Hawaii Headlines

Leader of Hawaii tourism agency ousted from job

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Tourism Authority board fired the agency’s president and CEO George Szigeti.

The board decided “to go in a new direction,” authority Chairman Rick Fried said.

“One of the major reasons that we are doing this is the difficulty in the current political climate and the difficulty in keeping our budget through the Senate,” Fried said. “There also was some concern from some of the stakeholders in the broader tourism industry — although some were fine with him — about his institutional knowledge of tourism.”

The agency’s board agreed to pay Szigeti six months of pay after he leaves the job on Oct. 31.

The severance payment was outlined in Szigeti’s contract, which was to run through 2020. His annual salary is nearly $300,000.

The decision was “mutual,” Szigeti told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Visitors to the state increased by 7 percent to 804,135 people last month compared with the prior May, according to numbers released Thursday by the agency. Spending increased by 11 percent to $1.4 billion.

The state Legislature cut $13 million from the authority’s budget last month. Other authority executives have resigned in recent months, and Gov. David Ige withdrew his nomination to appoint Fried to the role.

The authority’s administrative committee intends to start talks this week on finding a new agency leader, Fried said. They plan to form a selection committee that will include board members and stakeholders.

Hawaii Headlines

Federal agency sues Hawaii health insurance provider

HONOLULU (AP) — A federal civil rights agency has filed a lawsuit against one of Hawaii’s largest health insurance providers, claiming it discriminated against a group of disabled workers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims the Hawaii Medical Service Association denied occasional leave for medical treatment to employees with disabilities without offering other options — violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The provider changed its policy in late 2013, forcing employees to work without the accommodations or to resign, according to the suit filed Thursday in federal court.

“HMSA complies fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act and its requirement for reasonable accommodation for employees covered by the ADA,” said Elisa Yadao, senior vice president for HMSA.

The provider did not have further comment as it has not yet been served the suit Thursday, Yadao said in the statement.

Marline Reyes, who worked as a customer relations representative in the provider’s Hilo call center, was previously given up to four days off per month for medical appointments. When the new policy went into effect in early 2014, it caused Reyes “immense stress and anxiety,” according to the suit.

Reyes “felt she could no longer attend all the required medical appointments without repercussions,” the suit said.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and other damages for Reyes and other workers named in the suit.

“Blanket employment policies that negatively affect a group of individuals can be discriminatory,” said Glory Gervacio Saure, the commission’s director at the Honolulu office. “Employers should routinely audit their policies and practices to make sure they are not unlawfully discriminating against their employees.”

Hawaii Headlines

Hawaii gets federal disaster assistance for individuals affected by April floods

HONOLULU (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration has approved federal disaster assistance for individuals affected by flooding on two Hawaii islands in April.

People on Kauai and Oahu may apply for grants to cover damage to their homes, for disaster unemployment insurance and other benefits. The most a homeowner could receive for a destroyed home is $34,000.

The administration initially rejected Hawaii’s application for assistance but then approved it after the state appealed.

Gov. David Ige said Wednesday Hawaii revised its application after identifying more people affected.

People may apply for help by calling the Federal Emergency Management Agency, going online or visiting a disaster recovery center. Centers will be set up in Honolulu and on Kauai.

Minnesota Sports

Lamah’s header lifts FC Dallas over Minnesota United 1-0

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Roland Lamah scored in the 59th minute and FC Dallas beat Minnesota United 1-0 on Friday night.
Lamah headed home Santiago Mosquera’s corner, rising up in the middle of the penalty area and powering it into the left corner despite a deflection off the hand of diving goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
Jesse Gonzalez had five saves to preserve his third clean sheet in six starts this season.
FC Dallas (9-2-5) won their fifth in the last six and joined Sporting Kansas City at the top of the Western Conference standings.
Minnesota (5-10-1) lost its third in a row.

Minnesota Sports

Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin comes out as gay

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota United midfielder Collin Martin announced he is gay, making him the only active male athlete in the major professional sports leagues to come out.
Martin made the announcement on social media Friday before the Loons were to host a Pride Night at home against Dallas. He said he’s been out for years with family, friends and teammates and “received only kindness and acceptance from everyone in Major League Soccer.”
The Los Angeles Galaxy’s Robbie Rogers came out in 2013, but retired in November. The NBA’s Jason Collins and the NFL’s Michael Sam also came out, but have retired.
Martin has played six seasons, including four with DC United. He encourages “others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have the confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly.”
Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of the LGBT sports publication, confirmed Martin is the only current out male athlete in the major leagues.

Minnesota Sports

Moore leads Lynx to 6th consecutive win, 85-74 over Dream

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Maya Moore scored 24 points and the Minnesota Lynx won their sixth straight, 85-74 over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.
Sylvia Fowles added 13 points and 15 rebounds for her league-leading 12th double-double of the season, and Seimone Augustus scored 10 points.
Moore has reached at least 20 points in every game during the Lynx’s winning streak. She capped a 10-2 run with back-to-back 3-pointers that gave Minnesota a 74-53 lead to start the fourth quarter. The Dream got the deficit no closer than the final score.
The Lynx (9-6) led 39-36 at the half and pulled away in the beginning of the third quarter with an 11-0 run sparked by 3-pointers from Lindsay Whalen and Moore.
Neither team led by more than 4 points in the first half.
Imani McGee-Stafford had 15 points for the Dream (7-8). Damiris Dantas and Brittney Sykes added 14 apiece.

Minnesota Sports

Russell hits slam, Cubs power back for 10-6 win over Twins

By Matt Carlson
Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Addison Russell hit his second career grand slam, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each had two-run homers and the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins 10-6 on Friday.
Kyle Schwarber added his 16th home run, a solo shot in seventh, and Anthony Rizzo completed Chicago’s scoring with an RBI single in the eighth as the Cubs pulled away to win their third game in four following a five-game losing streak.
Russell’s second homer in two days chased Twins starter Jose Berrios (8-6) with one out the fifth and put Chicago ahead for the first time, 6-5. The shortstop’s deep fly to left was pushed by a steady southwest wind as it narrowly reached the Wrigley Field bleachers.
Joe Mauer homered among three hits and finished with a season-high five RBIs. Coming through twice with two outs, Mauer hit a three-run shot in the second and lined a two-run double off Cubs starter Mike Montgomery in the fourth.
Montgomery (3-2) lasted five innings and earned the win despite giving up five runs (three earned) and seven hits with three walks. Three Cubs relievers followed with a scoreless inning each before Justin Wilson allowed the Twins’ final run in the ninth.
Brandon Morrow came in to get the final out for his 17th save.
Berrios lacked his usual velocity as he yielded a season-high six runs and four walks. The right-hander was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA over his previlous five starts.
Mauer’s homer was just his second this season, following a solo shot on May 1. The 35-year-old first baseman last drove in five runs in a game last Sept. 17 against Toronto.
After Max Kepler and Mitch Garver led off the second with singles, Mauer’s drive with two outs made it 3-0. His fly carried into the left-field basket with help from the wind.
With Albert Almora, Jr. on first, Heyward lined Berrios’ first pitch to him in the third into the right-center bleachers to cut it to 3-2.
Mauer’s double to center field got past Almora in the fourth and plated two runs to extend the Twins’ lead to 5-2.
After the Cubs loaded the bases in the fifth, Russell’s fifth homer put them ahead. Zobrist added his two-run shot to right in the sixth off Matt Magill to make it 8-5.

INF Javier Baez wasn’t in the lineup following the birth of his son Friday morning. Baez, tied with Schwarber for the team lead with 16 homers, pinch hit in the seventh and struck out.

Twins: INF/OFTaylor Motter was placed on the disabled list with concussion like symptoms after hitting his chest hard against right field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field on Thursday while trying to make a catch. … Minnesota recalled C/INF Willians Astudillo from Triple-A Rochester to take Motter’s roster spot. … The Twins designated RHP Felix Jorge for release or assignment.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish travelled to Texas to see orthopedic surgeon Keith Meister for a fresh opinion on his sore right triceps. The injury flared up in a bullpen session on Thursday in Los Angeles and forced the Cubs to scrub Darvish’s return to the rotation this weekend. . INF/OF Kris Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) hit off a tee and took infield practice on Friday. He could return on Tuesday when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list. … RHP Carl Edwards Jr. (right shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to make a rehab outing at Triple-A Iowa on Friday and is nearing a return from the DL.

Twins LHP Adalberto Mejia makes his first major league appearance of the season and faces Cubs RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 3.95), who comes off the paternity list. Mejia is 4-2 with 2.74 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) for Triple-A Rochester, and was 4-7 with 4.50 ERA in 21 starts for the Twins in 2017. Chatwood leads the majors with 63 walks.

Indiana Headlines

Indiana county building to reopen after asbestos removal

ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Court will once again be in session at a central Indiana county building that was closed in December for asbestos removal.

The Anderson Herald-Bulletin reports that Madison County’s judicial system will return to the county government center on July 9. Other government offices, which are still under construction, are expected to open before August.

Madison County employees moved out of the downtown Anderson building late last year for the planned $3.5 million project. But contractors say they found more asbestos — delaying the opening and upping the project’s cost to $4.5 million

Asbestos was once commonly used in insulation and fireproofing material. Exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and other ailments.

Indiana Headlines

Indiana nursing home company’s ex-CEO awaits sentencing

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The former CEO of a company that operates dozens of Indiana nursing homes could face more than 12 years in prison for his role in kickback schemes involving nearly $20 million.

Federal prosecutors say James Burkhart, who will be sentenced Friday, ran more than two dozen fraud and kickback schemes that enabled Burkhart and three other men to live lavish lifestyles.

Burkhart is American Senior Communities’ former CEO. He and the company’s former Chief Operating Officer, Daniel Benson, were indicted by federal authorities in October 2016 along with associates Steven Ganote and Joshua Burkhart.

The Indianapolis Star reports court documents show the four men reached plea deals in the case. James Burkhart is expected to plead guilty to charges that include conspiracy to commit mail, wire and health care fraud.

Indiana Headlines

Gaming commission approves Indiana casino ownership changes

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Gaming Commission has approved deals that allow ownership changes at four casinos.

Caesars Entertainment’s $1.7 billion purchase of Indianapolis-based Centaur Gaming and its Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand horse racing casinos were approved Thursday. Hoosier Park is in Anderson. Indiana Grand is in Shelbyville.

The commission also approved Penn National Gaming’s purchase of Pinnacle Entertainment which owns Belterra Casino Resort in Switzerland County and Ameristar Casino in East Chicago. That deal is worth about $2.8 billion.

As part of the Pinnacle and Penn deal, Boyd Gaming is buying Belterra.

The commission also fined Caesars $1 million Thursday for improperly threatening to call off an unrelated project if a $50 million license transfer fee to the state attached to the Centaur deal wasn’t waived.