POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

Health Systems chief to retire at year's end

The head of a Hawaii network of 12 state-subsidized hospitals is retiring at the end of the year.

Hawaii Health Systems Corp. President Thomas Driskill Jr. has led the company since 1997.

Hawaii Health Systems said in a news release Thursday that Driskill was leaving to pursue “;new senior health care leadership opportunities.”;

The organization's vice president, Alice Hall, has been named interim president.

Hawaii Health Systems' hospitals are mostly in rural areas on the neighbor islands.

The system has been struggling to cope with rising health care costs and low health care reimbursement rates from Medicare and insurance companies.

The state government has repeatedly bailed out the company to keep it running.


Selection panel meets to choose city auditor

The search is on for a new city auditor for Honolulu.

The City Council's City Auditor Search Committee held its first meeting Tuesday, and Councilman Charles Djou was elected committee chairman. Djou says the committee hopes to make its selection by the end of February. The nominee will be subject to City Council confirmation.

Current Auditor Les Tanaka is set to retire Thursday after seven years in the post. He is the city's first independent auditor. The city auditor supervises a six-person office and is paid $118,000 a year.


UH grant will benefit Waianae Coast students

Students in schools along the Waianae Coast will benefit from an after-school literacy program funded by a $1.78 million, three-year grant to the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The Waianae Program for Afterschool Literacy Support, or W-PALS, will serve Leihoku, Maili, Makaha and Waianae elementary schools and Kamaile Charter School.

Students in grades four through six will take part in hands-on activities and a curriculum focused on their sense of place and culture. The program, which also builds strong school and community partnerships, was recognized in 2008 as a “;promising practice”; for educating native Hawaiians.


Company and president plead guilty in tax case

Hawaii Development Consultants Inc. and company President Stanforde K. Sagum have pleaded guilty to failing to file annual general excise tax returns for three years.

The state Tax Department made the announcement Wednesday.

According to the department, Hawaii Development was ordered to pay restitution of $31,415, while Sagum was assessed a $6,000 fine.

Tax officials say the company failed to file returns for the three-year period ending in 2007.


Program allows gifts to child's school savings

Friends and family members can give money directly to a student's state college savings account under a new Ugift program.

Under the program, students with a HI529 account can go online to invite gift-givers to send money to their college saving program, rather than give traditional gifts during the holidays, Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona Jr. said in a news release.

There are more than 3,800 HI529 accounts with investments of $42 million. The money is invested in funds managed by UPromise Investments, Inc. Earnings are tax-deferred and free of federal or state income tax when used for higher-education expenses.



Grant to fund preservation of scenic area

A federal grant will allow a group on the Big Island to develop a preservation plan for a scenic stretch of highway in Kona.

The Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor, which was designated the state's first scenic byway in March, runs from Honokohau through Holualoa to Honalo as Route 180.

The $29,140 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help fund the development of a Corridor Management Plan by the Pulama IA Kona Heritage Preservation Council.

The goal of the plan will be to provide a meaningful experience to roadway travelers while preserving the byway's historic qualities of Hawaiian culture and European and Asian settlement.

“;This grant represents years of hard work, collaboration and the commitment to not only preserving, but enhancing one of the many scenic corridors in the state,”; said state transportation Director Brennon Morioka.

Scott Seymour, president of Pulama IA Kona, said the group will hold community meetings to get public input for the plan.