Business / In Brief • July 12, 2013

Coco Palms backers begin petition drive

LIHUE – A group trying to save the historic Coco Palms resort opposes the repeal of a Kauai County ordinance intended to aid rebuilding of the iconic structure.

The Save Coco Palms Committee has begun an online petition opposing a move Tuesday by the Kauai Planning Commission to rescind the ordinance, The Garden Island reported Thursday.

Restoration would be impossible without it, the committee said, adding that investors are on the horizon.

“A new, Hawaii-based group of investors has stepped up and is willing to restore the property to its former glory,” the online petition said.

The shuttered resort was made famous by the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii.” Part of the movie was filmed on resort grounds.

Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992, and Coco Palms was the only major hotel that did not reopen. The county council approved ordinances expediting permits and fee exemptions for rebuilding island structures but ended the measures in 1997. However, the council retained the provision for Coco Palms restoration as a nonconforming structure.

The former resort has since become an eyesore on Kauai’s busiest corridor.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. last month asked for repeal of the provision and said it was no longer necessary.

The committee disagrees.

“If this ordinance is repealed, the planning and building process will be so difficult that it will make it economically unfeasible to rebuild the property,” the petition states. “It will be the swan song for the resort we all love.”


State officials’ golf perks investigated

HONOLULU – State employees and legislators receiving free golf perks from companies that do business with the state have caught the attention of the Hawaii Ethics Commission.

According to a July 3 advisory letter, the commission said dozens of state contracting officials and lawmakers have accepted free golf outings. The investigation is still in the early stages.

In an indication that the favors are common, tens of thousands of state workers received a warning, Hawaii News Now reported.

“It appears that there are many state employees and legislators who may have accepted and may continue to accept complimentary golf,” the commission said. There have been significant door prizes and other gifts for participating in charity golf events, with some gifts worth up to $1,000.”

University of Hawaii political science professor Colin Moore said “there’s obviously a pay-to-play environment.”

“The most damaging thing is when people see this going on, they don’t trust the process, they don’t trust the state government and they don’t trust that these contracts are being given out fairly,” he said.