Government Buys Superferries
In case you were wondering what became of the Alakai and her never-launched sister ship the Huakai, here’s your answer: they were purchased in late September at a Virginia auction by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for $25 million apiece.
That would be the same MARAD that was owed close to $140 million by the now-bankrupt Hawaii Superferry Inc., which was controlled by J.F. Lehman & Co., which was founded by former Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman. So: the government bought a pair of boats it basically already owned, using a loan given to a company backed by a former high-ranking government official. Dizzy yet?
And how does MARAD plan to employ the ill-fated catamarans? No official word yet, but according to an October 12 Pacific Business News dispatch, the agency is “exploring options regarding the best use of the vessels.”
Abercrombie Announces New Lt. Gov. Duties
What exactly does the Lieutenant Governor do? It’s a common question and—other than, hang around in case something happens to the Governor—there’s no clear answer. Gubernatorial hopeful Neil Abercrombie provided one last week, explaining in a press conference and subsequent news release the role that Brian Schatz would play in his administration.
“The days of the Lieutenant Governor not being given meaningful responsibility are over,” Abercrombie said, a not-so-subtle swipe at his Republican opponent, Duke Aiona, who has spent the last eight years as Hawaii’s number two. “There are significant opportunities through federal grants that will meet our community’s immediate needs. The key is competing for these grants successfully. Brian has a proven record in this arena.”
Specifically, Schatz would head up the Hawaii Fair Share initiative, aimed at landing the state gobs of Washington cash. Schatz said he’s “excited” about the opportunity to “shore up everything from health care services to small business assistance to ocean and atmospheric programs.”
In a statement responding to the announcement, Aiona dismissed the initiative as “another layer of bureaucracy” and—taking Abercrombie’s bait—defended his “close working relationship” with Gov. Lingle, which he said is “based on teamwork and collaboration.”
Texas Woman Awarded Millions In Suit Against Maui McDonald’s
In November 2007, Beverly Munguia of San Angelo, Texas, slipped and fell at the McDonald’s on Dairy Road. Almost three years later, a jury awarded her $5.67 million.
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal District Court, Munguia suffered “a burst compression fracture of the L1 vertebrae, and other serious physical injuries,” which resulted in “prolonged physical pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.” The cause of the accident? Something had been spilled on the floor and, the suit claims, McDonald’s failed to clean up the mess.
In a written statement quoted in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, store owner Grelyn Rosario called the award “excessive.” It is double what the old lady who burned herself with coffee got, but that was 1994 dollars.
DOH Offers Free Flu Shots
Last year at this time, seasonal illness was dominating the headlines as fear of swine flu (or the less comically menacing H1N1, as public officials tried desperately to rebrand it) spread faster than a sneeze in a crowded room. This year, experts are predicting a milder cold and flu season—but vaccines are still recommended.
Starting this week and running through December 2, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) is offering free flu shots to students and faculty at schools statewide. DOH Director Chiyome Fukino said the H1N1 scare is proof the flu can be “unpredictable,” and urged everyone age six months or older to get a shot.
The vaccines being offered protect against the 2009 H1N1 strain and two other types of flu. For more information, visit www.stopfluatschool.com
Kentucky Coach Disses Maui Invitational
As the Valley Isle prepares to host another Maui Invitational, at least one college coach isn’t looking forward to participating. On October 11, Kentucky’s John Calipari told The Advocate-Messenger he “didn’t like” the annual tournament, which he said the team is “locked into.”
“The games after that are hard,” Calipari said. “It takes away from what you have at home. That’s what you buy into. Instead of having 31 games, you have 30. That one game for this program is $600,000.”
Forget that the Invitational is a rare chance for Maui sports fans to see high-level basketball close to home; Calipari can’t be expected to care about that. But it’s interesting that he’s suddenly so concerned about his school’s bottom line, when he agreed to a $31.65 million contract last year that made him the highest-paid coach in college basketball and, according to ESPN, included perks like two cars and “membership to the country club of his choice.”
But we understand—those all-expenses-paid trips to Hawaii are such a backbreaker.