The Conversation: Honolulu Mayor-Elect Rick Blangiardi Hits the Ground Running

Nov 16, 2020

Rick Blangiardi prepares to become Honolulu Mayor; Preparing for guests at Kaanapali Beach Hotel; Clock ticks for Hawaii to spend CARES Act money; Reviving rice as a local crop

Rick Blangiardi prepares to become Honolulu Mayor

Rick Blangiardi, Mayor-elect of the City & County of Honolulu, has hit the ground running after the general election. He has appointed Mike Formby as managing director and he tells us how he's gearing up for the transition. 

Kaanapali Beach Hotel
Credit Courtesy Kaanapali Beach Hotel

Preparing for guests at Kaanapali Beach Hotel

This past weekend, the Lahaina Plantation Inn began welcoming visitors back. Its main property, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel, is shooting for a Dec. 1 reopening. It has been shut down for renovations and while the entire property doesn't expect to be fully opened until early next year. Its plan is to start slowly.

Clock ticks for Hawaii to spend Coronavirus Relief Fund money

Time is running out for Hawaii to spend $877 million in coronavirus relief funds. Money set aside to help struggling renters and small businesses will be used to replenish the state's unemployment insurance trust fund if the cash isn't spent by Dec. 31. Civil Beat Reporter Stewart Yerton tells us more about how the counties and state are trying to spend down what remains of the $10.3 billion in federal assistance for the coronavirus relief funds. Click here to read his story at CivilBeat.org.

Rice test plot
Credit Catherine Cruz/HPR

Reviving rice as a local crop 

Did you know that during the Civil War, Hawaii provided rice to the Northern states of the Union? It's a little known fact about the reign of rice in the Islands. At its peak in 1909, Hawaii had more than 9,000 acres in production. The industry died out in the 1920s. Currently, there is a move to resurrect rice as a crop in Hawaii. Kauai farmer Jerry Ornellas is preparing to plant his winter crop of rice this month. His summer harvest was bountiful and he is encouraged by his success so far. We were there on the Garden Isle early on in the year to check on his rice fields as Ornellas is trying to carve out a market for Hawaii-grown such and table rice.