West Maui Projects Focus of Advisory Meeting Tonight in Lahaina

By Wendy Osher

Several West Maui projects will be the focus of tonight’s (Wednesday, January 27, 2010) meeting of the Governor’s council of neighbor island advisors for Maui.

A county engineer will give an informational presentation on the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control project, DLNR managers will present an update on projects at the Lahaina Small boat harbor, and the Governor’s Maui Liaison, George Kaya will update the public on Highway projects in West Maui. The council will also elect a new vice chair to replace Carl Lindquist who, along with his wife Rae, was lost in a flash flood in Hana on Thanksgiving night.

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui meets tonight, Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 5:00 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Maui.  The public is invited to attend.

Guest speakers will include:  Joe Kreuger, engineer from the County of Maui Engineering Division; Nicholas Giaconi, Maui District manager of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and George Kaya, the Governor’s Maui Liaison.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

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Lindquist Post to be Filled, West Maui Projects Presented

By Wendy Osher

Several West Maui projects will be the focus of the next meeting of the Governor’s council of neighbor island advisors for Maui.

A county engineer will give an informational presentation on the Lahaina Watershed Flood Control project, DLNR managers will present an update on projects at the Lahaina Small boat harbor, and the Governor’s Maui Liaison, George Kaya will update the public on Highway projects in West Maui. The council will also elect a new vice chair to replace Carl Lindquist who, along with his wife Rae, was lost in a flash flood in Hana on Thanksgiving night.

The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui will meet on Wednesday, January 27, 2010, 5:00 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Maui. The public is invited to attend.

Guest speakers will include:  Joe Kreuger, engineer from the County of Maui Engineering Division; Nicholas Giaconi, Maui District manager of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and George Kaya, the Governor’s Maui Liaison.

Governor Linda Lingle created councils of neighbor island advisors to give neighbor island residents a stronger voice in state government. The Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui holds monthly public meetings to seek community input, advise the Governor of important issues and make recommendations for state boards and commissions.

The members of the Governor’s Council of Neighbor Island Advisors for Maui are: Madge Schaefer (chair), Kathryn Ghean, John Henry, Lori Ululani Sablas, Gail K. Takeuchi and Leona Rocha Wilson.

Maui Pineapple Saved With Newly Formed Company: Haliimaile Pineapple Company, Ltd.

January 1,2010 marks a new day for pineapple production on Maui, as a team that includes five former Maui Pineapple Company executives assume operations of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc.

The five join Ulupalakua Ranch’s Pardee Erdman in running the newly named Haliimaile Pineapple Company, Ltd. The new company will officially assumes operations tomorrow, January 1, 2010 and will continue to grow and market fresh pineapple under the established Maui Gold® Brand.

HPC has purchased and licensed key assets, and leased farm land, equipment and buildings from ML&P with plans to serve the Hawaii market.

“We are proud to continue the 100 year legacy of pineapple on Maui,” said Darren Strand, president and CEO of the new company.

“Haliimaile Pineapple Company brings new hope for a new year by immediately saving 65 agricultural jobs with an expectation of adding more in the future,” said Strand.

Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares responded to the announcement this afternoon saying, “I am extremely grateful to the company for their commitment to continue Maui Gold pineapple on Maui. I was excited to hear that nearly 70 employees will retain jobs associated with Haliimaile Pineapple Company and I’m confident that the new company will find success.”

“The company founders, shareholders and directors are to be commended for their work in making this happen. Since first learning about this effort, I’ve been very excited about the possibilities. The fact that jobs are saved and pineapple farming continues is absolutely great news for our county,” said Mayor Tavares.

Governor Linda Lingle also welcomed the news saying, “I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with preservation of 65 agricultural jobs and the prospect of creating more jobs for our residents in the long-term. The new company and the ongoing cultivation of pineapple on Maui will help stimulate our economy and also inject a boost of confidence in what has been a challenging year.”

Key shareholders and directors in the new company include Pardee Erdman, owner of Ulupalakua Ranch; Doug Schenk, former president of Maui Pineapple Company; former vice presidents of MPC, Doug MacCluer and Ed Chenchin; and current operating directors for MPC, Darren Strand and Rudy Balala. The group brings over 150 years of combined expertise in growing and packing premium pineapple on Maui.

HPC will consolidate its plantation, fresh fruit packing facility, cold storage, and shipping operations in Haliimaile to maximize efficiency and product quality. Company officials say they will continue to provide the highest quality of fresh pineapple to local hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets while increasing its direct consumer business.

ILWU Local 142 Maui Division Director, Willie Kennison said, “We are grateful to Haliimaile Pineapple Company for saving these jobs to make this a happy New Year for so many Maui families.

In a news release today, company officials said they would hire existing ML&P employees and the ILWU will continue to represent the company’s workers.

ML&P Chairman and Interim CEO, Warren H. Haruki said, “We are gratified to see the continuation of pineapple farming on Maui. The new company’s simplifie3d business model and targeted local market, along with the flexibility and cooperation of the ILWU are key ingredients for their future success,” Haruki said.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

State Moves Closer in its Plan to Ship Wind Energy From Maui to Oahu

The state is seeking bids from companies interested in linking Maui County to Oahu using a system of undersea cables.

 

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File Photo by Wendy Osher. Governor Linda Lingle (L) touring the Kaheawa Wind Power facility in Maalaea in February of 2008.

The proposed project was unveiled a year ago when the state entered into an agreement with Hawaiian Electric companies to connect the islands into one electrical grid, allowing renewable wind power generated in Maui County to be transmitted to Oahu for consumption.

 

Those opposed to the project rejected the concept of valuable resources begin shipped off island; and argued that resources should benefit the respective islands first.

 

Governor Linda Lingle voiced her support for the project saying, “The interisland cable project is an important piece of infrastructure needed to achieve the goal of the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.”  “We are committed to making sure all environmental, economic, cultural and community issues are fully addressed,” she said.

“As the most oil-dependent state in the nation, a clean energy future is no longer simply a desire, it is an absolute necessity.  The State-Hawaiian Electric energy agreement represents a bold step towards achieving energy security, and the progress made over the past year demonstrates that Hawai‘i can serve as a clean energy role model for the rest of the nation,” said Lingle.

Hawaiian Electric Executive Vice President Robbie Alm said, “This achievement – and achievements yet to come – depend on an unprecedented unity of purpose and willingness to cooperate among individuals, businesses, institutions and government in Hawaii.  Whether oil prices go up or down, we must stay focused on making the long-term investments to get to a clean energy future.”

In September, the PUC issued its decision and order on the feed-in tariff principles, which provides a price guarantee for electricity produced by sun, wind and hydroelectric sources that Hawaiian Electric companies will pay for renewable energy fed into the electricity grid.  The set rate under the feed-in tariff provides an incentive for renewable energy developers to invest in Hawai‘i by creating certainty and transparency.

In addition, Clean Energy Scenario Planning and Advanced Meter Infrastructure or “Smart-Grid” (planning ahead to enable more distribution of renewable energy on the grid) are among the other PUC proceedings underway.

Maui already has a 30 megawatt wind farm located in the hills above Ukumehame.  First Wind’s Kaheawa facility became the first operating wind farm in the United States to have a habitat conservation plan.

The EIS for the Undersea cable project will consider the impacts from the installation, operation, maintenance, possible repair, and potential long term development envisioned for the interisland power cable, mitigation strategies, and alternatives.  A contract award is expected by the end of this calendar year.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information provided by the Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii)

Save Our Schools Pushes For Special Legislative Session To Lift Furlough Fridays

A group of concerned citizens will hold another rally on Maui this Thursday to drum up support for a special legislative session aimed at repealing the state’s furlough Fridays at public schools.

The Save Our Schools campaign will be circulating a petition calling for the special session.  Event organizer Liza DeLaRosa Walker called the furloughs “unacceptable” and wants lawmakers to look at dormant relief funds to supplement the shortfall in the Department of Education.  The group is urging Governor Linda Lingle and state lawmakers to hold a special session to come up with alternative funds to cover the 17 imposed furlough days.

“The children of Hawaii should not pay for this state’s budget deficit with the loss of their education,” the group said in a press release issued today.

The rally will be held Thursday October 15, 2009 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Hana Highway and Dairy Road intersection in Kahului.  A similar event held last week drew an estimated 60 participants.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

Governor Lingle Responds to HSTA Furlough Vote

Governor Linda Lingle praised Hawaii’s teachers for ratifying a new contract that will result in 17 unpaid furlough days off, equating to an approximately 8 percent pay cut.

File Photo by Wendy Osher.

File Photo by Wendy Osher.

Lingle said she realizes it is not what teachers, students, and families had hoped or planned for, “but it reflects the state’s economic and fiscal realities.”

“They understand that everyone must make a shared sacrifice to help our state get through this difficult period and for State government to live within its means,” said Lingle.

The state DOE and the Board of Education have been working together to determine how to realize a 14 percent savings imposed by the governor to help close the growing budget shortfall.

There will be two furlough Fridays per month beginning on October 23rd with the exception of three furlough days in the December.

“The furlough days will present challenges, but like other situations, our residents will come together to kokua, and ultimately come up with real, common sense solutions.  Moreover, I know the private sector will jump in to help, especially in the area of day care,” said Lingle.

“I am confident our teachers will remain committed to their students and will find innovative ways to make the best of these challenging circumstances to ensure our children get the best possible education,” Lingle said.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Lingle Statement provided by the Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii)

LINGLE CALLS HGEA OFFER UNACCEPTABLE; NON-UNION LAYOFFS MOVED FORWARD TO SEPT. 16

Governor Linda Lingle will hold an emergency meeting with her cabinet directors over the weekend to identify additional spending reductions needed to close the growing budget shortfall.  Today, Lingle said reductions will likely include additional layoffs in order to realize labor savings.

Governor Linda Lingle.  File Photo by Wendy Osher.

Governor Linda Lingle. File Photo by Wendy Osher.

The meeting comes on the heels of a reduced revenue forecast that is projected to result in an additional $98 million deficit over the biennium.

In a statement today, Lingle called the Hawaii Government Employees Association “unrealistic” in its position on the administration’s latest offer.  “We must take the difficult step of identifying additional spending cuts, including a possible further reduction in force,” said Governor Lingle.  “This is not something we want to do, but something that is necessary to meet our constitutional responsibility to balance the budget,” Lingle said.

“I continue to believe that furloughs would be preferable for both the state employees and the public.  After discussions between our negotiating team and the HGEA and providing them with what we considered to be a very fair plan, I truly believed that we were very close to reaching an agreement that would have avoided layoffs.  However, we cannot accept the response we received from the union leadership yesterday,” Lingle said.

Lingle said the State had made a similar offer to the United Public Workers (UPW) prior to the Council on Revenues meeting and received no response.

Given the size of the budget shortfall, the Governor indicated the additional reductions would be substantial and focus on a major restructuring of departments and state government, including the possible elimination of some programs and services.

Governor Lingle also announced the three-day furlough for roughly 900 non-union employees will start on September 16, 2009.

Initially Lingle had planned to furlough non-union employees in alignment with the furlough of union employees.  “Since the HGEA’s offer is not acceptable,” Lingle said the furlough of non-union employees will move forward.

(Posted by Wendy Osher, Information provided by the Office of Governor Linda Lingle.)