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Ex-Aloha workers asked to be patient for aid


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Question: Several of us former Aloha Airlines employees are having challenges with receiving promised financial assistance from Lokahi for Aloha. I have e-mails stating Lokahi for Aloha would be reimbursing me for several bills. I have repeatedly tried to contact the officials in charge, but have not received any response. Another former employee has had several bills go to bill collectors and now has a poor credit rating. If Lokahi for Aloha has no intention of providing further financial assistance, then it shouldn't be making false promises. They should just tell us.

Answer: The Lokahi for Aloha fund does not have money available to help former Aloha Airlines employees pay their bills.

The money has not run out, we're told, but you're asked to be patient because it's still not known when it will become available.

“;We're waiting for one of the last increments of funds from the benefactor and until we get that, we cannot make any payments,”; Meriel Collins, Lokahi project manager, told us last week. She explained the fund receives money in increments. The next increment is “;just taking longer than anybody expected.”;

Collins said the people who have applied for help all were notified—either by mail or e-mail—on May 8 that “;basically ... we don't have the money right now.”;

She also said anyone who's called or e-mailed was given the same information.

Asked who the benefactor is, Collins said, “;The benefactor has asked to remain anonymous.”;

In addition to that major contributor, she said donations have come from a number of individuals, as well as large corporations, plus fundraising efforts: “;All of that is channeled directly to the families (of former Aloha employees).”;

Collins said the amount disbursed so far is “;a huge amount,”; but did not have any figures readily available.

She said she understands the frustration people feel “;when someone says, 'We will pay your bills,' but doesn't tell you when because we can't tell you when.”;

By the same token, “;I'm just stuck between a rock and a hard place,”; she said. “;I would pay the bills if I could, but I don't have the funds or authority to do that right now.”;

Collins said that as soon as the money does come in, the list of bills already cleared for payment will be paid and the families will be notified immediately by e-mail or letter. Reimbursements also will be made for bills already paid, she said.

Auwe

The Board of Water Supply recently sent a letter with its current billing relative to rate increases addressed: “;Dear Wastewater Customer.”; Common usage of the word “;customer”; implies I have a choice in buying some product. I'm not buying wastewater. Can't they find a better term, such as “;Water User?”;—Bemused Water Customer

The letter about sewer rate increases—18 percent beginning July 1—is not from the water board, but from the city Department of Environmental Services, which oversees sewer services.

A spokesman explained that customers are “;buying”; a product, basically “;our waste-water infrastructure.”;

Your monthly billing sent by the Board of Water Supply reflects a monthly sewer base charge, plus a monthly water usage charge.


Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).