Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona told the Hawaii Republican Party state convention Saturday (May 18) in Kaneohe that he will not say “yes” or “no” as to whether he will run for office in 2014.
But if he does, he said, the governorship is the only job he’s interested in.
Aiona, who lost badly to Democrat Neil Abercrombie in 2010, said he is enjoying his current life practicing law and teaching fourth graders in Kapolei and government at Chaminade. He and his wife Vivian recently became grandparents.
Aiona said he “honestly” did not know what he would do in terms of running for office next year, suggesting that a congressional race was possible should circumstances present themselves.
But Aiona said many people have approached him to say that they wish they had voted for him rather than Abercrombie, whose record has been mixed and whose popularity is less than stellar.
He also reminded delegates that they belong to the Hawaii Republican Party, not the national party or other state parties. His point: The local GOP should “live the aloha spirit” in order to have greater electoral success.
The Regents have already cut the public out of discussions about the search for a new UH president. Now the governor appears to be doing the same.
Excerpts from Hawaii News Now’s report:
Gov. Neil Abercrombie held a secret meeting with nearly all the University of Hawaii Board of Regents Wednesday afternoon to discuss how to move forward with the search for a new UH president.
Abercrombie invited the UH regents to a private meeting with him Wednesday afternoon in his office at the Capitol, a day before they held their first official regents’ meeting following last week’s resignation announcement by UH President MRC Greenwood.
“The meeting was really off-the-record and not-for-attribution, because really we wanted to have a candid conversation about where we go from here,” Abercrombie said. …
The state’s sunshine law allows the governor to meet with more than one member of any board and discuss practically anything without publishing an agenda or giving the public six days notice, as long as they don’t make a decision judging the outcome of any case.
Read our related coverage:
The State Department of Health said today that the city of Honolulu can remove warning signs it posted at Keehi Lagoon nearly two months ago.
According to the city, the signs were posted on March 25 after a state security guard noticed toilet paper and smelled sewage in the vicinity of the Nimitz Highway viaduct near Kakoi Street.
What’s more concerning is that the city’s Department of Environmental Services can’t seem to find what the sewage source.
Here’s what the agency had to say:
ENV conducted water sampling Feb. 15 through April 9, 2013 but could not verify the source. A bypass was setup around the area in question. The pipe was flushed, cleaned and examined by a closed-circuit TV, but no crack was discovered. As a precaution, ENV ordered materials to line the inside of the pipe.
Those materials are expected to arrive the second week of June. Once on island, it will take up to two weeks to complete the lining project.
ENV and DOH will conduct water sampling on a weekly basis at the canoe launch site beginning May 22, 2013 until the pipe is lined.
Lucky we live Hawaii.
If the “Geography of Hate” map is any indication, we’re pretty positive compared with the mainland. That’s based on a U.S. map of geotagged racist, homophobic and anti-disability tweets compiled by researchers at Humboldt State University.
The eastern half of the country appears most hateful, covered in blazing red that indicates frequent use of racial, homophobic and anti-disability slurs in tweets. Hawaii pulses light blue for “some hate.”
Perhaps interesting to note: Kauai registers for more homophobic tweets, while Oahu and Maui counties popped up with more racist and anti-disability tweets.
— Alice Terry
A group of Punahou kids could soon be going viral — in Taiwan.
The Taiwanese cable news station TVBS is planning a visit to Punahou on Monday to film some students working on their science projects.
The TVBS team is in the state to get footage of Hawaii’s natural beauty and interview entrepreneurs and sustainability advocates — particularly those with an expertise an energy. Turns out Hawaii’s getting some recognition for maintaining the highest well-being in the U.S.
The crew is interested in Punahou because of its track record of producing famous graduates, including President Barack Obama and Dr. Sun Yat-sen. TBVS wants to get a taste of Punahou’s educational philosophy and how it promotes student engagement.
The footage will be broadcast on the news channel as well as another, 24-hour channel with viewership throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
TVBS headquarters in Taiwan. Photo courtesy of 竹筍弟弟 via Flickr.
— Alia Wong
Here’s Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s public schedule for Thursday:
• Hawaii Lions District 50 Day Proclamation, Ala Moana Hotel, 8:30 a.m.
• Palolo Elementary “Hoike” Engineering Design Projects Showcase, Palolo Elementary School, 9:30 a.m.
• Emergency Medical Services Week Proclamation, Executive Office, Ceremonial Room, 11 a.m.
• Hawaii Air National Guard 154th Wing Operational Capability Celebration, 6:20 – 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy The National Guard.
Five lei vendors hawking flower and candy lei outside this week’s high school graduation in Anchorage, Alaska? It seems the large population of Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have transported the timeless tradition to the Frozen North.
But $20 for an orchid lei? Ho, brah! 8 bucks here.
Read the story in the Anchorage Daily News. Local columnist Julia O’Malley reports that lei vendors are doing well elsewhere in the country, too — Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Nevada — as the Polynesian population and culture spreads.
— Patti Epler
It’s been nearly five hours since the University of Hawaii Board of Regents broke for executive session as part of their regularly scheduled meeting today — and as of 5:30 p.m., they still hadn’t come out yet.
University executives, including President M.R.C. Greenwood and Provost Linda Johnsrud, are waiting eagerly for the regents to come out of hiding.
The hottest item on today’s agenda involved discussion of the new president. Greenwood last week announced she’s resigning — two years before her contract expires.
But most of that conversation is happening right now, behind closed doors.
Board Chair Eric Martinson justified the private discussion saying there was a possibility that they’d be discussing specific individuals, thus exempting the conversation from the Sunshine Law.
When giving his farewell speech earlier this morning, Maui Regent Artemio Baxa, whose term expires in June, pointed to some of his fellow regents — including John Holzman and Chuck Gee — as examples of good presidential candidates. But as of now, no formal recommendations have been made public.
It remains to be seen whether the regents will come out of executive session disclosing the details of their conversation. Officials said that after executive session, they’d likely discuss general criteria and recruitment processes.
But that was nearly five hours ago.
— Alia Wong
The former director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control is returning to her old position.
Gov. Abercrombie nominated Genevieve Salmonson today to serve as OEQC interim director, subject to Senate confirmation.
Here’s what the governor had to say in the release:
“Genevieve is experienced in working across public and private sectors toward resolution and environmental compliance,” he said. “She will provide strong leadership, particularly in relation to supporting small businesses’ efforts in complying with environmental regulations and law.”
Gary Hooser led the OEQC before stepping down last year to run for Kauai County Council.
Read the full release here.
— Nathan Eagle
Genevieve Salmonson, interim OEQC director. (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office)
Our partners at KITV have the story:
The jury has reached a verdict Thursday in the trial of Toby Stangel who was charged with eight counts of murder and attempted murder in connection with a shooting spree in Honolulu nearly two years ago.
He was found guilty of second-degree murder and faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Stangel was also found guilty of second-degree attempted murder.
Tammy Nguyen, a mother of 10, was killed in the shooting in the Kapahulu area. The shooting ended on the H-1 Freeway in Pearl City.
Former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano and other plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit that aims to stop Honolulu’s rail project filed their opening brief in their appeal to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
It’s 3,785 pages with attachments.
The opening brief itself is much shorter. Only 119 pages.
In general, the plaintiffs say the city didn’t do a proper alternatives analysis when studying the rail project. Specifically, they say the city and the Federal Transit Administration ignored managed lanes, street-level light rail and bus rapid transit.
The appeal is to a November 2012 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima, who essentially said the city can proceed with the rail project once it cleans up issues pertaining to pre-construction studies, such as accounting for cultural and historical resources.
The 9th Circuit granted the plaintiffs an expedited hearing that’s currently scheduled for August.
They wanted the case heard sooner rather than later because construction on the $5.26 billion project is set to start up again in September.
Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard joined other House Democrats today in voting against a Republican attempt the repeal health care reform.
The measure actually passed the Republican House, 279-195, but is unlikely to go anywhere in the Democratic Senate.
However, the vote does give Hanabusa, who is running against Sen. Brian Schatz, a chance to play to Democrats back home. And in a statement, she said, “My Republican colleagues do not have their priorities straight. Instead of wasting our time on the 37th vote to repeal the health care law, we should be focused on repealing sequestration and working together to pass a responsible, long term budget.”
— Kery Murakami
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard weighed in today on the IRS scandal, conservative groups in Hawaii and around the country, received extra scrutiny by the agency.
“I am shocked and disappointed by the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of certain groups. It exposes a problem that lies not just with a few ‘bad apples,’ but rather a systemic problem with a culture that condoned this type of illegal targeting,” she said in a statement. “The IRS and all government agencies have a duty and obligation to apply our laws equally, regardless of political, ethnic, religious affiliation or whether they have exercised their First Amendment rights to criticize the government.”
She said President Barack Obama “has taken first steps to remove those responsible, but more must be done.”.
Read the reaction of two Hawaii Tea Party groups involved in the mess and the reaction of other members of the Congressional delegation here.
– Kery Murakami
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, President Barack Obama’s nominee for transportation secretary, told Sen. Brian Schatz he’d keep Honolulu’s rail project on track if he were to be confirmed, Schatz’s office said.
In a statement after their meeting, Schatz said, “Mayor Foxx informed me that the Department of Transportation transition will be seamless when it comes to the Honolulu rail project… Foxx understands the importance of Honolulu’s rail project and is committed to being our partner in seeing it to completion along with other transportation priorities that will create jobs in Hawaii, and give the people of Hawaii more transportation choices.”
Schatz, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said also, “As Mayor of Charlotte, Foxx expanded Charlotte’s public transit system, implemented street design guidelines that promote walking and bicycling, and expanded Charlotte’s airport. His experience and priorities align with those of Hawaii—economic growth, sustainability, and expansion of our transportation network.”
Foxx is scheduled to appear before the committee next week.
— Kery Murakami
If there was ever any doubt about what city of Honolulu officials truly thought about (de)Occupy Honolulu it’s been erased in a response to a federal lawsuit filed by the protesters.
Here’s what Honolulu Corporation Counsel had to say:
“This case is not about the homeless. This case is about a mixed bag of self-absorbed social protesters — recent Mainland transplants — who have seen fit to pitch their tents, invoke King Kamehameha’s law, and drag bulky item pickup junk furniture and other personal property on the sidewalk fronting one of Honolulu’s most historic and culturally significant public parks, which was established to commemorate the restoration of the Hawaiian monarchy in July 1843, 170 years ago.”
Of course, the park the city is referring to is Thomas Square on the corner of Ward Avenue and Beretania Street.
(de)Occupy Honolulu protestors have been camping on the sidewalks along the park since 2011, causing city officials to come up with new laws to chase them off public property.
The current iteration allows the city to seize and destroy the protestors’ property 24 hours after “tagging” it with a notice of violation.
While the protestors came up with a clever system to skirt the city ordinance by putting up blue tents on one day and red tents the next, their lawsuit claims the city has still violated their constitutional rights by taking their stuff and throwing it out.
In additional to illegal seizure practices, the lawsuit claims the city is chilling the (de)Occupy Honolulu protesters’ rights to free speech.
The protestors, who in their lawsuit claim to be homeless, want the city to stop the raids, which Mayor Kirk Caldwell have described as “compassionate displacement.”
U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright will hear arguments from both the protestors and the city Friday on whether to grant a preliminary injunction.
The protestors are represented by Honolulu attorney Richard Holcomb, who specializes in DUI defense.