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Off the News

For Monday, January 24, 2011

LAST UPDATED: 2:22 a.m. HST, Jan 24, 2011

Marc Alexander pick a surprise but encouraging

As vicar general of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Honolulu, Marc Alexander spoke for the church in public-policy debates and was a forceful opponent of same-sex marriage and civil unions. So it's not surprising that some are wary of his appointment by Gov. Neil Abercrombie as the state's homeless coordinator.

Whether their differences prove divisive remains to be seen. But Abercrombie's willingness to tap Alexander is noteworthy on two important fronts: It acknowledges the faith-based community's strong role in helping to shelter and feed the homeless, and indicates an understanding that the issue is one that will require great efforts on all fronts.

Key GOP representative onboard for Oahu's train

Arm-twisting was not likely necessary for Mayor Peter Carlisle to gain the support of the Republican chairman of a committee that could be crucial in gaining federal money for Honolulu's rail transit line.

U.S. Rep. John Mica of Florida, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has given his full support of a similar rail system serving central Florida.

Carlisle says Mica has promised to work with federal officials to push Honolulu's $5.5 billion project forward but may face opposition from tea party House Republicans pushing for cuts in domestic spending.

After the Florida legislature approved the 62-mile SunRail project for the Orlando area in December 2009, Mica gave this praise that could apply to Oahu: "These transportation projects have the potential for creating thousands of jobs, expanding economic opportunity, protecting our environment and reducing energy consumption."

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