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

4:50 p.m. Japan Gov’t Urges Aloha Wear

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Japanese government has introduced a “Super Cool Biz” campaign (it begins today) that advocates wearing Hawaiian shirts, T-shirts and sandals to work as a way to save electricity this summer:

The launch of the campaign, which includes a fashion show coordinated by the environment ministry and Uniqlo department store, encourages government employees to abandon their dark suits and for the light-weight shirts and respectable-looking jeans, chinos and polo shirts to prevent a human meltdown this summer.

But for many government officials, who collectively shudder at the thought of shedding the protective armor of their suits, embracing such casual wear is taking matters one step too far — even in the absence of air conditioning.

2:23 p.m. Money Released for Education Projects

The Abercrombie administration has released millions of dollars approved by the Legislature for DOE and UH projects. They include:

• $3 million for design and construction of an all-weather track and field facility at Waiakea High School on the Big Island.

• $1.2 million to renovate chorus classroom at Highlands Intermediate School on Oahu.

• $2.5 to UH at Manoa, Cancer Research Center of Hawaii.

• $3.1 million to University of Hawaii Maui College, Science Building.

• $4.1 million for the construction of a system-wide InformationTechnology Center at UH Hilo.

Many of the CIP projects were requested by area lawmakers through investments paid for by using the state’s bonding power.

2:07 p.m. Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the Hawaii County Council yesterday unanimously approved a policy requiring take-home radios for police officers:

Currently, police officers called to an emergency must drive to a police station and check out a portable radio that’s shared among shifts.

“This is a basic safety issue for police officers. This is our lifeline,” said Sgt. Juergen Canda, one of a half-dozen State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers attending a hearing of the council Committee on Human Services, Social Services and Public Safety. “Without it, you’re not going to get backup.”

The Garden Island reports that yesterday the Mayor Bryan Baptiste Memorial Bridge was dedicated despite massive traffic jams:

Completion of the new Wailua Cane Haul Bridge Widening Project will greatly improve the quality of life for Kauai residents and enhance our visitors’ experience by helping to relieve traffic congestion along Kuhio Highway, according to the state Department of Transportation.

But on Tuesday, the day that Mayor Bryan Baptiste Memorial Bridge was dedicated, it was a different story. A long line of slow-moving cars southbound on Kaumualii Highway greeted guests and dignitaries to the bridge’s dedication.

The Maui News reports that more visitors from Canada and the West Coast are improving visitor arrival numbers on Maui:

The key figure, as far as Maui is concerned, is that visitors from western states, the bulk of the island’s business, are spending $12 a day more than they did last year. This despite predictions that high gasoline prices are causing travelers within Mainland states to sharply cut back on their other purchases while on vacation.

12:53 p.m. Help for Homeless Vets

Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye have announced the awarding of $593,000 in federal funds to two Hawaii community service organizations that help homeless veterans reintegrate into the workforce and establish civilian careers.

Honolulu-based Network Enterprises was awarded $293,000, while the Mental Health Association in Hawaii, with offices on Oahu and Maui, will receive $300,000.

Inouye said in a statement:

“We have a very visible epidemic of homelessness in Hawaii, but what many may not realize is that a disproportionate number of those living on the streets are veterans. These men and women volunteered to put on the uniform and defend our country. We must do all we can to provide job training and support services to help our veterans provide for themselves, their families and the community.”

11:05 a.m. Utilities Bill Now Law

The governor informed the state Senate yesterday that he signed into law Senate Bill 1347, which allows an electric utility company to use an “automatic rate adjustment clause” to meet revenue requirements “when aggregating renewable portfolios.”

SB 1347, now Act 69, also requires the Public Utilities Commission to begin to accept filings and applications in paper form and electronically.

The measure was supported by DBEDT, DCCA and Hawaiian Electric Co., and passed easily in both legislative chambers.

But at least one environmental group warns that electric rates can now be raised without consumer intervention.

Gov Declares June Pride Month

In full, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Questioning Pride Month.

The proclamation reads in part:

WHEREAS, Hawaii’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Questioning community and their Allies have added to Hawaii’s unique and diverse tapestry in a positive and productive manner since Hawaii’s diversity defines the Aloha State and should not divide.

“What a difference a year makes,” says Michael Golojuch, Jr., chair of Honolulu Pride. “Last year we could not even get the previous administration to even return our multiple requests.”

Pride Month kicks off on Saturday with a parade from Magic Island through Waikiki to Kapiolani Park.

GOP Criticizes House Reps on Debt Vote

The Hawaii Republican Party released the following statement yesterday on the U.S. House of Representatives voting against raising the U.S. debt ceiling:  

“This vote was a clear example of what fiscally responsible leadership for out nation looks like. I applaud the 82 Democrats who joined Republicans in this bi-partisan vote against passing more irresponsible debt on to our children,” said Jonah Kaauwai, Chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party. “Unfortunately, our own Representatives, Hirono and Hanabusa, once again displayed how out-of-touch they are with reality by voting in favor of unconditionally increasing our national debt. Congresswomen Hirono and Hanabusa are clearly part of the problem in Washington and have offered no solutions other than spending more money. This vote alone is a good reason why Congresswoman Hirono does not deserve or belong in the U.S. Senate.”

Congress Celebrates Kamehameha’s B-Day Once Again

The Hill reports that yesterday evening the U.S. House approved a non-controversial resolution allowing space to be used in the Capitol Visitor’s Center to be used to commemorate King Kamehameha‘s birthday:

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) said approval of the resolution marks the 42nd time Congress has celebrated Kamehameha’s birthday, which is June 11. “This is Hawaii’s way to share its most unique history with all,” she said.

Kamehameha was born around 1758, and is credited with unifying the Hawaiian islands by 1810. President Obama issued a proclamation last June 10 on the bicentennial of the unification.

Molokai Anti-Wind Group Forms

The Molokai Dispatch reports that there is a newly formed working group comprised of Molokai residents opposed to the proposal to develop a 200 megawatt industrial scale wind power plant to serve the energy needs of Oahu:

It’s called IAM, which stands for “I Aloha Molokai.”

The paper reports this statement from the group:

IAM is not against renewable energy or the state’s mandate to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuel. We support having a fair process that will allow the community to influence the direction and outcome of the project and seek collectively other options and solutions that may help Molokai as well as Hawaii become less dependent on the importation of fossil fuel.

DOH v. Pepsi

The Department of Health yesterday issued a press release announcing a public-awareness campaign “to highlight the health impact of increased consumption of sugar sweetened drinks.”

The campaign — titled “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat” — is coordinated through the Kauai and Maui District Health Offices’ Communities Putting
Prevention to Work initiative, which is using a $3.4 million grant.

Among other things, the campaign will promote consumption of locally grown produce in schools, grocery stores and restaurants; and encourage more physical activity.

The DOH says adult obesity in Hawaii has almost doubled between 1995 and 2009, from 10.8 percent to 22.9 percent. The state spent $290 million in 2003 alone on obesity-related medical costs.

The Abercrombie administration was unsuccessful in pushing a tax on sugary drinks through the Legislature this session.

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