POSTED: Thursday, December 10, 2009

Park name could change to Obama

Mayor Mufi Hannemann is asking the City Council to rename Aina Moana Beach Park, more commonly known as Magic Island, as President Barack Obama Beach Park.

This week's resolution requesting the name change notes that Obama was born in Honolulu and graduated from Punahou School. Obama and his family had a picnic at Magic Island when they visited Honolulu in August 2008.

To make the name change, the city would have to make an exception to its requirement that parks, sites or facilities can be named only after people who are deceased.

Hannemann said cities across the country already have streets and parks named after Obama, and Honolulu should do the same because it was his hometown.


State tops in 2008 health spending

Hawaii led the nation last year in the percentage of spending on hospitals and public health, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state government spent about $1.2 billion on hospitals and public health, or about 11.5 percent of the $10.5 billion in its total expenditures in 2008, the bureau said in its annual report on state government revenues and expenditures. About $531 million was spent on hospitals and $678 million on public health.

In 2007, the state spent about $1 billion on hospitals and public health, or about $612 million on health and $455 million on hospitals.


Isle man to head IRS crime division

A Hawaii man was named to head the Internal Revenue Service's law enforcement division that investigates criminal tax evasion, money laundering and narcotics-related financial crime both in the United States and abroad, IRS officials said.

Victor Song, currently the deputy chief, will become the new chief of IRS Criminal Investigations, replacing Eileen Mayer, who is retiring next month.

Song joined the IRS in 1981 and became a special agent in 1983. He led numerous CI offices and joined the senior executive service in 2004, according to the IRS. He became CI deputy chief in 2007. Song has a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Hawaii.


Security grants available to Hawaii

Hawaii will be eligible to apply for more than $21 million in grants distributed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for 2010.

Sen. Daniel Akaka said Tuesday in a joint Washington news release with Sen. Daniel Inouye that the grants strengthen the state's partnership with the federal government to prepare to respond to natural or manmade disasters.

Inouye says the money will help island police and state deputy sheriffs protect critical infrastructure and help maintain a safe environment for residents and visitors.

One grant for $6 million would support homeland security strategies in planning, equipment and training activities. Another grant for $3 million would be used to protect port infrastructure at Honolulu and Barbers Point from attack.


Amemiya wins governor's award

Gov. Linda Lingle named Keith Amemiya, the Retina Institute of Hawaii and the Department of Public Safety as recipients of the Governor's Innovation Awards.

As executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association for 11 years, Amemiya “;has devised innovative ways to increase and enhance opportunities for Hawaii's youth to participate in high school athletics,”; the governor's office said in a news release.

Amemiya formed the HHSAA Save Our Sports campaign and raised $1.2 million.

The governor said the Retina Institute of Hawaii displayed innovation by an organization, and is recognized as one of the nation's leading retina treatment practices.

Lingle awarded Correctional Industries, an agency under the Department of Public Safety's Corrections Division, for innovation in government. The agency helps inmates learn job skills, while saving the state and private companies valuable resources, she said.



Bank officer to keynote at UH-Hilo

A Hilo High School graduate and University of Hawaii at Manoa alum will give the keynote speech at the fall commencement of UH-Hilo later this month, according to a news release.

Wayne Y. Hamano is the vice chairman and chief commercial officer for Bank of Hawaii. He is also a graduate of the University of Washington's Pacific Coast Banking School.

He is a member of the UH-Hilo advisory board, the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and the Metro YMCA.

The student speaker is Gladys Tong Hoi Yee, who at 18 will become one of the youngest students to earn a four-year degree at UH-Hilo. She is a business administration major. The release said she was studied in her native Singapore, Hong Kong and in China before enrolling at UH-Hilo.

She finished her degree in 2 1/2 years while maintaining a 3.34 grade point average, the release said.

The commencement ceremony for 269 students is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 19 at the school's new gym.