October 02, 2013 | 01:59 PMARAKAWA WINS ANOTHER LABOR ENDORSEMENT
Looks like Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, who I guess is technically still a Republican even though the local elections are nonpartisan–has racked up another labor endorsement. Last year, it was Willie Kennison of ILWU Local 142 who posed for a grip-n-grin shot with Arakawa. This year, it's William "Willy" Greig of Operating Engineers Local 3's Hawaii office who's giving Arakawa the nod.
"Mayor Arakawa has demonstrated his unwavering support for hard-working men and women of Maui County and worked tirelessly in revitalizing our local economy," said Greig in a Sept. 25 press release sent out by Lynn Araki-Regan, Arakawa's campaign manager. "Because Mayor Arakawa has always stood up for us, we are proud to be among the first to stand up for Mayor Arakawa. Mayor Arakawa earned this early endorsement. And, Mayor Arakawa deserves this early endorsement."
Then again, the endorsement itself isn't really a surprise. State Campaign Spending Commission reports show that way back on June 22, 2012, the Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry Stabilization Fund–a political action committee it says on its website was set up to "fully represent the interest[s] of the Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 and Hawaii's Leading Contractors"–donated $1,500 to Friends of Alan Arakawa.
If that kind of dough isn't an endorsement, then I don't know what is.
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MAUI TOMORROW LAUNCHES CANE SMOKE REPORTING APP
Yes, yes, we all know that the burning of sugar cane in the fields of Central Maui from March to November every year is an old practice that has been on the island a long time and employs 800 people. That it causes some people irritation around eyes, nose and throat areas is a small price to pay for the fact that Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (which is owned by the immensely powerful Alexander & Baldwin) employs 800 people.
Nonetheless, should HC&S cane smoke bother you, filing complaints about excessive ash, dust and ground-level smoke with federal, state and local officials is now easier than ever thanks to a new free smartphone app just launched by Maui Tomorrow, which has been running a program known as Clean Air For Keiki that collected cane burning complaints. Called CleanAirMaui, the new app allows residents to photograph excessive dust, ash and smoke, then tag it with time and location data as well as any explanatory comments the resident wishes to make (photos need to be taken through the app itself).
When filed, the CleanAirMaui "report" is then sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Health's Clean Air Branch and the Maui Mayor's office. The app allows people to post reports anonymously, should they wish. Users can also use the app to look at similar reports filed around the island.
"To make complaints about violations, the department says they need complete information–time, location, photos," said Irene Bowie, Maui Tomorrow executive director, in a Sept. 27 press release. "This app empowers the community with accurate reporting to push for better air quality."
To download the CleanAirMaui app, visit your smartphone's app store. You can get additional information by visiting Cleanairforkeiki.org or calling Maui Tomorrow at 808-244-7570.
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BLACKBURN TO RUN AGAIN
Though the race is 14 months away, Joe Blackburn announced today that he's once again running for the Maui County Council seat representing Wailuku, Waihe'e and Waikapu. Blackburn, a realtor who used to work as a Maui police officer, firefighter and safety director for Maui Electric Co., unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Mike Victorino in the race for that seat last year.
Blackburn's Sept. 27 press release announcing his candidacy is standard fare for Maui candidates, mixing personal resume stuff on his local work and service with a pretty vague discussion of "issues."
"Joe's top issues include water, reclaimed water, recycling, sound fiscal management and promoting a healthy environment–the ability to use common sense when enforcing government rules and regulations," states the news release, which was sent from Blackburn's real estate company email address. "He brings an ability to implement strategies that will achieve sound fiscal management for Maui County's budget."
Blackburn is in an interesting position, even though Victorino thrashed Blackburn last November, 55.6 percent to 27.3 percent. Given the huge advantage local incumbents hold over challengers in Maui races, Victorino probably has every reason to think he'd do it again in 2014–assuming he just decides to run for reelection to his fifth consecutive term–which would be his last, under county term limits.
But Victorino may decide to run against Arakawa for the Maui Mayor's job. He's been vague about that possibility, but that's only to be expected this far out (the fact that the union which employs Victorino's wife has already endorsed Arakawa is an interesting but by no means fatal problem for Victorino).
Should Victorino decide to play it safe and run for reelection, Blackburn's candidacy will likely be disappointing again–especially if he gets outspent as badly as he was in 2012 (Victorino spent about $99,000 that year on the race to Blackburn's $31,000). But if Victorino takes a shot at unseating Arakawa, Blackburn would be in a very good position to win.
But that's all just pre-pre-campaign speculation. In the meantime, Blackburn is starting to raise money (which is probably smart, since his most recent campaign finance report filed with the state shows a $1,177 deficit): on Sunday, Nov. 17, he's holding a golf tournament at Kahili Golf Course. The cost is $130.
For more information, check out Blackburn4Council.com.
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COUNTY PARK RESTROOMS TO GET MAKEOVER
On a final note, remember that guide to the bad state of public restrooms in many County of Maui parks that we ran at the beginning of the year ("Going To The Toilet," Jan. 31, 2013)? Well if the Sept. 29 edition of The Maui News is any guide, at least someone in the county might have taken notice.
"Beginning in November, the county Parks Department will undertake a nearly $1.5 million restroom renovation project, with work done predominantly at beach parks and ballfield complexes around the county, a parks official said," reported the paper. "Although the repairs will take place at 42 restrooms–just a fraction of the county parks' more than 200 restrooms–Deputy Parks & Recreation Director Brianne Savage said the department hasn't taken on such a 'massive renovation' before."
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