Watching and reporting about Hawaii from Washington Place to Washington, D.C.

4:02 p.m. Turnover in the House

The Hawaii House blog observes that Kyle Yamashita says that, since he was elected to office in 2004, over 50 percent of seats in the House have changed.

“If 50% of the seats have changed in 7 years, how does that impact the argument for term limits as a legislative policy?” the post asks.

Good question.

12:24 p.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Maui News reports that the Maui Bus has received national recognition for being among the “fastest growing” public transportation systems in the nation, according to an announcement from Dan Akaka:

In a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff told Akaka his agency would be providing support for fleet replacement and expansion of bus systems on all Neighbor Islands.

“I’ve had the opportunity to visit the bus provider on Maui, and you are correct, they are one of the fastest growing players in the country,” Rogoff told Akaka, according to a transcript. “And when you’re trying to provide mobility around an island that just has a perimeter road, and you have gas prices the highest in the nation as you pointed out, those bus services are very critical.”

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that Billy Kenoi cut almost $10,000 from his official travel budget in 2010 “by halving the number of days spent off island” compared with his first full year in office:

A pair of freebies also helped to limit Kenoi’s official off-island travel expenses to $13,865 last year, according to records his office provided at the request of the Tribune-Herald.

During 2009, he charged Big Island taxpayers $23,634 for airfare, rental cars, hotels, food and events. That’s also when Kenoi was off island, and therefore not serving as Hawaii County‘s top administrator, 94 days, most of which were spent in Honolulu.

The Garden Island reports that the Kapaa temporary bypass has reopened:

Following a month-long closure, including a week delay, the state Department of Transportation has nearly completed work on the road, including repaving, fixing up the Kainahola Stream Bridge and other maintenance.

DOT spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the contractor also built in rumble strips. These are essentially grooves in the road near the center line that alert drivers if their vehicles are close to crossing into oncoming traffic. Work on the bypass road is expected to be completed Friday.

10:35 a.m. $42M for Hawaiian Programs

Hawaii’s congressional delegation announced that Native Hawaiian education programs will receive $41,815,000 in federal fiscal year 2011 from the U.S. Department of Education.

The programs, according to a press release, include early and pre-school education, Hawaiian language immersion curriculum, recruitment and retention of Native Hawaiian teachers, programs targeted to improve literacy, math and science skills, language arts, the social studies, higher education scholarships, gifted and talented programming, vocational education and culturally targeted drug prevention and education. 

“In the House of Representatives, the new Republican majority eliminated funding for Native Hawaiian education programs this year,” said Mazie Hirono in a statement. “My amendment with Republican Congressman Don Young restored funding eligibility for Native Hawaiian education programs and passed the House by 313-117. While this battle was won, I know that continued federal support for Native Hawaiian education continues to be on the Republican hit list.”

Carroll Runs for Senate as Libertarian

At the Hawaii Libertarian Party Convention on Saturday in Honolulu, John Carroll — who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year as a Republican — said he would seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Dan Akaka in 2012.

A press release from the party says Carroll said “that he felt himself more a libertarian than anything else.”

The party also elected new leaders, including Jim Henshaw as chair (he is a former aide to Sam Slom) and sex workers rights advocate Tracy Ryan, a former chair, as vice chair.

Inouye Worried About Combat Injuries

The Hill reports that Dan Inouye is concerned about injuries “spawned by the weight of gear soldiers carry into combat, but Army brass say the poor health of America’s youth” also is to blame:

The average Army trooper’s gear now approaches 125 pounds, Inouye said, noting a 2001 Army Science Board study recommended no soldier should carry more than 50 pounds at a time. …

Inouye told Army leaders he was “shocked” by a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found musculoskeletal spinal injuries are now “double that of combat injuries.”

What’s more, “musculoskeletal injuries have increased 10 fold in the last four years,” Inouye said. “The cost of medical benefits or disability benefits exceed annually $500 million.”

Gov Talks More About Homelessness

Neil Abercrombie‘s most recent weekly address concerns homelessness. Excerpt:

Our plan includes specific, measurable action items such as: finding mental health and substance abuse treatment for the chronically homeless; ensuring that existing shelters are maximized for capacity and service; coordinating community efforts to maintain clean public spaces. …

The address says nothing about the governor’s expressed view that people should not feed the homeless, which he argues only encourages an attitude of dependency.

Wanted: UH Regents

The Regents Candidate Advisory Council is looking to begin recruiting to fill a vacancy for a Hawaii County seat on the UH Board of Regents.

The council will also begin recruitment this fall to fill vacancies for Kauai County, City and County of Honolulu, at large and student seats, with terms beginning July 1, 2012.

Click here for more on the positions.

Two of Gov. Abercrombie’s nominees for UH Regents were rejected by a state Senate committee earlier this year and withdrew their nominations.

Neighbor Island News

The Maui News reports that state legislators from Maui say they brought home more than $221 million for roads, highways, bridges, harbors, schools and other Maui projects:

“That was a big chunk of money for us,” said Rep. Angus McKelvey, D-West Maui-north Kihei. …

Senate President Shan Tsutsui said that he and Sen. J. Kalani English worked with Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Legislature to secure a total of about $2.9 billion over the next two fiscal years for the projects most important to local communities, such as highways, schools, harbors and hospitals.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the governor agrees that West Hawaii pays a disproportionate percent of property taxes on Hawaii Island, and “we Democrats have to do something about it, and do something now,” he told party supporters Saturday in Kailua-Kona:

“That tells me, as governor, that the property values on this side are such that it ends up with the tax coming that way even though the majority of population is elsewhere,” Abercrombie said.

The governor didn’t specify exactly what it is Democrats should do “now” about the long-standing situation.

The Garden Island reports that the Land Use Commission unanimously approved Mahaulepu Farm‘s Important Agricultural Land application dedicating 1,533 acres of the South Shore for agricultural use:

“We are pleased that the LUC has approved the dedication of such a significant amount of our lands for agriculture,” Warren Haruki, president and CEO of Mahaulepu Farm, said in a Grove Farm press release.

“It is our continued hope that more of the fruits, vegetables, and other ag products that Kauai uses can be grown on the island for a more sustainable future. This is a small step toward the future objective of eat local — growing what we eat on Kauai.”

End-of-the-World Preacher in Town?

The Independent of the United Kingdom reported Sunday that Harold Camping, the 89-year-old preacher who said the world would end on Saturday, may be in hiding in Hawaii:

No-one came to the door of Camping’s family home, on a leafy street in Alameda, California, when The Independent called this morning. The blinds were drawn, and two old cars parked in the driveway. Neighbours said he’d last been seen leaving in a white SUV at 10am on Saturday. Rumour had it that he’d hot-footed it to either Hawaii, or his childhood home of Boulder, Colorado.

Catch up on previous coverage:

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