Yep, We’re A Disaster
Even Hawaii residents whose homes and property were impacted by the March 11 tsunami probably feel like they dodged a bullet, particularly in light of the still-unfolding crisis in Japan. But we were hit, and last week President Obama declared parts of the state a “major disaster” area, meaning we’re eligible for federal funds.
Gov. Abercrombie formally requested assistance on March 25 after assessments found more than $30 million in damage statewide, and dispatched Lt. Gov. Schatz to D.C. to lobby on Hawaii’s behalf. The declaration—which covers portions of Maui, Oahu and the Big Island—funnels money toward affected government and nonprofit facilities and makes special “hazard mitigation” grants available.
Meanwhile, the County announced this week, Maui’s private property owners can apply for help through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s disaster loan program. Outreach centers will be set up in Kihei and on Molokai; for more information visit sba.gov.
When cultural practices and modern law clash, modern law usually wins. An exception to that rule is pending on Oahu, where lawmakers are considering a bill that would exempt pai ‘ai, or traditional poi pounding, from Department of Health (DOH) restrictions.
If SB101—which cleared the House and is awaiting final Senate approval—becomes law, poi pounders could sell their product directly to consumers without a permit, though they would have to comply with some DOH regulations, including hand-washing requirements.
DOH initially opposed the bill, but after various revisions state health director Loretta Fuddy now says she supports it “with reservations.” In written testimony, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) praised DOH “for working with the community to find a solution to this important issue.”
“The traditional practice of hand-pounding poi is enjoying a powerful resurgence today,” wrote OHA. “We must nurture this movement.”
Making His Case
The question is never whether Ed Case is seeking public office, but merely which office he’s after. The current answer: U.S. Senator. Case—a former Congressman who also served in the state legislature—is trying again for Sen. Dan Akaka’s seat, which he ran for and lost in 2006 (angering some party heavyweights including Sen. Dan Inouye in the process). The key difference this time is that Akaka isn’t running.
On March 11, Akaka announced he won’t try for a fifth term in 2012; almost exactly a month later, Case became the first Democrat to officially toss in his hat. He won’t be alone for long—other potential contenders include former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (another former Case foe) and Rep. Mazie Hirono.
In announcing his candidacy, Case took a swipe at the climate in Washington, which he said “pits politics against people.” And if there’s anything Ed Case knows well, it’s politics.
A bill that would have legalized Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha style poker in Hawaii—and allowed online poker companies to base their servers in the state—died before it reached the House Finance Committee … The state Department of Health is investigating two possible cases of dengue fever in East Maui, and mosquito-control efforts have already begun … Thieves broke into a van owned by Maui Academy of Performing Arts and stole three large puppets used in the troupe’s educational traveling show The Further Adventures of Tikki Tikki Tembo. Anyone with information is asked to call 244-8760.