Iolani Palace
Photo: Emily Metcalf
Iolani Palace
Photo: Emily Metcalf

Senator Asks Governor to Re-open Iolani Palace So it isn’t Kept from APEC Visitors

Gov. Neil Abercrombie was recently rated the most unpopular governor in the nation, and a recent gaffe won’t help that rating improve.

People around the state are angry that he ordered that ‘Iolani Palace, the nation’s only royal palace, be closed on this week through November 15 without consulting with palace management.

The attorney general said the move was necessary “for the protection of the area during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.”

The announcement was made just as 22 Hawaiian sovereignty activists protesting peacefully at the palace were arrested.

The closure keeps away an estimated 400 visitors a day and will cost the palace some $42,000.

Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director for the Friends of Iolani Palace, said he had to issue apologies to high ranking officials in delegations from several countries, because they had planned to visit this week.

At least one lawmaker is asking the governor to reconsider his decision before APEC comes to a close on Sunday.

Sen. Will Espero, D-Ewa, said during APEC, Hawaii’s history and culture should be proudly displayed and presented.

He wrote: “The security of Iolani Palace is paramount.  However, the actions of a few protestors should not negatively impact visits to Iolani Palace, our national treasure.  During APEC, the history and culture of our islands should be proudly displayed and presented, and I feel by closing Iolani Palace, the protestors have won a small victory by keeping a part of our history away from the public and our visitors.”

“If protestors showed up at UH or City Hall, I don’t think these places would be closed down to the public.  Why should Iolani Palace be any different?  If there is a desire to avoid negative publicity, then I believe it is wrong policy. I agree with Director Aila that Iolani Palace is a valuable cultural resource.  If more security is needed, let us provide it.  One possibility is deputy sheriffs from the State Capitol can do foot patrols in the area if necessary. Revenues for admission can also help with added security.”

“Please reconsider your decision regarding Iolani Palace, and let us showcase our culture and history to the world. The history of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the monarchy must not be suppressed or hidden due to a handful of protestors.”

Strong Feelings About APEC

Many businesses around the Hawaii Convention Center where APEC is taking place are losing thousands of dollars this week because residents have been told to stay out of the area.

In addition, people have been stuck in traffic for several minutes more per day – some times hours more – because of dignitaries arriving at Honolulu International Airport, who then travel to Ala Moana and Waikiki.

Today, the Veterans holiday in Hawaii, government officials are advising that people stay out of the airport, Waikiki and Ala Moana areas. That could be bad for shopping centers like Ala Moana Center, which often see a boost in sales on Veterans day.

Finally, residents around the convention center say their neighborhood has turned into a military zone with military Hummers, soldiers and guard dogs securing the area.

But government officials supporting the event say this is an important opportunity to showcase Hawaii to 20,000 dignitaries here from 21 countries.

Niu Valley Children Need Safe Place to Play, But Parents are Taking Action

For more than a decade, residents and school children in the East Honolulu community of Niu have been pleading with State and City officials to build a community playground.

Niu has never had one even though the community hosts Niu Middle School and the Waldorf School.

Nothing came from the government.

Now the City & County of Honolulu has agreed to site prep work and the residents organized, set up a website and are trying to raise more than $100,000 themselves.

The project is being spearheaded by Jeanine Johnson of the Niu Community Association and Computer Expert and Web Designer Peter Kay.

Get involved by going to facebook.com/lets play, “like” the page, click on the playground design contest and VOTE.

The sponsoring group can win $15,000 with your help. Also go to  www.niuvalleyplayground.com.

(Submitted by SBH)

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