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

4:21 p.m. Grant for Homeless Initiative

The Hawaii Community Stabilization Initiative, which represents nearly a dozen donors and foundations, is providing a one-year grant of $116,500 to the Abercrombie administration to address homelessness.

The grant, administered through the Hawaii Community Foundation, will be used for several proposed initiatives, including rapid housing and supportive services for people who are chronically homeless, and to develop a “housing first” project that focuses on permanent housing.

“Following Governor Abercrombie’s call for collaboration during these difficult times, the Hawaii Community Foundation has joined our concerted effort to end homelessness in Hawaii,” Marc Alexander said in a statement.

3:32 p.m. Hirono Calls for Warren Appointment

Mazie Hirono has announced that she has joined 87 of her colleagues in sending a letter to Barack Obama urging him to appoint Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The bureau was created under the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

In a statement, Hirono said:

“We need a strong voice advocating for consumers in Hawaii and across the country—that voice is Professor Warren’s. I met her last week and no one is a more forceful or articulate advocate for strong consumer protections. As a law professor she originated the idea of a single consumer watchdog agency with real teeth. Professor Warren has done a great job in starting up the new agency as an Assistant to Treasury Secretary Geithner. She deserves to be the Bureau’s first Director.”

Senate Republicans have opposed Warren’s appointment.

2:15 p.m. Social Services Budget Crisis on ‘Insights’

Dan Boylan‘s “Insights” on PBS tonight assesses the health of the state’s safety net for those who depend on social services agencies and nonprofit services.

A promo for the show states:

Advocates for programs that include assistance to needy families, mental health support, the elderly and the prevention of domestic violence contend that the severe budget cuts are shortsighted without enough thought given to the long-term consequences.

The guests are Jan Dill, David Derauf, Jerry Rauckhorst and Alex Santiago.

11:39 a.m. Special Session for Legislature Still Possible

The governor has informed legislative leadership that the administration is waiting until the June 30 report on actual tax collections to determine whether a special session is necessary after all.

If the fiscal 2011 revenue shortfall is below -2.5 percent, a special session is unlikely; if the shortfall is greater than -2.5 percent, a special session is likely; and if the shortfall exceeds -3.5 percent, a special session is probable.

The May 26 Council on Revenue projection maintained the status quo, prompting the governor at that time to say a special session was not necessary.

Neighbor Isle Gov’t News

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that, starting July 1, it will cost most people $1 to ride a Hele-On bus as Hawaii County ends more than six years of free islandwide transportation:

That’s the decision of the County Council, which voted 6-3 Wednesday to reverse its May 17 rejection of Mayor Billy Kenoi‘s fee proposal.

Kenoi still needs to sign the bill, or allow it to take effect without his signature, for the fares to become law.

“I really feel this (original) vote was an unintended consequence,” Kau Councilwoman Brittany Smart said in changing her position by voting to support $1 one-way fares.

The Garden Island reports that the Kauai Department of Water yesterday announced the initiation of construction for three projects that are part of its $100 million Water Plan 2020:

The three projects — encompassing Eleele, Waimea and Wainiha water systems — represent nearly $4 million in renovations, rehabilitation and new construction to upgrade Kauai’s water systems, county officials said.

The Eleele project involves rehabilitation of the twin steel tanks along Kaumualii Highway, including painting, new fencing, asphalt, a retaining wall, landscaping, relocation of a reservoir overflow line and the replacement and installation of various valves. DOW contracted the work to Oceanic Companies.

“Water quality is already good over there, but the project will give more life to the existing tanks by fixing it before it degrades,” DOW Water Works Projects Manager Dustin Moises said.

Maui Weekly reports that Maui lawmakers are spreading the word on how they brought home more than $221.2 million for improvements to Maui County’s aging infrastructure:

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.

Funding for capital improvement projects on Maui, Molokai and Lanai includes $38.2 million for a host of repairs and improvements at Kahului Airport; almost $49 million to make gas shipments to Kahului harbor easier and cheaper; another $35.1 million to upgrade Lanai’s airport runway; plus $35 million to continue the Honoapiilani Highway realignment in Lahaina, according to CIP lists provided by Sen. Tsutsui and Rep. Mele Carroll‘s offices.

The total list for Maui County includes 55 projects, including improvements to highways, bridges and harbors, particularly along Hāna Highway. Several school projects, such as King Kekaulike High School’s new auditorium, were approved as well.

The Molokai Dispatch reports that there is one vacancy and another anticipated on the volunteer Molokai Planning Commission:

DeGray Vanderbilt had been nominated in April by Mayor Alan Arakawa to serve on the MoPC. Vanderbilt withdrew his name, however, just as the County Council voted to approve his appointment. Several community members, including members of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, had offered testimony in opposition of his nomination, primarily because of concerns over his residency.

Vanderbilt, who has previously served on the MoPC for five years, said via email that he withdrew his name because “I didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the Commission by allowing the Chamber to cast dispersions on one of its members.”

Vanderbilt said he originally applied for the position when he heard about the vacancy and that the commission was having trouble getting quorum to hold meetings. Five of the nine commission members are required to be present for quorum and legal voting.


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