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East-West Center boss to make speech

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The East-West Center’s new president is making a public appearance Thursday.

President Richard Vuylsteke will give his first public talk, “Smart Cities, Smart Students, Tomorrow’s Jobs,” at the 16th annual International Graduate Student Conference at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Seating is limited, and RSVPs are requested to or 944-1111.

Vuylsteke (pronounced VUL-stek) is a former East-West Center student and staff member, and returned after serving as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Conference presentations Friday and Saturday by about 100 graduate students from 28 countries and 42 universities are also open the public. For more details go to

The conference will be held at the Imin Center’s Jefferson Hall, 1777 East-West Road, opposite UH-Manoa’s Kennedy Theatre. Paid parking is available on the UH-Manoa campus. For more information, contact 944-1111 or Student

Medical help for the homeless on agenda

A UH Medical School faculty member and founder of the HOME Project will discuss the project’s unique way of assisting with the medical needs of the homeless in a Soroptimist International Waikiki Foundation talk Feb. 28.

Dr. Jill Omori, the club’s 2017 Ruby Award recipient, founded the Homeless Outreach and Medical Education Project, initially conceived as student-run clinics and expanded to a network of volunteers. The first student-run clinic was established in 2006 at the Kakaako shelter for the homeless near the UH Medical School.

The Soroptimist program is at noon at the Pacific Club, and the cost of lunch is $28. To register,


Kim shuns tax increase to close $12M budget gap

HILO >> Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he’s trying to figure out a way to cover an expected $12 million shortfall in the county budget without raising taxes for residents.

Kim must submit his preliminary budget to the County Council by March 1, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Kim says he’s weighing several options to make up the difference between anticipated revenue and anticipated expenses, but he wants to keep a tax increase off the table.

According to Kim, most people on Hawaii island are one or two paychecks away from being homeless. He said more than 90 percent of schoolchildren in Kau and more than 70 percent in Puna qualify for the free and reduced-cost lunch program for low-income families.

“How can I raise taxes on these people?” he asked.

The county’s open-space land fund, which allows 2 percent of property tax revenues to be used to buy land for environmental and cultural protection, has made things difficult for Kim, who says the $4 million that goes to the fund each year accounts for one-third of his budget gap. He said he would rather put the money toward the Police and Fire departments.

Former Mayor Billy Kenoi was able to suspend the land fund during tough budget times, but it has since been set in the county charter, making it impossible to suspend without a ballot initiative.

Kim says he has several decisions to make and is still finalizing the budget proposal.

“I’m still in the review,” Kim said. “I’m not sure of definitive actions we have to take.”

Last year’s budget was $462.7 million, up 5.5 percent from the previous year.

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