POSTED: Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lingle will veto Labor union bill

HILO » Gov. Linda Lingle says she will veto a bill making it easier for workers to form labor unions.

Lingle says the bill would send a signal that the state is making it harder for people to do business. She says it would favor labor unions too much.

The measure permits a union to be certified if a majority of workers sign union authorization cards. Under current labor law, a company can demand a secret ballot election supervised by the federal government after being presented the union cards.

The Republican governor also vetoed a similar measure last year.

The majority Democratic Legislature will have to decide whether to attempt an override of her planned veto.

Government statistics show that Hawaii is already the second-most unionized state at 24.3 percent.

Army asks info from city on dumping

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is asking the city to turn over any information it has related to the alleged illegal dumping of concrete in Mailiili Stream.

In a June 16 letter to Facility Maintenance Director Jeoffrey Cudiamat, the Army is looking for the specific time and location of the alleged dumping, the amount, information on what has been done to fix the alleged violation and any future actions being contemplated to mitigate any damage that has may have occurred.

A copy of the letter was provided by the watchdog group EnviroWatch Inc., which first reported the activity in the stream to the city.

The alleged dumping occurred in Maili at the Mailiili Stream, along the Waianae Coast in an area frequented by endangered Hawaiian stilts.

Concrete rubble from sidewalk repairs reportedly was placed in the stream area to restore an access road along the bank that was used to cut brush. The Health Department says no permit was issued for the dumping.

City and state agencies are investigating.

Some work already has been done to clear the stream, but officials say additional permits may be required to finish the removal.

City removing trees near Aiea High

Starting tomorrow, the city will remove 48 Paraguay tea trees near Aiea High School that are about 50 years old.

The trees, planted in the 1960s, have defects that pose a danger to the public, the city said in a news release. The trees that are cut down will be replaced after the contractor has removed them, the city said.

Big Island buying new helicopter

HILO» The Big Island fire department is planning to buy a new $2 million search-and-rescue helicopter to replace its 27-year-old chopper.

Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira says the spending is justified even during the current economic downturn because the new helicopter will save money in the long run.

He says refurbishing the current Chopper 1 would cost $800,000, and the aircraft would continue costing more in routine maintenance as it ages.

Only one company submitted a bid to the county to provide the new helicopter.

MD Helicopters of Arizona offered a 2010 MD 500E for $1,992,525. The company would also take the Chopper 1 as a trade-in for $238,000.