Watching and reporting about Hawaii politics and government.

4:55 p.m. New GOP Chair: ‘Imperative That We Unite’

Beth Fukumoto released the following statement this afternoon following the resignation of her predecessor, Jonah Kaauwai:

“First and foremost, I want to acknowledge Jonah’s resignation and thank him for his service to the Hawaii Republican Party.

During his term, Jonah worked to create a vital grassroots network within the Hawaii Republican Party. I personally have been intimately involved with many of these grassroots organizations, and Jonah’s efforts to build them will be a good foundation.

Now, as we move forward, I want to echo Jonah’s statements that the Party membership works together to “ensure the longevity of the Party for years to come.”

I feel it is imperative that we unite and continue building toward a better future for our party and the State of Hawaii. It is our responsibility as Republicans to make sure that the voters of Hawaii have a diversity of voices that will only lead to better government and a more prosperous Hawaii.

I look forward to working with my fellow Republicans to fulfill that responsibility to elect more Republicans in 2012 and beyond in order to have a meaningful two-party system.

4:28 p.m. UPDATE: Paia School Groundbreaking

Alan Arakawa and Shan Tsutsui were on hand for the groundbreaking and dedication ceremony for a new cafeteria at Paia Elementary School.

Because the school’s 70-year-old cafeteria was destroyed in a fire six years ago, students have had to eat their lunches in shifts in a smaller building on campus.

4:05 p.m. OHA Offers Oahu Outreach

KITV reports that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs plans to offer monthly outreach services in Kapolei.

The outreach will include providing information on services including grants, scholarships, loans … and nation-building.

In that last regard, OHA will also accept on-site registration for its Hawaiian Registry Program.

10:55 a.m. GOP’s Kaauwai Resigns

Jonah Kaauwai, the embattled chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, has stepped down.

Kaauwai informed the party of his intentions this morning. The party subsequently sent out this tweet (@gophawaii, 698 followers):

At about 10:15am this morning, Hawaii Republican Party Chairman Jonah Ka`auwai formally resigned as chair. Please share your thoughts here (and keep them PG-13, please).

Reached by text, Kaauwai referred media inquiries to Dylan Nonaka, the party’s former executive director. Nonaka could not be immediately reached, but a person at GOP headquarters confirmed Kaauwai’s departure.

Last week, top Republicans urged Kaauwai to quit, arguing that Kaauwai had failed to get more Republicans elected.

Beth Fukumoto has been named interim chair.

Read the full story.

10:15 a.m. China-U.S. Tourism Summit on Big Isle

The U.S. Travel Association and the China National Tourism Association are holding a summit at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows today.

Brian Schatz and Mike McCartney addressed the attendees.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is pushing to increase Chinese tourism to the islands, but visa hassles make travel difficult for many.

9 a.m. Gov’s Aide Arrested, On Office Probation

Tim McBroom, a special assistant to Neil Abercrombie, was arrested at a Waikiki bar over the weekend for allegedly refusing to leave.

In a statement, the administration said, “Mr. McBroom is very regretful that this has happened. The action of the office will be to place him on three-months probation.”

Meeting: Reapportionment

The 2011 Reapportionment Commission will meet this afternoon at the state Capitol for deliberation and decision-making on drawing boundaries of political districts.

Read Nanea Kalani‘s story on what’s involved with the new maps.

Abercrombie Back from Paris

The governor is scheduled to return today from his 10-day vacation in France.

Star-Advertiser columnist Lee Cataluna thinks that “Neil and Nancie” should have celebrated their 30th anniversary in Hawaii Nei rather than Paris, given tough economic times and the state’s tourism industry.

Blogger Ian Lind counters that Cataluna took a cheap shot at the governor and his wife, and offers his own jab at Hawaii columnists living in other states.

Gov Defends Emergency Powers, Again

On Friday, Neil Abercrombie‘s communications director, Josh Levinson, emailed a weekly update on behalf of his vacationing boss. The topic was emergency declarations, an issue that underscores the administration’s challenges regarding power and transparency.

The email includes a link that details the five times emergency power has been used by Abercrombie — twice regarding the March tsunami, and once each for nene protection, ordnance cleanup and highway stabilization.

An excerpt from Levinson’s (ahem) email blast:

In each of these cases, the health and safety of people was at significant risk. For example, during the last two weeks the Army Corps has found and detonated 2 unexploded hand grenades and a 57mm Japanese mortar during a sweep for unexploded ordnance at Hapuna Beach on Hawaii Island. Without the emergency proclamation signed by the Governor in June, it is likely that these explosive devices would still be on the beach today.

Tax Department: GET ’Er Done

Over the next three weeks, DOTAX will be sending letters and emails to General Excise Tax licensees who had previously claimed exemptions or deductions.

The 2011 Legislature, you’ll recall, passed Act 105, which suspends 23 general excise and six use tax exemptions and requires DOTAX to gather information and report “on all exclusions or exemptions of all amounts, persons, or transactions.”

Click here for more information.

Groundbreaking: Paia

A groundbreaking ceremony and blessing for the construction of a new cafeteria at Paia Elementary School will take place this morning on Maui. The new building replaces the 70-year-old cafeteria that burned down in 2005.

“As the school continues to grow, this much needed cafeteria will benefit all children at Paia including those in the Hawaiian immersion program at the school,” said district senator Kalani English in a press release.

Geothermal: Money pit or money maker?

Check out the latest in Neighbor Island government-related news:

Use up for Maui women’s shelter but agency struggles with funding

Kekaha Lihue sugar mills to be demolished

Kauai food bank to launch investigation

Geothermal: Money pit or money maker?

U.S. Postal Service aware mail a “lifeblood” for rural Maui County

Hawaii County sues rubbish haulers

Big Isle papaya farmers eye threats

Kauai Council heats up over resolution on salary freeze

Maui under stress; reported abuse cases increased 37 percent last year

Waimea trail eligible for federal funding

West Hawaii diver, fisherman in dropped-anchor dispute


Input sought on Kauai pedestrian plan; concerns identified

Maui shoppers using own bags, hands

Sheehan to Kauai County: Don’t waste money fighting me in court

Maui Adult Day Care set to bless new Kihei facility

Catch up on previous coverage:

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