Will Cochran’s Checkered Past Affect Her Future?
The recent revelation, first reported in The Maui News, that Elle Cochran was involved in an attempted robbery sixteen years ago raised a number of questions. Chief among them: what, if anything, will this do to her bid for the West Maui Council seat? Cochran got the most votes in the September 20 primary and—with the endorsement of popular termed-out incumbent Jo Anne Johnson—looked like the clear frontrunner. Now, even after the County Clerk dismissed a challenge to her candidacy, things are less certain.
Reached for comment, Cochran called the disclosure a “relief.” She said she’d wrestled with how—and if—she would bring up the issue. Ultimately, she said she decided not to talk about it on the advice of retired Judge Boyd Mossman—the same judge who sentenced her to probation and community service in 1994.
Cochran said the incident—which involved her boyfriend at the time threatening a group of tourists with a gun at the Lahaina Cannery Mall—occurred during “a dark period” in her life. “I made mistakes, some very bad choices,” she said. “But I’m not that person today.” Asked if she felt it was unfair to her primary opponents to not mention the arrest, she said that it was always a matter of public record and already known by her friends, associates and parts of the community. “I’ve been prepared to address this,” she said. “I’ll answer any questions people may have.” At the same time, she added, “I hope we can focus on the important concerns of today, and move on.”
Haleakala Telescope Spocks ‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid
Deadly asteroids aren’t just the stuff of sci-fi flicks and dinosaur extinction theories—they’re also a very real danger. In fact, UH scientists, using a specialized telescope on Haleakala, have spotted one that could be on a collision course with Earth. Don’t start building your bomb shelter just yet, though—“2010 ST3” won’t pose a threat until 2098, and then it’ll likely burn up in the atmosphere before it does any damage.
Still, the asteroid—which is 150-feet in diameter—has been classified as a “potentially hazardous object.” And even if this particular space rock doesn’t make a deep impact, it demonstrates the importance of monitoring the skies and the unique capabilities of Hawaii’s observation facilities. UH Manoa’s Dr. Robert Jedicke called the Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope, which allowed scientists to view the asteroid from more than 20 million miles away, “the most sensitive system” in the world. “I congratulate the Pan-STARRS project on this discovery,” added Dr. Timothy Spahr of the Massachusetts-based Minor Planet Center. “It is proof that the PS1 telescope…is capable of finding [things] that no one else has found.”
So what happens when Pan-STARRS discovers “potentially hazardous objects” (other than back-patting press releases)? According to UH, “NASA experts believe that, given several years’ warning, it should be possible to organize a space mission to deflect any asteroid that is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth.” Cool.
Feds Freeze Local Hiring Law
Encouraging contractors to hire local workers is a good thing. That’s a fairly uncontroversial statement, but a law aimed at doing exactly that has brought federal finger-wagging on Hawaii.
Act 68, which requires public construction projects to employ at least 80 percent Hawaii residents, was vetoed by Gov. Lingle in April. At the time, Lingle called the bill “ill-defined, ambiguous and complex,” but the legislature overrode her veto. Now, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is siding with Lingle. A memorandum from Mark Chandler, director of HUD’s Honolulu field office, said Act 68 “is in violation of HUD procurement regulations,” which “prohibit the use of statutorily or administratively imposed in-state or local geographic preferences.” Chandler said the issue has been kicked up the ladder to HUD’s general counsel, and that until a decision is made Act 68 is moot.
Lingle, naturally, didn’t miss her chance to hit lawmakers with an I-told-you-so. “I encourage the legislature to take immediate steps to repeal these two laws since they place federally funded public construction projects in Hawaii in jeopardy and could even subject the state to fines and penalties for violating federal procurement rules,” said the Governor in a statement. “In addition to the legality of an ambiguous residency quota and procurement preference, I vetoed these measures because they discourage job creation, delay and increase the cost of public construction projects and stall our economic recovery.”
Rough Waters For Young Bros.
Last week, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines the go-ahead to carry inter-island cargo. In its ruling—made after a protracted deliberation—the PUC said it “recognizes the value of encouraging competition.” Not sharing that sentiment? Young Brothers, which currently rules local waters. In a statement, Young Brothers said it was “surprised and disappointed” with the decision, which applies “a lesser set of rules and service expectations [for Pasha], while Young Brothers is required to deliver to a much higher standard of service and frequency.”
“If competition is the goal, then regulation should be eliminated,” said company President Glenn Hong. “Until last week’s decision by the PUC, regulated inter-island cargo service had been based on the needs of the neighbor island communities, not on the convenience of any regulated carrier. This has now changed.”
Maui Health Care Facility Sued For Age Discrimination
A federal agency is suing a local health care provider, claiming that a woman employed at the company’s Kahului facility was a victim of age discrimination. The 54-year-old woman was working for Hawaii Healthcare Professionals in 2008 when, according to the suit, she was fired by the company’s owner, Carolyn Frutoz-de Harne, who allegedly said she sounded “old on the telephone” and looked “like a bag of bones.”
“Unfortunately, this is a scenario that we see all too often,” said attorney Anna Park of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Park said the EEOC “absolutely can and will hold employers accountable for this type of blatant age bias.”
This week, Frutoz-de Harne told Pacific Business News that Hawaii Healthcare Professionals employs people “ranging in age from 20 to 75” and that the suit has “no merit.”