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Rejection

August 28th, 2014
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Cam Cavasso, a former state lawmaker who is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, tweaked U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Thursday after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a disaster declaration for Tropical Storm Iselle on Hawaii island.

After the Democratic primary between Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa went into overtime because of the storm, the senator flew to Puna and helped deliver water and other supplies to storm-ravaged residents. Schatz also wrote letters to President Barack Obama and to FEMA supporting a disaster declaration.

Cavasso suggested that Schatz, who touted his ties to the Hawaii-born president during the primary, should have done more to help the state obtain federal aid.

Senator Schatz's campaign advertisements seem to imply he has a direct line to President Obama. The rejection of the disaster declaration shows the people of Hawaii that Schatz has no influence where it matters most, and that is to obtain what is necessary for the people of Hawaii.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said Thursday that they are working to gather the information necessary for an appeal of FEMA's decision.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, whose district includes Hawaii Island, said she also was disappointed in FEMA's ruling, but she will work to pursue other avenues of assistance for the community.

Her full statement:

"I am deeply disappointed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency decided to deny Governor Abercrombie's request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration, which would have helped so many families in Puna who are still recovering from Hurricane Iselle. It was clear to me during my visit in Puna that assistance is absolutely necessary. While this denial is a setback, it should not discourage us from seeking all other options for assisting our friends and neighbors in Puna. I will continue to work to identify the immediate next steps and pursue alternate forms of assistance, as well as work toward a long-term approach to confront the invasive albizia tree that contributed to much of the damage in Puna.

"In the wake of this disaster, I have been inspired by the dedicated efforts of all those who came together to help the Puna community recover and heal—from the utility workers who worked tirelessly to restore power and water, to the many volunteers who provided food, ice, and other donations. I remain committed to a full recovery in Puna."

`You are my strength'

August 28th, 2014
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie, in a heartfelt address on Thursday evening at his Kakaako campaign headquarters, told his supporters that they have provided the strength to sustain him over five decades in politics.

Former Gov. John Waihee introduced Abercrombie as the titular head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and said that the governor's leadership would be necessary for Democrats such as state Sen. David Ige and state Rep. K. Mark Takai to win in the November general election.

Ige, who trounced Abercrombie in the Democratic primary, is up against former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Hawaii Independent Party candidate, in November.

Takai is facing former congressman Charles Djou, a Republican, in urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District.

Abercrombie did not mention Ige in his 20-minute remarks. Instead, he urged supporters to pass a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would allow public money to be spent on private preschool. The amendment is a key component of Abercrombie's plan to eventually offer preschool options to all of the state's 4-year-olds.

The governor traced his time in the islands since he first arrived from Buffalo, N.Y., in 1959 -- the year of statehood -- and celebrated an aloha spirit that embraces diversity. Mostly, though, the governor expressed his gratitude to supporters who have stood by him over the course of his political life.

"I cannot conceive of my life without you," he said. "Your faith and trust, your support and encouragement, has sustained me and lifted me up."

Abercrombie recalled previously telling supporters during one point in his campaign: "You are my strength. And I mean that and I say that from the depths of my soul. You are my strength."

The governor did not discuss any future plans after he leaves office in December. "My pledge to you tonight is that I'm going to keep on with that sense of purpose and that sense of direction that has been the guiding light for me for these past five decades," he said. "That every opportunity that I have to be able to honor the strength of that faith and trust every opportunity I have, tonight and whatever nights are given to me -- whatever days and nights are given to me in the future -- you can count on me.

"You can count on me because of the love that I feel in this room, that we have for each other, and that we have for Hawaii.

"I mua Hawaii."

Rally caps

August 28th, 2014
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Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona held a rally and fundraiser for his Republican campaign for governor on Thursday evening at Aloha Stadium.

The suggested donation was $20 to $50 for individuals and $500 to $2,000 for businesses.

Aiona is facing state Sen. David Ige, a Democrat, and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a Hawaii Independent Party candidate, in the November general election.

`Overreaching'

August 28th, 2014
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday that he was given no damage assessments from Hawaii island during the primary that indicated widespread evidence that Tropical Storm Iselle was causing voting problems outside of the two precincts in Puna that did not open that day.

In a letter to the state Elections Commission, Abercrombie acknowledged that he had the emergency power under state law to adjust the hours for voting, suspend the hours of voting, or fix other hours of voting through an election proclamation.

But the governor said he received no evidence that Puna residents outside of the two precincts that were closed could not get to their polling stations.

"In the absence of such reports, any action by me as governor to adjust or suspend the hours of voting would have been overreaching the powers vested in me by" state law, he wrote.

Scott Nago, the state's chief election officer, has said he had heard a request by state Sen. Russell Ruderman (D, Puna) to extend voting hours because of storm damage in other precincts. Nago said he relayed Ruderman's concerns to the state Attorney General's Office to inform Abercrombie. Nago told reporters last week that he did not know why the governor did not act.

But Nago also said he did not receive any objective information from Hawaii County officials to justify extending the polls.

Dismissed

August 28th, 2014
By



The state Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed three legal challenges to the primary election, including a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii on behalf of six Pahoa voters who claimed they were denied their constitutional right to vote by the state's actions in response to Tropical Storm Iselle.

Readers can check out the rulings in:

Lathers v. Abercrombie

Cermelj v. Nago

Waikiki v. Nago