Power Strikes and Monkeypod Trees
March 10, 2011 | 09:42 AMFlexing Their Power
Citing dissatisfaction with issues like retirement benefits and sick leave, nearly 1,300 members of Hawaii's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260 walked off the job last week, even as storms knocked out power for thousands of residents.
Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) initially said the strike "hurts everyone," especially customers dealing with outages. Republican Rep. Kimberly Pine of Oahu took things a step further, calling on the Governor to declare a state of emergency. "It is unacceptable for union members to put their pay before the safety of my community," said Pine in a statement posted on the House minority blog. "This is like emergency workers walking off the job during a hurricane."
Union leaders, meanwhile, accused HECO of stalling negotiations and handing out raises to management and non-union workers. "It's like everybody's getting something except the guys who are doing the work," IBEW rep Lance Miyake told KITV.
This week, HECO announced the two sides had reached a "tentative settlement" pending union approval. In a statement, Gov. Abercrombie—who, despite the support he received from IBEW during the campaign, mostly avoided taking sides in the dispute—praised "the efforts by the two sides to reach an agreement" and urged "a speedy ratification vote."
A plan to cut down four monkeypod trees along South Kihei Road has some residents up in arms, though County officials say it may be necessary to avoid further damage to the sidewalk, street and a nearby parking lot.
The flap began after Parks Department arborist David Sakoda determined the trees—located in the County right-of-way by the Maui Schooner Resort—were planted in too small an area and have created a "hazardous" situation. Sakoda said removing only the roots isn't an option, since that could destabilize the trees.
Not everyone agrees. Various groups, including the Kihei Community Association and the County's Arborist Advisory Committee, have called for more discussion before any action is taken. They'll get a chance on Monday, during a meeting called by South Maui Councilmember Don Couch. Couch says the meeting, set for 6pm at the Kihei Charter School, will solicit "comments and concerns from the community and [seek] alternatives." Representatives from the Mayor's office and the Parks Department have been asked to attend.
Park It Here, Paia
To call the parking situation in Paia a crisis might be hyperbole, but not by much. This week the tension was alleviated at least partially by the opening of a revamped, 85-space lot behind Charley's. Once free and pothole-pocked, the lot is now paved—and no longer free. Parking costs $1 for the first half-hour and $2 for every hour thereafter. After 5pm, there's a $5 flat rate.
Of course, as anyone who's driven from one end of town to the other on a busy Saturday evening can attest, 85 spots aren't going to solve the problem. Enter developers Henry Spencer and David Spee, who in conjunction with Mana Foods are set to open a 100-stall gravel lot near the post office later this month and eventually plan to create a permanent, 230-space lot (along with housing and other commercial developments).
"As promised, the County is working with the private sector in order to get things done faster," said Mayor Arakawa in a statement. "This is one way we can help, especially when it comes to projects like this [that] have an immediate benefit for the community."
Water They Waiting For?
For three months, beachgoers at Launiopoko Park have been unable to shower and have had to use portable toilets due to a broken waterline under Honoapiilani Highway. And the dry spell isn't going to end just yet.
The County blames the delay on slow-to-arrive parts from the Mainland and claims the line will be fixed by the end
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