State briefs for November 20

Mayor: Rail project to open 8 years late, cost more

HONOLULU — Honolulu’s rail project will cost over $1 billion more than expected a month ago and won’t be completed until eight years after the state initially scheduled, according to estimates sent by Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a letter to the Federal Transit Administration.

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The estimates are $1.1 billion higher than those from October, when staff at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation increased the project’s evaluation from $8.3 billion to $9.1 billion. The latest estimate projects a total cost of $10.2 billion, not including about $1 billion in financing cost.

The state now projects the rail line will be completed in 2033 after originally estimating an opening in 2025.

Caldwell’s seven-page letter asked the FTA to give the city another year to come up with a financing plan before the agency decides to cut the city off from $250 million in federal grant money that is set to expire at the end of the year.

DOH creates new contact tracing team

HONOLULU — The state Department of Health created a new contact tracing team that will perform its duties in languages such as Samoan, Marshallese and Chuukese.

The Pacific Islanders Outreach Team will be comprised of 10 people who, along with their contact tracing duties, will host online educational seminars about the coronavirus in a viewer’s native language.

Pacific Islanders make up about 4% of the state’s population but have about 28% of the state’s coronavirus infections, according to DOH data updated last Friday.

Chantelle Matagi, the leader of the outreach team, said some people learn about the coronavirus for the first time during presentations in their native language.

Station pulls DJs after guest mocked during telethon

HONOLULU — A Hawaii radio station pulled two of its DJs off the air after they made insensitive comments about a local musician’s struggle with homelessness and hunger.

“Slick Vic” Harris and “KreyZ” Oshiro were pulled by Island 98.5 after comments they made Friday. Chuck Cotton, iHeartRadio Honolulu’s president, declined to comment about whether the two would remain at the company.

During a fundraising telethon to benefit the Hawaii Foodbank, musician Paula Fuga told a story on air about eating from a trash can when she was a child.

Harris responded: “Now, is it straight from a trash can, or do you put it on a plate first?”

Fuga appeared to try and brush off the comment.

“No, like I could cry thinking about it,” she said. “Like in the dark with my hand from a trash can.”

She then asked the hosts, “Do you have a box of tissues?”

Harris then said: “No, but we got a trash can right over there by the bar.”

Oshiro replied: “What, just in case she’s hungry?”

Fuga walked off the stage without singing another song.

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Harris was not present for Monday’s radio show. He issued a apology that was aired during his usual time slot.

Oshiro did not immediately respond to a voicemail and a text message seeking comment.

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