HART loses chief financial officer, planning deputy

(Via Star Advertiser)

                                Construction continued on the rail line along Kamehameha Highway from Aiea towards Aloha Stadium, as it crosses the Aiea Interchange No. 4 next to the Aiea Cemetery in this Dec. 5 photo.


    Construction continued on the rail line along Kamehameha Highway from Aiea towards Aloha Stadium, as it crosses the Aiea Interchange No. 4 next to the Aiea Cemetery in this Dec. 5 photo.

Another Oahu rail official has left the project.

Diane Arakaki resigned and departed as the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s chief financial officer on Dec. 15, according to the rail agency’s latest monthly status report. Arakaki was HART’s CFO for more than four years.

Attempts to reach Arakaki for comment Thursday were unsuccessful, and a HART spokesmen said he didn’t have a reason for her departure.

She’s the latest of more than a dozen prominent personnel to leave HART in the past two years — a trend that has raised concerns among the agency’s board, Honolulu’s mayor, and, most recently, outside officials conducting a peer review for rail’s federal partners.

Last week, a team with the American Public Transportation Association visited HART’s Honolulu offices and rail construction sites to review how well the project is being managed. Their report is due out in mid-February, but among their preliminary findings the team cited a “loss of institutional knowledge due to staff turnover,” said Krishniah Murthy, HART’s interim executive director, who started work Dec. 5.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell testified before the HART board last month that he had asked his staff to compile a list of those who recently left the agency and the salaries they earned.

“Many of them that left were some of the most highly compensated people in the city,” Caldwell told the board at its Dec. 15 meeting. “It begs the question: Are they leaving because of pay, or are they leaving because of management?”

With rail costs and schedule delays increasing, “it’s probably not the best place to work,” Caldwell added. “We want to keep those folks” and make HART a better working environment.

HART leaders, including board Vice Chairman Terrence Lee, have also expressed concern over the agency’s “revolving door.”

HART has offered the CFO position to someone who has accepted but hasn’t yet signed an employment agreement, agency spokesman Bill Brennan said. That person, Arakaki’s replacement, is tentatively scheduled to start in February, he added.

Additionally, HART’s former deputy director of planning, Jon Nouchi, left the agency the day after Arakaki, Brennan said. Nouchi’s LinkedIn social media profile lists him as joining HART in May 2014. He’s now deputy director for the city’s Department of Transportation Services.

HART is proceeding with its search for a permanent CEO to take over in about a year, board member Colbert Matsumoto said.

Source: Star Advertiser

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Hawaii lawmakers tackle emissions, housing, budget

(Via Hawaii News Now)

Hawaii lawmakers are introducing dozens of bills to solve the homelessness crisis and increase affordable housing. They’ve got a proposal to issue $2 billion in state-backed bonds to develop public housing, shelters and apartments.

They’re rushing to file hundreds of bills ahead of a legislative deadline as they head into their first full week of the 2017 session.

Some are calling for 100 percent renewable energy from gas companies and the transportation sector. Another bill calls for dramatic reductions in greenhouse emissions.

They’ll also hold budget hearings about the amount of money going to education and to the counties.

Gov. David Ige will deliver his State of the State address Monday, outlining his priorities for the year. Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald will deliver the State of the Judiciary speech Wednesday.

Source: Hawaii News Now

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Downed trees, blown roofs, power outages: Strong wind gusts create mess across state

(Via KHON)

Strong wind is creating quite the mess across the islands this weekend with wind gusts reaching up to 60 mph.

It’s kept the Honolulu Fire Department busy Saturday. As of 9:15 p.m., firefighters have had to respond to 72 weather-related incidents: 48 blown roofs, 20 downed trees and three power line issues and one report of arcing wires.

Power outages have also been reported across Oahu and on Maui. Hawaiian Electric reports at least 35,000 of its customers were affected by at least 50 wind-related outages throughout the day.

In Manoa Valley, many homes wound up with roof damage and several residents in Hawaii Kai weren’t able to leave their apartment due to the weather.

Folks living in an apartment complex on Hahaione Street got quite the surprise when they woke up Saturday morning.

“I heard a huge crash and I told my husband something broke,” said Phyliss Francis-Wigfall. “It sounded like something fell.”

Strong winds blew the top off the covering of one parking stall and tossed the metal sheet onto another one nearby. The debris blocked in dozens of cars and narrowly missed others.

Joseph Wigfall heard the commotion and initially thought it was thunder. “It was so scary, my daughter jumped out of bed and ran into the room,” he said. “That was some serious wind last night and this morning.”

Over in Manoa, power lines snapped and were left dangling. Trees and roofs were battered, too, with a tree uprooted and toppled over, and shingles blown off the roofs of houses that lay scattered on the ground.

The home of Mike Chung even had its solar panels ripped off. “It was really loud,” Chung said. “We heard the rumbling, we heard the wind coming down, and we heard some rattling on the roof and then something flew off.” He was told the panels were supposed to have withstood winds up to 100 miles per hour.

Hawaiian Airlines also reports two round-trip flights to and from Lanai from Honolulu have been cancelled due to windy weather.

The travelers who were scheduled to board those two flights on Saturday were not put in a hotel. KHON2 was told they all had a place to stay.

Sustained winds on Lanai are currently 43 mph.

Source: KHON

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Boracay businesses inspected for clean water compliance


Several businesses operating on Boracay island will be asked to respond to findings of environmental violations in their water systems, an environment department official said Thursday.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources inspected several “big hotels” in Boracay and will be sending show cause orders to companies that were found non-compliant with the Clean Water Act, Environment Undersecretary Art Valdez said.

These include Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, one of the largest hotels on the island, he said.

“With that, it will send a signal to everybody that they have to protect and maintain the recreational quality of Boracay,” Valdez said in a press conference.

Boracay was recently named the “best island in the world” by international luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler for its “powdery white sand and shallow azure water ideal for swimming and snorkeling.”

Source: ABS-CBN

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SWS: 51 percent agree Duterte’s cursing bad for int’l ties

(Via GMA)

A little more than half of Filipinos agree that President Rodrigo Duterte’s habit of cursing foreign leaders was harmful to the country’s international relationships, a recent Social Weather Stations survey showed.

The survey of 1,500 adults conducted nationwide on December 3 to 5, showed that 51 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that his habit of publicly cursing foreign or international officials whom he did not like “was harmful to the relations of the Philippines with the countries or institutions of those officials.”

Thirty-three percent of the respondents thought it was not, while 17 percent were undecided.

The survey asked how much the respondents agreed with the statement—whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, were undecided if agree or disagree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree.

Twenty-seven percent of the respondents said they strongly agreed while 24 percent said they somwewhat agreed.

Eighteen percent said they strongly disagreed while 15 percent said they somewhat disagreed.

The survey has a sampling error margins of ±3 points for national percentages, ±4 for Balance Luzon as well as ±6 points each for Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.

Some of the foreign officials Duterte has cursed include outgoing US President Barack Obama and United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

Duterte had choice words for the world leaders after they expressed concern over the thousands of extrajudicial killings blamed on his war on drugs.

He also had expletives for Pope Francis when he was still campaigning for the presidency.

Duterte, nonetheless, maintained a “very good” net public satisfaction rating among Filipinos this quarter.

Results of the same survey showed that the net satisfaction rating of the president this quarter was placed at +63 dropping by only one point compared to his rating in September of +64. —NB, GMA News

– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/592576/news/nation/sws-51-percent-agree-duterte-s-cursing-bad-for-int-l-ties#sthash.NaAomzTF.dpuf

Source: GMA

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