue sugar operations through the end of the year, but that the company's fate beyond 2010 would depend on a "favorable outcome" in water cases pending before the state Commission on Water Resource Management, as well as HC&S' ability to increase its sugar production levels.

An attorney for the environmental and Native Hawaiian groups that are petitioning the state to order HC&S to return more water to Maui streams called the company's announcement yesterday a "stunt" aimed at pressuring the water commission to give it what it wants.

Asked yesterday when the board of A&B would reevaluate the sugar company's fate, HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin said, "It's hard to say. No later than the end of the year, but (the review) could happen at any time. It will depend on whether there's an adverse development, if it's a water decision or something else.

"I think bottom line is we lost $45 million over last couple years," Benjamin said. "I don't think anybody in any business can stay open without some pretty strong assurances you are going to turn around the business and sustain it. And for us, our greatest resource, other than our employees, is water. We're not playing games. Any other business would have gone under if they encountered far less stress."

On top of its mounting losses, HC&S said it has faced a near-drowning confluence of low yields because of a three-year-old drought, plus fluctuating commodity prices and high fuel and other fixed costs, such as health care.

Finally, HC&S is battling a two-front assault on its existing water sources on Maui, with decisions expected soon on its diversions from Na Wai Eha in Central Maui and from 19 East Maui streams.

It's that last issue that has left HC&S stream-diversion opponents accusing the company of utilizing woe-is-us tactics in order to get sympathetic decisions soon from the state Water Resource Management Commission.

"This is pure politics," Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake, who represents taro farmers and environmentalists who want the water returned to the streams. "It's an extension of the same old song and dance. The problem for them is that members of an impartial commission and members of the public who are paying attention are not going to persuaded by stunts. This is outrageous."

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Maui Division Director William Kennison said his members are "very, very pleased" with the board's decision yesterday.

"We're still worried, but hoping the water commission will make sure we get enough water to keep us going," Kennison said. "There's a lot of hope today."

Board members didn't make their announcement until after the New York Stock Exchange closed Thursday, with A&B stock trading at $32.21 a share, down just 2.45 percent for the day in lower-than-average trading.

In just the next two months, the Department of Land and Natural Resources water commission members have said they will come up with judgments meant to balance the needs of HC&S — which draws an average 200 million gallons a day to water 37,000 acres — with those who have tenaciously petitioned the state to see the streams restored for the past nine years.

In addition to water decisions, A&B will consider HC&S' ability to attain higher sugar production levels, Benjamin said. He said that sugar prices in the United States have risen in 2010 as other countries suffered bad weather; and more rain recently in Maui has translated into higher yield forecasts.

The combination has "bought HC&S additional time to prove its viability," Benjamin said.

"Production is expected to increase, primarily as a result of the return to near-normal rainfall levels over the past year," he said.

Reach Chris Hamilton at chamilton@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 29, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Humpbacks Flourishing in Hawai'i Waters

Naomi McIntosh isn't tired of whales yet.

Despite more than a decade at the helm of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, she is still impressed at their gran­deur.

A majority of the humpback whales that will winter in Hawai'i are here now. They will breed and bear their young in Hawai'i's protected waters through March or April before returning to North Pacific waters.

The whales are doing well, said David Mattila, the sanctuary's science and rescue coordinator and aco-author of a 2006 study that concluded that about 10,000 humpbacks winter in Hawai'i waters.

The study also calculated that the leviathans are increasing their numbers by a healthy 6 percent to 7 percent each year.

At that rate, there now could be 12,000 or more humpbacks here each winter, McIntosh said.

Tomorrow and again on the last Saturday in February and in March, dozens of volunteers will fan out to an estimated 60 sites along the shores of O'ahu, Hawai'i and Kaua'i for the sanctuary's annual whale count. The count provides key population and distribution information on humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands. (The Pacific Whale Foundation will conduct its own whale count on Maui on Feb. 27.)

Full-grown humpbacks are about 45 feet long and weigh up to 70,000 pounds. Whale calves, which are born here a year after conception, are about 13 feet long and 3,000 pounds.

In late December, McIntosh watched a group of eight male humpbacks competing for the attention of a female off Maui.

"We saw head lunges, tails coming out of the water, a lot of movement at the surface," she said. "There were 'trumpet blows' " heard clearly from the boat she was in. "It was quite dramatic."

That's just the kind of show visitors and local residents are hoping for when they book the whale-watching tours that generate about $20 million a year for Hawai'i's economy.

"Given what we've seen so far, we think it will turn out to be quite a dramatic year for whale-watching,"?McIntosh said.

DANGER FROM DEBRIS

Ann Rillero, public relations spokeswoman for the Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui, agreed.

But more whales means greater potential for interaction with humans and our debris.

Three times in December a sanctuary response team went to assist whales entangled in fishing line, said Ed Lyman, who leads the team.

One of the animals apparently pulled off the lines and swam free before the team could reach it. The team — with assists from the Coast Guard — was able to cut hundreds of feet of line off the other two whales, Lyman said.

The entanglements on Dec. 1, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day highlight how fishing debris is one of the biggest risks facing humpbacks in Hawai'i waters, Lyman said.

The other is speeding boats.

The sanctuary warns boaters to slow to 10 mph in waters where whales are likely to be present and to stay at least 100 yards away from any whale.

BOATING TRAFFIC

A main reason the humpbacks winter in Hawai'i is to give birth to their young, which like any youngsters are less adept than their parents at staying out of harm's way.

Mattila advises boaters to think of Hawai'i waters in the winter as analogous to a school zone when class lets out.

"Drive carefully. It's a nursery," he said.

In the past two years, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent federal agency of the sanctuary) reported 12 violations of humpback whale approach zone regulations — including approaches by swimmers and nonmotorized and motorized watercraft.

A commercial whale-watching vessel that was charged with five violations of the 100-yard rule last season admitted to them and agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty.

McIntosh pointed out to The Advertiser that once the whales were highly active near the boat she was in "we couldn't leave."

"We were in neutral the whole time" until the whales moved safely away from the boat of their own accord, she said.

Those who aren't on a whale-watching tour can take advantage of chance encounters while boating — and appreciate the opportunity, she said.

When you encounter humpback whales in the ocean, McIntosh said, "It tells you these waters are alive."

Reach Diana Leone at dleone@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 28, 2010 3 p.m.

Hawaii State Driver’s License Gets a New Look Beginning February 1st

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui announced today that beginning February 1, 2010 all State of Hawaii driver’s licenses will be issued with a new design.

The last design change took place in January of 2005.

“A new, state-of-the-art production system that has been installed throughout the state provides us the opportunity to add unique, identifiable features to be incorporated into the new drivers license cards,” said County of Maui Motor Vehicle and Licensing Administrator Lito Vila. “These new features enhance the integrity of the drivers license cards by better protecting the holder’s personal information from tampering, alteration, and fraudulent reproduction. Such attempts will be easier to identify, assisting in our continued effort to deter and prevent identity theft in our community.”

New design features include:

- A gradient (dark to light) pink shading on the top of the card containing the State of Hawaii flag, the word “USA”, and the outline of the Hawaiian Islands in a “clear window” format. Another outline of the Hawaiian Islands in a “clear window” format located on the bottom of the card.

- The word HAWAII is in semi-script with upper and lower casing.

- The issue date is located at the top of the photo and overlaps the photo.

- Part of the last name signature overlaps the “sheer” (ghost) image on the horizontal formatted license.

- Part of the first name signature overlaps the “sheer” (ghost) image on the vertical formatted license.

- The “sheer” (ghost) image is located on the lower right of the horizontal formatted license or permit and lower left corner of the vertical formatted license.

- The Rainbow design is not on the instruction permit.

- Each card contains a unique document discriminator number written as item 5 on the front of the card and a unique card serial number on the back of the card, below the linear barcode.

- Bi-dimensional bar code on the back of the card.

- Brief description of the applicable class of license and any restrictions and endorsements listed on the back of the card.

- Date of birth printed in black lettering on the back of the card.

- Hair color and county code no longer displayed.

For more information, call the County of Maui Department of Motor Vehicles and Licensing at (808) 270-7363 or visit www.mauicounty.gov/finance. See a color version of the new license.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 28, 2010 7:40 a.m.

High Surf Still Pounding North Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CONTINUED the HIGH SURF WARNING for NORTH and WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and NORTH FACING SHORES OF MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions and deadly rip currents.

High Surf Warning remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will reach heights of 25 to 35 feet.

Surf along West facing shores of Molokai will reach heights of 15 to 20 feet.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 3.0 feet is expected between 1:59 a.m. and 3:17 a.m. tomorrow morning. The next high tide of approximately 1.2 feet is expected between 11:51 a.m. and 1:09 p.m. tomorrow noon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: STAY WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORELINE IN AFFECTED AREAS. DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES WILL POUND THE SHORELINE PRODUCING DEADLY RIP CURRENTS AND LOCAL BEACH EROSION. BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 28, 2010 7:20 a.m.

Legislature To Take On Furlough Issue

A state Senate committee on Monday will hear two bills that seek to reduce or eliminate public school teacher furloughs, one that would take money from the state's hurricane relief fund and another that would increase the general excise tax by 1 percentage point.

Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-15th (Waimalu, Airport, Salt Lake), chairman of the Senate Education and Housing Committee, introduced both bills and said they are among a string of measures that will be heard this session to restore classroom time for public school students.

"For the public, for myself, the concern is how do we find funds to give the students back their instructional days. That's where I'm at," Sakamoto said.

The teachers union supports the bills. But it also notes that unless Gov. Linda Lingle supports the measures, it's unlikely the money would make its way to the public school system.

"The Legislature can only do their part and ultimately it will come down to the governor. Hopefully she would release the funds if that happens," said Hawaii State Teachers Association president Wil Okabe.

If Sakamoto's bills were to gain the support of lawmakers, Lingle could veto the bills. Even if the vetoes are overridden, Lingle could decide not to release the money.

"We need to get to a point where there is a willingness to agree on something. Because she still has control as far as releasing the money," Sakamoto said.

Lingle believes that raising taxes, especially in this down economy, would hurt businesses and residents, said Lingle spokesman Russell Pang when asked about the Sakamoto bills yesterday.

Lingle has already presented a "fair and generous" offer to use up to $50 million of the rainy day fund to restore 24 furlough days, Pang said. As for the hurricane relief fund, she did not touch it in the budget she submitted in December, Pang said.

Interim Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said her top priority during the legislative session is to reduce the furlough days.

"While furloughs have cast a negative spotlight on our state, it has also refocused the conversation on our public schools and the need to make education in our state a top priority. To that end, all funding sources are welcome," she said.

Under one bill, SB 2436, the state Legislature would appropriate a yet-to-be-determined dollar amount from the state hurricane relief fund or other emergency reserve funds, such as the rainy day fund, to restore as many instructional days as possible during the current school year. The state Department of Education has said it costs about $5 million a day to operate the state's school system.

There are nine furloughs remaining in the year, with the next scheduled for tomorrow. Sakamoto said because SB 2436 deals with the current school year, the Legislature would need to act quickly.

"My hope will be at the end of the hearing on Monday we can pass something forward to the next committee in the Senate, because it is a timing issue. Every week, furlough days tick off. We cannot wait until April to pass a bill. It'll be too late," Sakamoto said.

Another bill, SB 2437, would deal with the 17 furlough days set for next school year. Sakamoto said the measure would set aside money from an emergency reserve fund to deal with the first half of the school year. The last half of the school year would be addressed with a 1 percentage point increase in the state's general excise tax. That tax is currently a maximum of 4.712 percent on O'ahu and 4.166 percent on Neighbor Islands.

To offset the increase in the excise tax, the bill would establish a tax credit for the purchase of food items and would increase the state's standard income tax deduction amount.

"It includes perhaps that we should replenish where we took the money from, whether it's the hurricane fund or the rainy day fund with the GET increase," Sakamoto said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 28, 2010 6:40 a.m.

State Aims to Stimulate Economy with 'Bold Energy Strategy '

HONOLULU — The Lingle-Aiona administration today reaffirmed its vision and commitment to a clean energy-driven Hawai‘i economy at an event marking the second anniversary of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI).

Two years ago, on January 28, 2008, Governor Linda Lingle announced the unprecedented HCEI partnership between the State of Hawai‘i and the U.S. Department of Energy with the bold vision to transform Hawai‘i from the most foreign oil-dependent state in the nation to a secure and thriving economy based on tapping our state’s abundant local energy resources.

At its two-year mark, HCEI is on target to meet its ambitious goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.

“The scope, breadth and depth of activity surrounding the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative has truly been remarkable,” said Governor Lingle. “I am very optimistic and confident that we are on the right path toward a clean and secure energy future for our state and today I re-commit our State to achieving the HCEI objectives. The breadth of partnership and collaboration across so many participants has been and will be critical to making this a success.”

To achieve HCEI goals, the Lingle-Aiona administration recognizes that government’s role is to establish the policy and regulatory framework that allows the markets to function and to invest in and develop clean energy resources. From 2006 through the 2009 legislative session 19 landmark clean energy bills have been enacted into law, including a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) and an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS), both the most progressive in the nation.

The Lingle-Aiona administration further recognized the importance of transforming the state’s regulatory environment to facilitate clean energy development. To date 34 dockets related to clean energy development are active before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), including historic and “game-changing” dockets establishing feed-in tariffs and decoupling for the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

Fundamentally transforming Hawai‘i’s energy system also required collaboration with the state’s utility companies to increase renewable energy generation and integrating renewable energy into utility grids. The Lingle-Aiona administration and the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) entered into a historic Energy Agreement on October 20, 2008, pursuant to which HECO committed to integrating 1,122 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale renewables by 2030, along with approximately 660 MW of customer-sited photovoltaics and other distributed generation into its power grid.

Renewable energy development has surged since HCEI’s inception. Hawai‘i now leads the nation in solar water heating, which accounted for more than a third of all systems installed in 2008. With the ramping-up of photovoltaic installations on public and private facilities, Hawai‘i now ranks third in the nation in per-capita photovoltaic generation.

Hawai‘i residents are also becoming more energy efficient. In 2008, Hawai‘i residents used 8 percent less energy per-capita in 2008 than 2007, marking the sharpest decline in recent years. As per-capita energy use drops steadily, Hawai‘i is spending less on energy per dollar of gross state product (GSP), leaving more to be invested by its residents and businesses.

State agencies are leading by example. As a result of the Lingle-Aiona administration’s Lead by Example initiative, electricity consumption in the executive branch of state government decreased by nearly 6 percent from 2008 to 2009, saving an estimated $10 million a year in general funds. The State’s Department of Accounting & General Services (DAGS) has entered into energy savings performance contracts for 10 downtown state office buildings, including the State Capitol, with more buildings to follow.

In the liquid fuels sector, which is important as one-third of Hawai‘i’s energy consumption is in transportation, the state’s 2009 Bioenergy Master Plan created a roadmap for bioenergy development in Hawai‘i. In December the U.S. Department of Energy released $48 million in Recovery Act funding for biorefinery technology advancements and production facilities in Hawai‘i. Further in transportation, the state has established partnerships with several private sector entities to deploy and test electric vehicles. The state’s first public EV charging station opened on January 23, 2010, and new legislation encourages electric vehicles by requiring designated parking stalls and charging stations in parking lots with at least 100 public stalls.

Dozens of energy companies are pursuing clean energy projects statewide in wind, solar, geothermal, wave and ocean energy and biomass. Wind-generated electricity is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy industries in Hawai‘i. A landmark agreement between HECO, Castle & Cooke, and First Wind in March 2009 initiated wind energy projects on the islands of Lana‘i and Moloka‘i, where wind resources are the most abundant, each with potential to supply between 200 and 400 MW of power.

Ancillary to the development of the renewable generation facilities is the development of an undersea cable between Maui County and O‘ahu that would transport renewable energy from where it is more abundant to where it’s needed most. The state is progressing with a number of studies, including seafloor surveys that have confirmed the physical feasibility of the project and identified possible cable routes. The state has also issued a request for proposals for an environmental impact statement (EIS) and will look to the findings of that EIS to help it make decisions that work for everyone. The state hopes to commence construction of the cable within three years.

Approximately $133.9M of federal ARRA funds have been obtained for Hawai‘i energy projects in areas including biomass, geothermal, water, smart grid, state electricity regulators assistance, energy efficiency and conservation, and workforce development.


“The importance of HCEI's goals to Hawai‘i’s future cannot be overstated,” said DBEDT Director and State Energy Resources Coordinator Theodore Liu. “In addition to being a catalyst for energy independence and greater energy security across the state, HCEI is paving the way for economic recovery and growth, providing incentives for investment in clean energy development, generating exciting new business opportunities and higher-paying, green-collar jobs that come with a new, clean energy economy.”

Moving Forward – Clean Energy Legislative Initiatives

To continue building on the foundation of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, Governor Lingle unveiled in her State of the State Address on Monday a comprehensive package of legislative initiatives that will serve as effective incentives for investments in clean energy. The measures include:
• A ban on the construction of new power plants that burn fossil fuels.
• A general excise tax exemption on renewable energy projects of at least 2 megawatts that are placed in service between January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2015.
• A general excise tax rebate on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as charging stations.
• The Hawai‘i Clean Energy Investment (HCEI) Bonds Program to assist residential and commercial property owners with upfront costs of installing clean energy systems or efficiency upgrades by allowing them to borrow money from the State and then repay the loans over a period of years via an annual assessment on their real property tax bill.

HAWAI‘I CLEAN ENERGY INITIATIVE MILESTONES

Several important milestones in a number of key areas have been achieved that form the foundation on which HCEI’s ambitious goals will be achieved, including:
• The Lingle-Aiona Administration, together with the State Legislature, have put into place the policy and regulatory framework to facilitate the development and growth of Hawai‘i’s clean energy economy.
• As the result of this framework, the private sector has responded with proposing over 100 renewable energy projects involving billions of dollars of private investment.
• Significant opportunities have been put into place and will continue to be developed for Hawai‘i’s residents and businesses to conserve energy and to reduce their energy bills.
• State government is “leading by example” with energy conservation retrofits and deploying their assets, including state lands, to support clean energy generation.
• Cutting-edge clean energy technologies and processes are being developed or tested and deployed in Hawai‘i funded in large part by off-shore private or federal sources of investment.
• Analysis, planning and pilot projects are underway to upgrade and modernize how Hawai‘i transmits and distributes electricity and to lay the foundation of development and adoption of “smart grids.”
• Significant progress has been made on planning and developing liquid fuel alternatives to transition transportation away from foreign oil while supporting local food production and security.
• Substantive and lasting partnerships have been launched, including with our local utilities and refineries, the visitor industry and the U.S. Department of Defense military installations, to capture the benefits of a clean energy economy.
• Over $125 million in federal investment have been obtained to fund the initial work on Hawai‘i’s energy system transformation.
• Significant attention has been drawn to Hawai‘i as a model that other states in the United States and countries in the region can follow.

Additional information on the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s legislative initiatives is available on the Governor’s website (www.hawaii.gov/gov).

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 27, 2010 4:35 p.m.

Kihei Man Dies in Haleakala Highway Crash

Tragedy has struck twice in less than 24 hours on Maui. Today the second traffic fatality of the new year occurred in Upcountry Maui.

Maui Police say that, shortly before noon today, a two-car collision happened on Haleakala Highway, just south of Kealaloa Avenue in Kula. According to the report, a 1995 Dodge Neon four-door sedan, driven by 22 year-old John Michael Bolosan of Kihei, was traveling north on Haleakala Highway. The driver lost control on a curve and his car slid sideways into oncoming traffic where it was impacted by a 1994 Ford Ranger pickup truck.

Bolosan needed to be extricated from his vehicle by fire and rescue personnel. He was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center where he died from his injuries. The driver of the pickup, a 61 year-old man from Kula, was treated at the scene for minor injuries. Each driver was the only occupant of each vehicle and, Police say, both drivers were wearing seatbelts. Haleakala Highway was closed for several hours during the investigation but has since reopened.

Bolosan is the second traffic fatality of 2010. Last night a 42 year-old Kihei woman was killed when she was struck by a vehicle while she was standing in the traffic lanes of Pi'ilani in Kihei.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 27, 2010 1 p.m.

Little Fire Ants Spreading Across Big Island

HONOLULU — State officials have confirmed little fire ants have spread from the east side of the Big Island to the west side.

The Department of Agriculture says the stinging ant is considered one of the world's most invasive species.

The department said Wednesday that the little fire ant was detected this month at two locations in Kailua-Kona.

The ant was first found in the state in 1999 in the Puna area of the Big Island. In October, it was detected on a farm in Waihee, Maui.

A native of South America, the little fire ant is pale orange in color and moves slowly. It can produce painful stings and large red welts, and may cause blindness in pets.

The ant can build up very large colonies on the ground or in vegetation, and moves freely into homes.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 27, 2010 6:55 a.m.

Gas Cap Would Have Kept Prices Lower Than They Are

Hawai'i drivers are probably paying more at the pump than they would have been if the state's controversial gasoline price cap had not been suspended in 2006.

A study done for the state Public Utilities Commission found that wholesale gasoline prices in the first half of last year were 3 to 11 cents higher than they would have been under the cap. A portion of the increase was due to inflation in transportation and terminal costs.

The gas cap, which tied Hawai'i prices to those on the Mainland, was put in place in September 2005. As it took effect, hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused a spike in gasoline prices nationwide. Amid much public grumbling, the state abandoned the cap in May 2006.

"The problem with the gas cap is that it went into effect at the wrong time," said former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who supported its passage and has criticized gas companies for being quick to raise prices and slow to cut them.

"Now you have these studies that show that the gas cap would have done the public some good."

Others disagree and say the report includes information that explains why prices have risen. They say price controls on gasoline remain a bad idea.

"Looking backward at the price cap legislation isn't a productive exercise," said Tupper Hull, a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, whose members include Hawai'i refinery operators Chevron Corp. and Tesoro Corp.

"It was a disaster for consumers. There's no example that we can point to or that anybody else can point to where attempting to legislate prices of a commodity that is subject to global economic factors like crude oil have benefited consumers."

The gas cap was implemented after years of discussion and concerns that oil companies were reaping excessive profits with what have been traditionally the nation's highest prices.

The cap tied price moves to Mainland markets by instituting a maximum wholesale price for gasoline. The cap was set once a week based on wholesale prices in Los Angeles, New York and on the Gulf Coast, along with factoring in costs for shipping, distribution and marketing.

Creators of the system designed it to react more immediately to wholesale gasoline price moves on the Mainland and thus address charges that gasoline prices were quick to rise and slow to fall in Hawai'i.

And that's what the system did, much to the chagrin of drivers who saw gas prices spike when petroleum prices rose on the Mainland. Some motorists complained about price swings from one week to the next, and said they favored the gradual increases and declines they had been used to.

In May 2006, the cap was suspended and a monitoring system on pricing was devised, with the state Public Utilities Commission consultant having to produce an annual report on pricing. The Legislature said having a way to track prices would result in more transparency in the market and help keep a lid on unreasonable prices.

Gov. Linda Lingle was also given the power to reinstitute the gas cap for 30 days at a time should she deem the reinstatement beneficial to the economic well-being and safety of the state when wholesale prices surpassed what they would have been under the cap.

Lingle had been against the gas cap and called the price controls deeply flawed in signing legislation suspending them. The gas cap was a "failed experiment to artificially control gas prices," Lingle said at the time.

CAP 'WORST THING'

A spokesman for Lingle said the governor has no plans to reinstate the gas cap. State energy administrator Ted Peck said he wouldn't recommend to Lingle that she reimpose the price controls and that if someone were to do so it might lead to one or both the refineries here shutting, given recent reports about weak profitability in the U.S. refining industry.

"Instituting the price cap is the absolutely worst thing we could do for our economy," Peck said.

The study also found that gasoline prices were below the cap during the eight months the program was in place, and have been above what the cap would have been since that time.

The report's other key findings include:

• Wholesale diesel prices for on-road use appear to be at levels well above those in Mainland markets when adjusted for shipping to Honolulu.

• Retail margins of gasoline at service stations increased during the sudden decline in global oil prices, but returned to more historical levels by early last year. Retail margins on diesel appear to have been extremely high in several markets in the state in June 2009.

• Hawai'i refineries were more competitive with other U.S. refineries during the January-to-June study period because margins at non-Hawai'i refineries have fallen.

• Sales data show there was a 19 percent decline in fuel purchases during the first half of 2009 compared with 2007 because of the recession and lower tourism.

• Wholesale prices here track other markets in price increases and decreases, but on about a one-month lag.

That last point is not lost on Hull, who said the overall report shows gasoline prices in the state are reasonably competitive with those on the Mainland when taking the state's higher costs into account.

"It very much affirms that market dynamics are what are driving prices in Hawai'i," Hull said, noting that lower demand also may drive up prices as suppliers deal with lower-volume sales.

He said there are a multitude of factors that can affect the pricing and that the gas cap formula might not have dealt well with the pricing volatility that's occurred in petroleum markets during the past year.

"Trying to compare something constructed at a time when the market was very, very different than it is today doesn't seem like a particularly productive activity," Hull said.

HAWAI'I 'LAG'

The report notes that the largest pricing variations with the cap typically occurred when crude prices were declining. During such times, Hawai'i's lag in pricing changes produced higher differentials with the cap.

But it notes that the 2009 gap of about 10 cents per gallon occurred during a period of rising crude prices.

"Consequently, it appears suppliers may be attempting to keep prices higher than in the past as markets rise," the report said.

It did note, however, that the cap formula used in the analysis was designed in 2006 and included costs that need to be updated.

"These costs have undoubtedly increased over the period and would have resulted in a modified price cap formula to reflect those cost differences (however, it is unlikely those cost adjustments would be as high as 10 cents per gallon, since only the transportations cost portion of the gas cap formula would be affected)," the report said.

Peck said work put into monitoring today's wholesale prices against a price cap may be moot in coming years anyway. He said much is happening when it comes to weaning the state from petroleum, including production of home-grown biofuels.

"There is a lot going on in the biofuel arena and it's exciting," he said. "It's going to be a whole new world."

Cayetano remains an advocate of the gas cap.

"The idea that transparency will have an impact on the market is a joke," he said. "The study shows the gas cap would have saved the consumer a few dollars."

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 27, 2010 6:35 a.m.

Kihei Woman is County's First Traffic Death of 2010

A Kihei woman has become Maui County's first traffic fatality of 2010. Forty-two year-old Shannon L. Vannatta of Kihei was struck by a vehicle and killed on the Pi'ilani Highway, just north of the intersection with Kulanihakoi Street.

The incident happened at 9:09 p.m., Maui Police say. A 2005 Nissan sport utility vehicle driven by a 23 year-old Kihei man was traveling northbound on the Pi'ilani when it struck the woman who was reported to be standing in the lanes of traffic. Vannatta's vehicle was found parked and unattended on the shoulder of the highway. The driver of the Nissan was not injured. Vannatta was pronounced dead at Maui Memorial Medical Center. The highway was closed for several hours during the investigation.

There were two traffic deaths at this time last year on Maui.

(Information Provided by The Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 5:10 p.m.

English Proposes New Management for Kalaupapa

HONOLULU — The Molokai settlement where St. Damien cared for Hansen's disease patients would eventually be managed by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands under a bill before the Legislature.

Sen. Kalani English's proposal would transfer management of Kalaupapa Settlement once there is no longer a resident patient population.

English says when no more patients are receiving care at Kalaupapa, it will make more sense for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to oversee the island instead of the Department of Health.

English says the state should prepare for more visitors interested in the historical, cultural and religious significance of the island.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 4:20 p.m.

Kahului Pool Closed For Pump Repairs

KAHULUI - Kahului Pool is closed beginning tomorrow for pump repairs, the County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation Aquatics Division announced. The pool is expected to remain closed through the end of the week.

For current pool schedules, call the Maui County Pools Information Line at 270-8208; the recorded message is updated by 9 a.m. daily.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 11:05 a.m.

Walkout Planned Thursday at Maui Kaiser Clinics

Unite Here Local 5, fresh off a one-day walkout and picket at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Honolulu, is set to strike again—this time on Maui.

The union that represents nearly 1,800 health care workers at the state's largest health maintenance organization said yesterday it will conduct a one-day walkout at the Wailuku and Maui Lani clinics beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Unlike the Honolulu strike last week, which was to protest Kaiser's plans to subcontract mail-order pharmacy work to Colorado, this strike is more general and is about job security, according to Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe.

Kaiser and Local 5 have been negotiating on a new contract for cashiers, reservationists, medical assistants and housekeeping.

"This strike on Maui is all about our ability to secure good jobs in our communities," he said. "Our strike is about protecting these jobs and having the good job security we need to help make Kaiser succeed."

Spokeswoman Lynn Kenton of Kaiser reiterated that none of the 18 pharmacy workers singled out during last week's strike will be losing their jobs, and only a portion of their work will be shifted to Colorado.

"Kaiser Permanente has spent the last two to three years under new leadership being very strategic and focusing on key areas to ensure that we retain our members and grow membership, which ensures jobs for our current employees and new jobs for the people of Hawaii in the future," Kenton said.

She said Kaiser has contacted all members who had appointments Thursday at the Wailuku and Maui Lani clinics to tell them that it will be business as usual.

"We're doing everything we can to ensure that these Local 5 strikes don't impact patient care," she said.

Reach Dave Segalk at dsegal@starbulletin.com.

Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 10:55 a.m.

Tourist Arrivals Climb in December, Still Down from '08

HONOLULU – Total visitor arrivals in December 2009 rose 2.4 percent from last December to 577,657 visitors, according to preliminary statistics released today by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. Arrivals by air grew 3.2 percent but arrivals by cruise ships were 31 percent lower compared to last December.

Overall, total visitor days were up 1.7 percent from December 2008. The average length of stay by all visitors was 10.27 days, slightly lower than the 10.34 days in December 2008.

Increased arrivals by air contributed to a small rise (+0.5 percent or $5 million) in total visitors expenditures to $955.2 million. The average daily spending by these visitors was $163 per person, down from $167 per person in December 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West grew 3.6 percent from December 2008. Arrivals from U.S. East (+0.7%) and Canada (+4.3%) also increased while arrivals from Japan dipped slightly (-0.6%) from last December.

Calendar 2009 Statistics

For all of 2009, there were a total of 6,514,382 visitors to the islands, down 4.5 percent from 2008. Arrivals by air for 2009 declined 4.4 percent to 6,419,138 visitors while arrivals by ship dropped 13 percent to 95,244 visitors.

Total visitor days decreased 4.3 percent in 2009. However, the average length of stay, at 9.43 days, was essentially the same as 2008.

Total spending by air visitors was $9.9 billion for 2009, a decrease of $1.3 billion or 11.7 percent from 2008. Average per person per day spending by air visitors dropped to $163 per person from $177 per person in 2008.

Among the top four visitor markets, arrivals by air from U.S. West declined 1.8 percent in 2009. Arrivals from U.S. East (-7.2%), Canada (-5.8%), and Japan (-4.9%) also decreased from 2008 levels.

Total Visitors

- For all of 2009, convention visitors fell 1.1 percent due to decreases from U.S. West (-9.3%), U.S. East (-5.8%), and Canada (-4.3%), partially offset by growth in Japanese convention visitors (+38.8%). The total number of visitors in the islands for corporate meetings (-26.6%) and incentives (-37.7%) were significantly lower compared to
calendar year 2008.

- More visitors came to honeymoon in December 2009 (+3%) compared to the same month last year. Total honeymoon visitors for all of 2009 rose 3.5 percent compared to 2008, mainly due to growth in honeymoon visitors from U.S. West (+1.7%) and Japan (+5.4%) offsetting declines from Canada (-4.3%) and U.S. East (-2.8%).

- Most accommodations benefitted from increased total visitor traffic during the month of December 2009: hotels (+3.4%), condominium properties (+6.2%), timeshare (+2.7%) and bed and breakfast properties (+41.7%). For calendar year 2009 only timeshare properties (+3.9%) and friends/relatives (+3%) showed growth in total visitors while
hotels (-5.3%), condominium (-7.9%) and bed and breakfast (-10.6%) properties dropped compared to 2008.

- The total number of visitors who went on group tours in calendar year 2009 fell 19.8 percent compared to 2008.

- The total number of independent travelers in 2009 declined 2.3 percent compared to the previous year. Significantly more Japanese visitors traveled independently (+16.7%) in 2009 but were offset by fewer independent travelers from U.S. West (-1.7%), U.S. East (-5.7%) and Canada (-4.8%).

Read the entire report and view County-by-County stats here.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Tourism Authority)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 10:25 a.m.

Maui-SF Flight Forced Back by Storm

A United Airlines 777 jet headed from Maui to San Francisco turned back to Honolulu about two hours into Sunday's flight after bad weather forced the pilot to fly at a lower-than-usual altitude that burned through fuel at a faster rate, according to the airline.

United Flight 34 left Maui at 2:03 p.m. Sunday headed for San Francisco, and was expected to arrive just before 9 p.m.

Instead, air traffic controllers from the Federal Aviation Administration advised the flight crew to "fly at a significantly lower altitude" because of bad weather conditions," United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said.

After the flight was about an hour from Honolulu, she said the "much, much lower altitude" prompted the pilot to say that he would need more fuel to continue to fly at that level.

Urbanski said this kind of turnaround midflight happens infrequently. She said figuring the fuel for the jets involves balancing weight as well as the route, so it isn't as simple as topping off the car's gas tank each time you pull into a gas station.

"We do put a certain amount of fuel," she said, but added that weight restrictions must be calculated as well.

Urbanski said the flight was full of passengers and left with ample fuel to reach San Francisco. When the plane arrived in Honolulu just before 7 p.m. to add more fuel, she said the pilot had reached his maximum allowable flying hours and the airline had to switch crews.

The flight was rescheduled to leave yesterday morning.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 10:05 a.m.

Building Without Permits in Violation of County Code Costly for Property Owners

WAILUKU - The County of Maui has received payments totaling more than $19,000 as a result of settlements of two cases brought against property owners who were cited by the County’s Department of Public Works for failure to obtain building and other required permits prior to commencing work on their property in violation of the Maui County Code.

Defendant Michael Malek paid $10,000 in fines to settle the County of Maui’s claims filed against him in the Second Circuit Court case, County of Maui v. Michael Malek, for doing grading work, plumbing work, constructing a rock wall and building a barn on his Haiku property without obtaining the necessary permits.

Seashore Properties LLC, owner of the property on which the Paia Inn Hotel, Paia, Maui is located, paid $9,160 to resolve three disputed Notices of Violation issued to it by County building inspectors. The Notices alleged that Seashore had performed work on the property without first obtaining required building permits. Seashore denied these allegations, filing appeals of the Notices with the Board of Variances and Appeals. The appeals have been dismissed.

In addition to these payments, both property owners had to obtain the required permits, paying an additional penalty amount for the issuance of the after-the-fact permits as provided for by the Maui County Code.

The County was represented in these enforcement cases by Deputy Corporation Counsel Mary Blaine Johnston. Malek and Seashore Properties were each represented by private attorneys.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 7:15 a.m.

Potential Veto Could Delay Civil Unions Vote

State House Speaker Calvin Say said yesterday that he will announce by Friday whether the House will vote on a civil-unions bill and suggested he may not have the two-thirds' majority to override a potential veto.

After a private caucus among majority Democrats, Say said lawmakers will have to consider whether they want to bring the bill to the floor even if they do not have a veto-proof margin, or 34 of 51 lawmakers.

The House passed a civil-unions bill last session, 33-17, with one Democrat who supports the bill absent. Say said support for civil unions may have slipped and put the latest private count at 31 lawmakers in favor.

"It's very, very tight at this point in time. And we're just trying to determine, do we have the votes for the two-thirds?" said Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise).

"If we don't have it as one of the conditions, I think the members will have to make a very hard decision."

Some lawmakers are urging that the bill be brought to a vote regardless, since a majority remain in support of civil unions. Others do not want the political exposure of having to vote again unless there is enough support to override a veto so the bill can become law.

The state Senate approved a civil-unions bill on Friday that would give both same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, responsibilities and benefits as in marriage under state law. The 18-7 vote showed the Senate could override a veto.

Gov. Linda Lingle has not said whether she would veto the bill if it reaches her desk.

"I don't spend time reading things that aren't passed," Lingle told reporters yesterday.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 26, 2010 6:45 a.m.

Dry Year Behind, More Ahead

Even the wettest spot in Hawai'i — Mount Wai'ale'ale — wasn't so wet last year as the state experienced below-normal rainfall in all but a few spots.

Rain gauges at the Kaua'i mountaintop measured 308 inches in 2009, 73 percent of normal levels, and a scant 3 inches in December, only 7 percent of normal. It was Mount Wai'ale'ale's third-driest December on record, according to National Weather Service data.

In Honolulu, only the O'ahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge experienced above-normal rainfall in 2009 — 214 inches. Totals for most sites in central and west O'ahu were less than 50 percent of their annual averages.

The December rainfall numbers were even worse, with most O'ahu gauges measuring a third or less of normal rainfall averages, a trend that has continued into the new year.

The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99 percent of the state is experiencing "abnormally dry" or worse conditions, compared with 37 percent at the same time last year. More than a third of the state is suffering "severe to exceptional" drought.

On Maui and the Big Island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month designated the two counties as natural disaster areas so farmers could seek relief for crop losses.

"It was very dry in the eastern half of the state. The west half was in pretty good shape, particularly early in the wet season, but nothing really made it over to the east half, with much of Maui County and the Big Island experiencing some form of drought throughout the whole year," said Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Honolulu.

"The Big Island, especially, has had considerable extreme drought in the leeward areas."

With the El Niño ocean-atmosphere system prevailing into 2010, the Drought Monitor is predicting dry conditions in Hawai'i through May.

That means drought could develop across the rest of the state, affecting farmers and raising the risk of wildfires. And it's not good news for coffee growers in West Hawai'i, who are hoping for more rain in the coming weeks to ensure a good harvest in the last half of the year.

"We've been very dry for two months. If we don't get at least a couple of good winter storms, we'll have a short harvest," said Bruce Corker, president of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association.

Corker's Rancho Aloha grows coffee, avocadoes and lulu fruit on his nearly 4-acre farm in Holualoa.

"We haven't had much rain at all. Everything is dry," he said.

Farther north, Kahua Ranch Ltd. has begun supplementing feed for its 3,000 cattle. The ranch has 10,000 acres in Kohala and 15,000 acres on the southern tip of the Big Island in Ka'u.

Ranch chairman Monte Richards said light rains in the last couple of months provided surface moisture and temporarily greened up some grazing areas, but the water didn't penetrate deep into the soil.

The Kohala ranch averages a little more than 6 inches of rain in each of the months of December and January, but last month received only half that amount, and halfway through January, only three-quarters of an inch has fallen, Richards said.

"It is tough. We know we're one day closer to rain but we're not sure when it's coming," he said.

"This and last month is when we get the bulk of our annual rainfall. It can turn around and get wetter later on. We're not out of the gunsights of getting some good storms, but it's fading fast."

BRUSHFIRE THREAT

Dry conditions also contributed to the spread of an 1,800-acre forest fire that has been burning above Kealakekua for several weeks.

Capt. Terry Seelig, of the Honolulu Fire Department, said the dry conditions in the winter months are a reminder that brushfires can be a threat at any time of the year.

"It's important to understand the relationship between dry weather and the possibility of a fire starting and spreading quickly," he said.

"People need to be vigilant" and not wait for the warmer summer season to report hazardous conditions, to prepare an evacuation plan and to clear rubbish, brush and other potential fuel sources from around houses, Seelig said.

Much of the state was already in the grip of a drought by the end of the dry season in September. Kodama said the wet season that begins in October provided "a small window of opportunity" to boost the year's rainfall totals.

November, the most active month for flash flooding, produced four periods of rain that damaged homes and property on Kaua'i and O'ahu and caused two deaths in Hana, Maui.

One of the most intense rainy periods in the last decade occurred Nov. 14 when a storm dumped water over Hanalei and other parts of northern Kaua'i at a rate of 4 inches per hour, according to the weather service. A series of storms drenched portions of the state in December, but not where it was needed most.

"The windward side of Maui and the Big Island got quite a bit of rain, but the leeward sides never saw any of that. So they got some drought relief but it was very minimal and it dried back up," Kodama said.

Most of the Big Island gauges in December registered less than 50 percent of the average amount of rain for the month.

Maui rainfall also was below normal for December. Pu'u Kukui, considered the second-wettest spot in the state, received only 4 inches of rain, 11 percent of what it normally sees, the weather service said.

In contrast to the very wet November, all gauges on Kaua'i recorded below-normal rainfall during December, with most at less than 20 percent of the monthly average.

And all of the gauges on O'ahu recorded below-normal totals in December, with most at less than 50 percent of normal, according to the rainfall data.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 7:10 p.m.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares to Deliver 2010 State of the County Address

WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares will present her fourth State of the County Address on Thursday, February 11th, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in the Council Chambers on the 8th Floor of the County Building at 200 South High Street, Wailuku. Sign language interpretation will be provided during the speech.

Attendance at the Mayor’s State of the County Address is open and free to the public; however, seating is limited. The public may watch a live broadcast of the speech on cable television via AKAKU: Maui Community Television Channel 53. Radio station KNUI AM 900 will also be broadcasting the speech live.

The speech will be re-broadcast the same day at 11:00 a.m. on KAOI 96.7 FM and KAOI 1110 AM. On Friday, February 12, KPMW 105.5 FM will run a re-broadcast at 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

The State of the County will be available online at www.mauicounty.gov/mayor following the conclusion of her speech in the Council Chambers.

For more information, please call the Office of the Mayor at (808) 270-7855.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 4:10 p.m.

Utility Pole Repair Slows Traffic on Dairy Road

(Editor's Note: Police reoport that traffic is flowing again as of 4:40 p.m.)

Maui Police report that Dairy Road is experiencing significant traffic delays in the area near Alamaha Street. Maui Electric Company crews are on the scene making repairs to a utility pole. Both Ma'alaea lanes are open. However, only one lane in the airport-bound lane is open.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 2:30 p.m.

Public Invited to Participate in Water Recycling Plan

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-The County of Maui Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that the next Maui Wastewater Community Working Group meeting will be held on February 4, 2010 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center at 395 Waena Place, Wailuku. The public is encouraged to attend and invited to participate in the comment period at the end of the meeting.

Convened by Mayor Charmaine Tavares in September of 2009, the community working group’s objective is to provide community-based recommendations to DEM’s Wastewater Reclamation Division. These recommendations will assist the county in making significant strides toward achieving Mayor Tavares’ goal of 100 percent recycling of Maui’s wastewater.

The Maui Wastewater CWG is made up of 21 members representing a broad range of constituencies on the island of Maui. The February 4th meeting will be the fourth meeting since the CWG began in October 2009 and the process is expected to continue for one year.

For more information, please call the Department of Environmental Management at (808) 270-8230 or visit www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 12:30 p.m.

State Offers Internships to Unemployed

HONOLULU- The Hawai`i State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced today that it will begin registering unemployed persons and businesses in the DLIR Volunteer Internship Program (DLIR VIP). The program will allow unemployment insurance claimants to gain workforce training by interning at local businesses for up to 32 hours a week for 8 weeks. The program is part of Governor Linda Lingle’s economic recovery initiatives and is geared toward getting the Hawaii’s unemployed greater job skills and back to work quicker.

“Its basically a ‘try me out’ to potential employers, in that the claimants can demonstrate their talents and skills while interning,” said DLIR Director Darwin L.D. Ching. “Businesses benefit from a low-risk evaluation and training period for potential employees, so it’s really a win-win situation for everyone,” Ching added.

To sign up and register or for more information including answers to frequently asked questions visit www.hawaii.gov/labor/ui/vip or email dlir.wdd.admin@hawaii.gov.

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 11:15 a.m.

Governor Unveils Proposals to Jump Start Economy

Governor Linda Lingle announced in her State of the State Address a package of legislative proposals and administrative programs aimed at creating jobs, getting residents back to work and enhancing job training opportunities. Read the full text of Governor Lingle's 2010 State of the State Address.

The Lingle-Aiona Administration’s initiatives include an income tax credit proposal that grants credits equal to the wages withheld by the employer for each new, full-time permanent position filled by a resident who is currently receiving unemployment benefits.

In addition, because the construction and visitor industries have been hit especially hard during the downturn, and have the capacity to significantly stimulate the economy, the Governor is proposing a 10 percent construction and renovation tax credit for hotels and resorts.

The Administration will also actively work on two jobs programs that do not require legislative approval. One program expands SEE Hawai‘i Work that currently reimburses an employee’s wages and benefits for up to one year for companies that hire people off of the welfare rolls. Another program will allow workers on unemployment to volunteer their time at a business or non-profit organization while still drawing unemployment benefits.

Additional information on the job creation tax credit proposals and jobs programs follows:

Income Tax Credit for Job Creation

TITLE: A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO JOB CREATION.

PURPOSE: To encourage business firms to hire new employees by authorizing an income tax credit equal to the wages withheld by the employer, including one allowance, for each new full-time permanent position created and filled by a State resident currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits or eligible to receive such benefits.

JUSTIFICATION: Hawai‘i has suffered as a result of the national and global economic downturn. Much of the impact has occurred in the loss of employment for people in the State. Hawai‘i’s unemployment rate climbed from 3 percent in January 2008 to an average of 7 percent today. Maui’s most recent unemployment level was 9 percent and Moloka‘i is experiencing a 13.5 percent unemployment level. These unemployment levels are unacceptable and hurt families and their ability to support themselves. Additionally, this situation places a drain on the State’s other resources including unemployment insurance benefits and social services.

To encourage businesses to create new full-time positions in this economic climate, the costs of new job creation must be addressed. This bill would allow companies to receive an income tax credit in the amount equal to the wages withheld by the employer, including one allowance, for each new full-time permanent position created and filled by a State resident receiving unemployment benefits. By allowing a credit equal to the wages withheld by the employer, this method will help offset the costs to the State in most cases.

The program would cover a three-year period of 2010 through 2012, when Hawai‘i is projected to be in a slow economic recovery. To continue to draw credits, businesses would need to remain operational for two years after their final tax credits are received, thus ensuring that the credits go to those firms that make a lasting commitment to improving the economy.

Impact on the public: Similar programs have been operational in ten other states and have shown success in creating jobs that businesses might not otherwise decide to fill. The program will give those currently drawing unemployment the opportunity to be considered for new jobs. The program allows businesses of any size and industry sector to participate as long as they meet the basic program requirements.

Impact on the department and other agencies: The Department of Taxation will be responsible for administering the tax incentive provided in this measure.

GENERAL FUND: Not applicable

OTHER FUNDS: Unemployment Trust fund should show smaller draw downs and more deposits as positions are created and filled.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon approval with credits applicable for calendar year 2010 through December 31, 2012, when the bill is repealed, provided that valid credits applied for subsequent to the repeal date can be claimed until exhausted.


Construction and Renovation Tax Credit

TITLE: A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO REMODELING TAX CREDITS.

PURPOSE: To provide a 10 percent tax credit on costs incurred for the construction or renovation of hotels or resort properties from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012.

JUSTIFICATION: As a result of the current economic downturn, a number of Hawai‘i real estate projects have been delayed or canceled in the past two years. In a study released on January 4, 2010, the General Contractors Association reported that between November 2008 and November 2009, Hawai‘i’s construction industry lost 5,800 jobs, or 15 percent of construction jobs statewide. Compared to the state’s 7 percent overall unemployment rate during the same period, construction job loss is double that of overall job loss.

Moreover, recent economic forecasts by the First Hawaiian Bank and the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization project that the construction industry will continue to be impacted for some time before a gradual recovery ensues. Since the construction and visitor industries have been among the hardest hit during this economic downturn, and since larger scale hotel and resort projects have the potential to hire large numbers of construction workers, and since renovation of existing hotels and the build-out of new resorts will re-energize our visitor accommodations, it is essential to incentivize key construction activities in the state.

This bill stimulates construction activity by establishing a 10 percent tax credit, applicable to costs incurred in the construction or renovation of hotel or resort properties for tax years 2010 to 2012. The non-refundable credit may be used to offset corporate income, general excise or transient accommodation taxes. The purpose of the hotel and resort construction and renovation tax credit is to provide an immediate boost to the construction industry, while jump starting Hawai‘i’s overall economy.

This tax credit sets a floor of $10,000,000 and a cap of $100,000,000 in the aggregate per project. Construction or renovation costs include labor, material, and supply costs incurred in Hawai‘i, but do not include design, planning, or permitting costs. This provision is necessary to ensure the credit is only applicable to actual construction and renovation.

Additionally, the bill places an annual limit on the amount of tax credits the Department of Taxation may award to $50,000,000 per year.

Impact on the public:
This bill helps revitalize the construction industry in the key sector of hotel and resort development and provides long-term enhancements to visitor accommodations in the state.

Impact on the department and other agencies:
The Department of Taxation must administer the tax credit. The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism will work with the Department of Taxation to oversee the program.

GENERAL FUND: $50,000,000 per year to generate $500,000,000 per year in construction activity resulting in up to $74 million in net addition tax income to the State.

OTHER FUNDS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon approval and applies to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2009 and ending December 31, 2012.


Volunteer Internship Program

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Volunteer Internship Program (DLIR VIP) will allow unemployment insurance claimants to gain workforce training by interning at local businesses for up to 32 hours a week for 8 weeks, while still receiving unemployment benefits. The program is part of the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s economic recovery initiatives and is geared toward getting Hawai‘i’s unemployed greater job skills and back to work quicker.

It is anticipated that most, if not all, interns will be current unemployment insurance claimants who have not exhausted their 26 weeks of benefits. However, other unemployed jobseekers or part-time workers seeking full-time work may be eligible, provided they are registered in HireNet Hawai‘i (www.hirenethawaii.com), the state-sponsored online job board.

Starting today, the Hawai‘i State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations will begin registering unemployed persons and businesses in the DLIR Volunteer Internship Program. This program will begin next month and continue through December 2010. Results of the program will be assessed at that time to determine whether it should be continued.

To sign up and register or for more information including answers to frequently asked questions visit www.hawaii.gov/labor/ui/vip or email dlir.wdd.admin@hawaii.gov.


SEE Hawai‘i Work

SEE (Supporting Employment Empowerment) Hawai‘i Work, which was launched in February 2005 by the Department of Human Services, provides work opportunities for individuals on government welfare assistance, while reimbursing employers for up to one year for most of an employee’s wages in exchange for on-the-job training and potential employment.

The Lingle-Aiona Administration will expand this successful, innovative program using federal stimulus funds to cover for six months parents who are collecting unemployment and whose household income does not exceed a certain level.

These parents can earn up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level and participate in SEE – thus encouraging employers to offer them jobs and eliminate the need to pay these parents unemployment benefits.

The SEE program sends pre-screened SEE applicants to participating employers for interviews and potential hires. SEE employees can be hired for part-time or full-time positions, ranging between 24 to 40 hours per week.

Employers are reimbursed the current Hawai‘i State Minimum Wage plus $.50 for each additional $1.00 per hour paid over the minimum wage for up to 40 hours per week. Employers are also reimbursed an additional 14 percent of the subsidized wages to cover training and employment-related expenses, such as Unemployment Insurance, Workers Compensation and FICA.

Visit www.seehawaiiwork.org for more information.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 25, 2010 6:55 a.m.

Governor to Look Forward, Not Back in State of State Address

Gov. Linda Lingle gives her final State of the State speech today, one of her last chances to try to shape public policy before her time as Hawai'i's chief executive fades into history.

Lingle has the misfortune of finishing her second four-year term in the depths of the worst economy since the Depression, but the Republican governor plans to reach beyond the immediate budget deficit and call on lawmakers to take steps to prepare for economic recovery.

The governor will look forward, not back, and focus on issues such as job creation.

Lingle said last week that closing the state's projected $1.2 billion deficit through June 2011 was only the minimum task for the state Legislature this year.

"My sense is that this may be one of the most important speeches the governor gives as the State of the State," said Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser. "We're going to be looking forward, in terms of what can be accomplished together over the next 10 months, as opposed to spending a lot of time talking about the many accomplishments the administration has achieved over the past seven years."

Lingle's popularity has taken a hit after budget cuts and protracted negotiations with public-sector labor unions over labor cost savings. But she has shown she can use moments such as the State of the State to help set the agenda for the legislative session.

The platform gives the governor an opportunity to speak directly to the public.

Ben Cayetano, a former governor, said if he were able to do his State of the State addresses over he would focus more on narrative and less on updates of what was happening at state departments.

He said the value of the speech is not only to address the public, but to guide the Legislature. "I think the people are interested in the things she thinks are important and what she wants to tell the Legislature," he said.

Over the years, Lingle has used the speech to outline some of her most memorable ideas, while other proposals have fallen flat.

Majority Democrats often have been unable to compete with Lingle's communication skills but, since they control the state House and Senate, they have had the ability to determine whether many of the governor's ideas advance.

"I think, unfortunately, this administration releases a lot of proposals without fleshing out the details," said state Rep. Roy Takumi, D-36th (Pearl City, Momilani, Pacific Palisades).

"What we'd like to see is more collaboration and cooperation."

lingle's legacy
State Rep. Kymberly Pine, R-43rd ('Ewa Beach, Iroquois Point, Pu'uloa), said Lingle should spend some time reminding the public of her successes on issues such as promoting energy independence and responding to the homeless situation on the Leeward Coast.

Pine also believes Lingle should clearly explain how the state arrived at the stalemate with the Hawaii State Teachers Association on teacher furloughs, which many lawmakers in both parties now consider a mistake that needs correcting.

"I think a lot of people are focusing on the tough times and are not remembering her legacy," she said.

Legacy, whether Lingle chooses to speak to it or not, will be a theme in her final months in office.

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who is running in the Republican primary for governor, also will have to attempt to put the past eight years into context for voters or else Democrats will paint their own unflattering portrait.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor, gave his assessment of the State of the State in a message to his supporters yesterday.

Abercrombie said the state should help get some of the unemployed back to work by accessing and maximizing federal dollars, investing in education and social welfare programs, and moving rapidly toward self-sufficiency and sustainability.

He also called for more collaboration.

"I have never seen Hawai'i so divided and so incapable of coming together around common goals," he wrote. "The governor and Legislature are locked in a stalemate and we are paralyzed by fights over budget cuts, civil unions, rail transit, land, water and more.

"We can't even cooperate to put children back in school. The worst part is our leaders all too often exploit these divisions and end up defending positions rather than resolving issues.

"Sometimes, we just lack the political courage to confront our conflicts with honesty and respect," Abercrombie wrote. "This needs to stop now, again, starting at the top."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 24, 2010 5 p.m.

Surf Drops, Advisory Does Too

1. EVENTS: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has CANCELLED the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north and west facing shores has dropped below advisory levels.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS OF THE DECLINING SURF.

4. INFORMATION: This will be the last Maui County Civil Defense notification on this event.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 24, 2010 11:10 a.m.

Teachers Turn to Lawmakers for Furlough Help

The teachers union, which is at a stalemate with Gov. Linda Lingle over how to end furloughs, has turned to the state Legislature to resolve the issue.

If no action is taken, schools will be closed on nine Fridays between now and the end of the school year, including three Fridays in a row starting this week. Teacher furloughs began on Oct. 23 as a way to help balance the state budget.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said in a written statement it wants lawmakers to support its plan to cut seven furlough days this year, using $35 million from the state's rainy day fund.

On Dec. 28, the union and state education officials agreed to that plan, but the governor rejected it. She came back with a plan to use $50 million from the rainy day fund to cancel 24 furlough days.

HSTA President Wil Okabe said Friday that the union is sticking to the Dec. 28 agreement it reached with the state Board of Education. Okabe called on lawmakers to provide the funding for that plan.

"As far as HSTA is concerned, the agreement is final and binding on all parties," Okabe said. "We encourage all HSTA members and the community to urge lawmakers to provide for adequate funding for the (Dec. 28) agreement."

Okabe reiterated that the Dec. 28 agreement does not require the governor's signature. He did say money to enact the plan relies on the governor.

"We realize that the governor has to be the one to fund it. The governor holds the key to releasing that money," he said.

"On Nov. 15, 2009, Gov. Lingle made a commitment to end furloughs by use of the rainy day fund," Okabe said. "We expect her to live up to that prior commitment."

What Lingle proposed on Nov. 15 was using $50 million of the rainy day fund to restore 27 furlough days this school year and next.

Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser, said last week that the governor would not support action from the Legislature to fund the union's Dec. 28 agreement.

"The governor proposed a very responsible plan that solves furlough Fridays for this year and next year. She would be willing to spend $50 million to cover both of those periods. It is not acceptable to spend almost two-thirds of the available money to just solve the current year," Smith said.

Smith also said under the state Constitution, only the governor can request an emergency appropriation for the current fiscal year.

Rep. Roy Takumi, chairman of the state House Education Committee, said it is possible that lawmakers could set aside money to solve furlough days in the current school year.

"We could come up with an idea, a proposal to fund the furloughs for this year. Say it does reflect the supplemental (Dec. 28) agreement, ultimately the governor will have to decide whether she will release those funds," Takumi said.

There are proposals floating around the halls of the state Capitol to solve the furlough Fridays for the current school year, but they are not fully fleshed out yet, Takumi said. Announcement of those plans could happen as early as next week, he said.

The governor's office has been meeting with the BOE this week to clarify details in the governor's most recent furlough restoration proposal, Smith said. She said the governor hopes to gain the support of the BOE and HSTA for her plan.

State Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi, in a written statement, said the BOE has yet to receive all the details of the governor's most recent plan.

"The board has questions about the governor's proposal, and we hope to receive answers soon," Toguchi said. "The board remains committed to find a solution to reduce school furloughs. Board negotiators and DOE representatives are scheduled to meet with HSTA next week," he said.

Okabe said the HSTA has not received official details about the governor's proposal.

"We never got the plan. She only mentioned those things to the media," Okabe said.

Okabe said the objections the union had to Lingle's original proposal are likely to be issues in her new plan.

Among other concerns, union officials were opposed to the governor's original plan because they said the $50 million would not cover the salaries of all school employees to return to work. Education officials estimate the DOE would face a $19.3 million budget shortfall under the governor's original plan.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 23, 2010 4:15 p.m.

More Big Waves Headed Our Way

1. EVENTS: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has ISSUED a HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. Sunday

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: A large incoming northwest swell will reach the Islands tonight and produce high surf along exposed shores through Sunday afternoon.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 10 to 15 feet tonight through Sunday afternoon.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.9 feet is expected between 11:28 p.m. tonight and 12:46 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 23, 2010 8:50 a.m.

'King of Maui' Dies at 99

Haiku resident William Vincent Vitarelli, an educator, architect and community organizer, has died. He was 99.

Vitarelli, also known as "Vit" or "Rubak," died at his home with hospice care Tuesday, family members said.

In recent years, Vitarelli was known as the 90-something-year-old man who married a woman 40 years his junior. He also owned a homestead with several acres in Haiku, including a house with a tree house and pizza oven, friends said.

He also dedicated his life to the people in Palau, working there in the 1970s to make education accessible to Micronesians. He was also an organic farmer, an artist, a builder and a peace advocate.

"He's the king of Maui. There was no one like him on this island," said fellow artist and friend Tom Sewell.

Sewell, who called Vitarelli his "best friend," said the man was unconventional in every way.

"He built his dream house (when he was) 90 years old," Sewell said, adding that he "tricked" his family into thinking the home was a compost pit at first.

"Even the way he was buried. Burial at sea. He didn't want to be buried in the ground. He didn't want diesel fuel burning his body. It was a green ceremony. It was unconventional," Sewell said.

Vitarelli's 59-year-old wife, Charlaine, said her husband's body was placed in a coffin and taken out to sea off the Maliko Boat Ramp area Thursday morning.

Sewell, who witnessed the burial, called it "epic" seeing a "little boat" with a coffin heading out to sea in the waves.

Both Charlaine Vitarelli and Sewell said Vitarelli was the first person in 50 years on Maui to be buried at sea.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, the Maui District Health Officer, who oversaw the administrative process for Vitarelli's burial, said he couldn't comment directly on the case because of privacy. But he said burials at sea are "not too common," and this was the first one he's seen in the 10 years he's been Maui's district health officer.

Burials at sea need to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, and paperwork needs to be processed before the burial is done, Pang said.

Vitarelli was born Oct. 21, 1910, in New York City and was of Italian ancestry. He received a doctorate degree from Columbia University in 1948.

He worked as an educational administrator and community development official in Micronesia for more than 25 years, mainly in Palau, but also in Guam, Saipan, Yap and the Marshall Islands.

He also served as vice president for research and development at the University of Guam in the early 1970s and was the special adviser to the Belau Modekngei School, an independent alternative school in Palau, established to perpetuate traditional skills and values.

Vitarelli moved to Maui in 1976 with his family and first wife, Henrietta. She died in 2003.

He devoted his retirement years to designing and building homes, farming and writing. He maintained contact with he people of Palau throughout the years.

Charlaine Vitarelli said what she will remember most about her husband is "his love and his love of life."

She said that before her husband started having health problems, she'd ask him how he felt every morning. And he replied enthusiastically, "'I feel great,'" she said.

The two met during Sewell's New Moon/Full Moon Coffee Klatch several years ago and were married on Vitarelli's 97th birthday.

Charlaine Vitarelli said she is proud of her husband's ties and work with the people of Palau, and she admires how her husband fought and won a wrongful termination lawsuit during the "red scare" era of the 1950s.

After World War II, Vitarelli was a community development specialist in Palau, a United States territory at the time. When he refused to carry out a superior's plans to militarize Palau, Vitarelli was labeled a communist sympathizer and fired. He fought his firing and won a landmark wrongful termination lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1959. He then returned to Palau.

Friends said they'll remember Vitarelli's love of life and others.

Friend and yoga teacher Skeeter Tichnor said: "He embodied so much the spirit of love he spoke about."

She said he chose love and had a capacity to forgive and care for others.

In fact, Sewell said, Vitarelli has so much love in his heart that he forgave the killer who gunned down his granddaughter, whom he had adopted as his own daughter.

Heather Vitarelli was a bystander in a shooting at a Las Vegas casino in 2000 and was killed. In keeping with his Quaker traditions, William Vitarelli asked that the killer not be sentenced to death.

He is survived by his wife, Charlaine; five children, Sandy Vitarelli, Margo Vitarelli, David (Naoko) Vitarelli, Don Vitarelli and Janice (Hideaki "Santa") Miyoshi; and 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Reach Melissa Tanji at mtanji@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 3:35 p.m.

Mayor Tavares Meets President Obama

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Mayor Charmaine Tavares, attending the Winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, participated in a meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden yesterday at the White House. The President spoke with mayors on the urgent need to create more jobs and invest in communities.

President Obama noted that he enjoys meeting with mayors because it reminds him of where he got his start: “Working with folks at the local level, doing our best to make a real impact on the lives of ordinary Americans -- and that's what each of you does every single day.

"You're the first interaction citizens have with their government when they step outside every morning…It's just not easy being a mayor. But rarely, if ever, has it been more difficult than it is today. Your constituents are feeling the pain of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression -- not to mention an economy that wasn't working for a lot of them long before this particular crisis hit. Many have lost jobs; many have lost their health care; some maybe even have lost their homes. And they're looking to you and all of us to regain some sense of economic security. And just when they need more from you, you're stuck with falling revenues, leaving you with impossible choices that keep mounting up -- putting projects on hold.”

Mayor Tavares responded to the President’s remarks, saying that it was an “amazing opportunity to meet with President Obama. His comments really hit home for us as mayors. The President listened to our concerns about the importance of having federal support make its way through to the county level and I feel that he will do his best to make funding available to us without so much of it first going directly to state agencies before trickling to the counties.”

For the full text of President Obama’s remarks and for more information on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Winter meeting, visit www.usmayors.org.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 1:35 p.m.

Senate Passes Civil Unions Bill

The Senate voted 18 to 7 to pass a civil-unions bill. The bill now moves to the House for consideration with a veto-proof majority.

The bill would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same state rights as marriage.

The Senate gallery was overflowing with people as the Senate prepared to vote.

Sen. Kidani offered a floor amendment to change the effective date of the civil-unions bill from Jan. 1, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2011.

Kidani said the amendment is to correct a technical flaw and would give the Department of Health more time to implement civil unions. A retroactive date would not make the bill legally invalid, but could invite a veto by Gov. Lingle on technical grounds.

Amending the bill could also delay its passage and allow opponents to put more pressure on Democrat senators who appeared ready to pass the bill today.

Sen. Ihara, who supports civil unions, said he felt compelled to correct the technical flaw to remove a reason for a veto.

Sen. Kokubun opposed the amendment. He said the Attorney General's office has made it clear that the flaw would not make the bill invalid.

Republican Sen. Slom called the entire civil-unions bill an "inadvertent error."

Locking down a two-thirds' vote — 17 of 25 senators — had become crucial because state House leaders have said a veto-proof majority would be among the factors they will consider if the bill moves back to the House.

The House passed a civil-unions bill last year that only applies to same-sex couples. The House came one vote short of a two-thirds' majority — with one Democrat absent — but leaders do not want to go through the exercise again in an election year unless there is a realistic chance the bill will become law.

Gov. Linda Lingle has not said whether she would veto the bill, but has urged lawmakers to put off the issue and focus on the state's budget deficit and job creation.

Internal vote counts late yesterday in the Senate showed a likely two-thirds' majority for civil unions, but Senate leaders would not commit publicly after predictions about the bill last session backfired.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 11:25 a.m.

Hawai'i Unemployment Still Inching Up

Hawai'i sustained a marginal rise in unemployment in December, with the jobless rate rising to 6.9 percent, or 0.1 percentage points more than November.

Unemployment numbers released by U.S. Department of Labor this morning show there were 44,300 people who were without jobs during the month. That was an increase of 600 over November's count.

Hawai'i's unemployment rate has been in the high 6 percent to low 7 percent range during the current economic downturn and has been forecast to move higher this year.

The state's rate has been below the national rate and continued to be so in December, when the U.S. average was 10.0 percent.

The rate released by the Labor Department was a preliminary figure and is subject to revision. It initially had reported a November jobless figure of 7.0 percent for November but has since revised it to 6.8 percent.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 9:15 a.m.

Kula Water Tank Work Might Change Taste for a While

KULA - Effective Monday, February 1, 2010, the Department of Water Supply will switch the distribution system disinfectant at the Olinda Water Treatment Facility (WTF) from chloramines to chlorine in preparation for the Omaopio Tank roof replacement project in Kula. This affects the Upper Kula water system only. Chlorine is the same disinfectant used in the Lower Kula and Makawao water systems.

By Friday, February 5, Upper Kula customers may notice a change in water quality because chlorine has a slight taste and smell. This is normal and poses no health risk. The water meets all federal and state water quality standards.

For kidney dialysis patients: The processes already in place to remove chloramines in the water will remove chlorine. No change or adjustment is needed, and at the end of March, the department will switch back to chloramines.

For fish tank owners: Filters that remove chloramines also remove chlorine, so no change or adjustment is needed. For fish tanks without filters, customers may want to let the water sit for a few hours so the chlorine can dissipate.

Contractor M&M Tanks Inc. will replace the roof of the Omaopio Tank, which involves removing the existing roof, tank modification, and installation of a geodesic aluminum dome roof on the 2-million gallon tank. The new roof will be similar to the dome roof installed on the Mokuhau Tank in Wailuku and on the Kahului Tank. The project should be completed by the end of March 2010.

For the months of February and March, customers in Upper and Lower Kula are asked to conserve water because the Department will be without a 2-million gallon storage supply at a critical point in the water distribution system. The Kamole WTF in Haliimaile, the Piiholo WTF in Makawao, and the Po’okela Well in Makawao will supplement water for customers in the Upper Kula water system.

The cost of the roof replacement project is $980,000. The Omaopio Tank was built in 1977. This project was originally scheduled for October 2009 but was postponed due to drought conditions.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Shane Victorino Signs $22M, Three-Year Deal

PHILADELPHIA — All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino and the Phillies have finalized a $22 million, three-year contract, a day after pitcher Joe Blanton and Philadelphia completed a $24 million, three-year deal.

Victorino, a St. Anthony alum from Maui, hit .292 with 39 doubles, 13 triples, 10 home runs, 62 RBIs and 25 stolen bases for the NL champions last season. He won his second consecutive Gold Glove.

He gets $5 million this year, $7.5 million in 2011 and $9.5 million in 2012 under today's agreement.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is the only remaining Phillies player in arbitration.

Blanton, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA last year.

"They came to me with the prospect of going long term, and I couldn't have been more thrilled," Blanton said at a news conference Thursday. "I couldn't be happier to have this opportunity to stay in the Phillies' organization. I've enjoyed my time here and I feel like the organization just keeps getting bett er and better every year."

After making $5,475,000 last year, Blanton asked for $10.25 million in arbitration and was offered $7.5 million. He already had agreed to a new deal before those numbers were submitted. Victorino had sought $5.8 million in arbitration. The Phillies offered $4.75 million.

"Joe has been absolutely outstanding since he's been with us," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's probably been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. His consistency and what he brings to the table for us as a person, we're very pleased to basically buy out two years of free agency and have Joe for the foreseeable future."

Blanton has pitched more than 1,000 innings over the last five years. He joined the Phillies in a midseason trade in 2008 and helped them win the second World Series title in franchise history.

Blanton didn't get a decision in two postseason starts and two relief appearances last fall when the Phillies lost to the New Y ork Yankees in the World Series. He didn't balk at going to the bullpen, despite being one of Philadelphia's most reliable starters during the regular season.

"Winning is what I'm about. That's the big thing," Blanton said.

Blanton won at least 12 games in each of his first three seasons with Oakland. He is 63-54 with a 4.21 ERA in his career.

The Phillies now have four starters - Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Blanton - under contract through 2012.

"That was part of the reason we went long term with Joe," Amaro said. "If you look at the clubs that have sustained success, it's about having stability in your rotation."

The Phillies still are hoping to add another reliever and a starter to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. They recently scouted former All-Stars Ben Sheets and Eric Gagne. Neither pitched in the majors last season.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 12:05 a.m.

Car, Truck Sales in Hawai'i Crash - But Future Looks Brighter

Hawaii car and truck sales fell 21.4 percent last year, the fourth consecutive annual decline, the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association reported yesterday.

Sales are expected to begin rising again this year, but industry participants disagree on the strength of the rebound.

The consensus of HADA dealers is for a 3 percent gain in sales in 2010, while Auto Outlook, a Pennsylvania-based industry publication is forecasting a 9.7 percent gain in Hawaii vehicle sales this year.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 22, 2010 12 a.m.

Expect Delays on Major South Maui Roads

Motorists traveling through South Maui may experience minor traffic delays due to construction-related work for the South Maui Community Park and a scheduled installation of a potable waterline. Both County projects are contracted to Goodfellow Bros., Inc.

January 21 - March 31, 2010
Construction for the South Maui Community Park will require minor blasting activities by contractor Goodfellow Bros. and as a precautionary measure, traffic will be stopped for several minutes intermittently on Piilani Hwy between Welakahao Road and Lipoa Street between 10:30 am-12 noon and 3:30 pm - 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. The controlled blasting is part of re-grading work on the project site and the public is not expected to hear audible sounds. The County and contractor conducted direct notifications to nearby businesses residents in the immediate area.

January 21 through March 5, 2010
The north-bound lane of South Kihei Road between Uwapo Road and Ohukai Road will be closed on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. while contractor Goodfellow Bros. installs a 12" potable County waterline. Alternating traffic using only the south-bound lane will cause some delay for motorists traveling in the vicinity.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 21, 2010 2:10 p.m.

Guess What? Gas Prices Still Climbing

Hawaii gasoline prices continue to climb, according to AAA Hawaii's Weekend Gas Watch.

The average price for a gallon of regular rose by a penny from last Thursday and to $3.40.

• In Honolulu, the average price is $3.31, up three cents from last week, 10 cents higher than last month and $1.05 higher than this time last year.

• In Hilo, the average price is $3.47 a gallon, eight cents more than last week, 14 cents higher than last month, and $1.07 more than this time last year.

• In Wailuku, the average price is $3.78, three cents more than last week, 12 cents more than last month, and $1.29 more than last year.

AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch is a weekly snapshot of gasoline prices around the state.

Prices are derived from fleet vehicle credit card transactions at more than 100,000 stations around the country, including Hawaii. Prices shown are combined averages of the last card swipe of the previous day.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 21, 2010 2 p.m.

Civil Unions Bill First on Voting Agenda

The state Senate has scheduled a vote tomorrow on a bill that would allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions.

The bill would give couples in civil unions the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

The Senate floor session is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.

The bill stalled in the Senate after it was amended on the second-to-last day of the session last year. It is set for a final vote tomorrow unless there is another attempt at an amendment.

Some senators want to amend the bill to change the effective date, which is Jan. 1, 2010. While legal, some fear the retroactive date would be a flaw that could concern the state House or be used as a pretext for a veto by Gov. Linda Lingle.

If the bill is approved by the Senate, it would move back to the state House, where lawmakers passed a civil-unions bill last session that applied only to same-sex couples.

State House leaders have said they would see whether the Senate gets a two-thirds majority — 17 of 25 senators — to override a veto before deciding how to proceed.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 21, 2010 10 a.m.

'Magic of Recycling' Show Targets Young Citizens

WAILUKU - Nearly two dozen shows will be performed in schools throughout Maui County to teach students grades K-5 about the benefits of recycling, the County of Maui Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today. “The Magic of Recycling” show, which utilizes comedy, audience participation and the visual impact of magic tricks, teaches students what recycling is, how to recycle and why it is important.

The 45-minute show, which received the National Recycling Coalition Award for Outstanding Educational Program, has been performed live for over 3 million students in 38 states (including Hawaii) and in England by Timothy Wenk and his staff. The show is the brainchild of Wenk, who has been called “America’s Goodwill Ambassador or Recycling.”

The shows being performed locally will include a component on the new plastic bag legislation, which goes into effect in Maui County in January 2011. With 50 million plastic bags used in the county every year, the new legislation addresses the need to keep the bags out of the landfill and out of the marine environment by using reusable shopping bags.

“This is an important time to be bringing this recycling message to students, who will play an important role in reminding adults to bring reusable bags along,” said DEM Director Cheryl Okuma. “With the shows expected to reach 8,750 families in less than a month, we hope to increase the rate of recycling in our County and draw attention to the need to begin to change our shopping habits now.”

Mayor Charmaine Tavares commended DEM for taking a creative approach to educating the public about the coming changes. “As a former educator and school administrator, I’ve seen first-hand how effective a classroom presentation can be in reaching a student’s entire family,” she said. “This show is a great opportunity to encourage recycling in our community with a message that’s fun and exciting- perfect for our keiki.”

Wenk will perform the shows on Maui and Molokai this year. Local media interested in attending a show may call 270-8222; additional background information on the show is available at www.RecyclingShowPress.com.

For more information on recycling, visit www.mauicounty.gov/recycle or call the Recycle Maui County hotline at 270-7880. From Lanai, call 800-272-0125 ext. 7880; from Molokai: 800-272-0117 ext. 7880.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 21, 2010 6:20 a.m.

Blasting Work at South Maui Park to Interrupt Pi'ilani Traffic

A portion of Pi'ilani Highway in Kihei will be closed for 10-minute intervals today through Friday. Construction for the South Maui Community Park will require blasting activities. This will result in intermittent closures of the highway between the hours of 10:30 a.m until 12 noon, and 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Maui Police Department will assist with traffic stoppage. Expect delays not to exceed 10 minutes.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 21, 2010 12:40 a.m.

Waterline Work Close Portion of South Kihei Road

Mototists will be detoured for several hours each day along a portion of South Kihei Road beginning today until March 5. The northbound lane of South Kihei Road between Uwapo Road and Ohukai Road will be closed between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Fridays. Goodfellow Brothers will be installing a 12" potable waterline for the county. Goodfellows will also provide signage and traffic control.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 3:50 p.m.

Lawmakers Challenged to Be 'Unselfish' As '10 Session Opens

State House Speaker Calvin Say challenged lawmakers today to be "unselfish" in their work as they prepare to deal with a $1.2 billion state budget deficit.

In remarks prepared for the Opening Day of the 60-day session, Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), said the state is still coping with the fallout of an international financial meltdown not seen since the Depression.

"Let us put the overall public good before narrow benefits to special interests," he said.

In the state Senate, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa asked senators to work collaboratively with the House and Gov. Linda Lingle on solutions to the deficit.

"The Capitol is quiet today," Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha), said in prepared remarks. "The crowds and celebrations that typically accompany an opening day of the Hawaii State Legislature are absent. Because while we still welcome with open arms anyone who wants to ask for our help or express their point of view, we know that this session will be different. Now is not the time to celebrate. Now is the time to work."

State House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan, R-32nd (Lower Pearlridge, Aiea, Halawa), called for changes in public education and the budget to position the state for the economic recovery.

"All of the legislative measures we will introduce focus on putting students and their needs first," she said of education in her prepared remarks.

"Remember, the fundamental purpose of our educational system is to educate ... not just to employ. Furlough Fridays demonstrate that we are not succeeding in our mission to put students first."

For the first time in memory, the state Capitol was not awash in flowers, music and food, as lawmakers canceled traditional Opening Day parties in the spirit of austerity.

The session is scheduled to adjourn April 29, a week earlier than usual.

Lawmakers trimmed the number of recess days to shorten the legislative timetable and help direct attention on the budget.

Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, R-8th (Kahala, Hawaii Kai), used the no-frills opening as a starting point for a call against raising taxes.

"If the majority party's goal today was to show the public we understand their pain and tough financial straits, rather than cancel our celebration, we should pledge that we will not increase taxes," Slom said.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 2:10 p.m.

Alakai Joins Sister Superferry In Haiti Relief Mission

Alakai, the defunct Hawaii Superferry catamaran, will soon sail again.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced today that the Department's Maritime Administration has started preparing Alakai for relief duty in Haiti. The ship will be crewed by civilian mariners.

"This ship will help our relief workers on the ground by allowing quick movements of people in and out of Haiti from various staging points," LaHood said in a statement.

Alakai is a high-speed passenger and vehicle ferry, originally built for service in Hawaii. It is capable of carrying up to 866 passengers, as well as relief cargo at a top speed of nearly 40 knots in the open ocean.

The catamaran hull gives the ship great stability in the water. It is currently undergoing preparations to leave its current location in Norfolk, VA.

Alakai joins five other MARAD ships activated over the past week: the Gopher State and Cornhusker State, based in Newport News, Va.; the Cape May and Huakai (Hawaii Superferry's second ship, which never got to sail in the Islands), based in Norfolk, Va., and the Petersburg, based in Alameda, Calif.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 1:40 p.m.

Two More Swine Flu Deaths Confirmed in Hawai'i

The state Department of Health said today it has confirmed 2009 H1N1, or swine flu, infections in two Oahu residents who died recently.

One was a woman in her 30s who died in late December after being hospitalized for pneumonia. The other was a 50-year-old man who died last week after being admitted to a hospital.

Hawaii has recorded 13 laboratory-confirmed swine flu deaths.

The Health Department said the woman had underlying medical conditions that contributed to her death but the man had no underlying condition.

"This is a sobering reminder that influenza is a serious illness that can be fatal," Health Director Chiyome Fukino said.

"We urge everyone who hasn't yet done so to get vaccinated. Vaccine supplies are now widely available and the flu season is still with us. ..."

For information on swine flu, where to get vaccinated and emergency warning signs, go to: flu.hawaii.gov

Or call Aloha United Way at 211.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 12:50 p.m.

$6M in ARRA Funds Coming to Hawai'i for 'Green' Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today announced the awarding of $6,000,000 in U.S. Department of Labor State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants funding to help develop Hawaii’s green industries by providing workers with cutting-edge training in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and biofuels.
“This $6 million grant will be put to good use, training some 1,400 people in Hawaii to work in clean energy jobs,” said Congresswoman Hirono. “These are the kinds of jobs that will help Hawaii become more energy self-sufficient.”

These grants are designed to provide workers with the skills needed for emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. Program participants will receive the technical and occupational skills necessary to obtain industry-recognized credentials.

The number of grants awarded nationwide amounts to $190 million of the $500 million in Green Jobs training grant funding made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Congresswoman Hirono voted in favor of ARRA on February 13, 2009. President Barack Obama signed it into law four days later.

A projected 1,391 participants in Hawaii are expected to complete education and training activities and attain either certificates or licenses in green occupations. The grantee, Hawaii Department of Labor Industrial Relations, will develop curricula and training programs with opportunities to obtain certificates and/or degrees in Home Energy Rating System (HERS), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Solar Photovoltaic Installation, Biofuels Processing, and Power Plant Operation.

Funding will be allocated to the following entities:
• Hawaii’s One-Stop Career Centers, to focus on providing services to dislocated workers and veterans.
Catholic Charities and Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, which will provide recruiting, training, placement and retention services to target populations.
The University of Hawaii Community College system, to provide case management, recruiting, training, placement, and retention services to populations that have not traditionally utilized the State’s One-Stop Career Centers.

Thirty-four awards ranging from approximately $2 million to $6 million each have been made to state workforce investment boards in partnership with their state workforce agencies, local workforce investment boards or regional consortia of boards, and One-Stop Career Center delivery systems.

(Report Provided by the Office of U.S. Representative Mazie K. Hirono)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 10:20 a.m.

Taser Use Not 'Excessive' According to Justices' Ruling

WAILUKU — Reversing a lower court's ruling, a federal appeals court said a woman's constitutional rights weren't violated when a Taser was used on her after Maui police officers entered her home and arrested her and her husband.

In an opinion for publication filed Jan. 12, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said that the force used against Jayzel Mattos was "reasonable," viewing the facts in the light most favorable to her and her husband, Troy Mattos.

The appeals court justices "found it wasn't excessive force," said Maui Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey. "That's important to us because it's the first decision in our state on this particular level of force. Under similar circumstances, this use of force would not be unconstitutional."

Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz, representing the Mattoses, said that he would ask the entire court to review the opinion issued by a three-judge panel of the court.

"In my view, the decision in our case was patently dishonest and lacks integrity," Seitz said. "We're going to ask the full court to review and overrule what these three judges have written."

He said Jayzel Mattos was Tasered while seven children were in the home.

"She was the supposed victim of this who ended up being Tasered for no good reason," Seitz said. "It is simply an outrageous case."

The Mattoses sued Maui County and police officers Darren Agarano, Ryan Aikala, Stuart Kunioka and Halayudha MacKnight after the officers went to the couple's home in Wailuku after 11 p.m. Aug. 23, 2006, in response to a 911 call reporting a domestic disturbance.

The call from Jayzel Mattos' 14-year-old daughter reported that things were being thrown around in a fight.

At the home, the officers found Troy Mattos sitting outside the front door of the two-story residence with two bottles of beer nearby. He said that he and his wife had argued but the argument hadn't gotten physical.

Officer Kunioka asked Mattos to get his wife so officers could talk to her and make sure she was safe. When he went into the residence, officer Agarano stepped in the doorway.

Returning with his wife, Mattos became upset that Agarano was in the house and yelled profanities while demanding that the officers leave.

Officers asked Jayzel Mattos to speak with them outside and she agreed, asking her husband and the officers to calm down and not wake her children.

She was between the officers and her husband when officer Aikala went into the hallway to arrest Troy Mattos, who was still yelling at the officers. Aikala bumped against Jayzel Mattos, who said both of her hands touched his chest when she raised her palms to keep the officer from brushing up against her.

Aikala stepped back and asked her if she was touching an officer.

She said she was scared and again asked everyone to calm down and not wake her children. At that point, she said, she felt a pinch on the back of her right hand and "an incredible burning and painful feeling locking all of her joints." She screamed and fell to the floor. Aikala had deployed his Taser on her, cycling the weapon for five seconds.

Both Troy and Jayzel Mattos were arrested and charged with harassment. She also was charged with obstructing government operations, and he was charged with resisting arrest.

A Wailuku District Court judge dismissed the charges against Jayzel Mattos, and the state dropped criminal charges against her husband.

In their lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, the couple said their rights were violated when the officers entered their residence without a warrant, arrested them and used the Taser on Jayzel Mattos. Judge David Ezra granted the request by the officers for summary judgment to dismiss all of the couple's claims except the excessive force claim based on the Taser use.

The officers appealed the decision not to dismiss the excessive force claim, saying the officers had qualified immunity for their actions.

The appeals court panel agreed.

While saying the question was a "close one," the panel said "we cannot conclude that the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment."

The opinion said the officers "confronted a dangerous and volatile situation" that night.

"When an intoxicated Troy began yelling profanities at the officers and demanding that they leave, the officers felt the need to arrest him to finish their investigation and diffuse the situation," the opinion said. "Because Jayzel interfered with Troy's arrest and, in doing so, made contact with Aikala, Aikala was justified in removing her from Troy's side. Although an alternative method of force may have been advisable, the Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to use the minimum amount of force necessary to move Jayzel and arrest Troy."

Lutey said Jayzel Mattos had pushed Aikala, who had tried to move her out of the way and warned her that he would use the Taser if she didn't move.

"The officers used the Taser only once in a domestic violence situation that could have quickly become much more dangerous to everyone involved," the appeals court opinion said. The opinion distinguished the Maui case from other cases in which courts rejected immunity for officers who repeatedly used a Taser and who used a Taser on a driver during a traffic stop for not wearing a seat belt.

"We're pleased with the 9th Circuit Court's order but are not surprised by it," Lutey said. "This is the right result. Maui Police Department officers receive extensive training in the use of Tasers. In fact, Tasers have significantly reduced the number of injuries to officers and suspects.

"We vigorously defend against meritless cases and will seek to recover our costs for the defense of this lawsuit. This terminates the case. Our officers have been exonerated."

While Agarano, Kunioka and MacKnight still work as Wailuku patrol officers, Aikala is no longer employed by the Police Department. He works for Securitas Security Services as head of its Kahului Airport operations.

Former Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin argued the case. Deputies Corporation Counsel Richard B. Rost and Cheryl Tipton also represented the officers and county.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 8:15 a.m.

Big Island Quake Stronger Than Originally Reported

The earthquake that shook up the southern area of the Big Island yesterday was larger than initially estimated, the U.S. Geological Survey said today.

The quake, centered four miles west-northwest of Pahala at 1:01 p.m., was upgraded to magnitude 4.3, from the initial estimate of 3.8 magnitude, officials with the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

"There are several methods for estimating an earthquake's magnitude, and some methods are better than others for different magnitude ranges," USGS officials explained today in a news release. "Through the analysts' review, it was determined that amplitude magnitude (M4.3) is a more accurate measure for Monday's earthquake than duration magnitude (M3.8). Duration magnitude is less reliable for earthquakes above magnitude 4.0."

Scientists said that over the past 25 years, the region has experienced an average of one earthquake greater than magnitude 4.0 every two years.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 7:05 a.m.

Maui Couple Honored at O'ahu Memorial

Two months after they were lost in a flash flood on Maui, Carl "Linky" and Rae Lindquist were given a final aloha yesterday by friends and associates, who called the two "the most loving couple you'd ever meet."

The Lindquists, both 75, were swept away during heavy rains Thanksgiving night in Hana. Hikers discovered their badly damaged Ford sport utility vehicle in a streambed near their home on Ulaino Road, but the Lindquists' bodies were never found.

A memorial service was held last month on Maui, but the high school sweethearts who met while attending Punahou School had many friends on O'ahu who wanted to have an opportunity to say goodbye. The couple, who owned Hana Coast Realty, had been active in the community here and on Maui.

With the backdrop of Waikíkí Beach, about 75 people gathered at the Elks Club to celebrate the lives of the Lindquists. The service featured prayer, hymns in Hawaiian and English, chants by Ka'upena Wong, and a song by longtime friend Eddie Kamae.

The memorial ended with a scattering of plumeria on the ocean as the friends sang "Aloha 'Oe." Kamae and his Sons of Hawai'i performed after the service.

None of the Lindquists' family members could make it to yesterday's service, but Jack Keppeler, a classmate of the couple, read a letter from their grandson, Devon Morones.

The 12-year-old from California recalled joyful times, such as a sailing trip with his grandparents on Maui. Morones characterized it as a "beautiful day spent together as a family."

Bobbie Carter Reed, another Punahou classmate, knew "Linky and Rae Deane" when they were kids. In fact, Reed introduced the two and the couple would go on to celebrate 52 years of marriage.

Reed has lived in Seattle for 30 years, but kept in touch with the Lindquists. She couldn't make it to the Maui service and was grateful for yesterday's celebration of life.

"They were so loving. They just both were so warm and they were fun," Reed said. "They were just the pillar of our lives. Everybody adored them and they adored everybody."

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 20, 2010 6:35 a.m.

How About Five Cents a Bottle to End Furlough Fridays?

Add this to the proposals on how to end public school furlough days: a 5-cent surcharge on bottles.

State Rep. John Mizuno, who will introduce a bill for the surcharge, said the additional bottle fee would generate millions of dollars to supplement other money from the hurricane relief or the rainy day funds.

Under the bill, 5 cents would be collected on all beverage containers purchased in the Islands.

The surcharge would be on top of the present 5-cent beverage deposit (and 1-cent container fee).

Unlike the 5-cent deposit, consumers couldn't get the 5-cent surcharge back.

But Mizuno said the surcharge would be in effect for only three years — enough time, he says, for the state's budget crisis to ease.

"It's time-sensitive," said Mizuno, D-30th (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Fort Shafter), adding that he's expecting a "lukewarm to cold" response to the bill, since it's essentially a tax hike.

But, Mizuno said, something needs to be done soon.

"We have to be courageous in these most difficult times," he said.

Mizuno said he did not have figures on how much the bill could generate.

About 896 million beverage containers were sold in the Islands in fiscal year 2009, according to the state Health Department, which administers the bottle redemption program. A 5-cent surcharge on that many bottles would generate about $44.8 million, which could, in theory, cover at least eight furlough days.

Each furlough day saves the state about $5 million, the state Education Department has said.

State Sen. Norman Sakamoto, D-15th (Waimalu, Airport, Salt Lake), who is chairman of the Senate Education and Housing Committee, said the bottle proposal is innovative and would be worth a closer look.

"If it can help cure students being out of school, we can entertain it," he said.

The bottle surcharge bill is the latest proposal on how to find the money to end public school teacher furloughs. Lawmakers are also considering increasing the general excise tax, and taxes on cigarettes or alcohol.

Meanwhile, the governor and teachers union continue to try to hammer out a deal on furloughs.

Reach Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 7 p.m.

Mayor's Agenda in D.C. Includes Meeting With President Obama

Washington, D.C. - Mayor Charmaine Tavares will join over 250 mayors from across the country in the nation’s capitol at the 78th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The January 20 - 22 conference will focus on economic conditions, unemployment, green jobs, and transportation. Also attending will be Hawaii's other three mayors.

Mayor Tavares will also be participating in a meeting at the White House on Thursday, January 21, with President Obama and members of his Economic Advisory Team.

Mayor Tavares will be meeting with U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, and Congressman Daniel Akaka while in D.C. to share information on how the county is dealing with the economic downturn.

“Our congressional delegation is interested in hearing what the financial situations are for each county,” said Mayor Tavares. “I’ll be updating them on how Maui County is faring and continue our ongoing efforts to seek federal funding opportunities. Staying in contact with our delegation has yielded millions of dollars for our county as they assist us in matching our needs with what’s available in federal programs and funding. ”

“This is part of how we work to maximize all funding avenues to benefit Maui County,” said Mayor Tavares. “By reaching out to our federal partners and our congressional delegation and keeping them abreast of Maui County’s needs and challenges, they in turn can help identify program and funding opportunities for us. This is important - pursuing all available resources doesn't end at our shores.”

Mayor Tavares is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Stafford Act Task Force, chaired by Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. The Stafford Act, also known as the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, gives FEMA responsibility for coordinating government-wide relief efforts in disasters. The Stafford Act was created to bring orderly means of federal natural disaster assistance to state and local governments.

“Reforming the Stafford Act to ensure that existing federal policies don’t impede the recovery of communities from disasters is important whether you’ve experienced something as devastating as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as New Orleans did, or if facing the potential of a catastrophic natural disaster that could hit Hawaii,” said Mayor Tavares. “With our state being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, having efficient and effective support from FEMA is critical to our recovery efforts. Major brush fires in our county and such large incidents as the earthquake that impacted Maui in 2006 have already proven how necessary it is to have FEMA support ready and available. We need to ensure that the agency’s capabilities keep improving.” said Mayor Tavares.

The Stafford Act Task Force was formed in 2009. The task force will be presenting its work outlining its recommendations for reform to the U.S. Conference of Mayors at a session during the opening day of the conference, Wednesday, January 20. Upon approval by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, these recommendations will then be presented to President Obama’s administration and to Congress.

Conference speakers include members of President Obama’s Cabinet. Scheduled to speak are: Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 5:30 p.m.

Mayor Announces Launch of Program to Support Local Businesses

WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today a new program called “Got Choice...Think Local,” which is designed to encourage residents and visitors to support Maui businesses by buying local products first.

Got Choice...Think Local, which is co-sponsored by the County of Maui, Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, Pacific Radio Group, KAOI Radio Group, Maui County Farm Bureau, Maui Printing Company, Maui News and the Maui Cattle Company, kicks off on February 2, 2010. Promotions, including incentives for consumers that buy local products, and coupons valid for various benefits offered by participating local businesses, are scheduled to run for the duration of the month.

“For every $100 that gets spent at a locally-owned business, it’s estimated that $45 goes back into our community,” Mayor Tavares noted. “This free program helps keep that money in our community by encouraging shoppers to buy local.”

Businesses can offer information on the products they are promoting and reach out to potential customers through joint marketing via print, radio, the internet and on the Think Local Facebook page. Participating businesses will receive a listing on the Got Choice...Think Local website, which is being developed in partnership with Maui No Ka Oi Magazine, and be included in print advertising, radio and the official “Think Local” brochure.

Applications are available through the County of Maui Office of Economic Development at www.mauicounty.gov/oed. Completed applications may be submitted to Linn Nishikawa & Associates, Inc., 569 Kulaiwi Drive, Wailuku, HI 96793, by fax 242-6668, or by email to linnpr@hawaii.rr.com.

Applications must be received by January 29, 2010.

For more information, visit www.mauicounty.gov or call the County of Maui Office of Economic Development at (808) 270-7710.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 4 p.m.

High Surf Advisories Lifted for Maui County

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has canceled the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH and WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and NORTH FACING SHORES OF MAUI.

Surf along the NORTH facing shores of all islands has diminished below advisory levels.

BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS OF THE DECLINING SURF.

This will be the last Maui County Civil Defense notification on this event.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 3:40 p.m.

Weekly Unemployment Benefit Filings Now Available Online

HONOLULU – Hawai‘i’s unemployment insurance claimants can file for weekly benefits online starting today, the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced.

Online filing is a welcomed option for claimants who have been filing for their weekly benefits via the current telephone system or in person.

“The Internet system is convenient, easy to use and gives claimants the opportunity to review their entries before submitting their weekly claim certification,” Darwin Ching, state labor director, said. “Ultimately, this provides a more streamlined experience for the people we are trying to serve.”

The online service is available for the weekly benefit filing procedure and is part of an overall effort to incrementally bring more unemployment filing procedures online.

Filing for weekly benefits is the most routine unemployment filing procedure and accounts for 90 percent of all filing activity. Every week, the Unemployment Insurance Division receives 36,000 weekly claims via its current telephone filing system. The Internet system can process over 5,000 claim certifications in one hour, more than 2.5 times the capacity of the current telephone filing system.

The Internet weekly filing system comes at a time of great need for Hawai‘i’s workforce. Hawai‘i’s unemployment rate was 7 percent in November 2009 – a rate that is declining, but still more than double the state’s pre-recession unemployment rate.

While providing greater convenience for claimants, the Internet weekly filing system also will improve the Unemployment Insurance Division’s staff productivity. The Internet system enables claimants to correct many of their claim filing errors online. This translates to fewer calls to the local claims offices and more time that can be allocated to performing critical initial claims-taking activities.

The new weekly filing system is available at the Unemployment Insurance Web site at http://www.hawaii.gov/labor/ui.

(Report Provided by the Hawai'i State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 2 p.m.

English to Introduce 'Marijuana Dispensary' Bill

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers will consider legalizing medical marijuana dispensaries and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the drug.

Sen. Kalani English says he will introduce the measures during this year's legislative session, which begins Wednesday.

The senator representing East Maui, Lanai and Molokai says he wants to legalize and tax medical marijuana dispensaries to generate money for the state. Residents with medical marijuana cards could use the dispensary to buy marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Hawaii already has a medical marijuana law that licenses patients to use the drug but does not allow them to buy it. The law allows patients to grow small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 11:40 a.m.

Feds Form Group to Protect 'Flase Killer Whales'

HONOLULU — The federal government is forming a group that will think of ways to prevent the accidental snagging of a rare dolphin species by the Hawaii-based longline fishery.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said Tuesday it's establishing a Take Reduction Team that will develop a plan to reduce the bycatch of false killer whales.

The agency's Federal Register notice says the fishery is accidentally killing or seriously injuring an average of 7.4 false killer whales each year in waters off Hawaii.

This exceeds the number — 2.5 per year — that the population may lose without suffering effects to its ability to sustain itself.

Fishermen, marine mammal biologists, environmental activists and government officials are expected to join the team.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 11 a.m.

Teens Encouraged to Create Local 'Not Even Once' Messages

HONOLULU—Jan. 19, 2010—To increase awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine, also called “ice,” the Hawaii Meth Project is joining with HMSA to add a special “Not Even Once” category to HMSA’s 2010 Teen Video Awards Contest, as well as additional prizes. The Hawaii Meth Project will award Flip personal video cameras to contest winners whose public service announcements (PSAs) communicate the anti-Meth message “Not Even Once.”

“Meth use in the state of Hawaii is a significant problem and the Hawaii Meth Project’s ‘Not Even Once’ category is an important addition to this year’s contest,” said Bob Hiam, HMSA President and Chief Executive Officer. “We want teens to get their peers talking about the Hawaii Meth Project’s critical message of prevention.”

The annual competition challenges Hawaii’s middle and high school students to create an original PSA about an important teen health issue. In the “Not Even Once” special category, students are encouraged to create their own video to deliver an impactful message preventing Meth use. The Hawaii Meth Project’s research-based messaging campaign includes hard-hitting television, radio, Internet and print ads that realistically portray the devastating effects of methamphetamine use. The ads can be viewed on the Hawaii Meth Project website, www.hawaiimethproject.org.

“We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the HMSA contest, which encourages teens to use their creativity to promote healthy choices,” said Cindy Adams, Executive Director of the Hawaii Meth Project. “In our outreach to schools and communities, many teens have shared personal stories of the devastating effects of Meth addiction. They can help us reach other teens and we want to urge them to participate in the Not Even Once category.”

Winners will be selected based on content, effectiveness, creativity and videography. Deadline for submissions is March 1, 2010. Finalists will be notified in early April and winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony on May 13, 2010 at Ward Consolidated Theatres in Honolulu. For general contest information and entry materials, visit http://www.hmsa.com/community/awards/teenvideo/default.aspx

About the Hawaii Meth Project

The Hawaii Meth Project is a non-profit organization that implements a range of advertising and community action programs to reduce methamphetamine use in the state. Launched in June 2009, the Hawaii Meth Project leverages a proven model that combines extensive research with a hard-hitting, integrated media campaign. The Hawaii Meth Project is affiliated with the Meth Project, a national non-profit organization headquartered in Palo Alto, California, aimed at significantly reducing first-time Meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach. For more information, visit www.hawaiimethproject.org.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Meth Project)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 10:30 a.m.

Fire Captain Lee Mainaga Promoted to Fire Services Chief

KAHULUI - Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray announced today that Lee Mainaga was promoted from Captain to Fire Services Chief on January 1, 2010. A badge-pinning ceremony took place on Monday, January 11th at 8:30 a.m. at the Kahului Fire Station.

Chief Mainaga joined the Maui County Department of Fire and Public Safety on March 16, 1990 and has served at the Lanai, Kihei, Paia, Wailea and Hana stations throughout his career.

For more information, contact the County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety at (808) 270-7561.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 9:10 a.m.

JAL Still Plans Hawai'i Business Despite Bankruptcy Filing Today

Japan Airlines, which is expected to supply about 56 percent of all air seats from Japan into Hawaii this year, expects to keep its isle routes despite plans to file for bankruptcy today.

While Japan Airlines has been flirting with bankruptcy for some time and in May laid off its Honolulu-based pilots and closed its Oahu office, the airline has continued to operate six daily flights between Japan and Hawaii.

JAL, which is Japan's largest carrier and one of Hawaii's top five carriers, is launching a massive overhaul to shed the fat and inefficiency that has hobbled Asia's biggest airline, according to the Associated Press. The bankruptcy of Japan's flagship carrier would be followed by a government-backed corporate turnaround.

Once-thriving JAL's passenger traffic slowed amid global economic downturn, swine flu fears, competition from All Nippon Airways and a tarnished safety image, the AP reported. As of November, the carrier's debts totaled $16.5 billion.

After bankruptcy, JAL will continue to operate four daily flights between Tokyo and Hawaii, one between Osaka and Hawaii and one between Nagoya and Hawaii, said Winston Lee, director of passenger sales for JAL's Hawaii region.

"At the present time we have no word that there are any plans to change the number of flights in and out of Hawaii," Lee said. "They are all strongly performing."

Other JAL destinations will see restructuring changes, Lee said.

"We'll discontinue our Narita and Mexico City service and some Asian routes," he said. "At the same time, we'll beef up some of the code-share agreements that we have in these regions."

JAL and Mexicana said last week that they will expand the code-share partnership between Japan and Mexico, using Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver as gateways, Lee said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority and other tourism organizations have worked to shore up JAL's operations between Japan and Hawaii.

Earlier in the year, HTA officials agreed to provide additional money for a Hawaii Tourism Japan marketing campaign that increased awareness of Hawaii throughout Tokyo and Osaka, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of marketing.

The agency also allocated $400,000 to JAL to encourage neighbor island expansion and the addition of seasonal charter flights, Uchiyama said.

Also, the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has joined with 20 resorts and hotels statewide to offer $6,000 in value-added savings for Japan-based meetings and incentives held through 2010.

"This new initiative is a testament to our industry's commitment to answer the call of Japan groups seeking cost savings in response to the current economy, while enhancing Hawaii's stature as a global meetings destination," said Michael Murray, HVCB's vice president of sales and marketing for corporate meetings and incentives.

JAL's bankruptcy would be a humbling outcome for Japan's once-proud flagship carrier, which was founded in 1951 and spent its early years owned by the state. Along with Japan's economy, it expanded quickly in the decades after World War II and was privatized in 1987.

But it soon became the victim of its own ambitions.

When Japan's property and stock bubble of the 1980s burst, risky investments in foreign resorts and hotels undermined its bottom line.

JAL also shouldered growing pension and payroll costs, as well as a big network of unprofitable domestic routes it was politically obligated to maintain.

More recently, JAL's passenger traffic has slowed amid the global economic downturn, swine flu fears, competition from Japanese rival All Nippon Airways Co. and a spate of safety lapses that tarnished its image. It lost 131.2 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in the six months through September.

A restructuring plan in the works at the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. calls for about 15,600 job cuts—a third of JAL's work force—and will require the airline to cut the number of flights at home and abroad, according to Kyodo News agency.

Japan Transport Minister Seiji Maehara has said JAL will keep flying through the restructuring process.

Delta Air Lines—the world's biggest airline operator—and rival American Airlines are courting JAL with massive financial offers as the U.S. carriers seek to expand their Asian networks.

Star-Bulletin reporter Allison Schaefers and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 7:40 a.m.

Asia Leads Faster, Stronger Global Economic Rebound

TOKYO — The head of the IMF said China and other developing Asian economies are leading a global recovery that is faster and stronger than expected, but warned that money rushing into emerging markets could lead to asset bubbles.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, strongly suggested yesterday that the IMF would raise its 2010 global growth forecast from the 3.1 percent it projected in October.

China, India and other emerging Asian economies were close to returning to their pre-crisis growth rates, while rebounds in the U.S., Japan and other advanced economies remained "sluggish," he said.

"The forecasts we're going to release in a couple of days will show that this recovery is going faster and stronger than we expected" several months ago, Strauss-Kahn told reporters in Tokyo.

While the IMF doesn't forecast a "double-dip," or second recession, risks remain, he said. "We have to be very cautious because this recovery remains fragile."

While hundreds of billions in stimulus spending by governments around the world avoided another Great Depression, he said, the most important risk facing the global economy is deciding how and when to reverse those polices and deal with debt burdens.

"Now we have to fix the consequences of the policy that has been put in place to fight against the crisis," he said. "Finding the right time to implement exit policies is really a difficult one."

"If you exit too late, you waste resources," he said. "If you exit too early, you have a risk of going back into recession."

The best indicators for timing fresh growth strategies are monitoring private demand and employment, he said. The IMF recommends that governments devise policies that will support the labor market given still-high joblessness, which could lead to social unrest in some countries.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 19, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Superferry Heading to Help in Haiti

One of two high-speed catamarans built for Hawaii Superferry is being sent to Haiti to help with relief efforts following the devastating earthquake.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the Huakai is among five ships owned or controlled by the federal Maritime Administration being prepared for the relief operation.

"Sending these ships will help those on the front line of this effort save as many lives in Haiti as possible," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in a statement. "These ships will add crucial capabilities by supporting operations to move large volumes of people and cargo."

Huakai was built for Hawaii Superferry but was never used for ferry service in the Islands because the company ceased operations and went bankrupt last year. The Huakai and a sister vessel, the Alakai, have been berthed in a Norfolk, Va., shipyard since last summer.

The Maritime Administration, which guaranteed loans for construction of the catamarans and holds first priority mortgages, took possession of the vessels after they were abandoned by the company.

Austal USA, the Alabama shipbuilder that built the vessels, and the state of Hawai'i, which provided $40 million in harbor improvements, hold second and third mortgages.

The Maritime Administration has looked into the possible sale or charter of the catamarans.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 18, 2010 3 p.m.

Surfing Goat Heading to The City By the Bay

Maui's Surfing Goat Dairy is among the sponsors of the 19th Annual Zinfandel Festival next week in San Francisco.

The "Zin in Paradise" festival will include more than 250 Zinfandel wineries from all across California pouring samples and new releases for more than 10,000 people during the Jan. 28-30 event.

Thomas Kafsack, owner of the Surfing Goat Dairy, said he's excited to be part of the festival. "We have many customers in the Bay Area, so they will have a chance to enjoy a taste of Maui with great Zinfandels and the ZAP festival 2010 also benefits Maui Culinary Academy."

The festival also features Maui-based celebrity chef Beverly Gannon, one of the founders of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

On Jan. 28, at the Good Eat's & Zinfandel Pairing Surfing Goat Dairy is paired with the Z52 Winery and will feature its various award winning cheeses with feta three different Z52 wines.

Surfing Goat Dairy also will be the only featured cheese-maker at the "Evening with the Winemakers" on Jan. 29 serving its fresh black truffle cheese Perigord and its Maui Secret Sicily on a crostini, fresh chevre Ping Pong Balls served on a bed of Surfing Goat Dairy's Mango Chutney.

For more information about the festival, visit www.zinfandel.org.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 18, 2010 1:30 p.m.

American Airlines Hiking Bag Fees - Again

FORT WORTH, Texas — American Airlines said Monday it is raising its fees on checked bags for passengers buying tickets starting Feb. 1.

The company said it is raising the charge for the first checked bag to $25 from $20 on flights in the U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The fees apply to passengers on the company's American Airlines, American Eagle and American Connection flights.

A second checked bag will cost $35, up from $30.

American Airlines last hiked its checked bag fees in July, when the price of the first bag rose $5 to $20 and the price of the second bag rose the same amount to $25.

Select passengers, including first- and business-class travelers and members of the armed services, will remain exempt from checked bag fees.

Airlines began instituting checked bag fees in 2008 to help offset soaring fuel costs. They have largely kept the fees in place, even though prices have fallen.

American Airlines said about 25 percent of domestic customers pay checked bag fees.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 18, 2010 10:10 a.m.

NWS Replaces Huigh Surf Warning with Advisory

1. EVENTS: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has cancelled the HIGH SURF WARNING and issued a HIGH SURF ADVISORY for WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI in effect until 6:00 p.m. TUESDAY. The HIGH SURF WARNING for NORTH FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and MAUI remains in effect until 6:00 p.m. THIS EVENING.

A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 20 to 25 feet today, lowering to 15 to 20 feet on Tuesday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will be 10 to 15 feet today, subsiding to heights of 8 to 12 feet on Tuesday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 4:02 p.m. and 5:20 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.4 feet is expected between 4:41 a.m. and 5:59 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 18, 2010 8:10 a.m.

Abercrombie Leads in Governor Poll

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is slightly ahead of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the race for governor, according to a new survey of registered voters.

The poll taken by telephone Jan. 8-12 among 800 registered voters across the state has a margin or error of 3.5 percent for the statewide survey and 4.5 percent for the smaller group of 489 likely Democratic primary voters.

The statewide poll also shows that either Abercrombie or Hannemann would beat the expected Republican candidate, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona Jr.

Abercrombie is favored by 43 percent of the voters compared with 34 for Aiona, according to the poll. Another 23 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

In the Hannemann-Aiona matchup, Hannemann takes 41 percent to Aiona's 35 percent, with 24 percent undecided.

In the expected primary contest between Abercrombie and Hannemann, Abercrombie holds a slight lead, 37 percent to 34 percent of the likely Democratic primary voters, with 29 percent undecided.

Abercrombie says the poll shows he has strength across the state even though he has represented the urban Honolulu 1st Congressional district for 20 years and has never campaigned off Oahu.

"The great thing about this is we are just getting started. We expect this to launch us. ... It is very encouraging and exciting," Abercrombie said.

Hannemann declined comment, with spokeswoman Elisa Yadao saying "he is not commenting because he has not yet formally entered the race."

Although Hannemann has not filed with the state Elections Office, he has set up a campaign committee and has collected $1.2 million to run for governor.

David Carey, a spokesman for the Hannemann exploratory committee, described the poll as "a statistical dead heat."

Aiona said his numbers would increase.

"As more people begin to focus on their choice for governor, I'm confident that my proven record of leadership, integrity and good judgment will resonate with Hawaii's families and small businesses," Aiona said.

The poll, which was taken by the national polling firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, shows that Abercrombie is slightly stronger than Hannemann among likely Democratic primary voters on Oahu with 38 percent of the vote and Hannemann with 34 percent.

The pair split the neighbor islands, with both getting 34.5 percent of primary voters with slightly more than 30 percent undecided.

Abercrombie says he has been devoting extra attention to the off-Oahu areas because he is not as well known.

"Neighbor island campaign is a revelation. It is about how much people want to have somebody who is actually going to be involved with them.

"They want someone who is going to stay as governor," Abercrombie said as a dig against Hannemann, who has also said he wanted to serve someday in the U.S. Senate or House.

Abercrombie is slightly favored more by male primary voters and holds a strong preference among women voters, getting 40 percent of the vote, compared with Hannemann's 31 percent of female primary voters.

Abercrombie does best with voters age 50-64 where he takes 44 percent of the vote compared with Hannemann's 19 percent.

Hannemann is ahead with those over age 65, with almost 58 percent of those older voters.

Looking at voters on an ethnic basis, Hannemann has more support than Abercrombie among Japanese, Filipino and Hawaiian voters. Abercrombie has a larger number of Caucasian voters.

Reach Richard Borreca at rborreca@starbulletin.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 18, 2010 6:40 a.m.

New 'Pirates' Movie to Be Shot in Hawai'i

HONOLULU -- Governor Linda Lingle today announced that Hawai‘i will be the location for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth installment of the highly successful Walt Disney Pictures’ action adventure film series from Jerry Bruckheimer Films. The Walt Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger met with Governor Lingle on Friday to share the news that the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu will be sites for the production of the feature film, which will begin shooting this summer and is slated to be released in summer 2011. The production is expected to generate an estimated $85 million in direct and indirect spending in Hawai‘i, providing a needed economic boost for the state’s economy as well as creating hundreds of jobs for local residents.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” will star Johnny Depp, returning to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow. The film is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and directed by Rob Marshall. The writers are Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and the executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Barry Waldman, Elliott, Rossio and John DeLuca.

“Disney’s long-term commitment to Hawai‘i – from ABC’s ‘LOST’ to the new Disney resort on O‘ahu scheduled to open in 2011, and now the upcoming filming of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ – is a testament to the company’s confidence in our state as a great place to do business,“ said Governor Lingle.

“The Walt Disney Company has a great relationship with Hawai‘i that we’re looking forward to building upon with the filming of the latest adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew,” said Iger. “I thank Governor Lingle and her team for their tremendous support of the projects Disney has underway in this great state.”

“We’ve always sought out the most extraordinary and exotic locations for the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films,” said producer Jerry Bruckheimer, "and previously shot briefly on both Maui and Moloka‘i for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.’ Hawai‘i provides an amazing range of both land and seascapes, and we’re delighted to return for ‘On Stranger Tides.’"

The state’s Creative Industries Division and the Hawai‘i Film Office, which are housed in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, began working with Disney last year and organized a series of meetings and conference calls to help secure the business.

Georja Skinner, the State’s Creative Industries Division administrator who oversees operations of the Hawai‘i Film Office, worked collaboratively with the Governor’s office, Department of Taxation and Tourism Liaison Marsha Wienert, along with Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Hawai‘i Visitors and Convention Bureau, Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, the Kaua‘i Film Office, the City and County’s Honolulu Film Office, The Resort Group, Ko Olina Resort and Disney Vacation Club to help secure “Pirates of the Caribbean” for Hawai‘i.

“Hawai‘i competes on a global basis for productions and to have Disney choose Hawai‘i over other states and countries is a huge win for us,” said Skinner. “Creative industries are by nature collaborative and what I think made a difference for us is the combination of our tax incentive as well as local film, travel and destination industry support.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” joins a growing list of feature film and television productions slated to film in Hawai‘i this year. Warner Bros. feature “Hereafter,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Matt Damon completed filming on Maui last week. Pre-production is also beginning for the feature film “The Descendents,” starring George Clooney and directed by Academy Award®-winning writer/director Alexander Payne. The film is based on the book by Hawai‘i resident Kau‘i Hart Hemmings. Several network pilots, as well as a Japanese drama series and a Korean drama series are also scouting Hawai‘i for projects this year.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 17, 2010 3:15 p.m.

Feds Warn of Scams in Wake of Haiti Disaster

WASHINGTON — After a disaster, another tragedy is sure to follow.

Once the news broke about the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the U.S. government and other organizations quickly started warning of scam artists trying to dupe people into sending them money intended for the victims. Such low-life hucksters know that once some people see video and photos of victims crying out for help, their generosity will trump their caution.

Just a day after the quake, the FBI issued a warning about Haiti-related scams. The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance also issued a warning that fraudulent charities will likely emerge.

"As the past has proven, whenever there is a major headline story, like the Haiti earthquake disaster, there will be schemes to capitalize on it," said Edward Johnson, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau of Metro Washington, D.C., and Eastern Pennsylvania. "It is disheartening to think that there are those who would take advantage of a catastrophic event to line their pockets with charitable donations meant for the victims. Nonetheless, it is a harsh reality."

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, the scam artists blew in as fiercely as the gale winds that accompanied the storms. So many popped up that the FBI partnered with the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies to form the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force.

The FBI saw a flood of Web sites soliciting for charitable donations. In 2006, the agency reported, a Florida con artist who claimed he was a pilot and had delivered relief supplies to hurricane victims pleaded guilty of a Katrina-related Internet scam. More than four years after those storms, people are still being sentenced for charity-related fraud cases.

Don't think you are too smart to avoid a scam. Crooks are clever and the technology is so good that it's easy to be duped.

"People get emotional and they want to give fast, and they want to do it conveniently, so they set caution aside," Johnson said.

But you must be cautious.

"Without question, it is good and noble for consumers and businesses to contribute to worthwhile and helpful charities," Johnson said. "In times of calamity, it is important to remember those who have been affected and are in dire need. It is the right thing to do. There is one simple caveat: Give with your head as well as your heart."

No doubt you've seen the fraud warnings, but they are worth repeating. The FBI and the Better Business Bureau recommend the following:

• Don't respond to any unsolicited incoming e-mail or click on links contained within those messages.

• Be skeptical of people claiming to be surviving victims. After Katrina, dozens of individuals were indicted for falsely representing themselves as such.

• Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Despite what some organizations might say, there are expenses connected to collecting money. Even a credit card donation may involve, at a minimum, a processing fee.

• Verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations. There are a number of Internet-based resources that can assist you in vetting a charity. For example, you can go to www.bbb.org/charity, www.charitywatch.org or www.guidestar.org.

• Watch carefully as you search and click. Con artists often set up look-alike Web sites. One way to be safe is to follow a link to a charity from a site you trust. For example, you can go to www.whitehouse.gov and find some links to donate to Haitian relief.

• Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than going through third parties. Cutting out the middleman may help more of your money go to the relief effort.

• Find out if the charity has an on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas. Many well-meaning charities may ask for donations, but make sure they are equipped to effectively provide aid.

• Be cautious about giving out your personal or financial information to anyone soliciting contributions. This is prime time for identity theft.

If you have received what you believe to be a fraudulent or even suspicious e-mail, please file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.

Crooks will attempt to capitalize on the relief efforts in Haiti. If you want to make a donation, make sure your gift will be used for those in need.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 17, 2010 2 p.m.

Thousands Gather in Honolulu to Oppose Civil Unions

Thousands of demonstrators are converging on the state Capitol today for a traditional values rally to oppose civil unions.

The rally, organized by the Hawaii Family Forum, is intended to influence state lawmakers and energize religious conservatives to play a larger role in the September primary and November general election.

The state Senate is expected to take up civil unions shortly after the start of the new session of the state Legislature on Wednesday.

The civil-unions bill, which carried over from last session, would give both same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions. Couples would enjoy the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

State House leaders have said they would wait to see whether the Senate passes the bill with the two-thirds' vote necessary to override a veto before deciding how to proceed.

The House passed a civil-unions bill last session that only applies to same-sex couples.

An interfaith group, meanwhile, has an event today affirming the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at St. Clement's Episcopal Church.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 17, 2010 8 a.m.

Palin Visor Incident Attracts Unsavory Element to Maui

The Sarah Palin visor flap last month may have been just another political gotcha, but it revealed the presence on Maui of a new, aggressive and unwelcome breed of paparazzi.

Maui has had the reputation as a place where celebrities could hang out without much fuss. But after the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate was photographed at Kaanapali Beach wearing a Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., visor with "McCain" covered in black ink, she decamped abruptly, saying her holiday after her "Going Rogue" book tour had been spoiled by aggressive photographers.

In the superheated world of political blogging, that explanation was doubted, but Mike White, general manager of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, said it was "absolutely correct" that obnoxious photographers chased the Palin family off Maui.

Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, apologized to other guests for the antics of the photographers. White said other guests began complaining about the photographers, who created turmoil for two days on the beach.

The photographers where thrown off the Kaanapali Beach Hotel grounds, but the beach is public and open to anyone.

It began Dec. 16, when Sarah Palin and her children were sunning themselves on the beach. Rick Leeks, an old-time, low-key Maui paparazzo, described what he knew about the event.

His tipsters told him that the Palins were at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, but "I just didn't believe it, and I didn't go right away." He said three paparazzi who have been on the island for a few months did go and took as many as 2,000 pictures, which they quickly sold to TMZ, an Internet celebrity gossip site.

Then, said Leeks, the photographers began deliberately making themselves obnoxious, hoping to drive the Palins away. He calls that "burning it."

By that he meant that if the paparazzi could drive the Palins away, then no other paparazzi could get photographs of them, driving up the value of the exclusive images.

"They didn't leave her alone," he said.

Here's where it gets complicated. Palin apparently put up with the intrusion, but as it happened, she was wearing the blacked-out McCain visor. When that image hit the Internet, political theorists exploded in a frenzy of commentary about the supposed insult.

The next day, Dec. 17, Palin released a statement, which appeared on The Huffington Post. It said: "In an attempt to 'go incognito,' I Sharpied the logo out on my sun visor so photographers would be less likely to recognize me and bother my kids or other vacationers.

"I am so sorry if people took this silly incident the wrong way. I adore John McCain, support him 100 percent and will do everything I can to support his re-election. As everyone knows, I was honored and proud to run with him. And Todd and I were with him in D.C. just a week ago.

"Todd and I have since cut our vacation short because the incognito attempts didn't work and fellow vacationers were bothered for the two days we spent in the sun. So much for trying to go incognito."

But in between Wednesday morning and Thursday evening, much happened.

Leeks said that when he went to Kaanapali on Thursday, the Mainland photographers were there, and they "caused a scene," trying to keep him from getting a shot.

White described it as "fighting with each other," although he did not see it himself. Leeks said the other paparazzi held up a towel to block him and otherwise tried to keep him away.

He did get pictures of the Palins, by leaving the area, putting on a wig and different clothes and approaching down the public beach from another direction.

Meanwhile, hotel staff were "making it clear" that the Mainland photographers were unwelcome on hotel property, he said.

That evening, the Palins left.

White said: "I found the Palins to be just wonderful people. Our hospitality staff was totally taken by them and by the attention that Todd and Sarah paid to the kids."

He said it was other guests who complained to his staff about the paparazzi.

The Maui News did not report that the Palins were vacationing on Maui (celebrities visit Maui frequently), but the newspaper did report on the visor flap on Dec. 19, including Palin's explanation about the visor and why she had cut her vacation short.

Not everybody bought that. Craig Medred, a veteran Alaska journalist who writes for Alaska Dispatch.com, said: "Every self-respecting Alaskan knows that if you want to cover something up, you put duct tape over it. You don't waste a whole bunch of time when you could be doing something funny trying to black it out with a Sharpie."

Others pointed out that she could have bought a visor without McCain's name on it in the hotel for $5.

More noteworthy was the revelation that aggressive paparazzi were on the island. "It was a surprise to me," White said.

Now forewarned, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel is prepared. "We pride ourselves" in taking care of guests, said White, "and every employee is part of security." The Mainland photographers "were kept off the property by a wide variety of people," he said.

Terryl Vencl, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, was traveling when all this happened and said this week that she, too, had not heard about pushy paparazzi on the island.

"I'm a little bit stunned," she said. "We don't want anybody bothered, celebrity or not. . . . We would hope that anybody would show respect to their fellow human beings."

The behavior was "not the kind of aloha we're known for," she said.

Leeks, a papparazzo himself, agrees. He has been quietly shooting celebrities for about 15 years, doing it full time for the past four. He said he never goes on resort properties but only takes pictures on public beaches.

He said he wants celebs to keep coming, and he doesn't want to make them camera shy on Maui.

Reach Harry Eager at heagar@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 16, 2010 12:10 p.m.

Giant Surf Heading Back to North Shores Today

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents. The High surf warning is in effect from noon today until 6 p.m., Monday.

2. EFFECTS: A storm far northwest of the Islands will bring a very large long period northwest swell to the Islands later today. This dangerous swell is expected to last at least through Monday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise rapidly this afternoon, reaching 30 to 40 feet tonight and Sunday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will rise rapidly this afternoon, reaching 15 to 25 feet tonight and Sunday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves

A high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 2:47 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.7 feet is expected between 4:00 a.m. and 5:18 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: DANGEROUS, BATTERING WAVES WILL POUND THE COAST. STAY WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORELINE IN AREAS AFFECTED BY THE LARGE SURF.

THE WAVES WILL BE LARGE ENOUGH TO CRASH ONTO ROADS IN SOME AREAS TONIGHT, ESPECIALLY NEAR HIGH TIDE, WHICH IS AROUND 4:00 A.M. AND PRODUCE LOCALIZED COASTAL FLOODING.

THERE WILL BE SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION. COASTAL RESIDENTS NEED TO REMAIN ALERT TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY. BE PREPARED FOR LOCAL ROAD CLOSURES.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 16, 2010 7:10 a.m.

ML&P In Danger of Losing NYSE Listing

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. is in danger of having its stock removed from trading on the New York Stock Exchange because the value of all its shares has fallen so low.

The company yesterday said it received a warning from the NYSE on Monday that it wasn't compliant with the stock exchange's rules for minimum market capitalization, meaning the collective value of all outstanding stock shares.

NYSE requires companies to have a minimum market capitalization of $50 million. Not meeting the minimum on average over 30 days violates the exchange's rule.

Maui Land stock yesterday closed at $3.98, giving the company a market capitalization of about $34 million based on roughly 8.5 million outstanding shares. Yesterday's stock price was up from a 52-week low of $3.63 on Thursday.

Under NYSE rules, Maui Land has 45 days to deliver a plan that convinces the exchange it can meet the listing standard within 18 months. Maui Land said it intends to submit such a plan.

During the 45-day period, shares of Maui Land stock will continue to be listed on the exchange, subject to compliance with other listing requirements.

Maui Land stock has been on the NYSE since April 2008. At the time, the company had a share price of about $33 and a market capitalization of roughly $245 million. The NYSE had invited the Kahului-based company to join the nearly 4,000 firms listed on the exchange known as the Big Board instead of the smaller American Stock Exchange where Maui Land shares had traded since it became a public company in 1969.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 15, 2010 4 p.m.

Red Cross Issues Haiti Relief Update - Appeals for Help

Honolulu, HI (January 15, 2010) – It is estimated that as many as three million people are affected in Haiti after the devastating earthquake. In some areas, 70 percent of the houses have been damaged. Thousands of survivors spent a third night out in the open without shelter. People are camping out at around 40 gathering points throughout the city, too scared to spend the night inside damaged buildings that could collapse at any moment. Thousands remain trapped and the death toll is rising. The aftermath of Tuesday's earthquake has posed logistical challenges for all humanitarian organizations, including Red Cross responders, who are working around the clock to meet the challenges and ensure aid reaches the survivors.

The Red Cross now has dozens of disaster specialists in Haiti, assessing the damage, addressing urgent needs and establishing the foundation for a long-term recovery operation. These individuals join the 15-person staff we already had on the ground and 12 Red Cross teams that arrived from other countries yesterday. Among them are engineers, surgeons and family linking specialists. These teams will establish field hospitals, restore water and sanitation systems, distribute supplies and restore family links facilities.

Three planes carrying international Red Cross humanitarian assistance supplies are en-route to Port-au-Prince. The first plane is carrying a field hospital, the second is carrying tarps, blankets, hygiene items, buckets, shelter supplies and kitchen sets, and the third is carrying 40 tons of supplies – mainly medical items like specialized kits to help treat the wounded, basic medicines and chlorine for water treatment.

Yesterday, International Committee of the Red Cross workers in Port-au-Prince provided medical assistance to five major hospitals and clinics, as well as to smaller facilities set up by local doctors in areas with a high concentration of earthquake survivors.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is also helping to reconnect separated families within the country. They have established a special Web site, enabling persons in Haiti and abroad to search for and register the names of relatives missing since the earthquake: www.icrc.org/familylinks. Within 48 hours of its launch, more than 13,800 visited the site looking for loved ones.

Given the massive needs and the extent of the damage seen so far, it will take considerable resources to help the people of Haiti recover. It may be many weeks or even months to understand the full extent of the damage, and the Red Cross’ involvement in the recovery effort is expected to take years. This is not unprecedented for the Red Cross. Five years after Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross is still helping many communities restore what was lost.

It is too early to say how much this relief operation will cost the international community. In the first 48 hours after earthquake hit, the amount pledged to the American Red Cross reached $37 million for relief efforts in Haiti. More than half of the donations have been through online contributions, with $8 million pledged through record-breaking mobile giving and strong support as well from corporations. First Lady Michelle Obama released a Public Service Announcement asking people to join her in supporting Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti through the text messaging campaign http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP-GuVuYC38. Donors can text "Haiti" to 90999 on their cell phone to send a $10 donation to support Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti (donation would be reflected on cell phone bill). An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

Countless requests have come from people wanting to help. The best way to do that is to make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donors can designate their gifts to Haiti relief. Donations to the International

Response Fund allows the American Red Cross to respond to global emergencies and disasters.

Here in Hawaii, donors can also call in donations to the Hawaii Red Cross at 739-8109, go on-line at www.hawaiiredcross.org or mail donations to American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816. If you would like to donate specifically to the Haiti relief effort, please indicate so on your check or when you call, and your donor intent will be honored.

(Report Priovided by the Hawai'i Chapter of the American Red Cross)

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NEWS FLASH - January 15, 2010 9:45 a.m.

Kealia Pond Visitor Center Plan Ready for Review, Comments

An environmental assessment examining the potential effects of construction and operation of a proposed headquarters and visitor center at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is now available for public review and comment. The building, which is currently in the planning and design phase, was funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects the construction project will begin later this year and be completed in 2011.

“Last year we worked with Alexander and Baldwin to acquire 13 acres adjacent to Mokulele Highway as a suitable site for our new headquarters and visitor center,” said Kealia Project Leader Glynnis Nakai. “This environmental assessment looks at how construction and future operation of the facility may affect the environment and other factors, such as recreational and educational opportunities.”

The preferred alternative would construct a small, energy-efficient building on an upland area of the refuge, off the existing access road from Mokulele Highway. The site currently is covered by kiawe and is not used for any other purpose. The 7500 square-foot facility would become the refuge’s permanent administrative office, replacing a modular building that was destroyed by fire in 2006. It also would include an exhibit hall, multi-purpose room, and space for volunteers.

“Every effort has been made to ensure the facility will not impact the endangered waterbirds or migratory birds that depend upon Kealia Pond,” Nakai said. “We believe the new building will not only help us in our efforts to meet our mission to recover endangered species, but also will be a major asset to the community.”

The document is available on the refuge’s website at http://www.fws.gov/kealiapond or by calling the refuge at (808) 875-1582. Comments must be received by February 12, 2010.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

(Report Provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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NEWS FLASH - January 15, 2010 9:15 a.m.

Surf Calming Down for First Time in Two Weeks

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has cancelled the HIGH SURF ADVISORY FOR NORTH AND WEST FACING SHORES OF MOLOKAI AND NORTH FACING SHORES OF MAUI. Today is the first day there has been no active watch, advisory or warning for high surf in Maui County since January 3.

BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS OF THE DECLINING SURF.

This will be the last Maui County Civil Defense notification on this event.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 15, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Special Election Will Cost $1.3 Million

The state Office of Elections has asked for an emergency appropriation of $1.3 million to help finance a special election to fill the remaining months of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in Congress.

The $1.3 million is related to Hawai'i's share of federal Help America Vote Act funds to improve elections administration, and a recent federal audit found that the money should have been placed in the state's general fund years ago.

Scott Nago, the state's interim chief elections officer, said a special election could be held as soon as May 1, provided that his cash-strapped office receives the funding and the state acquires new voting machines.

Nago said the $1.3 million would cover the cost of an all-mail special election — about $925,000 — and help with preparations for the September primary and November general elections.

A spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that the governor had not yet seen the request. The governor must ask the state Legislature to approve the emergency appropriation.

Kevin Cronin, the state's former chief elections officer, had initially suggested that budget cuts may delay a special election until the September primary. But Nago has said his intention is to hold the vote as soon as possible, and state Attorney General Mark Bennett predicted a legal challenge if the special election is delayed until September because of the budget deficit.

Under state law, the soonest a special election could be held is 60 days after Abercrombie's Feb. 28 resignation. The congressman is resigning to concentrate on his Democratic primary campaign for governor. His two-year term runs until early January 2011.

The timing of a special election has become an issue among the three candidates in the winner-take-all campaign.

Former congressman Ed Case and Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou have said a special election should be held as soon as possible so Hawai'i would have full representation in Congress. State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa has raised doubts about whether the Office of Elections can get the money and voting machines in place by May. She has also said voters should be given adequate time to register and learn about the method of voting if it is an all-mail election.

Case, who has higher name recognition among voters, has said Hanabusa wants a delay to give her more time to build her campaign.

If an emergency appropriation does come before the Legislature, Hanabusa said she would probably recuse herself in "an abundance of caution."

State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-14th (Halawa, Moanalua, Kamehameha Heights), the chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, had thought a May timetable may be too ambitious.

But she said lawmakers would likely approve the emergency request. "If we have to have a special election and it's not going to be combined with the primary election, then I think we're forced to," she said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 15, 2010 6:55 a.m.

Furlough Day Number 8 - With No End In Sight

Today marks the eighth day of lost class time for Hawai'i's public school students due to teacher furloughs, and there is still no sign that teachers, their union, the governor and state education officials are any closer to an agreement to reduce the number of furlough days.

Two formal proposals to end or reduce teacher furlough days have come and gone — one rejected by the Hawaii State Teachers Association and one by Gov. Linda Lingle — since the unpaid days off were instituted Oct. 23 to help close the state's unprecedented bud-get deficit.

Lingle announced a new proposal Jan. 8 and emphasized the importance of acting quickly. Yet as of yesterday, Wil Okabe, HSTA president, said the teachers union still has no details of Lingle's new plan.

"We have not received any proposal from the governor 's office. It doesn't seem that the priority is ending the furlough days, so therefore we will have another furlough day this Friday," Okabe said.

Jo Curran of Hawaii Education Matters, a grassroots group of parents seeking an end to furloughs, said parent organizations are frustrated and angry that a solution has not been agreed upon so late into the school year.

"There is a such a sense of hopelessness. There is a real sense that parents have been completely let down by leaders," Curran said.

Linda Smith, senior adviser to the governor, said the administration is still working with the state budget department and the state Department of Education to hash out details of "nonstaff costs" of opening schools.

"The other issue we're still working out is the school-level personnel and who minimally do we really need to come back to work on those furlough Fridays," Smith said.

Those two details were also sticking points in Lingle's original furlough reduction proposal. It was one of the main reasons the teachers union said it was unwilling to agree to the proposal.

Alex Da Silva, spokesman for the state Board of Education, said negotiators from the board have requested answers from the administration regarding those details.

"One of the concerns with the proposal the governor put out is that it still requires the department to put in millions of dollars that it does not have," Da Silva said. "There are also concerns of health and safety of students, whether schools will be staffed adequately."

Union and education officials had estimated the DOE would face a $19.3 million budget shortfall under the governor's plan. That's even if teachers swap their planning days, without additional pay, as the governor is still suggesting.

Education officials warn-ed that the $19.3 million shortage would result in layoffs of 2,500 full-time employees, increased class sizes and loss of school-level programs.

Lingle's new proposal came after she rejected a tentative agreement between education officials and the HSTA. That pact would have restored seven of the 10 remaining furlough days in the current school year by using $35 million from the state's rainy-day fund.

Okabe said the union is frustrated that it has still not received any details about the governor 's plan directly from the state.

Da Silva said the board will present a formal proposal to the HSTA once all the issues have been worked out with the governor's office.

"Nothing has been scheduled with the HSTA because we do not have a proposal to offer yet," Da Silva said.

Okabe said the objections the union had to Lingle's original proposal are likely to be issues in her new plan.

"It seems to me, from what I'm reading in the media, that it's the same plan she talked about when she came back from China, minus a couple of days because we've already taken more furlough days," Okabe said.

He said the union is particularly interested in seeing details of who would be considered "essential" workers on restored furlough Fridays. The governor's original proposal would have covered the salaries of only classroom teachers, Okabe said, and excluded resource teachers, librarians, custodians and other school staff.

"It is our position that all teachers are essential. Resource teachers, counselors, curriculum coordinators, tech coordinators, all of those teachers are essential workers," Okabe said.

Curran said many parents are disappointed that the governor appears to be offering the same plan as before. "Right in the very beginning we brought up the word compromise. We said, for this to work there must be a willingness to compromise. I don't think taking what you want to the table and leaving it there and walking away is compromise. I think it's stubbornness," Curran said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 1:15 p.m.

'We're Number 1!' - Again - In Gas Prices

Hawaii motorists now pay the highest price for gasoline in the nation, according to the AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch.

The weekly report released today said the average price for a gallon of regular rose six cents to $3.39, pushing Hawaii past Alaska's $3.37.

The average price for a gallon of regular in Honolulu is $3.28, up by five cents since last week, five cents higher than last month and $1.08 higher than at this time last year.

In Hilo, the average is $3.39, up seven cents from last week, two cents higher than last month, and 96 cents higher than at this time last year.

In Wailuku, the average is $3.75, up six cents from last week, two cents more than last month and $1.27 higher than at this time last year.

Chris Olvera, AAA Hawaii's Acting Branch Manager, said in a statement that high oil prices is contributing to the price of gasoline.

"However," Olvera noted, "recent federal data shows that nationwide demand is still very soft. Wholesale gas prices have declined in recent days, so we'll have to watch how this impacts the price of gasoline going forward."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 1:05 p.m.

Second Phase of Market Street Improvement Starts Tuesday

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii- Mayor Charmaine Tavares and Public Works Director Milton Arakawa announced today that construction for the second phase of the Market Street Improvement Project will begin January 19, 2010. The project, which falls under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA - Federal Stimulus), totals $ 2,592,371 and is expected to be completed in December 2010.

Goodfellow Brothers is the general contractor, while Aimone-Martin Associates has begun conducting a survey of the structures along Market Street from Kahawai Street to Mokuhau Road before construction begins.

The project includes constructing a landscaped island to serve as a school bus stop at the intersection at Piihana Road; constructing new sidewalks, curbs, driveways, curb ramps and concrete sidewalks; installing new signs and relocating existing signs; and replacing the existing roadway with a new asphalt pavement section. The project also includes improvements to drainage systems by installing an underground system that will capture runoff from heavy rains on Market Street and release it into the Iao Stream, and the realignment of a segment of the existing waterline to accommodate the new drainage system.

Construction is scheduled to take place Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; some weekend work may be necessary. It is anticipated that one lane of traffic will be kept open with local traffic access; traffic may be detoured through side streets during construction hours.

Questions on the project may be directed to Yuki Lei Sugimura, community relations consultant, at 878-1888 or yukilei@hawaii.rr.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 9:25 a.m.

Lahaina's Mataafa Advances to NFL's PPK Finals

Lahaina's Lalelei Mataafa has advanced to the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick national finals Jan. 17, prior to the AFC Divisional playoff game in San Diego.

Mataafa, who advanced through local and sectional championships held throughout the NFL regular season, will compete with four others in the girls 10-11 division. Her competitors will be from Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin. The top four scorers in each age group from around the country qualified as national finalists.

She will be among 32 players from around the country competing in the event. More than 3.5 million boys and girls competed in NFL Punt, Pass and Kick this year.

All participants launch one punt, one pass and one kick, with scores based on distance and accuracy (in feet).

All participants and their guest are provided airfare, hotel accommodations and tickets to the AFC Divisional playoff game between the Chargers and New York Jets.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 8:30 a.m.

Police Identify Little Beach Drowning Victim

Police identified an Oregon man who drowned off the coast of Maui Tuesday as 49-year-old Jacob Pelta of Portland.

Acting Lt. William Gannon of the Maui Police Department said Pelta and Ed Wallmark, 58, of Portland were swimming in the ocean at Little Beach in Makena when they encountered a set of waves 10 to 15 feet high.

The two were then caught in a rip tide, according to The Associated Press.

Gannon said lifeguards performed CPR on Pelta, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wallmark was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center and was listed in good condition, The Associated Press reported. Wallmark's mother, Dianne Wallmark, said he has two collapsed lungs.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 8:10 a.m.

Hawai'i Foreclosures Exploded in December

Home foreclosure actions in Hawai'i ballooned last month, pushing the state's rate to its worst ranking nationally for any month since the present housing market downturn began.

A report from real estate research firm RealtyTrac said there were 1,534 foreclosure filings statewide in December. That was the highest count for any month, and far exceeded the prior high of 990 in July. It was also roughly triple the 499 filings in December 2008.

As a result of the surge, Hawai'i had the 10th-highest rate among states as measured by the number of households per foreclosure filing. Previously Hawai'i had not ranked worse than 15th, a position it occupied four times last year.

Hawai'i's rate in December equated to one filing for every 330 households. Nationally, the rate was one filing per 366 households.

Since March, Hawai'i has been in the bottom half of RealtyTrac's national foreclosure ranking, partly because home sales and prices in other states crashed earlier and are now improving along with foreclosure rates, while the local housing market has experienced a more moderate downturn that is still continuing.

In what may be a silver lining, Hawai'i's foreclosure count was largely due to a flurry of auction notices, which are filed near the end of the foreclosure process. Auction notices represented 1,241 of the 1,534 filings in December. Auction notices involve foreclosure cases that were started in earlier months.

The number of new cases counted by RealtyTrac as default notices was 75 in December, which was down from 123 in the same month a year before and was the second-lowest count for any month last year, after the 53 cases in January.

The decrease in default notices and the surge in auction notices could be a signal that foreclosures may be peaking, though more data in the next few months will present a better picture of whether such a change is under way.

RealtyTrac's data is regarded as a rough indication of foreclosures in Hawai'i because it includes filings at three stages of the foreclosure process that can result in counting filings on the same property in different months. The third type of filings the company counts is lender repossessions.

Last month, there were 218 such filings.

By county, Honolulu had the most filings — 643 — but the lowest rate, at one filing for every 521 households.

Kaua'i had the next best rate, with 77 filings representing one per 379 households. On Maui, there were 297 filings, or one per 219 households. The Big Island had the highest rate at one filing per 150 households, or 517 total filings.

For all of last year, there were 9,963 foreclosure filings in Hawai'i. RealtyTrac said there were 9,002 properties with at least one filing, up from 3,525 a year earlier.

Last year's total represented 1.8 percent of the state's housing market, or one property for every 56 households.

Among other states, Hawai'i had the 15th-worst percentage of properties in foreclosure last year.

However, because RealtyTrac's count doesn't exclude commercial property such as condominium-hotel units and time-shares, the number of Hawai'i homes in foreclosure may fare better compared with states that don't have large tourism or commercial real estate industries.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 14, 2010 6:55 a.m.

Candidates Jockey to Replace Abercrombie

Former Congressman Ed Case, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, the three candidates in a special election for Congress, began to differentiate themselves for voters yesterday in the first public event of the campaign.

At an hourlong forum at a Smart Business Hawaii conference at the Ala Moana Hotel, the candidates discussed their views on the economy, taxes, health care reform, a Honolulu rail project, federal maritime law and a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill.

With a special election to fill out the remaining months in U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District coming as soon as May, the candidates are quickly trying to establish themes. Abercrombie is resigning in late February to focus on his Democratic primary campaign for governor.

The special election is winner-take-all, and the victor will likely be favored to win the September primary and November general election to replace Abercrombie in Congress.

Several key policy differences emerged yesterday.

Case and Hanabusa, both Democrats, said it would depend on the health of the economy before they would commit to supporting a second federal stimulus program, while Djou, a Republican, said he opposes a second stimulus because he said the first infusion of federal money has not led to job creation.

"This is not the right way to run our government. This is not the right way to fix our economy," Djou said. "Spending more money, and throwing money at a problem, never fixes anything. And certainly it's not going to get us out of this recession."

Case said he wondered what would have happened if not for the federal stimulus. "I don't think anybody has any doubt that things would have deteriorated pretty rapidly had we not had the stimulus," he said. "But does that mean that, next year, we continue the stimulus? I'm not so sure. I certainly don't believe we continue it at the same level as we did."

Hanabusa said the state's budget deficit would have been nearly $1 billion worse if not for the stimulus money, which was used by state lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, to help close the gap.

"The state budget would not even be near balanced, but for stimulus," she said, adding that it helped lawmakers avoid more painful options such a general-excise tax increase.

Case and Hanabusa also said they would judge new federal taxes based on the circumstances, while Djou said he would oppose new taxes.

HEALTH CARE

On health care reform, Hanabusa said she would have likely voted for the U.S. House version of the legislation, which included a government-run public option, even though she prefers a state health insurance exchange found in the U.S. Senate version of the bill.

Hanabusa also said she wants the reform bill to include an exemption for the state's Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974, which requires business to provide health insurance to employees who work 20 hours a week.

"I don't think there's anyone in this room who disagrees with the fact that health care reform must be done, it has to be done," she said.

Case said he prefers the U.S. Senate version of the bill but, like Hanabusa, believes reform is necessary.

Djou, who said he would not have voted for the U.S. House version, and Case said they want medical malpractice insurance reform, the ability of consumers to purchase health insurance across state lines, and expanded medical savings accounts.

Case and Djou both said they have concerns that a new version of a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill would give Hawaiians inherent powers before negotiations with the state and federal governments. Hanabusa said the new language, which has been opposed by the Lingle administration, would treat Hawaiians the same as American Indians and Native Alaskans.

All three candidates are worried about the potential cost of a Honolulu mass-transit project, with Hanabusa also questioning the elevated steel-on-steel design of the project.

Case said he believes Honolulu needs some form of mass transit but said the city's process has not been transparent enough.

On maritime law, Case and Djou said they favor an exemption for Hawai'i from the Jones Act, a federal law that protects the nation's shipping industry from foreign competition. Case said the law has led to a duopoly in Hawai'i, where shipping is dominated by Matson Navigation Co. and Horizon Lines Inc.

"I've walked the walk on this. I have suffered a great deal of political punishment, going back to that theme, for the fact that I dare to ask this basic question, which is should two companies control all shipping between here and the Mainland essentially?"

Hanabusa, however, said the Jones Act has helped guarantee that the Islands have reliable links to goods and has sustained the domestic shipping industry.

The tone of the discussion — moderated by Malia Zimmerman of the conservative-to-libertarian Hawaii Reporter Web site — was friendly, but tension appears to be building between Case and Hanabusa.

SPECIAL ELECTION

Case was the most aggressive of the candidates, opening with a reference to the backing Hanabusa has received from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and several union and political leaders.

"As you know, there's a contract out on me," Case said. "I'm accused of independent thought and action."

Case also suggested that Hanabusa does not want the special election held in May — 60 days after the vacancy, the soonest possible under state law — because a delay may be to her political advantage. Case has higher name recognition with voters than Hanabusa, who would have more time to strengthen her campaign if the election were held later.

The state Office of Elections has said that the goal is to hold an all-mail special election on May 1, but, because of budget cuts, has not identified exactly how the election will be financed.

The state also has to acquire new voting machines because of legal challenges to the machines used in the 2008 elections.

"We need to have time for people to register to vote, for people to understand how the voting is going to be held, and then for them to get the ballots out," Hanabusa said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 6 p.m.

High Surf Warning Continued Through Thursday Evening

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents. The High Surf Warning has been extended through 6 p.m. Thursday.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 20 to 25 feet this evening through Thursday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will be 12 to 20 feet late this evening through Thursday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 2.8 feet is expected between 3:00 a.m. and 4:18 a.m. tomorrow morning. The next high tide of approximately 1.4 feet is expected between 1:00 p.m. and 2:18 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 10:15 a.m.

Red Cross Responds to Haiti Quake - You Can Help

Honolulu, HI (January 13, 2010) – On Tuesday, January 12, less than one hour before sunset, a 7.3 earthquake struck Haiti near the capital of Port au Prince, causing catastrophic damage and loss of life. Initial estimates are that up to 3 million people may be affected. Government offices, including the Presidential palace, have collapsed. Hospitals and the local Red Cross office have sustained major damage. Many areas remain inaccessible as roads are covered with debris and bridges have collapsed. Telephone lines and electricity are still out in many places. The next 48 hours are critical for life-saving operations such as search and rescue and first aid.

The American Red Cross is contributing an initial $1 million to support the relief operation. The American Red Cross also is releasing supplies from its warehouse in Panama that will be able to meet the immediate needs of 5,000 families. Included are tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets. The American Red Cross is deploying six disaster management specialists to the disaster zone to help coordinate relief. These specialists will join the Red Cross staff already on the ground there. In Haiti, the local Red Cross worked throughout the night to rescue people from their trapped homes and provide first aid. Priority needs now are food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support.

At this time, the Red Cross is only deploying volunteers specially trained to manage international emergency operations. Please consider supporting your community's local needs by volunteering with the Hawaii Red Cross.

The American Red Cross had staff in Haiti when the earthquake struck. The American Red Cross has a 15-person office in Haiti focused year-round on HIV/AIDS education and disaster preparedness.

Telephone, Internet and other communication lines are often disrupted in times of disaster. If your loved one has citizenship in Haiti, please be patient and continue to call or contact other family members who live nearby. If you're trying to reach a U.S. citizen living or traveling in Haiti, you should contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 1-888-407-4747.

Sadly, Haiti and the surrounding areas one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. The Red Cross, however, is uniquely positioned to help communities around the world prepare for emergencies and meet the resulting humanitarian needs. The Red Cross is one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world. Collectively, our more than 97 million volunteers and employees give the Red Cross the expertise, scale and scope to manage catastrophic disasters from the moment they strike.

The American Red Cross already has seen an outpouring of support and concern from the public. You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. People who want to help those affected by the Haitian earthquake can make a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund at Redcross.org or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donations can also be sent to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013, or online at www.redcross.org. You can also call in your donations to the Hawaii Red Cross at 739-8109 or mail your donation to American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816. If you would like to donate specifically to the Haiti relief effort, please indicate so on your check or when you call, and your donor intent will be honored. The Red Cross is also receiving money through a third party mobile fundraising effort sponsored by Mobile Accord. Mobile donors can text "Haiti" to 90999 to send a ten dollar donation to the Red Cross. The funds will go to support the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti.

(Report Provided by The Hawai'i Chapter of the American Red Cross)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 9:15 a.m.

High Winds at High Elevations Still Blowing Strong

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the WIND ADVISORY for the HALEAKALA SUMMIT in effect until 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: Sourthwest to west winds over the summit of Mount Haleakala will strengthen today, reaching speeds of 30 to 40 mph with stronger gusts. These windy conditions will continue through tonight.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 9:05 a.m.

High Surf Advisory Continues for West Shores

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY FOR NORTH AND WEST FACING SHORES OF MOLOKAI AND NORTH FACING SHORES OF MAUI now in effect until 6:00 a.m. Thursday.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 10 t0 15 feet today, increasing to heights of 15 to 20 feet tonight.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will be 8 to 12 feet today, increasing to heights of 10 to 15 feet tonight.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.3 feet is expected between 12:56 p.m. and 2:14 p.m. this afternoon.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Ag Sales in Hawai'i Reach 28-Year High

Revenue in 2008 from Hawai'i farms rose to a 28-year high despite drought conditions, according to the most recent annual assessment of statewide agriculture sales.

Local farm revenue rose 5.4 percent to $609 million from $578 million the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The gain was modest, but it reversed what had been two consecutive years of lower industry revenue. It also ranked as the second-highest year for sales after $642 million in 1980.

Because historical sales aren't adjusted for inflation, sales in some other prior years would have exceeded the 2008 figure if the value of a dollar was adjusted. Still, the gain in 2008 was impressive especially because of severe drought that negatively affected many crops that aren't dependent on irrigation.

Driving most of the increase was exceptional growth in the seed industry, primarily seed corn. Significant gains also were made by macadamia nut growers and producers of algae.

However, 11 of the 20 largest commodities grown in the state experienced revenue declines.

"It's kind of a mixed bag," said Mark Hudson, the agency's Hawai'i field office director. "Seed was the great equalizer. All (other commodity revenue) could be down, but seed could wipe out all the losses easily."

Seed crop revenue was up 26 percent, or $36 million, to $177 million in 2008 from $141 million the year before.

For algae, revenue was up 44 percent to $15.7 million from $10.9 million. Macadamia nut sales rose 36 percent to $33.5 million from $24.6 million. Other major commodities with increases were papaya, eggs, basil, sweet potatoes, sod and ginger root.

Revenue declines occurred for sugarcane, coffee, cattle, bananas, potted palms, milk, potted dendrobiums, potted dracaena, cut anthuriums, hogs and potted oncidiinae.

Sales of pineapple, which historically has been one of Hawai'i's top crops, have been kept confidential to protect competitive information of individual farmers since 2007 when the number of major producers dropped from three to two.

It's expected that pineapple sales will be further diminished in the 2009 accounting of industry sales because of cutbacks made by Maui Land & Pineapple Co., which in November announced a complete shutdown of pineapple operations. Since then, a group of local businessmen have announced plans to restore about one-third of what Maui Land farmed in pineapple.

A shutdown of sugarcane farming on Kaua'i at the end of last year by Gay & Robinson would largely be reflected in 2010 agriculture sales. However, seed crops are forecast to continue their robust growth, which could again offset reductions in other crops.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 13, 2010 6:45 a.m.

NOAA Debuts Massive Marine Debris Cleanup Program

The nation's first comprehensive marine debris action plan was rolled out yesterday to guide a coordinated effort to remove plastics, abandoned fishing gear and other human sources of marine debris from coastal waters and coral reefs along the Hawaiian Islands chain.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supported the two-year process that brought together government and nonprofit agencies, scientists, businesses and others to develop the long-term plan.

The process included a statewide planning workshop held in January 2008 to discuss marine debris activities and priorities in both the main and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. From there, participants pledged to develop the Hawai'i Marine Debris Action Plan to encourage greater coordination among partners, identify potential funding sources and increase communication, said Carey Morishige, outreach coordinator with the NOAA Marine Debris Program.

A final workshop was held in October, and the finished plan was unveiled yesterday.

"There are so many entities across our state and across the islands that do marine debris projects, and a lot of the times we find ourselves re-inventing the wheel," Morishige said. "This pulled the partners together in a room to develop a mechanism to work collaboratively, to increase cooperation and sharing of information and resources.

"Hawai'i is the first state in the nation to do it."

The Hawaiian Archipelago acts as a giant comb, collecting large swaths of marine debris circulating on ocean currents in the Pacific. Whales, turtles, monk seals and seabirds can be killed, injured or made sick when they eat or become entangled in marine debris, which also can damage coral reefs.

In addition, marine debris can create navigation hazards and threaten public health and safety.

Morishige said many of the partners who helped develop the Hawai'i Marine Debris Plan already are involved in debris removal, research, education and prevention activities.

For example, at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, tons of debris has been hauled from reefs and beaches, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Boating and Ocean Recreation Division is working to remove abandoned and derelict boats, she said.

The new plan builds on these activities and establishes a cooperative framework for future projects across the state to reduce the presence of derelict nets and vessels; clear the accumulation of debris already affecting marine ecosystems; keep fishing gear and solid waste from being dumped at sea; and prevent land-based debris from reaching waterways.

"We've all been working to address marine debris in Hawai'i in our own way for years. It's great to have a plan that we can all contribute to and work together on to tackle marine debris in Hawai'i," Marvin Heskett of the Surfrider Foundation's O'ahu chapter said in a news release.

Morishige said there is no dedicated funding to achieve all the goals laid out in the plan, but one purpose of the project is to share information on funding opportunities and ways to stretch resources, such as sharing equipment and manpower.

NOAA and the EPA will continue to shepherd the action plan and convene meetings once or twice a year to assess progress, she said.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 12, 2010 4:15 p.m.

Man Dies on Beach at Oneloa - UPDATE

Maui Police have just released the following official report:

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 12:17 p.m., Kihei Patrol District Officers responded to Oneloa Beach (Little Beach), in Makena on a reported drowning incident. The investigation revealed that the male victim was swimming with a companion when they were having trouble due to being caught in a riptide. Both were brought to shore by lifeguards where the male victim was not breathing. CPR was done on the victim, however; they were unable to revive him as he expired at the scene.

The victim is a 49 year old male from Portland, Oregon. Official identification is pending notification of next of kin and autopsy.

The second male was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center for treatment. He was listed in good condition.

(Report Provided by Maiu County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 12, 2010 2:45 p.m.

Man Dies on Beach at Oneloa

A man died at Oneloa today. The popular spot known in the guide books as "Big Beach" at Makena was the scene of an incident that occurred shortly after noon today. Police would not identify the man, nor say where he was from. Officers and water safety officials also declined to comment on whether the man died of natural causes or if he was the victim of an accident. However, first responders to the call included paramedics Police, Fire and Water Safety crews.

Earlier today Makena District Water Safety Captain Zack Edlow told Maui TV News that wave faces at Oneloa were in the six to 10-foot range with a dangerous shorebreak. High Surf advisory flags had been posted at the scene and a High Surf Advisory had been posted for south and west shores for several days.

Details on the incident will be available later today, according to Maui Police. A Maui TV News reporter happened on the scene as Fire crews were leaving the area and Police offers attended the body awaiting the arrival of the Maui County Coroner.

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NEWS FLASH - January 12, 2010 9:40 a.m.

Two-Job Holders Dip Slightly in Hawai'i

Despite Hawaii's well-documented high cost of living, the number of local workers holding two or more jobs stayed relatively flat as the recession played out.

The percentage of Hawaii workers holding multiple jobs dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hawaii ranked ninth among U.S. states.

"The number of workers in Hawaii with more than one job had been increasing since 2006 due to the rising cost of living," said Tom Zhu, BLS economist.

Multiple jobholder rates in Hawaii have historically been high and well above the national average, said Andrew Kato, a University of Hawaii Economic Research Corp. specialist.

"More people here are trying to cover expenses, pay off debts or augment their income," Kato said. "The primary motivation for working multiple jobs is money, and it's no secret that the cost of living is high here."

Nationally, 5.2 percent of all workers held multiple jobs in 2008, BLS said of the most recent available data. Twenty-four other states in addition to Hawaii experienced increases in people working multiple jobs, Zhu said. Front-runners were Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, he said.

Since Hawaii layoffs did not ramp up until the last quarter of 2008, the number of multiple job holders is expected to continue growing, said Judy Bishop, owner of Bishop & Co., a Honolulu-based staffing company.

"In 2008 we came off of three years of full employment, so people didn't need multiple jobs because they had one good job," Bishop said. "In 2009 no one could even get a part-time job."

As Hawaii's unemployment rate rose, jobs may have become harder to find, Zhu said.

As Hawaii's economy improves, part-time and temporary jobs will pick up first, Bishop said.

"Most would prefer one good job over multiple jobs, but people will take what they can get," she said.

There's been a slight uptick in the number of Hawaii companies creating temporary and part-time jobs; however, many will turn to former employees to fill that void, she said.

"They like to bring back the workers that they laid off first," Bishop said.

As a result, competition for jobs continues to be fierce, said Beth Busch, president of Success Advertising Hawaii, which runs Job Quest, the state's largest job fair.

About 5,000 job seekers are expected to attend the next Job Quest, which takes place tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Neal Blaisdell Center.

"In a bad economy you see people getting more than one job because they have to," Busch said. "It's better to have a part-time job or two part-time jobs than nothing at all."

Reach Allison Scaefers at aschaefers@starbulletin.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 12, 2010 7:20 a.m.

High Surf Warning Still On for Maui, Moloka'i - Dropped for Lana'i, Kaho'olawe

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has cancelled the high surf warning and advisory for west facing shores of Lana'i and Kaho'olawe. The high surf warning remains in effect for north and west facing shores of Maui and Moloka'i until 6:00 p.m. today.A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: A very large west northwest swell will affect Hawaii shores through Tuesday evening. Surf heights will be at advisory levels for north and west facing shores today, as the swell slowly declines.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 20 to 25 feet today. Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe will be 12 to 20 feet today. Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.2 feet is expected between 12:12 p.m. and 1: 30 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately of 2.8 feet is expected between 2:19 a.m. and 3:37 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: DANGEROUS BATTERING WAVES WILL POUND THE SHORELINE. STAY WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORELINE IN AREAS AFFECTED BY THE LARGE SURF. BE PREPARED FOR LOCAL ROAD CLOSURES. BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 12, 2010 6:30 a.m.

Clinton Arrives in Honolulu, Begins Official Business Today

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins a 10-day trip through the Asia-Pacific region with a busy schedule in Honolulu today.

Clinton, who arrived yesterday afternoon, will visit Naval Station Pearl Harbor and present a wreath aboard the USS Arizona Memorial at 11:35 a.m.

She will be escorted by Lt. Gen. Daniel J. Darnell, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Clinton will also deliver a policy address on the U.S. vision for Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement at Jefferson Hall at the East-West Center's Imin Center at 2 p.m.

The East-West Center is a research organization founded 50 years ago by Congress to promote relations with Pacific nations. Clinton's remarks will focus on a U.S. desire to modernize pan-Asian consultative organizations to make them more relevant to Asia security and development — and possibly to expand U.S. participation.The speech is not open to the public but will be streamed online at www.EastWestCenter.org.

At some point today, Clinton is also scheduled to meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps airfield at Futenma in Okinawa.

The U.S. and Japan agreed in 2006 to move Futenma to another part of Okinawa. But Okinawa residents oppose the move and want the airfield shut down.

Clinton will also consult with senior military officials at the U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for U.S. military relations with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the first stop of a 10-day trip for Clinton that will take her to Australia, New Zealand and Papua, New Guinea.

This week's trip is meant to strengthen U.S. relations with key partner nations in the western Pacific.

The Obama administration's push to improve international cooperation to thwart terrorism in Asia and the Pacific, as well as in the the Middle East, will play a prominent role in her talks.

The trip will highlight the high priority the administration is placing on maintaining strong relations with major allies such as Japan and Australia. She also aims to improve ties to other nations seen as like-minded on issues including terrorism, climate change and energy security.

In Australia, Clinton is to be joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for talks with their foreign affairs and defense counterparts. Among the expected topics: countering the terrorist threat, not only at the flashpoint along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border but across a widening arc that now includes Yemen and Somalia.

One reason for Clinton's New Zealand visit is to express thanks for its contributions to the war effort in Afghanistan. New Zealand's cadre of elite special forces is considered among the best in the world.

Clinton's first overseas trip as secretary of state, last February, was to Asia, a choice she said then was a reflection of the Obama administration's commitment to maintaining strong relations with China, South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. She returned to the region last July and again in November.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 11, 2010 8 p.m.

Kalepa Injured In Monster Session at Jaws

PEAHI, Maui — Renowned Maui waterman Archie Kalepa was injured Monday during a monster surf session at Jaws off Maui's northeastern coast.

Kalepa seriously injured his left knee when he was slammed by a 40-foot wave while tow-in surfing with partner Buzzy Kerbox.

"I was too deep, too far behind the peak, and there was no place for me to go," said Kalepa, who also is the county's ocean safety supervisor. "It broke in front of me and I tried to outrun it as much as I could but the whitewater caught up with me."

He said 25 tow-in pairs were jostling for waves as high as 50 feet.

"It definitely was the biggest we've had in the last four years. There were a lot of new guys out there and guys from back in the old days, when if we had five (personal watercraft) out there, that was a crowd," Kalepa said.

Tow-in surfing, in which a surfer is pulled into large, fast waves by a personal watercraft, was pioneered at Jaws in the early 1990s by Kerbox, Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama, Darrick Doerner and other members of "Strapped Crew," named because of the foot straps on their boards.

Only the largest winter storm swells approaching from a certain direction generate extreme surf at the deep-water break. Although the sport has spread to other big-wave spots around the world, Jaws remains renowned for its clean, well-formed tubes.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 11, 2010 2:40 p.m.

Popular Honolulu Vet, Son, Identified As O'ahu Plane Crash Victims

The remains of two victims have been recovered today in and near the wreckage of a single-engine Piper Cherokee that crashed yesterday off the Lanipo Trail near Kaau Crate on O'ahu.

Charlie Palumbo told The Advertiser's Lee Cataluna this morning that his father, Honolulu veterinarian Nicholas Palumbo, and Charlie's brother, Tim, were aboard the plane.

The first set of remains was returned to the recovery operation's staging area at Waialae Iki Park shortly before 11 this morning. The second set of remains was found shortly after 11:30, about 200 feet below the wreckage, and was brought to Waialae Iki Park shortly after noon.

Family spokeswoman Julie Moody, who was Nicholas Palumbo's sister in law, said Nicholas Palumbo was 81 and Tim Palumbo was 20.

"The Palumbo family suffered a devastating loss," Moody said. "The family is clearly in a state of shock and grief."

Tim Palumbo, a student at Kalani High School, was the youngest son of Nicholas Palumbo, who has eight children.

Nicholas Palumbo was making the commute from Lanai where he ran a veterinarian practice to Honolulu, where he worked at a cat clinic when the crash occurred. He had made that same flight multiple times and has had his pilot's since he was 19 years old.

Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said the site of the crash "is on a steep plank on a ridge line" and that the wreckage is in a "precarious position."

Firefighters aboard the department's Air 2 helicopter had to rappel to the ground and then hike to the crash site, Seelig said.

The crash happened shortly before 2 p.m. yesterday. Sixteen units and about 55 firefighters were dispatched after reports of a downed aircraft and subsequent fire near the Wiliwili Nui Trail above Waialae Iki.

Firefighters and police confirmed the crash was off the Lanipo Trail at an elevation of about 1,900 feet. Rescuers tried to hike in, but were turned back because of heavy vegetation and a police helicopter was called in to insert rescuers to the site.

The fire department said in a news release that due to the condition of the Piper Cherokee's wreckage, it was clear there were no survivors, and with darkness falling, rescuers had to be pulled out.

The plane was registered to Palumbo, who owns The Cat Clinic on Kapahulu Avenue, which calls itself Hawaii's only animal hospital exclusively for cats.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 11, 2010 2:20 p.m.

County Offices, Facilities to Close for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

WAILUKU - County of Maui offices will close Monday, January 18, 2009 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Hana, Molokai and Lanai Landfills will be closed; Central Maui Landfill will be open from 7 a.m. to noon, and the Olowalu Recycling & Refuse Convenience Center will be open from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Waiehu Golf Course and all County pools are scheduled to be open for normal hours of operation. For updated pool information, the public is advised to call the County of Maui’s Pool Information Hotline at (808) 270-8208.

(Report Provided by The Maui County Office of Infortmation)

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NEWS FLASH - January 11, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Waves Could Reach 40 Feet Today

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents. The National Weather Service High Surf Warning is in effect through 6 p.m. tomorrow.

2. EFFECTS: A very large west northwest swell will affect Hawaii shores through Tuesday. Surf heights will be above the warning thresholds for most north and west facing shores today and continue into Tuesday as the swell slowly declines.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 30 to 40 feet today.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe will be 10 to 20 feet today.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.2 feet is expected between 11:13 a.m. this morning and 12:31 p.m. this afternoon. The next high tide of approximately 2.7 feet is expected between 1:51 a.m. and 3:09 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 10, 2010 4:10 p.m.

Aiona Stresses 'Balance' in Run for Governor

For Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the message in his Republican campaign for governor is balance.

With Gov. Linda Lingle, the first Republican governor in 40 years, preparing to leave office after two terms, Aiona is asking voters whether they want to return to one-party rule.

"It's about balance," said Aiona, whose performance may help determine whether the GOP can expand its ranks in the Islands. "It's something that has helped us, I believe, in government, and has made things better. We want to maintain that balance."

Aiona's message may have resonance with Republicans and the increasing number of voters who describe themselves as independents, but he acknowledges the challenges ahead in a state that has favored Democrats.

His two potential Democratic opponents — U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Ho- nolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann — are stronger than the candidates Lingle and Aiona beat in 2002 and 2006.

The Democratic primary for governor will likely dominate politics from now until September and, along with a special election to fill the remainder of Abercrombie's term and the Democratic primary to replace him in Congress, could push Aiona out of the storyline until the fall.

The Cook Political Report, a national online newsletter that analyzes campaigns, has the governor's race in Hawai'i as a toss-up, the most competitive category. But most local political analysts believe the Democratic primary winner will have the edge.

Aiona still has the task of introducing himself to voters as a leader distinct from Lingle after eight years spent mostly in the background. He will also have to define the Lingle administration's record and try to get voters to focus on the successes when, fresh in their minds, are two years of state budget cuts because of the recession.

Aiona, 54, a former deputy prosecutor and Family Court judge who helped establish a drug court to encourage treatment, will argue that his experiences have uniquely prepared him to be governor.

As a prosecutor, he learned toughness. As a judge, he learned how to weigh evidence and make decisions. And as a father of four, he learned about family.

"I place so much emphasis on family," Aiona said. "Because, really, it drives everything. Everything that we see, our economy, our education, our criminal justice system, whatever it might be, it's all driven from our families."

MORE CONSERVATIVE

Aiona will likely stress the Lingle administration's record on energy independence, the focus on science, technology, engineering and math in education, and the call to move the state's economy away from land development toward innovation.

His recent proposal for a constitutional amendment to create an elected, nonpartisan secretary of state to oversee elections will also likely be a campaign theme.

Aiona believes in core Republican principles — lower taxes, less government, personal responsibility — but he said he would not automatically reject new tax proposals solely for ideological reasons.

Aiona is considered more conservative than Lingle, mostly on social issues, and Democrats have sought to characterize him as out of balance with Hawai'i voters.

Aiona held a December fundraiser in Portlock with conservative radio talk-show host Michael Medved. The state GOP, meanwhile, has invited Karl Rove, the strategist behind former President George W. Bush, to speak at the party's annual Lincoln Day dinner in February.

The state GOP sees a potential benefit in attracting grassroots activists sympathetic to the national "tea party" movement and religious conservatives organizing against issues such as civil unions and physician-assisted suicide at the state Legislature.

Aiona, a Catholic, says he opposes civil unions and physician-assisted suicide on constitutional and moral grounds.

"There is a moral basis to it," he said. "It's a criteria, no doubt about it. But I also listen to what the arguments are."

Some Republicans see danger in Aiona identifying too closely with the conservative wing of the party, which has not had much success in Hawai'i.

"I just try to be myself and do what's right. I align with a lot of the positions that they take, so I think it's a natural for me," he said of religious conservatives.

"It's not like I'm saying, 'OK, I'm only with these guys or I'm sticking with these guys.'

"It's what I am, I can't hide that. I am what I am. I believe what I believe. And I want people to know that."

But Aiona said political labels can get tricky. He asked whether his support for a drug court as an alternative to criminal prosecution and incarceration for nonviolent offenders makes him a liberal.

"That's a liberal concept," he said. "So does that make me a liberal? Does that alienate me from the conservative group? I don't think so. I hope not, because it's something that's positive that I'm doing right."

Chuck Freedman, a Democratic strategist, said appearances with Medved or Rove clearly push Aiona "into the right-hand lane."

Yet he said Aiona's larger problem may be an inability to point to an individual accomplishment during his time as lieutenant governor. Aiona has been a consistent voice against drug abuse and underage drinking and an advocate for healthy diet and exercise, but his attempt at anti-drug policy faltered at the Legislature.

Freedman compared Aiona's record to that of former Gov. Ben Cayetano who, when he served as lieutenant governor, helped launch the A-Plus afterschool program.

"What is his A-Plus? There's not even a C-minus," he said. "There's nothing you can name that he clearly achieved during his eight years."

RUNNING AS A LEADER

Jonah Ka'auwai, the state GOP chairman, said Aiona will have to work to get his message out given all the attention expected on the Democratic side.

Ka'auwai believes there is a winning coalition for Aiona in voters who have supported Lingle and those who are motivated by family, faith and small-business concerns.

Aiona also will be competitive financially and, since he will likely not have a difficult primary, may be able to conserve his resources until the fall. He has held 35 fundraisers since 2007 and will likely report around $2 million in campaign contributions through the end of last year.

"Duke has a great chance in this election," Ka'auwai said.

Aiona is likely to get a primary challenge from the right in attorney John Carroll, a former state lawmaker who lost to Lingle in the 2002 primary.

Carroll has been critical of the Lingle administration for not doing enough to save businesses such as Aloha Airlines and for supporting a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill, which many conservatives believe is racially discriminatory.

Adrienne King, an attorney and veteran Republican activist, is the only announced candidate for lieutenant governor. Republicans are courting other potential candidates from outside the party.

While individual issues are important, Aiona believes many voters are looking for leadership qualities, since issues will change over the span of a four-year term.

"You don't know what's going to happen four years from now. You don't know what kind of issues are going to happen," he said. "So what you want to be certain of is, what kind of leader do you have? What is that leader made out of? And that's where I think my strength is, because people will know what I am."

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 10, 2010 1:10 p.m.

Schatz Makes Lt. Governor Candidacy Official

Brian Schatz, the former Democratic Party of Hawaii chairman and Makiki state lawmaker, announced today that he is running in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

"We understand that Hawaii's government is not working anymore. We need change," Schatz said at his announcement at Kaka'ako Waterfront Park.

Schatz, a progressive who earned some establishment credentials as party chairman, was among the leaders of Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Hawaii in 2008.

Schatz could be the last of the prominent Democrats to jump into the primary.

The field already includes state Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, state Sen. Robert Bunda, state Sen. Norman Sakamoto, state Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu and state Rep. Lyla Berg.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 10, 2010 7:05 a.m.

Attorney Shortage Means No Public Defenders

WAILUKU, Maui — Short nearly one-third of its allotted attorneys and stuck in the state hiring freeze, the Maui public defender's office will no longer appear for defendants in Wailuku District Court.

"It's just desperate times calling for desperate measures," said Wendy Hudson, supervising deputy public defender of the Maui office. "We are in total triage mode."

Although the office is budgeted for 13 attorneys to represent eligible indigent defendants in criminal and traffic cases in Maui County, two attorney positions are vacant and two attorneys are on extended leave. The lawyer vacancies, along with a job for a full-time clerk, haven't been filled because of the statewide hiring freeze.

Hudson, who is handling a full caseload in addition to her administrative duties, said the office had to set priorities to cope with the unprecedented 30 percent decline in staff attorneys. The decision was to focus on Family Court and felony clients. Usually, those defendants are facing more severe charges and penalties and may be in custody while their cases are pending.

So starting Monday, attorneys from the office won't be appearing in the two District courtrooms on the third floor of the Wailuku courthouse. DUI, traffic, misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor and other cases are handled in those courtrooms, along with initial appearances for defendants in custody, amounting to "easily 450" cases a month, Hudson said.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Shackley Raffetto, who was notified of the change this week, said the court will be appointing private lawyers to represent defendants in District Court cases that had been handled by the public defender's office.

"Nothing's going to change," Raffetto said Thursday. "We'll just provide the services through private counsel."

There may be some delays while new attorneys are appointed to take over current District Court public defender cases, Raffetto said.

Under state law, an indigent person arrested for or charged with a criminal offense punishable by jail or prison has the right to be represented by the public defender or another appointed attorney. The law says that if the public defender can't act, the court can appoint other counsel.

Raffetto said the court already appoints private attorneys for defendants who qualify when more than one defendant is charged for a crime or when the public defender's office has another conflict.

"We have a whole cadre of private lawyers who appear all the time," Raffetto said.

He said some lawyers might take on some of the District Court cases pro bono, or without pay for the public good, noting that attorneys are required to do a certain amount of pro bono work.

"Whether this all works out to a savings overall is a question mark," Raffetto said.

Court-appointed private attorneys are paid $90 an hour. Jack Tonaki, the state public defender, says his lawyers make "far below that" per hour, but he has many resumes on his desk of lawyers who would like to work for his office if the freeze ends.

"There are a lot of attorneys looking for jobs."

Deputy Public Defender Jim Rouse said the cost of paying private attorneys to do the work would be higher than the salary of a deputy public defender.

"The incentive for a hiring freeze is to save the state money," Rouse said. "But this is ultimately going to cost the state more money.

"We're talking about constitutionally guaranteed rights that have to be protected. These folks that are appearing in court are entitled to lawyers."

The hiring freeze has affected the Maui public defender's office for a while. A job for a full-time clerk has been unfilled for more than a year, Hudson said.

Since October, when two attorneys left the Maui office, lawyers from the public defender's Oahu office have temporarily handled cases in Lanai and Molokai District and Family courts. Also since then, deputy public defenders haven't been appearing for criminal and traffic cases in Lahaina and Hana District courts and for Molokai and Maui Drug Court status hearings.

Hudson said many of the Lahaina and Hana cases were transferred to Wailuku District Court, increasing the caseloads for those deputy public defenders.

The Maui public defender's office will continue to handle District Court preliminary hearings and will resume appearances for Maui and Molokai Drug Court hearings and involuntary commitment hearings in Family Court, Hudson said.

With deputy public defenders no longer staffing Wailuku District Court, Hudson said one attorney will be reassigned to Family Court to handle juvenile matters and the other will go to 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen's courtroom, where Rouse has worked largely as the only deputy public defender facing four deputy prosecutors since October.

"My caseload doubled," Rouse said. "I did the best I could. Obviously, I could do a better job if I had help."

He said the judge helped by allowing continuances for some cases, and deputy prosecutors didn't oppose the requests.

Hudson said Tonaki has requests in to the governor's office for permission to fill the Maui vacancies. Tonaki said he has emergency requests in to fill 13 vacant attorney jobs throughout the state.

If attorneys are hired, Hudson said the office will try to return to handling District Court cases.

"I know this is wreaking havoc on the court, plus our clients," she said. "I'm hopeful this isn't going to be forever."

Saying the predicament could have been predicted, Rouse said he was disappointed that the Legislature didn't convene a special session to address the issue.

"I don't think you would subject your fire department or your police department to a hiring freeze," he said. "They obviously have a function that's very important to this community. And the same goes for the Office of the Public Defender. It's an essential function. It's probably the best bargain the state has for what they pay."

Reach Lila Fujimoto at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 10, 2010 6:45 a.m.

High Surf Warning Reinstated as New Swell Approaches

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: A large west northwest swell will build today. Surf heights will climb above the warning thresholds for north and west facing shores of Kauai and Oahu this afternoon and other affected shores this evening and tonight. Warning level surf is expected to continue into Tuesday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise to 20 to 30 feet this afternoon and evening.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe will rise to 15 to 20 feet this afternoon and evening.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.2 feet is expected between 9:30 a.m. and 10:48 a.m. this morning. The next high tide of approximately 2.6 feet is expected between 1:21 a.m. and 2:39 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 9, 2010 8 a.m.

Fireworks Injuries Spike on '10 New Year's Eve

The number of people injured by fireworks during New Year's is the highest in the past 10 years, according to a state official.

A total of 112 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries at emergency rooms throughout the state, said Dan Galanis, epidemiologist of the state Department of Health's Injury Prevention and Control Program. Of that figure, seven people were admitted to hospitals -- also the highest in 10 years.

The figures have some officials renewing calls for a ban on fireworks. But some say it will be difficult to impose an outright ban as fireworks have been a long tradition in Hawaii.

The total number of injuries is a 42 percent increase over the previous New Year's total of 79 injuries. The spike was due to the 68 percent increase of injuries in Honolulu at 99 injuries compared to 59 injuries last year, Galanis said. Four injuries occurred on the Big Island, one on Kauai, seven on Maui and one on Lanai.

The patients' ages ranged from 2 to 82 years old. Half of them were under age 18. Most of the patients were males, Galanis said.

While most were treated and released from the emergency rooms, seven people were admitted to the hospital, he said.

Most injuries involved burns to the hands and fingers. Most patients, 72 percent, were injured while setting off or holding some type of fireworks, Galanis said.

Capt. Terry Seelig, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department, said: "We find it shocking that the number is so high. It just re-emphasizes what we've been saying. We need to realize that these tragedies are not acceptable as they are preventable."

The Fire Department will ask lawmakers for a total fireworks ban. "Our goal is no injuries or loss of property," Seelig said.

Waipahu resident Richard Oshiro recognizes the fireworks problem is worsening, especially the amount of illegal aerials and "blasts."

But he says a total fireworks ban will be difficult to impose. It's great when fireworks are used at wedding celebrations and grand openings for businesses, he said. "That's part of our culture," Oshiro said, but added that there needs to be a way to control fireworks.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 9, 2010 7:50 a.m.

Hali'imaile Pineapple Company Discloses Operating Costs

A group that plans to restore pineapple growing on Maui will pay $420,000 a year to lease agricultural lands held by Maui Land & Pineapple Co.

Haliimaile Pineapple Co. also will pay $680,000 to purchase ML&P's farm equipment, supplies and customer lists, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ML&P announced in November that it was shutting down pineapple operations after nearly 100 years of plantation-scale farming on the Valley Isle. The company harvested its final crop last month and laid off 206 workers.

But Haliimaile — whose principals include former ML&P executives Doug MacCluer and Ed Chenchin and Ulupalakua Ranch owner Pardee Erdman — said last week they plan restore pineapple farming on 950 acres of ML&P's 3,000-acre pineapple operations .

The new company said it also will take over ML&P's Maui Gold brand and will hire back 66 displaced pineapple workers.

In its SEC filing, ML&P said that Haliimaile will pay $20,000 to $30,000 in licensing fees to use the Maui Gold brand name.

Haliimaile will also have the option to expand pineapple growing on another 570 acres, the filing said.

Haliimaile executives said the company plans to focus on the local market, selling about 90 percent of its harvest in Hawai'i.

The company also will supply fresh fruit to local hotels, restaurants and supermarkets while increasing its direct-to-consumer business.

Haliimaile's majority owner is Erdman. Retired Maui Pineapple executive Douglas Schenk and recent ML&P executives Darren Strand and Rudy Balala are also part of the new venture.

Reach Rick Daysog at rdaysog@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 9, 2010 7:40 a.m.

Maui Home Prices Drop to 2003 Levels

The median price of single-family homes sold on Maui last year declined for a third consecutive year, falling to roughly the same price level as in late 2003, according to sales data from the Realtors Association of Maui.

Last year's 14 percent drop to $498,106 from $577,774 the year before was the biggest percentage point decline since median home prices on Maui began drifting lower in 2007.

In 2008, there was an 8 per-cent decline after a 9 percent decline in 2007. The peak was $690,000 in 2006.

Median prices of Maui homes began their steep rise in 2002, and in late 2003 had reached about the same level to which last year's median price has fallen.

Much of last year's decline was related to homes sold in resort areas such as Wailea-Makena, where the median price on 18 sales was down 34 percent to $1.5 million from $2.3 million on 25 sales the year before. In Central Maui, the island's largest housing submarket, the median price was down just 4 percent to $471,250 on 242 sales last year, from $490,000 on 448 sales a year before.

The total number of Maui single-family home sales last year was 693, down 24 percent from 910 a year before.

In Maui's condominium market, the median price fell 18 percent last year to $450,000, from $550,000 a year before. It was the first annual drop during the present industry downturn, as the median in 2008 was unchanged from 2007.

The number of Maui condo sales was up 4 percent to 824 last year from 790 a year before, largely driven by activity in Ka'anapali, where there were 193 sales last year compared with 39 the year before.

In December, sales were higher and median prices were lower for single-family homes and condos.

There were 90 single-family home sales last month, up from 55 in the same month last year; the median price was $477,000, compared with $570,000.

There were 80 condo sales last month, up from 38 in the same month last year, and the median price was $401,500, compared with $517,000.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 9, 2010 7:20 a.m.

Oregon Passenger Who Diverted Maui-Bound Flight Charged

The U.S. attorney's office in Portland, Ore., on Friday filed a charge of interfering with a crew member against the passenger, Joseph Hedlund Johnson of Salem, Ore.

On Wednesday, a Maui-bound Hawaiian Airlines flight from Portland, was turned around and escorted by two F-15 military fighters because of allegedly uncooperative behavior by Johnson.

An FBI affidavit said Johnson, traveling with his girlfriend, held his carry-on bag closely and was unhappy he couldn't stow it under his seat.

He was in the bulkhead row, so there was no seat ahead to provide storage beneath, the affidavit said. Attendants told him the space beneath his seat was reserved for the feet of the passenger behind.

Then the 56-year-old then filled out a comment card with phrases about death and crashing, and he gave it to an attendant who passed it along to the pilot, the affidavit said.

"The Captain stated that he absolutely felt threatened by the contents of the card, especially when he considered Johnson's earlier suspicious behavior with his bag," the affidavit said.

A search after the plane returned showed Johnson and his girlfriend had no dangerous items, the FBI said.

Johnson was not jailed. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 9, 2010 6:50 a.m.

State Senate Could Pass Civil Unions Bill This Session

The state Senate could pass a civil-unions bill soon after the session starts later this month, which would put political pressure on the state House and set up a possible confrontation with Gov. Linda Lingle, who said yesterday that the bill was a distraction from the budget crisis.

A bill ready for final passage in the Senate would give same-sex and heterosexual couples the ability to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

"The bill is poised to be voted on," said state Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-10th (Manoa, McCully), chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee.

Taniguchi said that while lawmakers will concentrate on the budget, they also have the capability to consider other bills, including controversial issues such as civil unions or restricting fireworks.

"I think we have the capacity to deal with a lot of issues," he said.

If the Senate takes action, the bill would move back to the House, where lawmakers voted last session for a different version that applied only to same-sex couples.

State House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), said the House's position may depend on whether the bill gets a two-thirds' vote in the Senate necessary to override a veto, or 17 of the 25 senators.

Say said majority Democrats may not want to force a House vote on such a politically volatile bill in an election year unless it was apparent there was enough support to override a veto. The House vote on the bill last session was 33-17 — one vote shy of the two-thirds necessary in the 51-member House — but one Democrat was absent.

"All these factors will be taken into consideration when we talk to the members of the majority caucus," Say said. "My focus this year will be on the budget and the economic recovery of the state of Hawai'i."

Lingle, who has not indicated whether she would veto the bill, urged lawmakers yesterday to put off civil unions for another time and focus on job creation and economic recovery.

"They should not continue to discuss it this year," she told reporters at the state Capitol. "It's certainly something they could discuss in future years. But in the middle of the biggest economic crisis in Hawai'i's history, it is a most inappropriate bill to take up this year. They should put it on the side."

LINGERING ISSUES

The House moved quickly to pass a civil-unions bill last session, but it stalled in a deadlocked Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. Senate leaders at first suggested the bill would be pulled from the committee, then backtracked, clumsily letting the issue linger until the end of session.

On the second to last day of session, senators pulled the bill from committee, but then amended it to apply to both same-sex and heterosexual couples, preventing a final vote before the Senate adjourned.

Most of the political pressure last session was on the Senate, but it could spread to the House this session. Democrats who are up for re-election in competitive districts worry that religious conservatives who oppose civil unions will target them for defeat if they support the bill.

"It will be a distraction, because it's a very emotional issue," Say said. "You know, people have always said to me in the past that, during an election year, you don't want to address these social issues.

"And that's the political reality that we all face as elected officials."

State Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-41st (Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers wanted to pass the bill last session to avoid election-year politics.

"That's why we really wanted to get it done last year," he said.

RETROACTIVE BILL

There is also a technical problem in the Senate version of the bill. The effective date is Jan. 1, 2010, which, while legal, could raise questions about whether the bill is flawed because it is retroactive legislation.

Lawmakers could amend the bill and change the effective date but, if not, it could be used as justification by Lingle for a veto without addressing the substance of the legislation.

Gay rights activists said yesterday that civil unions could have a positive impact on the state's economy, as couples pay license fees or vacation in the Islands to have their relationships recognized.

Jo-Ann Adams, an attorney and Democratic activist, said she believes the Senate and House will take action. "My sense is that they are going to move," she said.

Dennis Arakaki of the Hawai'i Family Forum had said last year that opponents may be willing to compromise, perhaps by expanding the state's reciprocal beneficiaries law. But compromise talks never happened, and religious conservatives have mobilized and plan to try to influence the September primary and November general election.

Organizers hope to have 24,000 people at a rally for traditional values at the state Capitol on Jan. 17. Opponents of civil unions famously wore red shirts last year, which became a symbol for faith-based activism at the Capitol. This year, people are being asked to wear white.

Arakaki said it would be a "very sad statement" if the Senate makes civil unions one of the first votes of the session. "It would speak volumes about their priorities," he said.

Staff writer Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this report. Reach Derrick DePledge at 525-8070.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 5 p.m.

New High Surf Warnings, Advisories Issued for Maui County

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service has ISSUED A HIGH SURF WARNING for NORTH and WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI and NORTH FACING SHORES OF MAUI in effect until 6:00 p.m. TUESDAY. A HIGH SURF ADVISORY for WEST FACING SHORES of LANAI and KAHOOLAWE in effect until 6:00 p.m. SATURDAY. A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: The current west-northwest swell will slowly subside through Saturday. This swell will continue to produce advisory level surf for west facing shores of sheltered islands. A new north-northwest swell will build this afternoon and evening, reinforcing the current swell and bringing surf above warning levels for north and west facing shores of exposed Islands. This swell will continue through Saturday before briefly subsiding.

A much larger northwest swell will arrive on Sunday. Surf heights may drop below warning levels Saturday night and early Sunday, but will quickly climb well above the warning threshold for north and west facing shores. This very large swell will produce warning level surf through Tuesday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will be 20 to 30 feet through Saturday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will be 15 to 20 feet through Saturday.

Surf along west facing shores of Lanai and Kahoolawe will be 8 to 10 feet through Saturday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.1 feet is expected between 11:27 p.m. tonight and 12:44 a.m. tomorrow morning. The next high tide of approximately 2.1 feet is expected between 12:50 a.m. and 1:35 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 1:15 p.m.

Vaccine Available to All as Swine Flu Winds Down in Hawai'i

Hawaii health and government officials are continuing to urge everyone who wants to be inoculated against swine flu or seasonal flu to do so.

Supplies of H1N1 or swine flu vaccine have finally caught up with demand in Hawaii, said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the state Department of Health. Beginning Monday, the H1N1 vaccine will be offered to anyone in Hawaii who wants it, Fukino said.

Fukino and Dr. Sarah Park, Health Department Disease Outbreak Control Division chief and state epidemiologist, said this morning that Hawaii residents should not be lured into a false sense of security based on news reports that the swine flu outbreak appears to be easing in all but one of the states on the Mainland. Hawaii's flu season historically lags behind the one on the Mainland, Park said.

Incoming tourists from around the globe also add to the threat of swine flu transmission in Hawaii, Park said.

Virginia Hinshaw, a microbiologist by training and chancellor of the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus, made a special appeal for young adults in the 18-to-24 age group to get vaccinated.

Toward that end, UH-Manoa will hold a mass H1N1 inoculation clinic on campus this coming Thursday. The vaccine will be available at no cost to UH students.

Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona" have issued a proclamation declaring Jan. 10-16 "Influenza Vaccination Week" in Hawaii.

In a related story from Atlanta, H1N1, the so-called swine flu, infections continue to drop and only one state — Alabama — was reporting widespread cases last week, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Four states had widespread cases the previous week. The number has been dropping since late October, when nearly all states had widespread flu reports.

The CDC also reported today that there are no signs of seasonal flu right now, only the swine variety. But CDC officials noted there is still more flu around than normally seen at this time of year, and illnesses could increase as kids return to school after the holiday break.

On the Net: The CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 1:05 p.m.

Another Hawaiian Airlines Flight Diverted

A Hawaiian Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu was diverted to Los Angeles early this morning after a passenger disturbance, the Transportation Security Agency said today.

Flight 17 was diverted after two passengers, a man and a woman, became involved in what a TSA spokesman called a "situation."

In a statement, Hawaiian Airlines said the incident involved "a woman being harassed by a male passenger on board.

"Law enforcement officials met the flight on arrival and interviewed the parties," the statement said. "The male passenger was removed from the flight and the flight resumed to Honolulu an hour and 10 minutes later."

Flight 17 passengers arriving in Honolulu this morning said the plane was already over the Pacific Ocean when the pilot announced that they would be landing in Los Angeles.

Some said a flight attendant told passengers that a sex assault had taken place aboard the plane.

Other passengers said they didn't have a clue about what was going on.

Passengers said they remained on the plane and were given food and drinks while they waited for the flight to resume.

Flight 17 touched down in Honolulu at 10:04 a.m. It originally was scheduled to land at 6:55 a.m.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 12:45 p.m.

Maui House Fires Displace Two Families, Red Cross Responds

WAILUKU - American Red Cross volunteers responded to two separate house fires this morning in Waiehu and Kahului that caused major damage to both homes and affected two families. The Waiehu house fire affected two adults (a mother and son) and two children. The Kahului house fire affected one adult, five children and a dog. Red Cross volunteers went to both scenes to ensure the immediate emergency needs of anyone affected, such as shelter, food and clothing, were met. Caseworkers will continue to follow up with the family to ensure their immediate needs are met, and to provide referrals to assist with their disaster recovery.

The Red Cross encourages all families to make a disaster plan to include an evacuation plan with two different routes of escape, a communications plan to help families reconnect after disaster and a disaster supplies kit that is readily available to aid in a quick evacuation. Information on developing a family plan is available to the public at www.redcross.org, or a brochure can be requested by calling 734-2101.

The Red Cross is a non-profit humanitarian organization which provides assistance for immediate emergency needs. All Red Cross assistance to disaster victims is free. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it depends on public contributions to help others. To help the Red Cross assist victims of this and other local disasters, send a contribution to:

American Red Cross
Hawaii State Chapter
1063 Lower Main, Suite C211-A
Wailuku, HI 96793

Make a secure online donation at www.hawaiiredcross.org or call (808) 739-8109.

(Report Provided by the Maui Office of the Hawai'i Chapter of the American Red Cross)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 11:10 a.m.

Governor Proposes New Plan to End Most Furlough Days

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle has proposed a new plan to immediately return Hawai‘i public school students to the classroom for 24 of the 27 days that will be lost between now and the end of the next school year if the current furlough schedule is allowed to continue.

Under the Governor’s latest plan, up to $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund would be used to restore 12 furlough Fridays – five this semester and seven in the 2010-2011 school year.

An additional 12 instructional days – two this semester and 10 in the next school year – would be gained by using days when teachers are paid to be in their classrooms but do not teach students.

“Our revised plan keeps the focus on putting students back in the classroom for as many days as possible, which remains my highest priority,” said Governor. “As I have continued to stress since proposing my original plan, if the overriding issue is educating our children, then we need to move forward on this revised plan immediately in order to ensure students return to the classroom with the least amount of disruption to their schooling.”

The Governor’s most recent solution to resolve the furlough Friday issue and return children to school builds on her original plan offered on November 15 to restore all 27 furlough days from January 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 by using $50 million in Rainy Day funds to restore 12 furlough days while also converting 15 non-instructional days into classroom teaching days.

Last week, the HSTA, DOE and BOE proposed using $35 million from the Rainy Day Fund to restore five furlough days, and convert two non-instructional days to instructional day. The HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal would use two-thirds of the $50 million offered by the Governor to restore only five days of instruction time for the students this semester only, without addressing any furlough days for the next school year.

After Lingle-Aiona Administration officials met with BOE Chair Garrett Toguchi and then-DOE Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto last Wednesday to hear details of the HSTA/DOE/BOE proposal, Governor Lingle and her team carefully reviewed the proposal, thoroughly examined the financial information the DOE and BOE provided and looked at other alternatives.

State Budget and Finance Director Georgina Kawamura pointed out to the DOE that their estimates of $35 million to restore five days of furlough time were inaccurate, as they were inflated by approximately $3 million. The Administration has refined the estimate of how much it will cost to open schools in order to restore more furlough days classroom time for students.

The Governor’s revised plan adds up to $15 million from the Rainy Day Fund to the HSTA/DOE/BOE’s proposed $35 million for a total of up to $50 million to restore 12 furlough Fridays – seven more classroom days for students compared to what HSTA, DOE and BOE offered. An additional 12 instructional days would be gained in the next school year by using days when teachers are on campus but do not teach students.

“This solution would resolve the furlough issue for this semester and the next school year immediately, and allow teachers and students to focus on the lessons in the classroom, rather than being distracted by drawn-out furlough negotiations,” said Governor Lingle.

This proposal is currently being considered by the employer group, comprised of members of the DOE staff, two BOE representatives, the Director of the Department of Human Resources Development and a representative from the Governor’s office.

(Report Provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 7:10 a.m.

Hotel Hana Maui Being Sold Again

The iconic Hotel Hana-Maui is being sold to an unidentified buyer — prompting a notice to 200 employees that they may lose their jobs as early as March.

The notice to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is required by law when an ownership change could result in the termination of a significant number of employees.

About a year ago, California-based Passport Resorts LLC announced it had sold its ownership interest in the Hotel Hana-Maui & Honua Spa to Ohana Hotel Co. LLC.

Since then, Arden Grove Hospitality LLC has been managing the small, secluded hotel known for its understated luxury at the end of a narrow winding road.

Arden Grove Hospitality President Philip Wood yesterday said the owners have been looking for investors for several months but he would not identify the potential new owner.

"There is now a prospect on the table," Wood said. "We are in due diligence right now."

In the letter to the state, Wood said, "We intend to make every reasonable effort to make the sale a seamless transition in anticipation that the buyer will want to continue the operations of the hotel without interruption."

In 2001, Passport Resorts bought the 66-unit-hotel from Meridian Financial Resources and launched an extensive renovation project.

The hotel, Hana's largest employer, has changed hands four previous times in the past 13 years. Texas-based Rosewood Properties Co. sold it in 1989 to a Japanese company, Sekitei Kaihatsu, for $63 million. That company put it on the market as early as 1995, but didn't find a buyer until 1999 when Meridian Financial Resources, a Chicago-based investment group, took over.

Wood said the expected closing date for this latest sale would be March 26.

"We would anticipate that the transaction would be completed within the next 90 days," he said. "They want to continue to operate it as a hotel."

Wood said he has not been involved in the sale negotiations so could not provide more details. "We'd be happy to stay on as a management company," he said, but has not discussed that idea.

Since the hotel reopened in 2002, it has won more than 22 industry awards, including a listing on Travel + Leisure magazine's World's Best Hotels 2008. The hotel was ranked among the Top 25 Hawai'i Resorts in the 2008 Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice poll, and was honored with a AAA Four Diamond rating.

Some of the employees are represented by UNITE HERE Local 5, but union officials could not be reached for comment on the pending sale and its effect on employees.

The hotel dates to 1946, when San Francisco entrepreneur Paul Fagan established the six-room Ka'uiki Inn. Fagan also purchased Hana sugar plantation lands that he turned into the Hana Ranch.

Ka'uiki Inn, later known as the Hana Ranch Hotel, gradually expanded through the years, with extensive remodeling in the 1980s.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 8, 2010 6:40 a.m.

'False Killer Whales' May Be Added to Endangered List

Hawai'i's unique population of false killer whales is one step closer to gaining new protection as an endangered or threatened species alongside humpback whales, monk seals and several types of sea turtles.

Such a listing could bring greater restrictions for Hawai'i's longline and nearshore fisheries, which are blamed by environmentalists for hooking and entangling the up-to-20-foot, 1,500-pound mammals.

A listing as endangered for false killer whales, which are part of the dolphin family, would bring a "critical habitat" review and other recovery steps.

The federal government's National Marine Fisheries Service this week said a petition to list Hawai'i's false killer whales as endangered "presents substantial scientific or commercial information" that such action may be warranted.

A comprehensive year-long analysis will solicit scientific and commercial information on the species, and then a determination will be made on whether to list Hawai'i's false killer whales as endangered.

"We think that looking at the small size of the population, its uniqueness not just to Hawai'i but on the planet, and the multiple serious threats that it's facing — putting it on the endangered species list is the only reasonable outcome," said Michael Jasny, a policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The nonprofit environmental organization in October petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the whales as endangered.

UNIQUELY COASTAL

The request applies to what is known as Hawai'i's "insular" population of false killer whales, which the defense council said are the only known false killer whales in the world to live in a coastal habitat.

The whales, found around the main Hawaiian Islands, are genetically different and distinct from all other false killer whales, which are known as the "pelagic" population and live in open ocean areas.

"This indicates not only the uniqueness of the (Hawai'i) population, but also the biological importance of Hawaiian waters as an oasis for marine mammals," the defense council said.

Studies have found the population of Hawai'i's false killer whales to be in decline, with only about 120 animals remaining.

According to a National Marine Fisheries Service Web site, the population of pelagic false killer whales is 1,040, but environmentalists say a more recent estimate is 480.

The Hawai'i whales have dark coloration except for some lighter patches near the throat and middle chest, and are found in groups of 10 to 20.

In addition to injuries and death related to fishing, environmentalists point to toxic chemicals in the ocean and reduced food sources as impacting the false killer whales.

Separately, the National Marine Fisheries Service also has decided to create a "take reduction team" to determine ways to better protect all false killer whales, said David Henkin, an attorney with the environmental law firm Earthjustice.

In March, Earthjustice sued the federal fisheries service, claiming it had failed to devise a protection plan for the animals. Henkin said pressure from the lawsuit may have played a part in the creation of the take reduction team.

The National Marine Fisheries said that between 1994 and 2007, at least 24 false killer whales were hooked or entangled by the Hawai'i-based longline fishery.

According to Earthjustice, swordfish longline vessels trail up to 60 miles of fishing line suspended in the water with floats and as many as 1,000 baited hooks.

"We think they (the National Marine Fisheries) need to be looking at gear modification, they need to be looking at different ways to both put out the bait and haul the bait in," Henkin said. "They need to be looking at if there needs to be area closures at certain times of the year."

DATA QUESTIONED

Scott Barrows, general manager of the Hawai'i Longline Association, questions the data on false killer whales.

"As far as I'm concerned, the data is pretty poor, and regulating on poor data has in the past caused things to be done that shouldn't have been done," he said.

Barrows questions whether false killer whales are endangered. He said he fished for 20 years and that the whales would eat the bait off his gear — without getting hooked: "It used to be maybe you'd get what we call 'whaled' (losing bait to whales) once or twice a year, and nowadays, I know a guy last trip who got whaled six times. So if there are so many less whales, why is this happening so much more?"

Barrows said the Hawai'i longliners have a $65 million impact on the economy just with the fish brought in and not including fuel and other related costs, but that the fleet represents only 3 percent of fishing in the Pacific.

"Even if they got rid of us completely, it would really not have much effect on any problem that's out there because we're so small of an entity," Barrows said of the Hawai'i longliners.

Still, Barrows said "if we have to (make changes with fishing), we have to, and if there is a problem, our attitude is, let's fix it, just as with the turtles and sea birds. We've done a lot to solve some of these problems."

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 7, 2010 1:15 p.m.

Gas Prices Creep Up - Again

The statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose 2 cents in the first week of the new year to $3.32, according to weekly figures released today by AAA Hawaii.

Honolulu's average was $3.23, an increase of 3 cents from last week, 2 cents lower than last month, and $1.01 higher than this time last year.

Hilo's average was $3.32, a penny more than last week, a nickel more than last month, and 90 cents more than this time last year.

Wailuku's average was $3.68, a penny more than last week, 7 cents less than last month, and $1.26 more than this time last year.

Chris Olvera, AAA Hawaii's acting branch manager, said high oil prices are to blame.

"The cold snap over much of the U.S. has convinced some investors that heating oil demand will spike, which helps to push other oil-related prices higher," Olvera said in a statement.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 7, 2010 10 a.m.

Waiehu Golf Course Closed Today Due to Rain

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii—The Waiehu Golf Course was closed at 8:00 a.m. this morning due to weather conditions, the County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation announced. The golf course will remain closed today.

For more information, call the County of Maui’s Waiehu Golf Course at (808) 270-7402.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 7, 2010 8:15 a.m.

Hawai'i Residents Rank Among Best in Debt Repayment

The poor economy and higher unemployment are continuing to take a toll on Hawai'i residents' ability to keep up with debt payments, though the state remains among the best in the country when it comes to credit risk.

A new report from credit reporting agency TransUnion said Hawai'i had a Credit Risk Index score of 99.28, or eighth lowest in the nation during the third quarter.

That was higher than the fourth quarter of 2008, when Hawai'i rated a 94.85 score, ranking it fifth best in the nation.

At the same time the report shows the state continues to be well below the national average and below the 100 index level that indicates higher risk.

There was a general increase in the credit risk index over the period, with the nationwide average rising to 129.3 from 124.79.

The credit reporting agency has been producing the index since 1998 as a way to measure changes in consumer credit risk in various states and regions.

It looks at a number of variables, including credit usage and performance, along with factors that can affect payments, including unemployment and the cost of living.

Hawai'i was one of nine states below the 100 level as the Credit Risk Index climbed to an all-time high at the national level during the third quarter. Mississippi was the riskiest state, at 167.22; North Dakota the least, at 82.06.

TransUnion also released its Insurance Risk Index showing Hawai'i was the fifth least riskiest from an insurance perspective in the third quarter.

The state's insurance risk was pegged at 96.0, compared to the national rate of 99.5.

TransUnion said the index is benchmarked to the national average of 100 in March 2001 and helps make comparisons across geographic and demographic segments. A state that has an index score of 110 is 10 percent risker than a state with a score of 100, the credit reporting agency said.

Montana had the highest Insurance Risk Index score, at 109.52. Alaska was lowest, at 95.16.

TransUnion said the Credit Risk Index increase rose by 0.8 percent between the second and third quarters. That's the smallest increase since the beginning of 2008.

"After several quarters of significant increases in the credit and insurance risk indices, it appears that the financial recovery is gaining momentum, as consumers are adapting their debt management approaches to cope with difficult economic times we are experiencing," Trans-Union official Chet Wiermanski said in a statement.

TransUnion said it expects the Credit Risk Index to continue rising through the remainder of 2009, even as the rate of increase slows. It said some states will show improved credit risk in coming months.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 7, 2010 7:25 a.m.

Biggest Surf Arrives Today

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will range from 25 to 35 feet through tonight.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe will range from 10 to 20 feet through tonight.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves.

A high tide of approximately 1.8 feet is expected between 10:47 p.m. tonight and 12:05 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 7, 2010 6:45 a.m.

'More Comprehensive' Plan Needed to End Furlough Fridays

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration rejected, again, a tentative agreement between education officials and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would have ended "furlough Fridays" for the remainder of the current school year.

Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser, said the state administration will continue to work with education officials this week to craft a "revamped" proposal to present to the teachers' union. Smith said they hoped to have an agreement with the HSTA prior to the next furlough Friday, scheduled for Jan. 15.

She was not specific about what might be different in the new plan, but said the governor hopes to address not only the remaining 10 furlough days in the current school year, but also the 17 furlough Fridays in next year's school calendar.

"It (the previous agreement) is a foundation that we hope to build on, make it more holistic and apply to not only this school year but next school year," Smith said. "We're going to take something that is more comprehensive back to the HSTA."

Education officials and the HSTA were disappointed at the latest development in the public school furlough saga. Lingle's staff met with education officials and state Board of Education chairman Garrett Toguchi for nearly two hours yesterday morning at the Queen Lili'uokalani Building on Miller Street.

Acting superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi was not present during those discussions. She attended a previously scheduled meeting regarding the state's application for federal Race to the Top grant money.

Toguchi called the rejection "a devastating setback for public education."

"The governor's staff's willingness to meet again and devise a new proposal is encouraging. However, given the urgency of the matter, it is imperative that we come up with a workable proposal that gets students back to school before time runs out," he said.

REJECTED DEAL

On Dec. 28, the DOE announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the teachers' union to effectively eliminate furlough Fridays for the current school year. The agreement did not deal with next school year. That same day the governor summarily rejected the plan, calling it fiscally irresponsible and unsustainable, but after her aides met with education officials two days later, the governor's office said it was re-examining the details of the plan.

Under the agreement, $35 million from the state's rainy-day fund would restore five furlough days. Teacher planning days on Jan. 4 and May 27 would be converted to teaching days, restoring two more classroom days for students. The school year for students would end three days early, on May 21, leaving the week beginning May 24 as a furlough week for teachers.

Thus, seven of the 10 remaining furlough days for the 2009-10 school year would be restored. But by moving the remaining three furlough days to the end of the year, furlough Fridays would have been eliminated.

Smith said additional meetings may be held as early as tomorrow with the BOE and DOE negotiating teams, led by BOE members John Penebacker and Janis Akuna.

HSTA president Wil Okabe, speaking by phone from Washington, D.C., said the union would be willing to examine a new proposal if it is presented.

"I believe that the HSTA and the board and the department had come up with a viable option to address the furlough issue for the school year," Okabe said.

Okabe said he was disappointed that the governor was unwilling to go along with the tentative agreement.

"If the governor has not moved from her position of continuing to ask teachers to use all their planning days, that's not something we'd be willing to look at," he said.

NEXT YEAR, TOO

Lingle's plan would have required teachers give up 15 planning days to replace furlough Fridays. Money from the rainy day fund — about $50 million — would cover an additional 12 days, for 27 furlough days in all.

Smith would not be specific about what the new proposal may look like. She said the administration wants to ensure that next school year's furlough Fridays are addressed in addition to the 10 furlough days remaining for this school year.

She also mentioned that the governor's team wants to come to an understanding with the DOE and BOE negotiators on who is considered an "essential" worker in the school system.

"We want to look at the dollars to see if we can pin down in exact detail if we're looking at just those individuals who come in contact with the students, and who we need to have at the school level, to see how far those dollars can stretch," Smith said.

The idea of essential workers had been a sore point for the HSTA during previous negotiations with the governor's team.

Union officials argued that the governor's plan would only call back "essential" teachers — mostly classroom teachers — and would not cover the salaries of health aides, educational assistants, office staff, security guards or cafeteria workers.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 6 p.m.

Mayors Testify Together on TA Tax Issue

Honolulu, Hawaii - Mayor Charmaine Tavares joined Hawaii's three other mayors today in an appearance before members of the State House Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Hawaii Council of Mayors (HCOM) offered written testimony identifying proposals that the HCOM has designated as priorities. The testimony also expressed a unified opposition to the proposal to take away the counties' share of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) revenue.

Each mayor also provided remarks at the joint hearing held at the State Capitol. In her remarks before the Senators and Representatives, Mayor Tavares highlighted the vital need of TAT to the County's operating budget and called for a partnership approach between the counties and state.

Read the mayors' testimony here.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 3:20 p.m.

Police Propose Charges Against Parents of New Year's Day Fireworks Victims

As two Maui siblings recover on O'ahu from critical burns suffered New Years morning in a fireworks accident at their home, Maui Police have filed for three charges against their parents.

Shortly after midnight on Friday, a loud bang was heard and an 11 year-old boy and his seven year-old sister were engulfed in an explosion of fireworks while playing in the bed of the family pickup truck at their home in Waiehu. As a result the boy suffered second-degree burns. His sister suffered third-degree burns to both legs. Both children were transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center in critical condition before being med-evac transported to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on O'ahu.

Police have determined that the parents failed to properly care for and protect their children, and recklessly endangered them by allowing them to play with fireworks in the bed of a pickup truck.

The Maui Police Department Press Release further stated that the parents failed to recognize that there was an imminent risk of bodily injury when they allowed their children to play with fireworks. The explosion severely injured both children. Police have filed charges against both parents for child abuse/neglect, endangering the welfare of a minor II and reckless endangering II. The case has been forwarded to the Maui County Prosecutor's Office for review.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 2:20 p.m.

Fighter Jets Turn Back Maui-Bound Flight

Two F-15 fighter jets were called to escort a Maui-bound Hawaiian Airlines flight back to Portland today due to a disruptive passenger.

Hawaiian Flight 39 was about half an hour from Portland when crew members reported an uncooperative passenger on board, the airline said.

The crew then turned the plane around at 10:10 a.m. Hawaii time where the passenger was taken off the aircraft at Portland International Airport, said Hawaiian spokesman Keoni Wagner.

"The crew elected as a precaution to turn around and bring the person back to Portland," said Wagner.

A North American Aerospace Defense Command official told the Associated Press that the fighter jets intercepted the Hawaiian Airlines flight shortly after the pilot decided to turn around.

After refueling, flight 39 took off for Maui at 12:45 p.m., Wagner said.

Steve Johnson, spokesman for the Port of Portland, which owns and operates the Portland airport, said airport security and TSA officials took the passenger and his companion from the plane and are in the process of interviewing them.

Johnson said the plane was searched by security officials and cleared for travel.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 2:10 p.m.

Lingle Reps Turn Down Latest Furlough Offer

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration this afternoon rejected a tentative agreement between the state Department of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association to end furloughs for the current school year.

Linda Smith, the governor's senior policy adviser, said the state administration will continue to work with education officials this week to craft a "revamped" proposal to present to the teachers union. She was not specific what might be different in the new proposal, but she did say the governor hoped to address not only the remaining 10 furlough days in the current school year, but the 17 furlough Fridays in next year's school calendar, as well.

Smith said they hoped to have an agreement with the HSTA prior to the next furlough Friday scheduled for Jan. 15.

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi called the rejection "a devastating setback."

"While this is a devastating setback for public education, the Governor's staff willingness to meet again and devise a new proposal is encouraging. However, given the urgency of the matter, it is imperative that we come up with a workable proposal that gets students back to school before time runs out," he said.

Lingle's staff met with education officials and state Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi for nearly two hours this morning at the state Department of Education building on Miller Street. Marie Laderta, director of the state Department of Human Resources Development, and Georgina Kawamura, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, also attended the meeting.

On Dec. 28, the DOE announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the teachers union to effectively eliminate furlough Fridays for the current school year. The agreement did not deal with next school year.

Under the agreement, $35 million from the state rainy day fund would restore five furlough days. Under that plan, teacher planning days on Jan. 4 and May 27 would be converted to teaching days, restoring two more classroom days for students. The school year for students would end three days early on May 21, leaving the week beginning May 24 as a furlough week for teachers.

Thus, seven of the 10 remaining furlough days for the 2009-2010 school year would be restored. But by moving the remaining three furlough days to the end of the year, furlough Fridays would have been eliminated.

Toguchi said education officials were told during the meeting that the tentative agreement that had been reached with HSTA is effectively dead.

Smith said additional meetings may be held as early as tomorrow with the BOE and DOE negotiating teams, lead by BOE members John Penebacker and Janis Akuna.

"It (the previous agreement) is a foundation that we hope to build on, make it more holistic and apply to not only this school year but next school year," Smith said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 8 a.m.

Secretaries Clinton and Gates to Visit Hawai'i Next Week

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Hawaii next week, where she will speak about Asia-Pacific relations and consult with U.S. military commanders in the Pacific, the State Department said today.

Clinton's Jan. 12 stop in Hawaii will be her first as she travels to Australia to take part in a ministerial conference on global and regional security issues. Clinton will be joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

They will meet Jan. 17 with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Australian Defense Minister John Falkner.

Clinton also will visit Papua-New Guinea and New Zealand.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 7:10 a.m.

Two Hawai'i Teachers Among Nation's Best

Two public school teachers from Hawaii will be among math and science educators recognized by President Barack Obama today at a ceremony in the White House.

Liane Tanigawa of Pearl Ridge Elementary School and Seanyelle Yagi of Kalakaua Middle School were among more than 100 recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Tanigawa serves as Pearl Ridge Elementary's Science Curriculum Specialist. Yagi teaches sixth-grade math at Kalakaua Middle.

The presidential awards go to pre-college-level teachers selected by a panel of scientists, mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process at the state level.

Each year, the award alternates between science and math teachers in grades K to 6, or grades 7 to 12.

Obama also will announce a $250 million initiative to train math and science teachers in an effort to reach his administration's goal of moving American students from the middle to the top of the pack in those subjects over the next decade.

"The quality of math and science teachers is the most important single factor influencing whether students will succeed or fail in science, technology, engineering and math," Obama said in a statement. The money will help prepare 10,000 new teachers and train 100,000 more, the administration said.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 6, 2010 6:50 a.m.

Big Waves Are Here - Bigger Ones On The Way

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning has been continued through 6 p.m. Thursday. A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise to heights of 20 to 30 feet today, then increase to 25 to 35 feet for Thursday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe will be 10 to 20 feet through Thursday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves

A high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 8:34 p.m. and 9:52 p.m. this evening. The next high tide of approximately 1.9 feet is expected between 6:38 a.m. and 7:56 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 8:40 p.m.

Paid Marketing Internships Available on O'ahu in Ag

HONOLULU — The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA), in cooperation with the Western United States Trade Association (WUSATA), is seeking applicants for a paid internship in export marketing. The position is located in Honolulu office of HDOA’s Market Development Branch and runs for the period February 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

Applicants must be a college or university student and either a U.S. citizen or have a visa that allows them to work. The internship pays $11.00 per hour at a maximum of 19 hours per week. Preference will be given to students enrolled at a college of university in Hawai`i who are pursuing degrees in international marketing, marketing, agriculture or business. The deadline for applications is January 22, 2010.

The internship will provide opportunities to work on projects that help Hawai`i companies export agricultural products that are grown, processed or manufactured in Hawai`i.

For more information and the application form, go to: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/add/md

(Report Provided by the State of Hawai'i, Department of Agriculture)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 5:10 p.m.

High Surf Warning Extended Through Thursday

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: A large west - northwest swell continues to build and will spread down the island chain tonight, surf will remain elevated through Thursday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise to heights of 25 to 35 feet overnight.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe will be 15 to 20 feet overnight.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves

A high tide of approximately 2.2 feet is expected between 6:15 a.m. and 7:33 a.m. tomorrow morning. The next high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 8:34 p.m. and 9:52 p.m. tomorrow evening.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 4:40 p.m.

Central/South Maui Customers Asked to Conserve Water

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-- The Department of Water Supply (DWS) is requesting customers in Central and South Maui to conserve water on Thursday, January 7 and Friday, January 8, 2010, so that DWS personnel can complete the installation of new electrical terminations at the three Waihee Wells. The wells will be shut down so the pumps can be sequentially disconnected from the old starters and reconnected to new state of the art starters. This electrical upgrade project will improve the reliability of the water system.

The three wells that will be out of service provide a total average of five million gallons of water per day to Central and South Maui. The affected area includes Paia/Kuau, Spreckelsville, Puunene, Kahului, Wailuku, Waihee, Waikapu, Maalaea, Kihei, Wailea, and Makena.

Customers are asked to turn off irrigation systems and use water only as needed for health and safety purposes in order to extend the supply available in the storage tanks until the wells are back online.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Department of Water Supply)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 3:30 p.m.

Maui Island Plan Available for Review at Community Meetings

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii -- After unveiling the draft Maui Island Plan in a meeting in the Council Chamber last month, the Maui County Council’s Planning Committee will conduct a series of additional meetings throughout the island this month, Committee Chair Sol P. Kaho`ohalahala announced today.

The draft Maui Island Plan is one of the major components of the County’s current General Plan update, Kaho`ohalahala said. He noted that the Planning Committee has completed its work on the draft Countywide Policy Plan, the initial component of the General Plan update, and that the Council will conduct a public hearing on that document in January.

The draft Maui Island Plan is available for review online at: http://tinyurl.com/maui-island-plan/. Having already convened in the Wailuku-Kahului Community Plan Area, with a December 14 meeting in the Council Chamber, the Planning Committee will now meet in Maui’s five other community plan areas, Kaho`ohalahala said.

These meetings will enable the Department of Planning to make presentations on the Maui Island Plan that focus on the potential impacts for the respective community plan areas, Kaho`ohalahala said. Testimony will be accepted, but no legislative action will be taken.

Pursuant to Chapter 2.80B of the Maui County Code, the Maui Island Plan will establish growth boundaries for the first time. The deadline to enact the Maui Island Plan is Oct. 18, 2010.

“The Maui Island Plan is one of the most important documents the Council will consider this term,” Kaho`ohalahala said. “I urge Maui residents to study the draft Maui Island Plan, testify before the Planning Committee and tell Council members where and how the island should grow in the coming decades.”

The Planning Committee will meet on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center within the West Maui Community Plan Area. The Planning Committee will next visit the Paia-Haiku Community Plan Area with a meeting on Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Haiku Community Center.

On Jan. 20 at 6 p.m., the Planning Committee will meet within the Makawao-Pukalani-Kula Community Plan, at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center. Next, the Planning Committee will meet at the Kihei Community Center, within the Kihei-Makena Community Plan Area, on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.

The series of community meetings will conclude at Helene Hall in the Hana Community Plan Area on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. The Planning Committee will then return to the Council Chamber for decision-making meetings starting in February.

The meetings are open to the public. Meeting agendas are available on the Planning Committee website. To receive meeting agendas via e-mail, please complete the on-line subscription form on the County website at www.mauicounty.gov. For more information, please contact the Planning Committee staff.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 2:50 p.m.

Maui Siblings Critically Burned in Fireworks Accident

A young boy and girl are in critical condition in an O'ahu hospital following a fireworks-related accident just after midnight Friday.

Maui Police have released further details on the accident that critically injured the two Maui children. According to a press release, just after midnight on New year's Day, an 11 year-old male and seven year-old female were injured when they were playing with fireworks in the bed of the family’s pick-up truck. The incident occurred in the Lower Waiehu sub-division, Wailuku, where both victims reside.

The investigation revealed that a loud boom was heard, and all of the fireworks in the truck bed were ignited. The children's' clothing caught on fire and they both sustained serious burns.

Medics responded and transported the Victims to Maui Memorial Medical Center. Both Victims were subsequently transported to Kapiolani Medical Center by Medic Air in critical condition.

Patrol officers located several homemade fireworks at the scene, including aluminum cans that were duct taped together.

Maui Police report a total of 49 reports of fireworks violations this year. There were 35 calls in the Wailuku District, eight in the Kihei District and six reports from the Lahaina District. There were no arrests made.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 2 p.m.

Aiona Proposes State Secretary of State Post

HONOLULU – Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. today announced his intention to propose a constitutional amendment during the 2010 legislative session to establish an elected, nonpartisan Secretary of State in Hawai‘i, who would assume responsibility for administering the Office of Elections. The measure, if approved by voters, would repeal the powers and duties of the Elections Commission and eliminate the position of Chief Elections Officer.

“I am proposing a solution to establish a direct line of accountability, improve efficiency and increase public involvement in our election system,” Lt. Governor Aiona said. “It is critically important for voters to gain more control over this vital part of our Democracy. We must restore integrity and confidence in the system. Now is the time for change.”

Voters elect Secretaries of State in charge of elections in 38 other states. Alaska and Utah assign that task to their Lieutenant Governors. In each case, voters have a direct say in naming the administrator of their election system.

The Lt. Governor’s proposal would restructure the governance of the Office of Elections to create greater accountability for Hawai‘i voters. The bill would establish the Office of the Secretary of State, attach the Office of Elections to the Office of the Secretary of State, and place the Secretary of State in charge of elections.

Currently, voters in Hawai‘i have no direct authority over the Office of Elections. The Elections Commission, which appoints the Chief Elections Officer, is composed of individuals selected by only four members of the State Legislature.

Hawai‘i consistently ranks at or near the bottom nationally for voter turnout.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would give Hawai‘i voters the authority to decide in the 2010 General Election whether or not to establish an elected, nonpartisan Secretary of State.

(Report Provided by the Office of Lt. Gov. James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr.)

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NEWS FLASH - January 5, 2010 6:55 a.m.

go! Mokulele Owner Files for Chapter 11 Protection - Except for Hawai'i

go! Mokulele is not included in parent Mesa Air Group's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, the interisland carrier said today in a news release.

Mesa provides regional jet services to go! Mokulele under a flight services agreement, and the joint venture is a separate entity, the news release said.

"During the Mesa Air Group restructuring go! Mokulele will continue to operate as before ... ," Mesa chairman and chief executive Jonathan Ornstein said in a written statement.

"Customers can be assured that tickets will continue to be sold and honored, all terms and conditions governing tickets purchased remain the same, and our frequent flyer program remains intact."

Mesa Air Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today in an effort to shed financial obligations for leases on airplanes it no longer needs.

Mesa said in its filing that getting rid of extra planes will allow the company to reorganize operations and become more competitive.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 7:15 p.m.

May 1 Earliest Special Election Could Happen to Replace Abercrombie

The state's interim chief elections officer said today that the soonest the state could hold a special election to fill out the remainder of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in Congress is May 1.

Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, announced today that he is resigning Feb. 28 to concentrate on his campaign in the Democratic primary for governor. Under state law, a special election could be held no sooner than 60 days after the vacancy.

Scott Nago, the interim chief elections officer, told the state Senate Ways and Means Committee that his preference would be to hold an all mail special election with some walk-in voting sites.

He estimated that the cost of an all mail special election would be $925,000. A traditional special election with polling places would cost about $1.2 million.

Nago said the state is seeking clarification about whether the state can use federal election money to finance the election. Otherwise, the state Office of Elections would need money for the special election, since there is not enough money in the office's budget.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett told the committee that the state has an obligation to call a special election to fill out the remainder of Abercrombie's term, which ends in January 2011.

Bennett said there would likely be a legal challenge if the state waits to hold a special election in conjunction with the September primary because of budget concerns.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 5:15 p.m.

High Wind Advisory Issued for Haleakala Summit

1. EVENT: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a WIND ADVISORY for the HALEAKALA SUMMIT in effect until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday.

A Wind Advisory means that winds of 30 mph are expected.

2. EFFECTS: West winds of 30 to 40 MPH with higher gusts can be expected through tonight.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: WINDS THIS STRONG CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION. SECURE ANY LOOSE OBJECTS THAT MAY BECOME AIRBORNE OR MOVE THEM INDOORS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 5 p.m.

Two Men Critically Injured in Hana Highway Crash

Two men are alive this evening despite critical injuries they suffered in a collision along Hana Highway earlier today. Maui Police say that, at 12:43 this afternoon, a 2004 Nissan, operated by a 30 year-old man from Haiku, was traveling north along Hana Highway. While attempting to turn makai into the parking lot of Mama's Fish House, the Nissan was impacted by a 2001 Volkswagen, driven by a 43 year-old man from Huelo. The Volkswagen had been traveling south along Hana Highway at the time of the impact.

Police say both men suffered critical injuries that were considered life-threatening at the time. Both men were transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center and their conditions have since been upgraded to "non-life-threatening."

Police closed Hana Highway between Kaiholo Place and Holomua Road during the accident investigation. Police add that neither of the men was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Neither vehicle was carrying passengers. Earlier reports also incorrectly stated that at least one of the vehicles was a motorcycle.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 4:50 p.m.

Governor's Moloka'i Council to Meet Next Tuesday

HONOLULU – The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Moloka‘i will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 3:00 p.m., at the Kulana ‘Oiwi, DHHL / OHA Conference Room, 600 Maunaloa Highway, Kaunakakai. The public is invited to attend.

Kimberly Svetin, president of Moloka‘i Drugs, Inc., will provide an update on the status of state Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund issues that affect the Moloka‘i community.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of advisors to give neighbor islands a stronger voice in state government. The council of neighbor island advisors holds monthly public meetings to seek community input and advise the Governor of important issues on Moloka‘i. The council also identifies and recommends potential nominees for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Moloka‘i are Robert Granger, Janice Kalanihuia, Jersula Manaba, Marlene Purdy and James Feeter.

Anyone requiring special assistance or accommodations to participate at this meeting may call (808) 586-0034. For additional information on Councils of Neighbor Island Advisors, including meeting minutes and agendas, visit the Governor’s Web site at www.hawaii.gov/gov.

(Report Provideded By The Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 4:45 p.m.

25-35-Foot Waves Approaching North, West Shores

1. EVENT: A High Surf Warning indicates that dangerous, battering waves will pound the shoreline. This will result in very dangerous swimming conditions, and deadly rip currents.

2. EFFECTS: A new large west northwest swell will build tonight over the west end of the State and gradually spread down most of the Island chain on Tuesday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise to heights of 25 to 35 feet on Tuesday.

Surf along west facing shores of Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe will rise to 15 to 20 feet on Tuesday.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves

A high tide of approximately 2.5 feet is expected between 5:47 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 4:05 p.m.

Hana Highway Motorcycle Accident at Kuau Cleared

Maui Policve say they have cleared the debris from an earlier motorcycle accident that closed a portion of Hana Highway near Kuau Cove. The accident happened shortly before 1 p.m. today and closed the entrance to Mama's Fish House. The Hana Highway intersections at Holomua and Kaiholo Streets have been reopened - as has the driveway to Mama's Fish House.

No word on the extent of any injuries yet, nor if speed, alcohol or drugs may have been involved as potential causes of the accident.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 3:25 p.m.

Lingle Nominates Kubo for Circuit Court Judge Seat

HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today nominated former U.S. Attorney Edward H. Kubo, Jr. to serve as a Circuit Court judge of the First Circuit (O‘ahu). If confirmed by the State Senate, Kubo will fill the vacant seat created by the retirement of Judge Frances Wong.

“Ed Kubo has dedicated his career to upholding the law and defending the public against crime,” said Governor Lingle. “He has a well-rounded legal background that includes extensive experience as the United States’ chief federal law enforcement officer and principal litigator in Hawai‘i, a prosecuting attorney for the city and a private practice trial attorney. Ed has been an exemplary public servant and an outstanding citizen who is committed to improving our community and I am confident he will continue to serve the public well as a Circuit Court judge.”

Kubo served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawai‘i from 2001 to October 2009, and prior to that was Assistant U.S. Attorney for 11 years. During his tenure with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kubo focused on major federal criminal investigations such as white collar crimes, mortgage fraud, civil rights violations, tax evasion, corruption, crimes on government installations and violent crimes. He also covered federal civil areas including fraud against government, employment discrimination, medical malpractice defense and defense of military initiatives. Other key areas Kubo focused on involved federal criminal narcotics enforcement and organized crime, including international drug trafficking, court-approved wiretaps, complex conspiracies, financial investigations and forfeiture of property, and racketeering prosecutions.

Kubo previously worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of the Prosecuting Attorney from 1980 to 1983 and 1985 to 1990. He also was an associate trial attorney with the law firm Carlsmith and Dwyer and a law clerk with the law firm Kobayashi and Watanabe.

He has been actively involved in numerous professional and community organizations including the Hawai‘i State Law Enforcement Officials Association, Hawai‘i High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Organization Executive Board, Hawai‘i Emergency Preparedness Executive Consortium, Hawai‘i Pacific Federal Executive Board, U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, Family Strong Hawai‘i, Department of Education Parent Project, Hawai‘i Wounded Warrior Community Support Program (founder), Hawai‘i Weed and Seed Program, Palama Settlement Board of Trustees, Drug-Free Coalition of Hawai‘i Board of Trustees, Kids Hurt Too Board of Trustees, Kau Kau Wagon Thanksgiving Meals and Eagle Court of Honor Proceedings, Boy Scouts of America.

Kubo earned his law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai‘i.

Governor Lingle selected Kubo from a list of six candidates submitted to her by the Judicial Selection Commission on December 11, 2009. The Governor made the list available to the public to solicit public comments on the six candidates.

Since taking office in December 2002, Governor Lingle has appointed 13 judges to the Circuit Court. She also has named two justices to the Hawai‘i Supreme Court and four judges to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

(report Provided by The Office of Governor Linda Lingle)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 2:55 p.m.

Section of Hansen Road to be Closed for Improvements from January 7 - 10

KAHULUI, Maui, Hawaii- A portion of Hansen Road in Puunene will be closed to traffic from 8 p.m. on January 7, 2010 to 5 p.m., January 10, 2010. The section of Hansen Road from Pulehu Road to South Puunene Avenue (near the A&B Sugar Museum) will be undergoing roadway improvements as part of the Hansen Road Realignment Project.

During the temporary closure period from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon, no through traffic will be allowed. Access to the Puunene Post Office and the A&B Sugar Museum will be available via Mokulele Highway only.

For more information contact the Department of Public Works, Engineering Division at 270-7745.

(Report Provided by the Maui County Office of Information)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 1:45 p.m.

Abercrombie Resignation Set for February 28

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said today his resignation from Congress will be effective Feb. 28.

In a statement, Abercrombie said the declaration will "enable state elections officials to plan for a timely and cost-effective special election for the First Congressional District to select a successor who will carry on the work of the people."

Three weeks ago, Abercrombie announced his intention to resign in order to concentrate fully on his campaign for the governor's seat.

"The past few weeks have reminded me that my 19 years in Washington, D.C., as a U.S. Representative from Hawaii have allowed me to build strong, lasting, and life-long relationships with many colleagues on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill and throughout the federal government," he said in his statement.

"Most of all, I have been privileged to be a part of an effective Hawaii congressional delegation which has accomplished so much to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawaii and nation. I take all of these experiences and friendships with me into the future, as part of a proven partnership involving the state government, Congress, and now the White House, to change the direction and leadership of our state."

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 1:35 p.m.

Former, Interim Education Leaders Post Video

Acting Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and former Superintendent Pat Hamamoto posted a video message to teachers and principals saying that the state's public school system will be "staying the course."

"The (Board of Education) has asked that I take on the role of acting superintendent during this difficult time,"Matayoshi said. "I'm very proud and humbled to be able to continue the work that the superintendent has begun, and we will be staying the course, moving the Department forward for the children of Hawaii."

The video may be viewed at: http://doe.k12.hi.us/news/newsupt/index.htm.

Matayoshi and BOE Chairman Garrett Toguchi will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. at the Queen Liliuokalani Building to discuss the search for a new superintendent.

In Hamamoto's portion of the video message, she reiterated that she was making a personal decision to resign and retire after some 34 years as a teacher, principal and DOE administrator.

"I also want to thank all the teachers, administrators, staff, and all who have made the children of Hawaii as successful as they are and have allowed the Department to continue its continuous improvement into the future," Hamamoto said. "Thank you for your hard work, for your commitment, for your dedication, and most important thank you for caring about the children of Hawaii."

Hamamoto's departure comes as the public school system is in the throes of unprecedented budget cuts that led to furloughs of school teachers and the shortest instructional calendar in the country.

Hamamoto submitted her letter of resignation on Dec. 28, the same day Gov. Linda Lingle rejected a tentative agreement between the DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would have used $35 million from the state's "rainy day"?emergency fund to reduce the remaining furlough Fridays for the current school year.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 1:05 p.m.

Motorcycle Accident Closes Hana Highway at Kuau

Maui Police say a motorcycle accident has closed a portion of Hana Highway near Kuau Cove. Details are sketchy at this time, except that there was an accident at 12:43 p.m. today that closed the interesction of Hana Highway and Aholo Street and at Holomua Street - Mile Post 8.

No word on the extent of any injuries, nor how much much of the highway is closed. There is no posted estimate of when the road will reopen.

(Information Provided by the Maui County Police Department)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 8 a.m.

Obamas Enjoy Day at the Zoo, Head Home to D.C

President Barack Obama bade goodbye to Hawaii last night after an 11-day getaway filled with basketball, golf, family time and tourist attractions.'

Air Force One lifted off from Hickam Air Force Base a few minutes past 10 p.m.

Obama, wearing a dress shirt and slacks, and his wife, Michelle, wearing a casual blue dress, boarded the plane with their daughters after arriving in their motorcade.

The president waved to military members gathered to see him off.

The Obamas were greeted by Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific forces; Gen. Gary North, commander of Pacific Air Forces; and Col. Giovanni Tuck, 15th Airlift Wing commander.

Going to the Zoo with Dad - President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha visited the Honolulu Zoo yesterday along with first lady Michelle Obama and older daughter Malia. (AP Photo)

Airman 1st Class Doug Fraites was one of nearly 100 military personnel chosen to send off the president. "It's pretty amazing," he said. "It means a lot to be able to see him in person. You never expect you'll have the opportunity."

On their last day here yesterday, the Obamas visited the Honolulu Zoo and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where Obama's maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham, a World War II veteran, is entombed. The zoo closed at 4:30 p.m., so the first family had the park to themselves as the sun set over Waikiki.

Obama squeezed in a round of golf earlier at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course on a Marine base near his vacation rental.

During their stay, the family mostly kept a low profile.

Officials said the trip was designed to give the president a break from the political demands of Washington. But Obama could not prevent work from interfering with his vacation. Even before leaving, the trip was delayed a day as Obama waited in Washington for senators to pass a landmark health care reform bill.

While in Hawaii, Obama responded to the failed terror plot to blow up an airliner heading to Detroit on Christmas Day.

He received several briefings and made two statements and a radio address about the United States' efforts to prevent breakdowns in security.

The first family, who arrived in Honolulu on Christmas Eve, stayed at the same rented $9 million Kailua beachhouse as on their last winter vacation.

Each day, the president started his day with a workout at the Semper Fit gym on the Marine base in Kaneohe, often with his wife. He also visited Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park.

Obama played golf four times during the vacation: twice at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, once at Mid-Pacific Country Club in Lanikai and once at Luana Hills Country Club in Maunawili.

Michelle Obama played tennis with her husband at Kailua Racquet Club. She and the president also greeted Marines on Christmas Day, but she skipped a trip to Sea Life Park, the movie "Avatar" and shave ice at Island Snow in Kailua.

Obama played basketball on two mornings with friends on the Marine base and also enjoyed a closed beach with his family on the base.

The president traveled to the other side of the island, making a one-hour drive to spend a day at the Mokuleia beachfront home of former Punahou Schools classmate Bobby Titcomb.

A dinner outing to Alan Wong's restaurant last week drew crowds as the Secret Service blocked off several lanes of King Street. He also went out to dinner at Lucy's Grill n' Bar in Kailua.

Supporters and protesters gathered and waved signs around the corner from Obama's vacation house a few times during his visit. They included native Hawaiians opposing federal legislation that would treat them similarly to American Indians, and a group of "disaffected Democrats" seeking stronger action on health care and the Middle East.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rob Shikina with Associated Press and pool reports.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

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NEWS FLASH - January 4, 2010 6:50 a.m.

North Shore Surf Still Big Through Tonight

1. EVENTS: The National Weather Service in Honolulu has continued the HIGH SURF ADVISORY for NORTH FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI & MAUI and WEST FACING SHORES of MOLOKAI in effect until 6:00 p.m. this evening.

A High Surf Advisory means that high surf will affect beaches in the advisory area, producing rip currents and localized beach erosion.

2. EFFECTS: A series of strong storms has generated swells that will affect north and west facing shores through most of this week. The first swell will bring advisory level surf through today. A second, and much larger swell, is expected to bring warning level surf Tuesday through Thursday.

Surf along north facing shores of Molokai and Maui will rise to heights of 12 to 16 feet this morning, and remain throughout the day. Surf along west facing shores of Molokai will rise to 8 to 12 feet this morning, and remain throughout the day.

Forecast surf heights are estimates of the height of the face or front of waves

A high tide of approximately 1.5 feet is expected between 5:16 p.m. and 6:34 p.m. this evening. The next high of approximately 2.5 feet is expected between 5:47 a.m. and 7:05 a.m. tomorrow morning.

3. PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES: BEACH GOERS ARE URGED TO STAY OUT OF THE WATER AND WELL AWAY FROM THE SHORE BREAK DUE TO THE HAZARDOUS WAVE ACTION AND STRONG RIP CURRENTS.

4. INFORMATION: Maui County Civil Defense will continue to monitor the situation. Please listen to your local radio and TV stations or NOAA Weather Radio for any updates.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts can be reached by calling 1-866-944-5025. The NOAA Weather internet service can be found at www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl.

Pre-recorded advisories and notifications are available 24-hours a day on the Maui County Automated Information System (AIS) by calling 986-1200. The same information is available on the Maui County website at www.mauicounty.gov.

(Report Provided by Maui County Civil Defense)

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NEWS FLASH - January 3, 2010 10:10 p.m.

11-Day Hawaiian Holiday Ends for Obamas

The first family has boarded Air Force One to depart Honolulu following their 11-day vacation.

President Obama and his family arrived at Hickam Air Force Base tonight and immediately boarded Air Force One, which began taxi-ing at 10:04 p.m.

About 50 people underwent two security sweeps and waited at Hickam for a glimpse of the president.

Ramy Casicas, a senior airman with the 15th Operational Support Squadron, hoped to even get a chance to shake the president's hand.

"I'm hoping to meet him today," Casicas said. "My commander asked me if I wanted to meet the president. I couldn't turn that down."

The first family spent its last day on O'ahu with a late-afternoon visit to the Honolulu Zoo after it was closed to the public, according to media pool reports.

The visit to the zoo followed a trip to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl from 4:59 p.m. to 5:08 p.m.

Reporters asked the first family if they were ready to return to the Mainland, according to a pool report.

"No!" was the group response, led by President Obama. First lady Michelle Obama added, according to the pool report,"Let's stay. We'll all stay. Are we all in? I'm trying to mount a coup."

Obama began his last day of vacation with his usual early-morning workout at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and later returned to the base for a round of golf with friends. Obama's golf partners included Bobby Titcomb, Marty Nesbitt and Mike Ramos.

His motorcade left the vacation compound at 4:33 p.m. and arrived 4:59 p.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 3, 2010 8:20 a.m.

First Family's Vacation Ends Today

President Obama began the last day of his 11-day vacation with his usual early-morning workout at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and later returned to the base for a round of golf with friends.

The first family is scheduled to leave Oahu tonight aboard Air Force One.

Obama spent part of today reading intelligence assessments and asking advisers about threats to the United States.

The 11-day trip to the state where he was born and grew up was not a complete break from work for the chief executive.

The president's holiday vacation was delayed by a Senate vote on health care legislation, then interrupted — and, by all accounts, derailed — by the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight as it prepared to land in Detroit.

Still, Obama played tennis and golf and attended a luau on the North Shore. He also took his daughters to the movies and treated them to shave ice.

The president's last day on Oahu began as usual.

His motorcade left the family's Kailua vacation home at 7:08 a.m. today for the Kaneohe Marine base, where the president worked out without the first lady at the "Semper Fit" gym.

About a dozen people gathered outside the to get a glimpse of the president before he returned to Kailua at 8:06 a.m.

Obama later returned to the base with three longtime friends.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 2, 2010 11:20 a.m.

Salvation Army Sets Maui Donation Record

KAHULUI, Maui - The Salvation Army on Maui exceeded its red kettle campaign goal in 2009, raising $157,900 and surpassing 2008's record collection.

"It's amazing given these tough economic times," said Capt. Mark Merritt, the Kahului Corps Maui coordinator.

The Salvation Army on Oahu announced Thursday that it, too, exceeded this year's fundraising goal.

Merritt said that his office considered the tough financial climate on Maui, where foreclosures and bankruptcy filings are soaring, and decided to set the 2009 fundraising goal below the $125,000 raised in 2008.

"But we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends here on Maui," he said Tuesday.

Between the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, volunteers and Salvation Army staff rang bells near red kettles at 17 sites - a dozen between Kihei and Kahului plus two first-time locations Upcountry and another five spots in West Maui.

Bell ringers said that they saw more dollar bills than coins being placed into the red kettles.

"We were shocked. . . . People just opened their hearts up," Merritt said.

He suspected that the financial troubles experienced across the state were hitting home with donors.

"Almost every one of us knows someone who is struggling. . . . I guess people figured they'd give even more."

The nearly $158,000 raised in a month's time represents approximately 7 percent of the Salvation Army's 2010 budget, according to Merritt. The money will be used throughout the year for youth programs and social services including rental assistance, utility payments and food boxes.

Merritt said that needy families won't have to choose between buying food or paying for their electricity bill.

"We can help these people thanks to Maui's generosity," he said.

The Salvation Army distributed 32,281 food bags to homeless clients between the end of 2008 and the end of 2009. Merritt said that the increase in the kettle campaign will allow for an estimated 40,000 food bags to be prepared for homeless and needy families in 2010.

He anticipates that all the services provided in 2009 will reach more people in 2010.

In addition to the kettle campaign, Salvation Army's Kahului Corps distributed toys, clothing and stocking stuffers to more than 1,000 children on Maui alone. Approximately 200 children on Molokai also benefited from the annual Angel Tree project.

Salvation Army operates the Toys for Tots campaign developed by the U.S. Marine Corps. Through that project, a total of 5,974 toys were collected and then distributed to 20 different agencies serving Maui children.

"I really believe people want to help, but they don't know how," he said. By donating to the red kettle campaign, the Angel Tree project and Toys for Tots, Merritt said, Maui residents were reaching out to the county's most needy.

"It'll make a difference in people's lives," he said.

Reach Claudine San Nicolas at csnanicolas@mauinews.com.

(Report Provided by The Maui News)

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NEWS FLASH - January 2, 2010 10:10 a.m.

Hanabua Proposes Obama's Birthday as State Holiday

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa wants President Obama's Aug. 4 birthday to be a state holiday, right up there with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole Day, King Kamehameha I Day and even Christmas.

State Rep. Della Au Belatti, D-25th (Tantalus, Makiki, McCully), would like the Jan. 20 date of Obama's presidential inauguration to be forever known in the Islands as Barack Obama II Ohana Day.

And even Republican state Rep. Gene Ward, R-17th, (Kalama Valley, Queen's Gate, Hawai'i Kai), hopes to turn 4,124 square feet of overgrown scrub land owned by the state Department of Transportation into President Barack Obama Birthplace State Park.

The land at 6091 Kalaniana'ole Highway was taken over by the state for its highway widening project. The empty parcel sits next door to the modest house at 6085 Kalaniana'ole Highway where Obama was first brought home after his birth at what at the time was known as the Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital.

"We're all Americans first and then we're Republicans and then we're Democrats," Ward said yesterday as he drove past the vacant parcel on his way into town from Hawai'i Kai. "It's bare, except for two big HECO transformers and a big rock. It's there just kind of growing weeds."

As Obama and his family and friends continue to enjoy a scheduled 12-day vacation in his hometown, the Honolulu City Council has tentatively approved an effort by Mayor Mufi Hannemann to rename 'Aina Moana Beach Park — more commonly known as Magic Island — to President Barack Obama Beach Park at Magic Island.

But it's the state Legislature that's considering resolutions that would bring six new changes in Obama's honor, such as urging the state Board of Education to rename Obama's first school — Noelani Elementary School — President Barack Hussein Obama II Elementary School, and to change the name of McKinley High School to President Barack Hussein Obama II High School.

Renaming one or two public schools in Obama's name makes sense to Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, D-9th, (Wailuku, Pu'unene, Makawao), who introduced the resolution, because "part of his education agenda is to make sure that the next generation has as much opportunity as possible in an economy where we need to compete globally."

Keith-Agaran also wants Hawai'i schoolchildren to know that it's true that anyone in the Islands can dare to dream to grow up to be president of the United States.

"That sends the message to Hawai'i kids that it's true," Keith-Agaran said. "It's nice to know that as we're growing up in America, everyone has the opportunity to be as successful as possible."

Another resolution would begin the process to place the rental apartment building on Beretania Street where Obama's grandparents lived on to the National Register of Historic Places.

While some presidents grew up in opulent beachfront homes or family compounds, Obama spent much of his childhood in the modest Punahou Circle apartments on the corner of Beretania and Punahou streets while he attended nearby Punahou School from 1971 to 1979.

His maternal grandparents rented a two-bedroom, 10th-floor apartment in the 1960s-era cinderblock walk-up in Makiki. His grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, lived there for 41 years, until her death in November 2008, just two days before Obama's election as president.

Even though "the Historic Hawaii Foundation acknowledges the unusual nature of placing a condominium or apartment building on the National Register," according to the House resolution, "the Punahou Circle apartment where President Obama and his grandmother lived represents a proud and historic part of history in Hawai'i."

Ward said his effort to turn vacant land into a park in Obama's honor — and similar efforts in the Legislature — remind local people "of the greatness of who we are in Hawai'i and what we can achieve — and he's a good example of that."

As for the empty parcel that he drives past every day, Ward called it "a little corner of Kuli'ou'ou that has really not much significance. Except that within a few yards of it was the cottage where the president had his first days on Earth."

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 2, 2010 7:45 a.m.

Hamamoto Says Resignation Decision 'Personal'

Though former Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto had been frustrated by continuing negotiations over teacher furloughs and deep budget cuts to the school system, the Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said yesterday he did not believe that influenced her decision to resign.

"I didn't think that played into her decision," Toguchi said. "She had wanted to retire last year, but then we talked about it and she agreed that it was not the right time to go. That was way before furloughs started."

Hamamoto, who had nearly two years left in her most recent four-year contract, has not spoken publicly about her resignation, which was effective Thursday. Sources say she is planning to hold a press conference on Monday.

Toguchi said he believed Hamamoto's decision to resign was based on her long tenure as superintendent — 10 years — the long hours she worked, and her confidence in the team in place to take over.

"For her, it was really a personal decision. She was very clear that she felt she had assembled a good team, had a lot of good people on board who could carry on," Toguchi said.

Hamamoto's departure comes as the public school system is in the throes of unprecedented budget cuts that led to furloughs of school teachers and the shortest instructional calendar in the country.

Hamamoto submitted her letter of resignation on Monday, the same day Gov. Linda Lingle rejected a tentative agreement between the DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would have used $35 million from the state's rainy-day emergency fund to reduce the remaining furlough Fridays for the current school year.

Wil Okabe, HSTA president, said Hamamoto had a pivotal role during the last few weeks of negotiations in drafting that tentative agreement.

"After the governor's people walked out of talks a couple of weeks ago, it was Pat who continued to look for options to try to resolve the furlough concerns," Okabe said.

HEAVY CRITICISM

When the new two-year teachers' contract was announced in September, Hamamoto and the teachers' union said that 17 furlough days a year was preferable to teacher layoffs or further cuts to school programs.

Hamamoto then took the brunt of parent criticisms and public outcry over the furloughs.

Then, on Oct. 23, the first furlough Friday, Gov. Linda Lingle, who signed off on the teachers' contract, proposed a constitutional amendment to make the DOE superintendent a Cabinet-level position, under the governor's control.

Lingle, who held the majority of the votes to approve the teachers' contract, said the decision by the DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association to schedule furloughs for teachers on classroom instruction days showed the need for accountability in the public school system.

Board of Education member Donna Ikeda said Thursday that she thought Hamamoto was unfairly criticized over the furlough issue. She also said she was surprised by Hamamoto's decision to resign.

"The governor was part of the (furlough) decision. Why should Pat be made the scapegoat?" Ikeda said. "This is the first governor, to my knowledge, who has not included the superintendent in Cabinet meetings. It makes the job 10 times harder."

MATAYOSHI FILLS IN

With Hamamoto's resignation, Deputy Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi becomes acting superintendent. Hamamoto has volunteered to remain a member of the negotiating team until the teacher furlough issue is resolved.

Toguchi said BOE members will discuss a process for finding and selecting a new superintendent. A national search is not required under board policy, Toguchi said.

BOE member Karen Knudsen said Hamamoto leaves at a difficult time — when furloughs have yet to be resolved, as a massive budget shortfall looms, which could lead to public school layoffs, and as a Legislative session is set to get under way, during which the education budget could be further cut.

"I've worked with four superintendents ... so there is always a transition. It can be scary for the field. They get nervous about what's going to happen, if we're going to change direction. But it moves on. I'm not nervous. We don't have time to be nervous," Knudsen said.

Knudsen said the DOE's budget is the primary concern. Even if teacher furloughs were to be resolved, the public education system is facing a $40 million budget shortfall for the current school year, which could potentially result in layoffs or increasing class sizes.

Lingle has not yet spoken publicly about Hamamoto's decision to resign. However, her spokesman, Russell Pang, did issue a statement yesterday.

"We appreciate her 34 years of public service and we wish her well in her future endeavors ," Pang said.

Reach Loren Moreno at lmoreno@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 1, 2010 1:10 p.m.

Limbaugh Breaks Media Silence, Claims No Heart Attack

Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh said today that doctors could not find anything wrong with his heart, despite the chest pains he experienced on Wednesday.

Limbaugh spoke to the media at 11 a.m. today with his physician by his side. He said he most likely had experienced a spasm in an artery leading to his heart.

"It's been a humbling experience," Limbaugh said. "All my life I've wondered what a heart attack would be like. I've experienced pain in my upper chest like I've never experienced before."

Doctors performed an angiogram and did not find any blockage in his arteries or heart diseases, Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh had been staying at the Kahala Hotel and Resort when he experienced the chest pains at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The 58-year-old Limbaugh was taken by Honolulu paramedics to The Queen's Medical Center for treatment until he was released this morning.

"Within a half hour they alleviated all the pain," Limbaugh said. "There is nothing wrong with the American health care system."

Limbaugh was reportedly seen golfing Saturday at the Wai'alae Country Club, next door to the Kahala Hotel and Resort. Sources have said Limbaugh had booked a large suite for a 10-day stay.

The talk show host refused to take questions today.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 1, 2010 12:40 p.m.

Kaiser, HMSA Rates Jump with New Year

Rates will rise by an average of 10.7 percent for most of Kaiser Permanente Hawaii's members under a premium increase approved yesterday by the state Insurance Division.

The state also said it approved an average 11.7 percent increase by the Hawaii Medical Service Association for 17 large employer groups renewing policies in 2010.

The Kaiser rate hike covers 150,000 of its roughly 220,000 members and is expected to take effect as commercial accounts renew agreements next year. Both Kaiser and HMSA have been struggling to keep up with increasing medical and drug costs as well as lower investment returns on their reserves.

Kaiser and HMSA had sought the increases earlier this year because of increasing health care expenses. Under state law, health insurance rates must be approved by the Insurance Division, which has 60 days to act.

"We're pleased that the insurance commissioner agreed that our rate filing is consistent with the increasing cost to provide health care," said Kaiser spokeswoman Lynn Kenton.

Kaiser had hoped to have the rates approved earlier, but the Insurance Division requested more information after the initial filing, which took more time to analyze. The rates take effect tomorrow.

"We obviously looked at this very closely and asked a lot of questions about it," said state Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt. He said the state had a nationally known actuary review the initial filing and additional information before issuing approval.

"We determined the rates were justified," Schmidt said.

He said the Kaiser increase is made up of an average 9.5 percent increase for groups who were contacted by Kaiser before Oct. 1, and an average 12.3 percent increase for those who were notified after that date.

Schmidt said the state also approved HMSA's hike at the rate it requested.

In addition, he said his division also approved rate increases for about 30,000 people with health insurance through University Health Alliance, or UHA.

Schmidt said there would be an 11.5 percent increase for people under the UHA 3000 plan and a 13 percent rise in rates under the UHA 600 plan.

Reach Greg Wiles at gwiles@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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NEWS FLASH - January 1, 2010 8:20 a.m.

Yes, That Was an Earthquake Yesterday

A small earthquake shook Maui and was felt as far away as Moloka'i, Kailua and Waipahu.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-3.7 earthquake was recorded 33 miles north of Kahului shortly before noon Thursday.

Maui police report receiving a few calls about the earthquake but there was no indication of injury or damage.

(Report Provided by The Associated Press)

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NEWS FLASH - January 1, 2010 8 a.m.

Solar Water Mandate One of New Laws in New Year

Most new homes in Hawai 'i will need to come with a solar water heater under a law that takes effect today.

The legislation is one of only a handful of new laws that kick in on this New Year's Day.

Others address everything from naturopathic physicians to court document process servers and a cell phone ban for Big Island motorists.

But it's the so-called "solar roofs" law that puts Hawai'i on the map, since no other state mandates that new housing have solar water heaters.

The law is hailed by environmentalists, who say solar heaters are not only environmentally friendly, they save consumers money. But some in the solar heating industry still have concerns about the law's efficacy and some loopholes.

Enacted in 2008 but mandated to begin today, the law says a building permit cannot be issued for a new single-family structure that does not include a solar water heater system meeting certain standards.

A homebuilder may, however, apply for a variance through the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs' energy resources coordinator, under some circumstances.

Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation, said that with a solar water heater, the typical homeowner will pay 30 percent to 40 percent less on their electric bills, or about $750 a year, depending on the number of people in the household and how much water they use.

For a new house, a system would cost roughly $5,000 to $6,000, so it should pay for itself within 10 years. "It's just a matter of when," Mikulina said.

Carilyn Shon, the state's energy conservation program manager, pointed out that petroleum experts are estimating that oil prices will more than double in the coming two years, providing additional incentive for people to go to solar water heating.

"The people who are going to install solar water heating as of 2010, or who already have it, are going to be the beneficiaries," Shon said.

From the environmental standpoint, the law will reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 8,000 tons annually from avoided electricity use, according to the Blue Planet Foundation, which aims to make Hawai'i energy independent.

TAX CREDITS GONE

Gentry Homes began installing solar water heaters on all its new homes in its Ewa By Gentry development around 2005, according to Mike Brandt, the company's vice president of engineering.

"It was a big hit with the buyers," Brandt said.

"It's a win-win all around," said Debra Luning, Gentry's director of governmental and community affairs. Besides being the "green" thing to do, "the buyer is getting good value for the dollar, and it helps us sell homes when people see a lot of value included in their homes."

The company has won several homebuilding awards related to being O'ahu's first developer to go all-solar, Luning said.

But some concerns about the mandate have been raised by those in the solar heating and building industries.

Ron Richmond, a manager at Inter-Island Solar Supply, said that individual homebuilders had already begun moving to solar water heating, largely because of rebates offered by HECO and tax credits by the state.

But those rebates and tax credits go away starting today, Richmond said.

"That cost will be passed on" to homebuyers, said Brandt, of Gentry. "More and more builders were starting to offer it as a standard feature, so (the law) ... wasn't necessary."

Gentry, other developers and the Building Industry Association of Hawaii voiced objections to the bill on those grounds.

GAS LOOPHOLE

Richmond's company is also concerned that there are too many loopholes in the law that allow a homebuilder to opt out of installing a solar water system.

The law says exemptions can be allowed if a homebuilder can demonstrate a home is being built in a "poor solar resource" area, or that a solar water heater is cost-prohibitive based on a 15-year life cycle cost-benefit analysis.

A related major concern, which is shared by environmental interests, including the Blue Planet Foundation, is language in the law that allows homebuilders to receive a variance if they choose to install a tankless gas water heater, in combination with another gas appliance.

Richmond said it makes no sense to allow gas water heaters as an option.

"The whole justification for the mandate was to get us off of oil," he said. "But all of our gas here is made from oil."

Said Mikulina: "Blue Planet believes that gas water heaters should only be allowed if the homeowner can demonstrate that using solar is not the most cost-efficient option."

Mark Duda, president of the Hawai'i Solar Energy Association, acknowledged the mixed feelings his industry has for the new law.

"We're in favor of anything that makes solar more available and more widely used," Duda said. "But we have an enormous concern with the gas loophole. There's really nothing in the law that prevents a developer from using gas if they want to use gas."

Last year, the Legislature attempted to clarify the bill, inserting language that states that variances "will be rarely, if ever, exercised or granted."

Both industry leaders and environmentalists said they will be monitoring the situation to ensure there is not a wholesale move by homebuilders toward tankless gas water heaters.

The DCCA's Hawai'i State Energy Office will begin accepting applications for variances via its Web site beginning Monday. A link will be provided from http://hawaii.gov/dbedt/info/energy.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.

(Report Provided by The Honolulu Advertiser)

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