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State briefs, Nov. 7

Oahu reopens scenic Pali Lookout

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources reopened a popular scenic spot on Oahu that has been closed to visitors since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Nuuanu Pali State Wayside, popularly known as Pali Lookout, was closed to the public at the outset of the pandemic because of budgetary constraints and crowding concerns.

There were challenges in maintaining physical distancing at the lookout, State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said.

Officials announced the park, which is is among the most visited spots on Oahu, reopened Wednesday with daily hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gates to the park’s access roads will be unlocked and secured daily by the Honolulu Police Department.

The state set new parking fees of $7 per vehicle for nonresidents. Hawaii residents are not subject to parking and entry fees at any state parks.

Tour buses are largely absent from the lookout, making the volume of visitors is much lower. Prior to the pandemic, Pali Lookout’s parking fees generated about $250,000 annually in revenue, Cottrell said.

The Hawaii Division of State Parks is now losing about $500,000 in revenue monthly in entrance, parking, concession, lodging and camping fees because of health restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Officials asked visitors to follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

“It’s really nice to be able to come back,” said Alexis Gomes of Kaaawa, who brought her children and a visiting family friend to take in the reopened views.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Hawaiian Affairs trustee voted out of office after 24 years

HONOLULU — Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Colette Machado has been voted out of office after more than 24 years and replaced by a political newcomer.

Luana Alapa replaced Machado on the Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees following the completion of voting Tuesday, Hawaii Public Radio reported.

Alapa said she was ecstatic upon learning of her new position helping to set policy for the the agency.

“Being a brand new candidate and going up against an incumbent and sitting chairwoman, that was huge,” Alapa said. “So we knew what we were up against. But I think the theme for people was change.”

Alapa defeated Machado by nearly 39,000 votes after campaigning for greater transparency and accountability in spending.

A 2019 audit found as much as $7.8 million in potentially fraudulent, wasteful or abusive spending by the agency.

“A lot of negative fallout has happened because things aren’t, you know, transparent. This is a public state agency, by the way, it’s not a Hawaiian entity. It’s a state agency that serves Hawaiian people. We have a right to understand where the monies are going,” Alapa said.

Healani Sonoda-Pale, an analyst with political action committee Ka Lahui Hawaii, said she was not surprised by the vote because of the “scathing” audit of the organization’s finances.

“At a time when we are in an economic crunch, money matters,” Sonoda-Pale said.

Machado could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.

The board includes nine members elected to serve four-year terms at the agency established 40 years ago to improve conditions for the state’s Native Hawaiian residents. The board oversees a trust worth an estimated $600 million.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs employee Keola Lindsey also became a new trustee after defeating Mauna Kea activist Lanakila Mangauil for the board’s Hawaii island seat.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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