Hawai‘i County, Mayor’s Websites Accessible to People with Disabilities

HawaiiCounty.gov and HawaiiCountyMayor.com have been updated with accessibility in mind, enabling those who use assistive technology to more easily browse the web to access information and news about County departments and programs. The under-the-hood streamlining of the websites allows off-the-shelf screen reader software, like JAWS for Windows and the VoiceOver software built into Mac OS, to read the websites aloud for people with sight impairments or difficulty reading.

“The purpose of the Committee is to advise the mayor on a variety of issues regarding the disability community,” said Pauline Aughe, a member of the Committee. “When we can identify the needs of a variety of people, we can be more equipped to create an inclusive society.”

Mahalo to the Mayor's Committee on People with Disabilities for advocating tirelessly for the needs of our friends and ‘ohana with disabilities

Mayor Kenoi said that the website updates were in line with the values of the people of Hawai‘i Island, to ensure fairness and equality for all, especially the most vulnerable members of the community.

“We don’t define each other by our limitations. We encourage each other’s potential and possibilities,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Everybody – every child, every person – should have a feeling that they can dream any dream and be anything they want to be. Our job in Hawai‘i is to make sure that dream can become a reality.”

“We’re fortunate to have a mayor that listened to his advisory committee. Not only did he listen, but he made it happen. He had a can-do attitude and made it a streamlined process,” said Paige De Lima, chairperson of the Committee. “I commend him for that.”

County Offers Home Repair Loans to Low and Moderate Income Residents

From the Mayors Office:

The Residential Emergency Repair Program (RERP) was established by the County of Hawai’i to make low-interest loans available to low-and moderate-income homeowners who are interested in repairing and improving their primary residence.

The RERP loan can be used for roof repairs, electrical and plumbing work, sewer improvements, termite treatment and damages caused by termites or wood rot and the installation of a solar water heating system.

Loans range from $2,500 to $25,000 at 3% interest.  Loan payments are deferred for 15 years at which time full payment will be due.  Applicants 62 years or older or with special needs, may have 30% of the principal balance of the loan forgiven as a grant.   For information contact Dawnelle Forsythe at 959-4642.

Mayor Proposes Extension of Free, County-wide Bus Service

Media Release:

County of Hawai’i Mayor Billy Kenoi is proposing to extend the “Kokua Zone” program to provide free, island-wide bus service on the Island of Hawai’i for another year.

“The free county bus fares are helping our residents to weather these challenging economic times, and are also providing a benefit to the business community by helping to connect workers with employers,” Mayor Kenoi said.

“This program helps our youth by providing them with transportation to sports and other healthy activities, and helps our elderly by connecting them with medical care and other services,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This program should be continued.”

The free bus fares will expire on Dec. 31, 2009 unless the Hawai’i County Council takes action to extend the program. The mayor’s proposal, which was sent to the Council last week, would extend the Kokua Zone program until Dec. 31, 2010.

“This program reduces traffic congestion by getting cars off the road, and improves mobility for people who may not have a means of transportation,” said Mass Transit Administrator Tom Brown. “Because of the vast distances our island residents must travel to get work, school, shopping and health care, the transportation needs are tremendous.”

The bus system has broken one ridership record after another since the fares were waived. Bus ridership was the highest ever in the fiscal year that ended June 30 at about 800,000 passenger trips, and the overall ridership for the mass transit system topped 1 million that year including the county’s shared-ride taxi service and disabled transportation network.

Bus ridership is expected to grow to about 900,000 in this fiscal year, and has been increasing each month. Bus ridership last month set an all-time record with more than 81,000 passenger trips.

Mayor Kenoi Announces Program to Help Families on Furlough Days

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From the Mayors Office:

Mayor Billy Kenoi today announced the County is developing a new service modeled on the popular Summer Fun program to provide supervised activities for school-age children during the 17 days that public schools will be closed because of teacher furloughs.

“We understand the teacher furloughs triggered by the state’s budget problems present a severe hardship for working parents, and our Parks & Recreation staff has been at work all week developing a child care alternative,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We will provide parents with safe places where they can leave their children during the work day, and parents will know their kids will be engaged in fun, supervised activities.”

“Our working families are already under stress during these difficult times, and scrambling to find safe child care on furlough days will only add to the worry,” Mayor Kenoi said. “This low-cost, island-wide program will be good for our youth, and will offer relief to their parents.”

County Parks officials are in discussions with community organizations and churches that are willing to partner with the county to provide supervised activities for students on the furlough days. The County will also recruit volunteers from school A-Plus programs to help staff the County program because those volunteers have already completed background checks and other screening. Other volunteers are also being sought for the new program.

Plans call for the County to open and staff gyms, community centers and other recreational facilities to operate the new program from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on teacher furlough days. Parents would pay a fee of $5 to $10 per child per furlough day to cover some of the cost of the program.

The County plans to adhere to the Summer Fun guideline of one adult supervisor for 20 children, which means staffing shortages could limit enrollment in the County program at some facilities. Parks officials are polling public school officials to try to obtain estimates of how many children are likely to participate.

The County is also investigating what adjustments in the County’s free Hele-On Bus service may be appropriate to accommodate the new program, Mayor Kenoi said.

More details about the program will be released late next week after the County has gathered more data on how many participants are likely to enroll, and which community and church groups will join with the county to provide services, Mayor Kenoi said.

“We want working parents to know they will have an alternative on teacher furlough days, and know their children will have a place to go where they will be busy, safe and supervised,” Mayor Kenoi said.

Mayor Kenoi to Meet With North Kohala Community

Media Release

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s policy of bringing government to all parts of Hawaii Island will continue on Friday, Feb. 13, 12:30 p.m., when he meets with members of the North Kohala community.

The two-hour talk story meeting will be held at the Intergenerational Center makai of Hisaoka Gym at Kamehameha Park in Kapaau.  Among the topics to be discussed are the long-awaited repairs to Hisaoka Gym and an update on the status of the pavilion at Keokea County Beach Park.

Light refreshments will be served.

Dear Mayor Kenoi… Tuesdays Tsunami Drill and Twitter

Twitter provided an excellent form of communication for many people during recent power outages.

I hope the county will look at twitter in the future as a means of communication.

I just sent the following email off to the Mayor:

—————————

Just curious if ANYONE at the county has thought about using TWITTER as a communication device during times of emergency?

During the recent Oahu Power outage, twitter was a vital way for many people to communicate.

I look forward to seeing how the evacuation plays out, however, I suggest that the county look at other ways of communicating directly with the public in the general for releasing immediate information.

——————-

It is interesting looking back now at some of the dialog that was going on during the power outages.  There is several pages of tweets.

Hopefully more and more people will begin using twitter as a communication device.

I just made a tweet about my wife being at farmers market… and a few minutes later I got a tweet back from someone telling me how the weather was there right that second.

Technology can be a great tool if used correctly.  Many people are a bit apprehensive to jump on the band wagon.  That’s ok… your kids and grand kids will be on it soon enough.

Mayor Kenoi Press Conference Tomorrow

Media Release

Press Conference: Mayor to discuss tsunami alert, stimulus package

Tuesday’s island-wide tsunami alert exercise will be the focus of a press conference with Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi at 10 a.m., Friday, January 23, at the Aupuni Center conference room.

Mayor Kenoi will discuss the importance of the exercise and take questions.

Also on the press conference agenda will be Mayor Kenoi’s recent trip to Washington, D.C., where he made the County’s case for its fair share of the proposed federal economic stimulus package.

Mayor Kenoi will also share his reflections on attending the inauguration of President of Barack Obama.

All media are invited to attend. Please call if there are any questions.

What’s New Hawaii County

I got to give a hand to the new Kenoi Administration for working hard on updating the county on what has been going on of late. While the Counties website itself is still archaic the information being provided of late is solid.

If you haven’t checked out the  “What’s New” section of their website, you will find many things have been added and updated since Kenoi’s administration has taken over.

I mentioned previously that the County would soon be getting an updated website previously. It looks like they are tying lose ends and getting ready to upgrade soon enough.

It will be nice to see what the new layout looks like and how user friendly it might be.

Mahalo Mayor Kenoi for keeping things open and easily accessible.

(I’ve even been seeing updates on projects that were done long before Kenoi’s administration took over… yet it’s only getting taken care of now)

Kenoi at Legislature Today Talking About Cost Saving Measures

I just read a Twit from Georgette Deemer of the Hawaii House Blog.

On her blog, she mentions the following meeting today:

House/Senate Informational Briefing: The Counties provide testimony on their proposed budgets to House Finance and Senate Ways and Means. 10:00 a.m. – 12 noon, State Capitol, Auditorium.

Her recent twit stated that both Kevin Dayton and Billy Kenoi are at the Legislature now:

…Mayor Kenoi at the podium now talking about cost saving measures…

*Update* Testimony Here

Kenoi REVIVES Puna Makai Alternative Route (PMAR)

I had highlighted this in a post a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure how many people caught it.

Question: What ever happened to the new highway proposed to run through the fast-growing lower Puna area south of Hilo?

Answer: Community criticism and a vaguely worded regional traffic plan appeared to put the Puna Makai Alternate Route in limbo when the concept was approved in 2005.

But Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi kept the concept alive last month with a request for $2 million for the project as part of a $487 million wish list for federal economic stimulus funds.

The Puna Makai road would serve an area expected to be home to 53,000 people by 2030. Only one highway now leads in and out of the area, and the uncertainty of the situation was shown in 2007 when lava flows temporarily appeared to be a possible threat to the highway…

More Here

Top 10 “DTW” Post of 2008 (pt. 4)

Continued from here.

#1. So the top read post of 2008 doesn’t really surprise me that much. It was an election year and there was a lot of stuff flying around about the Mayoral Candidates.

I posted the following blog the first week I started this blog:

Is a Billy Kenoi Smear On?

Hunter Bishop then posted another blog the next day that followed up on this story that found out that the alleged “Akonipule” was making this allegation from a school in Hilo.

Ten days later, the Hawaii Tribune posted an article:

Kenoi Smear on Front Page of Tribune Herald

I tried my best to figure out who this Akonipule character was by even sending him an email through the Akamai voter site. The following post was the result of that email:

John Akonipule Responds to Smear Question… My Dog Has Been Killed… and other Paranoia

Of course after Billy Kenoi won the election… there wasn’t much for the smear site to attack anymore. So I followed up with this article:

Smear Site No Longer Exists

Many people were very worried about Mr. Kenoi’s Storied past and whether he would make a good Mayor or not.

From the decisions that he has made so far… I think he’s doing a great job as Mayor.

Hope you folks have a great New Year and I hope you continue to follow my blog in 2009.

Damon Tucker

BIVN on Pohoiki Bypass

Big Island Video News just posted an excellent video of the recent Blessing and Opening of the new Pohoiki Bypass.

One of these days, I’m going to learn to stay out of his damn camera shots!  I thought if I stood by him for a good portion of the time, I would be safe.

Pohoiki Bypass Opening and Blessing… Pictures

This morning was the opening of the long awaited Pohoiki Bypass.

phoiki-008

I made it down there just in time after my dentist appointment to snap a few pictures.

My son had his camera along with him… I think I’ll start him blogging as soon as he can start spelling his own words.

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There were about 50 or so people down there to open the bypass.

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Of course Mayor Kenoi cracked jokes about Pohoiki being one of his favorite surf spots.

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It was nice to see Auntie Minnie Kaawaloa and company down there to bless this opening as she literally has lived her life around this land.

Auntie Minnie in White

Auntie Minnie in White

It was nice to see Council Lady Naeole giving some credit to former Councilman Gary Safarik.

phoiki-023

And of course, Mayor Kenoi now has his own Limo Driver at times.

Pohoiki or Bust... Got Surf?

Pohoiki or Bust... Got Surf?

BIVN has posted a video of the event here.

Click on pictures below for larger view:

Mayor Kenoi Shows Face… Media Releases Being Updated Online

I’ve been checking the Counties website the last few days and I just noticed that Mayor Kenoi now has his picture on the Mayor’s Message. Or maybe it’s that I’m the last person in town to find out.

I wish the county would start doing more with their website such as adding an RSS feed. I’d like to see links updated more often as well. I have fired off an email to the county regarding this matter and offered assistance if they were to establish a “County Blog” or something to that effect.

If the State Legislature can have a House Blog, a House Minority Blog, and a Senate Majority Blog, then I don’t see why the County of Hawaii couldn’t have a “Blog” as well. I know the perfect ex-blogger that is now working in a county position that could possibly run it. :idea:

I just now noticed the link to “Media Releases” has been getting updated. I’m not sure if this is a new feature or not, but it is nice that it is now available. If/When they ever get an RSS feature to that site, then it will be less work to update my site when new releases are put out.

Now that Mayor Kenoi has surrounded himself with good people who understand how important it is to have a good working relationship with the media, I think they are also learning the value of Digital communication.

Now the county needs to learn more about Webcasting, Blogging, and having county workers use Twitter as an application that can really keep everyone who is interested in county events abreast of things in a timely manner.

I guess we can only ask for one thing at a time. I’d be happy just to be able to take pictures of Police Officers. :oops:

Whut Hapened to Copy Editurs… Mayor Keno?

I’ve ben notacing moore and moore typo’s in newspapers of late.

I’m hardly one to really talk… as I can’t tell the difference between their and there halve/half the thyme.

I don’t consider my blog anything more then a place to rant and rave and provide some information for others.

I’m always ranting on Newspapers… It’s probably because I was never a decent enough writer to get hired by one ;) Well… I haven’t ever really applied for one… but I know that my typing and grammar sucks.

There isn’t much excuse for a major newspaper to miss the spelling of our own newspaper Mayor. I can understand that the news copy already went out, but there online content they could at least update.

Here’s today’s example:

…Takaba recognized that Keno ordered a hiring freeze and creating a new position would be contrary…

Just because KENO is a word and it doesn’t get corrected by spell check… you would think they could at least get our own Mayors name correct.

What happened to Copy Editors?

Executive Assistant Craig Kawaguchi to Attend Washington DC Mayoral Conference With Kenoi… Kenoi Seeking Tickets for Obama Inauguration

Today’s Hawaii Tribune Herald reported that Mayor Billy Kenoi would be attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington on Jan. 17-19.  I think it’s good that our Mayor represents the Big Island in a conference like this.

“…Hunter Bishop, the mayor’s public relations specialist, said Kenoi plans to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington on Jan. 17-19.

Takaba, however, said it is uncertain whether Kenoi will be able to attend the inauguration of Obama, the first Hawaii-born person elected president, because he lacks tickets.

The estimated cost of Kenoi’s trip — including airfare, hotel and meals — is $2,650, Takaba said, and will be paid for with taxpayer dollars. Kenoi also plans to bring an executive assistant on the trip, so the total cost will be about $5,300, Takaba said…”

I found it curious that the newspaper did not report who the executive assistant was that might be going on the trip.  I had a sneaky suspicion that it might have been Mr. Bishop himself, since he was quoted in the paper.

I emailed Mr. Bishop and asked who the assistant was that would be going and what their responsibilities would be.

Mr. Bishops reply:

Craig (Kawaguchi) is an Executive Assistant to the Mayor assigned to projects included in the economic stimulus package. He will assist the Mayor in Washington , D.C. , in getting Hawaii County its fair share of the federal economic stimulus package through working with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”

I think that it is money well spent by our county to have Mayor Kenoi as well as Mr. Kawaguchi attending this conference.

I listed the counties wish list on the left hand side in the “Say Community” section of my blog.

We are asking for a lot from Obama, so spending a little to get a lot is a good investment in my mind.

Mayors Assistant Still Writing For the Advertiser? Reflection on Big Island Murder Case

I just noticed this article in today’s Honolulu Advertiser written by Mayor Kenoi’s current East Hawaii Executive Assistant and former Advertiser reporter, Kevin Dayton.

I’m not sure if the Advertiser is just reprinting it or if this was recently written.  I guess he could have also written it a while back and it’s only taken until now for the Advertiser to finally publish it.

It says:

B.J. Penn and Mayor Kenoi to Hand Out Toys for Toy’s For Tots Tomorrow

I noticed on the front page of the print edition of the  Hawaii Tribune, that tomorrow is the 13th Annual Hilo Toys for Tots Run and Rally.

“…Motorcycles and vintage cars will leave Hilo Wal-Mart parking lot at 10:00 am for a short run to “4 miles” in Keaukaha, back to Banyan Drive and ending at Aunty Sally’s Luau House…

…Mayor Billy Kenoi, BJ Penn and other contributors will present the bikes to kids who otherwise would not have a gift at Christmas…”

BJ is apparently a big supporter of the new Mayor.  I posted earlier the youtube clip when he was supporting Kenoi in his run for the mayors office:

County Planning Commission to Split in Two… Seeking Applicants for New “Divvied” Up Commissions

The Hawaii County Planning Commission will be split in two come April, but present members will retain their posts…

Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida said Thursday the nine members of the Planning Commission will be divvied between the two new seven-member commissions, both of which will begin operation in April…

Mayor Billy Kenoi will have to find five more volunteers to serve on the commissions, a process that is in its infancy stage, Char Shigemura, one of Kenoi’s executive assistants, said Thursday.

Shigemura said residents interested in serving on one of the new commissions are urged to submit applications

More Here

Applications can be downloaded HERE.

Hunter Bishop Calls It Quits on His Blog… Receives Job With the County

I’d like to congratulate Hunter Bishop for his new job working with the County.

I’m sure his expertise will help all of us on this island.

It may  surprise a lot of people that he will be working for the new Mayor, Billy Kenoi.

It doesn’t surprise me at all, as I’m sure the Mayor is looking to fill quality people and Hunter is certainly a person worthy of hiring.

He recently posted that his blog today will be his last.

I wish it wasn’t, however, I can see how there could be a potential conflict of interest.

I don’t know why he couldn’t at least still write personal blogs that don’t have anything to do with politics, the county, or anything that would push buttons, as their are certainly people who work within the county and state for that matter that have their own personal blogs.

Wishing Hunter the best and I hope he remains in touch with all of us.

Congrats Hunter!

The Blogging worlds loss is the islands gain!

Damon

P.S. Let me know if you need an assistant ;)