State briefs for June 24

Homeless project grows with mobile med clinic

HONOLULU — Health care professionals who care for the medical needs of homeless in Honolulu’s Chinatown neighborhood will be expanding their efforts to other parts of Oahu with a new mobile clinic.

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Starting next month, the team led by Christina M.B. Wang, of the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center, will take a Nissan van to help homeless people around the Haleiwa and Waianae small boat harbors. They’ll also go to Central Oahu, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Nessa Vierra, 60, has received COVID-19 vaccinations, a cellphone, bandage kits and repeated offers of help from a walking team in Chinatown.

She called the center’s medical mobile outreach across Oahu “one of the greatest things to happen. That’s perfect.”

Vierra spends time in her regular spot at River and Pauahi streets, along with dozens of her friends who have been treated by Wang’s team over the years.

“I love you guys,” Vierra shouted to Wang and her team during their regular outreach Tuesday, which includes follow-up visits every Friday.

The van was purchased through a grant from the state Department of Health.

Panel fines ex-principal of charter school $4K

HONOLULU — The state Ethics Commission has fined the former principal of a Hawaiian-focused charter school $4,000 for improperly giving employees cash advances on their salaries.

When Alvin Parker was principal of Ka Waihona o Ka Naauao Public Charter School in Waianae, he approved tens of thousands of dollars in cash advances, including $13,000 to his wife, Hawaii News Now reported.

Parker, who was removed in 2018, didn’t seek approval from the governing board before giving out the loans of school funds, the commission said, but he believed he had authority to provide cash advances to staff.

“The charter schools are supposed to have flexibility in how they do their work,” said Dan Gluck, executive director of the ethics commission. “But at the end of the day, they are still a state agency so they are still using public funds and they are supposed to be acting in the best interests of the students and the community.”

Two of the employees paid back the advances while Parker’s wife still owes $8,000, Gluck said.

Maui looks to Palau to manage influx of tourists

WAILUKU, Maui — As some on Maui become overwhelmed by an influx of visitors, the first in a series of sustainable tourism town halls focused on lessons learned at another Pacific tourist hotspot.

Orion Cruz, a Maui attorney who worked with the government of Palau on tourism issues, participated in the virtual panel this week, The Maui News reported Wednesday.

Cruz, a former legal counsel to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism of the Republic of Palau, said the Western Pacific island nation encourages environmentally friendly visitors and enacted measures to ensure sustainability funding.

There is a $100 “Palau Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee” added to every international airline ticket, Cruz said.

“This hundred dollars supports the country in a variety of ways but a substantial portion goes to fund Palau’s protected areas network, which is kind of like their national park system,” Cruz said.

Tourists also sign the “Palau Pledge” and agree to act responsibly both environmentally and culturally.

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The virtual panel was hosted by Kelly King, the chairwoman of the Maui County Council’s Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee.

“The community wants action to ensure a future for the visitor industry that protects the people, culture and environment,” King said in a statement.

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