Familiar Maui Faces Resurface on 2010 Campaign Trail

By Wendy Osher

Some familiar names have surfaced on the campaign trail as election season gets underway on Maui.  While as many as 20 people had pulled papers, only two had filed for candidacy so far, according to the last candidate report issued Thursday, February 11, 2010 by the State Office of Elections.

Board of Education Maui Representative Mary Cochran filed papers to run for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia Council seat that will be vacated by Councilmember Mike Molina, whose term limit expires this year.  Others pulling papers for the seat include: Kahekai Nishiki and Leona Nomura, both of Haiku.

Term limits for Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson also leaves the West Maui seat up for grabs this year.  Five people have already pulled papers for the seat, with Lahaina resident, Alan Fukuyama going one step further by filing papers for the post.  Those pulling papers are: Eve Clute, Eleanora Cochran, Jonah Kapu and Paul Laub.

Other Familiar faces include Former East Maui Councilman Robert Carroll who pulled papers for his old seat; and former candidate Don Couch who pulled papers for the South Maui seat he sought in 2008.

The only incumbent Councilmember to pull papers was Michael Victorino, who currently represents Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu on the County Council.  Those seeking office have until July 20 to file nomination papers.

In the race for Mayor, three people have pulled papers since the Office of Elections opened candidate filing on February 1, 2010.  Those pulling papers include:  Valarie Aquino of Lahaina, Orion Kopelman of Kula and Harold Miller of Kihei.

In the race for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional House seat currently held by Rep. Mazie Hirono, three Maui residents and one Honolulu man have pulled papers.  They are:  Patric Brock (L) of Kihei, Antonio Gimbernat (R) of Makawao, Andrew Von Sonn (N) of Paia, and John Willoughby (R) of Honolulu.

Three Maui residents have pulled papers for House Seats including: Natalie Kama (D) of Wailuku for District 8; Ramon Madden (R) of Lahaina for District 10; and George Fontaine (R) of Kihei for District 11.

The Primary Election is set for September 18 with the General Election on November 2, 2010.


Mayor Tavares Meets with Obama and Economic Advisory Team

Mayor Charmaine Tavares is scheduled to meet with President Obama and members of his economic advisory team today, Thursday, January 21, 2010.  The discussion is part of the 78th meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors that is focusing on economic conditions, unemployment, transportation and jobs.

The conference runs through Friday, January 22, 2010 in Washington D.C. Also attending will be Hawaii’s other three mayors.

Mayor Tavares will also be meeting with U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, and U.S. Senator  Daniel Akaka while in D.C. to share information on how the county is dealing with the economic downturn.

“Our congressional delegation is interested in hearing what the financial situations are for each county,” said Mayor Tavares. “I’ll be updating them on how Maui County is faring and continue our ongoing efforts to seek federal funding opportunities. Staying in contact with our delegation has yielded millions of dollars for our county as they assist us in matching our needs with what’s available in federal programs and funding. ”

“This is part of how we work to maximize all funding avenues to benefit Maui County,” said Mayor Tavares. “By reaching out to our federal partners and our congressional delegation and keeping them abreast of Maui County’s needs and challenges, they in turn can help identify program and funding opportunities for us. This is important – pursuing all available resources doesn’t end at our shores.”

Mayor Tavares is a member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Stafford Act Task Force, chaired by Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans. The Stafford Act, also known as the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, gives FEMA responsibility for coordinating government-wide relief efforts in disasters. The Stafford Act was created to bring orderly means of federal natural disaster assistance to state and local governments.

“Reforming the Stafford Act to ensure that existing federal policies don’t impede the recovery of communities from disasters is important whether you’ve experienced something as devastating as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as New Orleans did, or if facing the potential of a catastrophic natural disaster that could hit Hawaii,” said Mayor Tavares.

“With our state being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, having efficient and effective support from FEMA is critical to our recovery efforts. Major brush fires in our county and such large incidents as the earthquake that impacted Maui in 2006 have already proven how necessary it is to have FEMA support ready and available. We need to ensure that the agency’s capabilities keep improving,” said Mayor Tavares.

The Stafford Act Task Force was formed in 2009. The task force presented its work outlining its recommendations for reform to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Wednesday.  Upon approval by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, these recommendations will then be presented to President Obama’s administration and to Congress.

Conference speakers include members of President Obama’s Cabinet. Scheduled to speak are: Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information provided by The County of Maui)

Tour Bus Access Route Planned At Haleakala National Park

Accessibility improvements are planned at Maui’s Haleakala National Park and Molokai’s Kakahaia National Wildlife Refuge.

The Maui project will get funding for the planning and design of an accessible route for tour bus passengers along Kuloa Point within the Haleakala National Park boundaries.  Funding for the Molokai project will go towards paving the entrance road to Kakahaia National Wildlife Refuge.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono announced funding for the projects today.  The design and construction work is made possible through a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program.  Funds are being used for a total of six projects throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Other projects include:

  • Various improvements including paving, drainage, and stabilizing a retaining wall at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai
  • Plan and design for rehabilitation of two miles of Mauna Loa Road as well as improvements for pedestrians at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii
  • Rehabilitate the paved secondary roadway entrance to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park on Hawaii and re-gravel a parking area that serves the Park; and
  • Provide parking/traffic flow and pedestrian safety at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai

Established in 1930, the Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program is intended to improve access to and within the Federal lands of the nation, such as forest highways, public land highways, Indian reservation roads, park road and parkways, and refuge roads.  The PLHD program works to ensure a connected system of roads that serve local, regional, and national needs by providing resources to each of the land management agencies responsible for the 590,000 miles of public roads and highways across America.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Supporting information provided by the office of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono)

Honouliuli Internment Camp Study Among Items in Proposed Bill

The U.S. House passed an Interior Appropriations bill that helps to secure $12.3 million for six Hawaii projects.  Congresswoman Mazie Hirono lobbied for the inclusion of the projects that at aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat, combating invasive species, protection island waters, and preserving historical sites.



Surviving structure at the Honouliuli Internment Camp. August 28, 2009. Photo courtesy: Office of U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.


Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono is briefed by Brian Niiya of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii at the Honouliuli Internment Camp site on Oahu. August 28, 2009. Courtesy Photo.

Another highlight of the bill was the inclusion by Senator Inouye of an authorization for a special resource study of the site of the former World War II era Honouliuli Internment Camp. This will accomplish the goals of Senator Inouye’s Honouliuli Internment Camp Special Resources Study Act of 2009 (S. 871); Congresswoman Hirono introduced the House companion to that bill (H.R. 2079). The study will determine the historical significance of the Honouliuli site related to the forcible internment of Japanese Americans, European Americans, and other individuals.


“I consider every one of these projects essential in preserving our island environment, natural resources, and historic locations,” said Congresswoman Hirono. “I recently visited the site of the Honouliuli Internment Camp where some of the camp structures still stand. While the confining of Japanese-Americans during World War II is seen as a dark chapter in Hawaii’s history, and the history of our country, preserving such locations is important to ensure that type of injustice never happens again.”


Specific projects included in the bill are:


$7,400,000 for James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

This funding will be used to finalize the acquisition of remaining land (to a total of approximately 1,100 acres) on Oahu’s north shore in order to complete the establish of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge as a natural coastal dune and wetland ecosystem. Established in 1976, James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is considered one of the premier endangered Hawaiian waterbird recovery areas in the state.


$1,460,000 for Construction of a Research and Education Center at the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest

These funds are an addition to the U.S. Forest Service’s budget designated to establish and build a Research and Education center necessary to achieve the potential of the recently established Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest on the island of Hawaii.  The new facility will serve as a center for long-term research as well as a focal point for developing and transferring knowledge and expertise for the management of tropical landscapes.


$1,000,000 for Invasive Species Management

This represents additional funding to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife budget to continue its ongoing efforts to address invasive species issues in the State of Hawaii. These funds are needed to reduce the impact of invasive species already present and the potential of future introductions on Hawaii’s endangered species, insular ecosystems, and human health, as well as the viability of its tourism and agriculture-based economy.

$1,000,000 for Kilauea Point Lighthouse Restoration

This funding will go toward the cost of restoring Kilauea Point Lighthouse, which is part of the Kilauea Point Light Station National Historic Site on this island of Kauai. The lighthouse, which was built in 1931 has national significance as a historical landmark based on its associations with the evolution of trans-oceanic commerce, architectural merit, special role in the history of the Army’s Air Corps, and contribution to the island’s visitor industry.


$1,000,000 for Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

These funds will assist the County of Kauai in meeting design and construction costs for expansion of the Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant on the island of Kauai. The total project cost is $12,000,000. The Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) was originally constructed in the 1970s and has a capacity of 300,000 gallons per day (gpd), an average daily flow. Currently, the plant is operating at approximately 90 percent capacity, and the County is restricting new sewer service connections due to the lack of available WWTP capacity. Funds are needed to expand the capacity of the WWTP by approximately 700,000 gpd.


$500,000 for Native Hawaiian Arts and Culture Program

This funding will help fuel the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program in order to foster a greater sense of cultural awareness and ethnic pride among Native Hawaiians. NHCAP’s efforts are focused on assisting Hawaiians to be practitioners of the culture in a rapidly changing multicultural world. The program also aims to share knowledge of and celebrate Hawaiian art and culture, which include educational programs, exhibits, publications, and increased access to Bishop’s Museum’s vast cultural collections (artifacts, documents, and images).


The legislation passed out the House by a vote of 247 yeas to 178 nays.


(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by the office of U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono)


Federal funding has been secured to launch a coral reef study on Maui.  Congresswoman Mazie Hirono requested the $184,815 to help identify the causes of the dramatic decline in the health of the coral reef in Maui’s Ma’alaea Bay.

Maalaea Harbor File Photo by Wendy Osher.

Ma'alaea Harbor File Photo by Wendy Osher.

The likely sources of pollution identified as possible contributing factors include but are not limited to:  nearby agricultural production, livestock grazing, migration of wetland biomatter, boating activities, electrical plant operations, and wastewater disposal methods.  That according to information released by Congresswoman Hiriono’s office.  Additionally, overfishing of reef fish that graze on algae may also contribute to the decline in overall reef health.
The goal of the project is to provide the public with long-term planning tools to better protect coral reefs throughout the State of Hawaii.  The effort will include the investigation, interpretation and publication of the causes and effects of the decline in Ma’alaea Bay’s healthy and complex reef habitat.

“I am proud to have secured this important funding for the County of Maui as we must do everything we can to protect our islands’ bays and beaches,” said Congresswoman Hirono.  “In 1972, Ma‘alaea coral reefs were described as striking in their diversity and in the presence of rare coral species. In just a few decades, the reef has been transformed from a healthy and diverse coral ecosystem to a badly degraded habitat overgrown by algae, with little surviving coral. This study should answer the question of why and of what we must do to reverse the degradation of the reef,” said Hirono.

The County of Maui will administer the grant. The funds were included in the FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 1105) that was signed into law on March 11, 2009.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)


Two Maui projects are set to receive more than a million each in federal funding.  Maui is set to receive a total of $2.2 million in federal funding for the design of a Municipal parking garage in Wailuku and the construction of a renewable energy resource center in Kihei.

The grant awards were announced this morning by U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.  Funding for both projects is being distributed through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

An estimated $1.2 million goes toward the design of the Municipal parking garage project in Wailuku.  The structure is expected to address problems with lack of sufficient parking and at the same time, help to revitalize and generate new business for the commercial core of Wailuku.  The EDA funding will also be used for an environmental assessment.

A separate $1.06 million will be used for the construction of a Renewable Energy Resource Center in South Maui.  The center is expected to help the island diversify its economy by supporting development of renewable energy businesses that are designed to use Hawaii’s abundant natural resources.  The renewable sources include solar, wind, and wave energy, as well as algae and other crops used to generate biofuels.

(Posted by Wendy Osher, Information provided by the office of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono)


Congress approved a measure today to revive the popular Cash for Clunkers program by extend funding.  U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawaii joined more than 300 other representatives in voting today to increase funding by $2 billion, a move that is expected to boost sales by an additional 800,000 vehicles.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawaii voted today in support of extending funding for the popular Cash for Clunkers program.  File photo by Wendy Osher.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono of Hawaii voted today in support of extending funding for the popular Cash for Clunkers program. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The program allows consumers to trade in their old, gas-guzzling cars for vouchers worth up to $4,500 to help pay for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Nearly 200,000 vehicles had already been purchased through the program before funding ran out.

“It is clearly a successful and popular program…One dealership on ‘Oahu’s windward side reports making 20 ‘Cash for Clunkers’ deals in the program’s first week,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

“These additional funds will maintain the increased purchasing power of island drivers who are looking to upgrade their vehicles.  And with this added support, island auto dealers project some 3,300 older automobiles will be taken off Hawai‘i roads and replaced with 3,300 more fuel efficient vehicles by the end of the year,” Hirono said.

The legislation provides rebates for cars and trucks in the following four categories:

  • Passenger Cars: The old vehicle must get 18 mpg or less. New vehicles with improvement of at least 4 mpg will get a $3,500 voucher. New vehicles with improvement of at least 10 mpg will get a $4,500 voucher.
  • Light-Duty Trucks: The old vehicle must get 18 mpg or less. New vehicles with improvement of at least 2 mpg will get a $3,500 voucher. New vehicles with improvement of at least 5 mpg will get a $4,500 voucher.
  • Large light-Duty Trucks: The old vehicle must get 15 mpg or less. New vehicles with improvement of at least 1 mpg will get a $3,500 voucher or trade-in of a “work truck.” New vehicles with improvement of at least 2 mpg will get a $4,500 voucher.
  • Work Trucks: The old vehicle must be a pre-2002 model. New vehicles in the same or smaller weight class will get a $3,500 voucher.

The initial bipartisan legislation was supported by a coalition that includes the AFL-CIO, UAW, car dealers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by the office of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono)