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Maui tsunami victims can get loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced yesterday that low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Maui County residents and business owners who suffered losses caused by the March 11 tsunami.

The action means the SBA disaster declaration now covers Maui and Hawaii counties.

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Businesses and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million.

Here are SBA assistance centers open to the public:

» Big Island: West Hawaii Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Building D, Kailua-Kona. Open weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., through April 21.
» Maui: Kihei Community Center, 303 E. Lipoa St. Open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 6 p.m. today, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
» Molokai: Kilohana Community Center, 334-A1 Kamehameha V Highway, Kaunakakai. Open 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. tomorrow and April 21.

For more information, visit, call 800-659-2955 or email

Soetoro-Ng laments ‘birther’ issue

President Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, spoke on CNN about her brother’s birthplace and called the revival of the issue by Donald Trump “a shame.”

Soetoro-Ng, who is traveling in New York to promote her children’s book, told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview that aired yesterday that continued questions about her brother’s birthplace are “unfortunate. … He was born in Hawaii. There’s a tremendous amount of proof that has already been presented.”

Trump, who says he is considering a run for president, recently revived the birther issue with his questions about Obama’s birth certificate.

Officials in Hawaii have long certified Obama’s birth in Honolulu, but Trump questions whether the president was born abroad and has suggested that Obama might have violated the Constitution.

Video courtesy CNN/PiersMorganTonight



Kauai County Council fills vacant seat

The Kauai County Council voted unanimously to appoint KipuKai Kualii to fill the seat vacated by Derek Kawakami.

Kualii was sworn in yesterday. He was a candidate for Council in the past two elections, finishing ninth and eighth, respectively. The Council is composed of seven at-large members.

He brings value to the Council because of his financial background, said Council Chairman Jay Furfaro.

Kualii has a business administration degree from the University of the Pacific and serves on the board of the Hawaii Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development, Hui Kakoo Aina Hoopulapula and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, according to his website.

He replaces Kawakami, who was recently sworn in as state representative for House District 14. That seat was vacated by Hermina Morita, who was appointed chairwoman of the Public Utilities Commission.

Maui utility warns of phone scam

Maui Electric Co. said yesterday it has received reports that people claiming to be MECO employees have been contacting customers by phone and asking for personal information.

“The impersonators are telling customers that their electric bill is overdue and must be paid or electric service will be disconnected,” a Maui Electric news release said. The utility said customers should not provide personal, confidential or financial information to any unidentified person, and to report any suspicious activity to MECO or the Maui Police Department.

People may call MECO’s customer service desk at 871-9777 on Maui and 877-871-8461 on Molokai and Lanai.

Welcome to school

Kamiloiki Elementary School is holding an open house for parents of incoming kindergartners and other students who will be new to the school this fall. The open house is tomorrow from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school at 7788 Hawaii Kai Drive. For more information, call the school at 397-5800.

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