Hawaii’s Financial Report, Facing a Challenging Future

Governor David Ige thanked Hawai‘i residents at a news briefing Monday on all of their efforts and sacrifices to keep Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 cases low. The State recently marked a milestone of living with restrictions for over three months.

At the briefing Gov. Ige said, “Your commitment has made Hawai‘i the national leader in controlling COVID-19.” However, with the recent spike in cases the governor is urging people to continue safe practices to remain the lowest in the nation for per capita transmission and the fewest fatalities.

Hawai‘i’s Financial Report

Gov. Ige also provided updates on the state’s financial picture. During the pandemic more than 200,000 residents lost their jobs and filed for unemployment. While the state was able to keep afloat by an infusion of more than $4 billion in federal funds, he pointed out the money is drying up. The Payroll Protection Program funds, that supported thousands of Hawai‘i businesses and kept many employed, started to run out at the end of June. Additionally, those who filed for unemployment who received an additional $600 per week from the federal government will no longer receive the bonus after July 31.

A look at the state’s finances show Hawai‘i collected $644 million in taxes in June 2019. However, in June 2020, the State will collect $483 million, a 25-percent decrease. Last fiscal year the State collected $7 billion. This year, the State is expected to collect $6.5 billion, a 7-percent drop. Gov. Ige said, “This is especially bad because as you remember, things were looking great for most of the year before the COVID-19 crisis. We went from what looked like a record year to a significant loss because of the virus.” For fiscal years 2020-21, the Council of Revenues also reduced the estimate of what the State would bring in by $2.3 billion. The governor said the challenge is now to figure out how to make up the loss. Gov. Ige said, “For that big of a loss, we are looking at all of our options. Everything is on the table. This includes trying to find more money, and, unfortunately, considering potential cuts. Our planning and decisions will be based on facts and numbers. We are facing a challenging future.” The governor said he would keep Hawai‘i residents updated and that it was important to remember that this is temporary, adding, “In the short term, tourism may start to recover and help our financial situation. Looking further out, we are hopeful that a vaccine will be developed that will reduce the impact of the virus. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have faced difficult times in the past. But together we have prevailed and emerged stronger as a community.”

Community Spread of COVID-19 Cases Prompts Reminder About Staying Vigilant 

After Hawai‘i saw an increase in cases over the past few days, the DOH is once again reminding the public to remain on guard. While some of the reported cases were identified through contact tracing, many of the newly reported lab results were not associated with known cases – meaning the virus is actively circulating in our communities and spreading.

At a news briefing Monday, DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “The rise in cases is alarming as we continue to reopen businesses and get closer to welcoming more visitors from states with higher rates of infection and large outbreaks. The single most important thing that we can all do today is wear a mask when we are outside our homes. The risk of infection at this time is particularly high on O‘ahu and we all need to be more vigilant in our daily routines to include wearing a cloth mask, practice physical distancing, and wash our hands often.” He also added, “You’ve heard us talk about ‘clusters’ and these are groups of multiple cases that have a common source. All of the recent clusters have been associated with people not wearing masks and not practicing social distancing. They have occurred in workplaces, gyms, and during social gatherings both inside and outdoors.”

Dr. Anderson says DOH has more than 100 contact tracers available for surge capacity but needs the community’s support and cooperation to prevent the spread of disease.

Hawaii Senate Votes to Allow Continued Sale of Menthol E-Cigarettes & Cigarettes

Statement of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association and American Lung Association:

The Hawaii Senate today let down the state’s kids and families by passing legislation (HB 2457) that exempts menthol e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes from a proposed ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products despite the clear evidence that menthol products appeal to kids. This legislation will not stop the youth e-cigarette crisis that is addicting so many of Hawaii’s kids, and it gives the green light to tobacco companies to continue targeting the state’s kids with menthol products. Rather than protecting Hawaii’s kids, this bill protects the interests of tobacco companies like Juul, Altria and R.J. Reynolds, the leading sellers of menthol e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

Our public health organizations strongly oppose the bill passed by the Senate. We urge the Hawaii House of Representatives to reject these harmful menthol loopholes pushed by the tobacco industry and pass a bill that ends the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol products.

The evidence is clear that flavors drive youth use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, and only the elimination of all flavors can reverse this crisis. If menthol or any other flavors are left on the market, kids will flock to them. We know this from experience. For example, after Juul restricted the availability of flavors other than mint and menthol in November 2018, youth use of mint and menthol e-cigarettes soared. Similarly, after Juul was pressured to end the sale of its mint products in November 2019, sales of menthol e-cigarettes soared. There is every reason to believe that if Hawaii leaves menthol products on the market, kids will shift to them.

We also know from decades of experience with menthol cigarettes that menthol appeals to kids. In fact, over half of current youth smokers smoke menthol cigarettes.

Attorney General Clare Connors

The biggest beneficiary of an exemption for menthol e-cigarettes would be Juul, the company most responsible for creating the youth e-cigarette crisis. It makes no sense for the Hawaii Senate to help Juul at the same time the state is suing Juul (and its Altria partner) for targeting and addicting kids. As Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors stated in filing the lawsuit, “In marketing their e-cigarettes to Hawaii’s children, these companies ripped pages directly out of the tobacco-company playbook and resurrected Joe Camel for a 21st Century audience. By misrepresenting nicotine content and by presenting their products as healthy alternatives to cigarettes, they deceived the public and created a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

It is also disappointing that the bill passed by the Senate fails to remove penalties on youth for the purchase, use or possession of tobacco products. Penalties should be imposed on tobacco retailers who sell illegally to kids, not on kids who have been targeted and victimized by tobacco companies.

In Hawaii, 1 in 4 high school students (25.5%) now use e-cigarettes. We urge Hawaii lawmakers to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol products, in order to prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation of kids and stop the tobacco industry from targeting kids with flavored products once and for all.

UH Mānoa Course Delivery Format Updates for fall 2020

This message from Provost Michael Bruno was shared with students of the University of Hawaiʻiat Mānoa on July 6, 2020.

Aloha UH Mānoa students,

I hope this email finds you and your families in good health. We are preparing for an unprecedented fall semester, and your patience and flexibility are greatly appreciated as we navigate this transition.

The mode of delivery (online, in-person, or hybrid combination of online and in-person) for every fall 2020 course will be updated in the STAR–GPS system over the coming weeks. Registration was temporarily paused from Sunday, July 5 at 11:59 p.m. It will reopen Monday, July 13, after we begin updating approximately 2,500 fall courses (roughly 70 percent of fall courses). You can view a preliminary list of fall 2020 courses that will change to online or hybrid here. Courses will continue to be added to this list (and updated in STAR) throughout July.

When registration reopens on Monday, July 13, you will be able to drop and/or add courses. You will receive information from campus announcements and via email before July 13 about your registration time. You may decide to adjust your fall semester so your courses are a combination of face-to-face, online and/or hybrid. You may want to speak with your academic advisors for guidance before making schedule changes. Adjustments may be made to course formats throughout the summer, so we encourage you to check STAR regularly.

I know that this is not what you anticipated when you made the important decision to attend UH Mānoa. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. Courses had to be moved to online or hybrid formats to accommodate our significantly reduced in-person classroom capacity after instituting COVID-19 health and safety requirements, especially 6-foot social distancing.

Please know that hundreds of UH Mānoa faculty, staff and administrators have been hard at work making these necessary adjustments with your health and safety as our top priority. Our goal is to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all of you and our employees while continuing to deliver a high-quality, relevant education.

Please keep an eye out for updates and thank you again. If you have any questions, email covid19@hawaii.edu or visit the UH COVID-19 resource website.

With aloha,

Michael Bruno
UH Mānoa Provost

Electric Vehicles Allowed to Use HOV Lanes

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) provides clarification on Electric Vehicle (EV) driver’s use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in consideration of the sunset of Act 168 (2012) on June 30, 2020.

HDOT supports the continued exemption for EVs from HOV lane restrictions and has sent a letter to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) asking them not to ticket vehicles with EV plates for illegal use of an HOV lane as described in Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 291C-223.

Under HRS 291C-222, HDOT may authorize use of HOV lanes to certain vehicles under its own administrative rules. HDOT will revise its administrative rules to exempt EVs with electric vehicle license plates from High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane restrictions.

DOE Launches New Online Student Bus Pass Application & Payment Option

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) Student Transportation Services Branch (STSB) has launched an online bus pass application and payment feature for parents and guardians. Parents who have an email address in their student’s profile will receive an automated email message today with instructions to apply for school bus passes online or can visit https://hi.etrition.com/busapplication to sign up.

Parents who have an email address in their student’s profile will receive an automated email message today with instructions to apply for school bus passes online or can visit https://hi.etrition.com/busapplication to sign up. Photo Credit: Dept. of Education

Families with multiple students will receive separate emails for each child and should complete applications for each one. If the application is approved, parents will be prompted to submit payments online using EZSchoolPay and they will receive a receipt and temporary bus pass with the child’s name, school, and assigned route number that can be printed at home. The temporary pass will enable immediate student access to the bus service. Free school bus transportation recipients can print their temporary bus pass at any time. Permanent bus pass cards will be available at the school office five to seven days after payment. Paper applications and in-person payments will still be available at school offices. 

“The health and safety of our haumana continues to be a top priority. The development of these online systems were planned prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and will provide not only a more convenient and efficient process, but also improve safety with a contactless experience for families,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “We ask for patience and flexibility from our school communities as school bus pick up and drop off times are adjusted to accommodate proper health and safety guidelines.”

Students will be asked to observe safe social distancing at bus stops. Per Hawaii Department of Health guidelines, face coverings will be required for students riding buses. High-touch points on school buses, such as handrails and seat back tops, will be cleaned and sanitized after each route. 

Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, the Annual bus pass plan option has been temporarily removed and only Quarterly plans and one-way bus coupons will be offered. The price of one-way coupons has also been reduced from $12.50 to $10 for a sheet of ten.

Families are also reminded that the unused portions of school year 2019-20 bus passes and unused bus coupons are eligible for refunds. Unused bus coupons must be returned to the school office from which they were purchased in order to be eligible for a refund. Parents and guardians who want more information or are inquiring on the status of their refund can contact their local student transportation office.

  • Honolulu District: 784-6864
  • Central District: 622-0529
  • Leeward District: 687-9519
  • Windward District: 233-3680
  • Kauai District: 241-7120
  • Maui District: 243-1171
  • West Hawaii: 327-9500
  • East Hawaii: 974-6411

Matson Christens New ‘Con-Ro’ Ship To Serve Hawaii

Matson christened the second of two Kanaloa Class vessels, the largest combination container / roll-on, roll-off (“con-ro”) ships ever built in the United States, in a ceremony at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, CA on Thursday, July 2, 2020. 

Matson’s newest ship was christened ‘Matsonia’ and launched into San Diego Bay at the NASSCO shipyard on July 2, 2020. It is the fifth ship to carry the iconic name in Matson’s 138-year history.

The new vessel was christened ‘Matsonia,’ an iconic name in Matson’s long history, dating to the construction of Matson’s first ship of that name in 1912. Three more ships were given the name in subsequent years; this vessel will be the fifth.

The new Matsonia is the second of two new ships being built for Honolulu-based Matson by NASSCO at a total cost of approximately $500 million for the pair, and the fourth of four new vessels that Matson will put into service during 2018, 2019 and 2020.  Named in honor of the ocean deity revered in the native Hawaiian culture, Matson’s two “Kanaloa Class” vessels constructed at the NASSCO shipyard are built on a 3,500 TEU* vessel platform. 

At 870 feet long, 114 feet wide (beam), with a deep draft of 38 feet and weighing in at over 50,000 metric tons, Matsonia will join Lurline as Matson’s largest ships and the largest con-ro vessels ever constructed in the U.S. They are also among Matson’s fastest vessels, with a top speed of 23 knots, helping ensure on-time deliveries in Hawaii from Matson’s three West Coast terminals in Seattle, Oakland and Long Beach.  

Both new Kanaloa Class vessels will have an enclosed garage with room for approximately 500 vehicles, plus ample space for rolling stock and breakbulk cargo. They will also feature state-of-the-art green technology, including a fuel-efficient hull design, environmentally safe double hull fuel tanks, fresh water ballast systems and the first Tier 3 dual fuel engines to be deployed in containerships regularly serving West Coast ports.  

Under the latest International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements for engine manufacturers, Tier 3 engines reduce the levels of particulate emissions by 40% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 20%, as compared to Tier 2 standards. Matson’s deployment of Tier 3 engines in both Kanaloa Class vessels is supported by California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

“Matson is already benefitting from the speed, capacity and improved environmental profile of the three new ships we’ve put into service since 2018,” said Matt Cox, Matson’s chairman and chief executive officer, after the shipyard ceremony. “Matsonia will be our fourth new ship, completing a three-year fleet renewal program that positions us well to serve the needs of our communities in Hawaii for many years to come.”

“As a proud U.S. company and Jones Act carrier, our investment in this new ship is about much more than maintaining a high level of service to Hawaii. It also helps drive substantial economic benefits in and opportunities in communities around the Pacific, where this vessel will operate,” Cox said.

“The construction of Matsonia represents over a year’s work for about 2,000 professionals here at NASSCO…engineers, tradesmen and lots of support people and countless others who produced the materials used to build this ship that are sourced here in the U.S. Over its expected lifespan, this ship will generate approximately 4.5 million man-hours of work opportunity for the U.S. mariners who will operate it and decades of steady work for all of the dockworkers and terminal personnel that move the cargo on and off our ships.

“These are all living wage jobs, supporting the families of these American workers and the taxes they pay,” Cox said, adding, “Multiply that by all the ships NASSCO and other U.S. shipyards are building, and you get a sense of the value of the maritime industry to our country and its economy. In California alone, there are more than 51,000 jobs tied to the American maritime industry, providing over 3.6 billion dollars in labor income with a total economic impact in the state of more than twelve billion dollars.”

Dave Carver, President of General Dynamics NASSCO, said, “The Matsonia is a reflection of the highest standards of shipbuilding and we are proud to celebrate her launching. This extraordinary vessel is a testament to the hard work, unity and strength of our thousands of dedicated shipbuilders who made this possible.” 

Matson invited Peggy Forest, wife of Matson’s President Ron Forest, to officially christen the vessel by breaking a ceremonial bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull. Immediately after the bottle was broken, the vessel was released from its build ways and slid backward into San Diego Bay. Matsonia was then docked at NASSCO’s nearby testing and trials berth, where the final stages of construction will be completed.  

Matson is expected to take delivery of the vessel in the fourth quarter of 2020.

More information on Matsonia and Matson’s fleet modernization program is available at: https://www.matson.com/kanaloa-class.html

* Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, the standard unit of measurement for container capacity

Flood Advisory Issued for Parts of Big Island

The National Weather Service has announced a Flood advisory for the Island of Hawaii in Hawaii County until 5 p.m. 

At 1:57 p.m., radar indicated heavy showers falling at rates up to 1 inch per hour over Leeward Big Island. The heaviest showers have been observed along Mamalahoa Highway between Kalaoa and Puuanahulu. Additional rainfall is expected through late afternoon with some showers forming around and south of Kailua-Kona. 

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Kealakekua, Honalo, Captain Cook, Honaunau, Kahaluu-Keauhou, Holualoa, Kainaliu and Kona International Airport. 

2,099 People Arrived in Hawaii Yesterday

Yesterday, 2,099 people arrived in Hawaii. During this same time last year approximately 35,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

The state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started on March 26th for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel.

This data was collected from the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.

The following table shows what the Oahu visitors indicated as the purpose of their trip, and they can choose more than one.

Hawaii Attorney General Sues E-Cigarette Giants JUUL & Altria

Attorney General Clare E. Connors filed a lawsuit against electronic-cigarette manufacturers JUUL Labs, Inc. (better known simply as JUUL) and Altria Group, Inc. (the parent company of Philip Morris and JUUL’s largest shareholder), as well as certain key executives and directors, seeking penalties, damages, and injunctive relief for violations of Hawaii’s Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Law.

The complaint alleges that, for a period of more than five years, the defendants misleadingly marketed JUUL e-cigarettes, intending to hook users on the product in the same manner used by tobacco companies in the marketing of cigarettes. Among other things, the complaint alleges the defendants used marketing strategies that targeted teenagers, making JUUL products seem desirable, all while falsely understating the nicotine content of the product and its addictiveness.

“In marketing their e-cigarettes to Hawaii’s children, these companies ripped pages directly out of the tobacco-company playbook and resurrected Joe Camel for a 21st Century audience,” said Attorney General Connors. “By misrepresenting nicotine content and by presenting their products as healthy alternatives to cigarettes, they deceived the public and created a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

Nicotine addiction among Hawai‘i children, caused by the rise of e-cigarettes, is alarmingly high—2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Hawai‘i has the highest vaping rate among middle schoolers and the second highest among high schoolers in the nation. After years of hard-fought battles between states and the tobacco industry led to significant reductions in the consumption of tobacco by children, e-cigarette corporations, through predatory and deceptive marketing, have caused many of today’s teenagers to become addicted to nicotine and produced grave problems in the medical community, our schools and our families.

The complaint alleges that JUUL, Altria, and certain executives and directors engaged in unfair and deceptive acts and practices and additionally asserts claims for unjust enrichment, negligence, and public nuisance. The State seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and damages, including punitive damages. The State also seeks an injunction requiring the defendants to, among other things, halt their deceptive advertising practices and fund mitigation programs, including vaping-cessation programs.

The State is being represented by the Honolulu law firm Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher, and the national law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, who have been appointed to serve as special deputy attorneys general in this matter.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

Zonta Club of Hilo Offers Small Business MicroGrant for Women Entrepreneurs in East Hawaii

The Zonta Club of Hilo is accepting grant applications to provide funding for women-owned businesses in East Hawai’i. Women who are seeking financial support to start up or improve upon a business are encouraged to apply. Applications are available through their website zontahilo.org and are being accepted via email zontapayitforward@gmail.com or mail through midnight on Friday, July 31, 2020.

2019 Pay It Forward MicroGrant awardees (left two) with Zonta Club of Hilo members (right three)

The Pay It Forward program of the local chapter of Zonta was launched in 2014 with an initial generous donation from Nancy Cabral, a member of Zonta and owner of Day-Lum Rentals & Management, Inc./ Coldwell Banker Day Lum Properties. Cabral’s desire is to encourage other women to achieve financial independence and business success.

The program goal is to help women in our community start up or expand a business through a microgrant intended to give a helping hand. The grant will be for up to $2,000. Awardees are required to submit a written report after one year, and will be asked to present the report to the club. Awardees are encouraged to “Pay It Forward” when they are able.

“Encouraging women to succeed in their goals to provide a better community for East Hawai’i is an important part of the mission of our club. The Pay It Forward Program is one of the many programs our club offers to empower women and girls through service and advocacy. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Zonta International,” said Zonta Club of Hilo President Elyse Robinson.

Applications may also be requested by mailing:

Zonta Club of Hilo
Pay It Forward Program P.O. Box 1915
Hilo, HI 96721-1915

For more information, visit the website zontahilo.org or email zontapayitforward@gmail.com

O’ahu COVID-19 Death Brings State Total to 19

The Hawai‘i Department of Health is reporting the 19th COVID-19 death today of an elderly adult on O‘ahu who was hospitalized with multiple underlying health issues. Governor David Ige expressed his condolences to the family and friends for their loss.

“Every COVID-19 death is an emotional reminder of the need for all of us to be vigilant and wear a face covering when outside our homes, physically distance ourselves from others and wash hands frequently,” said Gov. Ige. “It’s about protecting each other and allowing the state to reopen safely. We all have a stake in this and now is the most critical time to wear a mask.”

“As the state continues to reopen businesses and rebuild the economy, controlling the spread of COVID-19 will be the key to moving forward,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Controlling the spread of the virus requires everyone to wear a face covering whenever they are out and avoid crowded places, closed spaces, and close contact with those outside of their household.”

An additional 29 new positive cases today bring the state’s cumulative total to 975 cases.

There were 25 cases diagnosed on O‘ahu, 2 cases on Maui, 1 case on Hawai‘i Island, and 1 case is out of state. At least 5 cases represent 3 new events and possible clusters. Cases on O‘ahu are from various areas including Honolulu, Kailua, Mililani, Pearl City, Wahiawa, Waialua, Waianae, Kaneohe, Waimanalo and Waipahu.

Floatilla Organizers & Attendees Warned to Cancel or Face Arrest

Several hundred people have RSVP’d for a floatilla event being publicized on social media for the 4th of July holiday at an East O‘ahu beach. The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) says not only is attendance at this gathering illegal, in light of 29 additional Hawai‘i COVID-19 cases today (25 on Oahu), it is extremely irresponsible.

Current Emergency Rules and Orders prohibit the gathering of large groups of people, and additionally, no marine permits have been issued for this event. 

DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “This floatilla event, being promoted on social media, is very concerning because it invites people to gather in a large group. We’re imploring anyone who has expressed their intention to attend this event to step back and consider their personal responsibility to their friends, their family and most especially, their kupuna.”

DOCARE is prepared to stringently enforce all emergency rules and orders. Officers will be on patrol and on alert to detect any floatilla activity. Partner law enforcement and public safety agencies are also being made aware of the information received about this event. 

Traditionally, the Independence Day holiday has been a very busy time for DOCARE and other first responders. Redulla added, “These types of Illegal floatilla events, divert law enforcement and emergency response resources unnecessarily. It is wrong for anyone to be organizing a floatilla event at this time. We take this information seriously and enforcement action will be taken if necessary.”

State health officials expressed concerns today that many people are failing to abide by physical distancing measures and the use of face coverings and that’s leading to the current spike in coronavirus cases via community transmission. They urge everyone to act with care and to act responsibly.

Violations of Hawai‘i’s Emergency Rules and Orders are misdemeanors, punishable by up to $5000 fine and one-year imprisonment.

Three Former Hilo Correctional Officers Indicted for Assaulting an Inmate and Attempting to Cover it Up

A federal grand jury in Honolulu, Hawaii, returned a six-count indictment against three former correctional officers — Jason Tagaloa, 29, Craig Pinkney, 36, and Jonathan Taum, 48 — for their roles in assaulting an inmate housed at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center and for attempting to cover up their misconduct.  

U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price

The indictment from June 25, was announced Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price for the District of Hawaii, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and FBI Honolulu Special Agent in Charge Eli S. Miranda.

The indictment alleges that, on June 15, 2015, defendants Tagaloa, Pinkney, and Taum, along with a fourth correctional officer designated “Officer A,” physically assaulted an inmate in the jail’s recreation yard, that Tagaloa later assaulted the same inmate in a holding cell, and that both assaults resulted in bodily injury. The indictment further alleges that the defendants and Officer A conspired to cover up their misconduct by engaging in a variety of obstructive acts, including devising a false cover story to justify their use of force, documenting that false cover story in official reports, and repeating that false cover story when questioned during the ensuing investigation and disciplinary proceedings arising out of the assault.

The maximum penalties for the charged crimes are 10 years of imprisonment for each of the deprivation-of-rights offenses, 20 years of imprisonment for each of the false report offenses, and 5 years of imprisonment for the conspiracy offense.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan of the District of Hawaii is prosecuting the case in partnership with Special Litigation Counsel Christopher J. Perras and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division. 

Governor Orders Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of Late Sen. Breene Harimoto

As a mark of respect for the late Hawaiʻi State Senator Breene Harimoto, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawai‘i shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawai‘i National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Tuesday, July 7 – the day of Sen. Harimoto’s memorial service.

In addition – on Monday, July 6, the Hawai‘i State flag will be flown at the Hawai‘i State Capitol in honor of Sen. Harimoto, as a gift to his family.

“Breene was a true dedicated public servant who worked tirelessly and selflessly for the community he loved, even while fighting his illness,” said Gov. Ige.

Sen. Harimoto, 66, died June 18 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He represented District 16 – Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa and Pearl Harbor for six years. He also served on the Honolulu City Council for four years and the Board of Education for eight years, two terms as the BOE’s chairman.

Sen. Harimoto is survived by his wife Cheryl, three children, three grandchildren, his parents and three siblings.

Ka Lamakū Micro-Village Welcomes First Residents at Old Kona Airport Park

Thanks to an islandwide partnership, 15 Hawaiʻi Island residents said goodbye to the streets, and hello to a space of their own Wednesday.

They were the first group to move into Ka Lamakū, the new village of micro-shelters erected at Old Kona Airport Park, in response to calls for the county to provide shelter for the growing number of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ka Lamakū Micro-Village PC: Hope Services Hawaii

The village is the result of a partnership between the County of Hawaiʻi and HOPE Services, which will manage the units and assist guests in securing permanent housing. The County Fire Department, County Department of Parks and Recreation, State Department of Transportation, Tinguely Development, HPM Building Supply, and West Hawai‘i Rotary Clubs all played a role in construction of the micro units.

Ka Lamakū Micro-Village PC: Hope Services Hawaii

Volunteers from Kiwanis Club were also on site Wednesday, preparing hygiene kits and household supplies to welcome new guests. Also present were Youth With A Mission volunteers, who made a donation of shoes for the guests at Ka Lamakū.

HOPE Services Deputy Director of Operations, Ipo Morgan, who normally oversees day to day operations at The Friendly Place, plans to stay onsite at Ka Lamakū for at least the next month to ensure the new program’s success. She says the village provides much needed relief for people who have been forced from their homes by rising rents or loss of income. “People have been coming to us, because they have nowhere to go. It was heartbreaking to see more and more of our neighbors living in tents, unable to social distance or practice hygiene. This village restores their dignity.”

Ka Lamakū Micro-Village PC: Hope Services Hawaii

Morgan cautioned, however, that Ka Lamakū shouldn’t be viewed as a permanent solution to ending homelessness. “We’re so glad we can help this group of people, but we need to address the lack of affordable housing, or the cycle of evictions and homelessness will continue.”

Wealth inequality has become even starker since the pandemic hit, and despite a freeze on evictions, HOPE staff have fielded requests for assistance at more than double the rate of last year, as Hawaiʻi’s unemployment rate remains high.

The pandemic has also intensified the need to reduce crowding in shelters, with the CDC recommending that communities “identify additional temporary housing and shelter sites that are able to provide appropriate services, supplies, and staffing.” Advocates for people experiencing homelessness have hailed Ka Lamakū as a necessary measure to protect the community, as well as the right thing to do.

Ka Lamakū Micro-Village PC: Hope Services Hawaii

“We truly appreciate the community coming together in making this opportunity happen,” said Brandee Menino, CEO of HOPE Services Hawaiʻi.

A total of 18 units were constructed, and will remain in place until the County’s new project, Kukuiola, is built.

Federal, State Agencies Partner to Protect Marine Life Around Hawaii Island

Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement crews conducted joint patrols under Operation Nemo in the vicinity of Hawaii Island June 16 to 26.

During the 10-day enforcement operation, crews visited multiple locations, conducted 18 patrols by air, sea, and on land, contacted more than a dozen boaters, issued six safety violations with 21 incident reports, and three NOAA warnings. 

Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement crews aboard a Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) small boat contact a boater during a patrol off Hawaii Island in June 18, 2020. The agencies conducted a 10-day joint operation conduct enforcement and public education of the rules under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson Stevens Act. Protecting Hawaii’s thriving oceans and marine mammals is vital to long term sustainability. (U.S. Coast Guard video by USCGC William Hart/Released)

“We conducted these operations in response to complaints of recent maritime violations in the vicinity of the Big Island and to increase the local enforcement presence,” said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Holt of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “These joint operations were designed to enforce all applicable laws and regulations under several federal acts. Boaters are often unaware of the guidelines to give marine life a wide berth.”

Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement crews aboard a Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) small boat patrol off Hawaii Island in June 24, 2020. The agencies conducted a 10-day joint operation conduct enforcement and public education of the rules under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson Stevens Act. Protecting Hawaii’s thriving oceans and marine mammals is vital to long term sustainability. (U.S. Coast Guard video by USCGC William Hart/Released)

Specifically, NOAA, and the Coast Guard, with support from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Police Department, and the National Park Service used patrols and one-on-one encounters to conduct enforcement and public education of the rules under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson Stevens Act.

“Due to lack of federal resources on the island, coupled with the number of complaints and shared information of violations from the Hawaii Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, Hawaii Police Department, and National Park Service, the need for a combined joint air, water, and land patrols were long overdue,” said Lt. Brian Christy, a supervisory enforcement officer with NOAA OLE Pacific Islands Division. “Coast Guard Sector Honolulu officials agreed to have the William Hart on station to join in the joint water operations targeting the illegal take of marine fishes within the Hawaii State and National Park Service designated no-take areas. The on-water patrols also focus on presence to deter boaters from interfering with the resting Spinner Dolphins in their bay rest areas. The land patrols consisted of area familiarization and patrol of nesting areas throughout the island with our federal, state, and local partners.”

Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement crews aboard a Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) small boat patrol contact a boater off Hawaii Island in June 17, 2020. The agencies conducted a 10-day joint operation conduct enforcement and public education of the rules under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson Stevens Act. Protecting Hawaii’s thriving oceans and marine mammals is vital to long term sustainability. Crews from NOAA and the Sector Honolulu boarding team also conducted shoreside patrols. (U.S. Coast Guard video by USCGC William Hart/Released)

Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules crews delivered NOAA vehicles, a Coast Guard Sector Honolulu boarding team, NOAA OLE officer, and equipment to Hawaii Island to conduct operations onshore along the west side of the island and Hilo. 

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) managed the effort on the water along the south shore and to the east with NOAA OLE officers. These operations focused on preventing illegal activity in State, and National Park Service areas closed to fishing and educating those onshore to give monk seals and turtles proper space. The on-water actions also served to educate and deter boaters from interfering with Spinner Dolphins in protected areas.

Hawaii is host to many marine life species, from endemic reef fish to sharks, rays, and humpback whales. Hawaii Island is a popular destination to see Manta rays. The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with only an estimated 1,100 animals remaining, and live only in the Hawaiian Islands. Most of their population resides in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with about 15 percent in the Main Hawaiian Islands.

The Big Island, officially named Hawaii, is the largest in the Hawaiian archipelago in the Central Pacific, representing more than half its landmass. It is home to nearly 200,000 people with diverse terrain, colored-sand beaches, and lush rainforest. Agriculture and science are prominent on the island.

Coast Guard and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement crews aboard a Coast Guard Cutter William Hart (WPC 1134) small boat patrol off Hawaii Island in June 2020. The agencies conducted a 10-day joint operation conduct enforcement and public education of the rules under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson Stevens Act. Protecting Hawaii’s thriving oceans and marine mammals is vital to long term sustainability. (U.S. Coast Guard video by USCGC William Hart/Released)

It’s also the location of two famous active volcanoes within Volcanoes National Park — Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea gained national attention in 2018 for devastating lava floes. There are many nationally protected areas to preserve the unique flora and fauna, including several national parks. 

“We appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in these operations. All our local agency representatives respect the unique and vital nature of the Big Island environment. We came together to protect it and intend to continue regular patrols and surge operations in the area,” said Holt.

Rep. Lowen Named to U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has named Representative Nicole  Lowen (D-6 Kailua-Kona, Holualoa)  as a new member of the Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC), which provides advice to the DOE in implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005, executing the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and modernizing the nation’s electricity delivery infrastructure.

Representative Nicole  Lowen

Each member is appointed by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette for a two-year term beginning on July 1, 2020. The group reports to the DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Electricity and meets three times a year to advise DOE on a variety of electricity issues.  

Representative Lowen ) is the Chair of the House Energy & Environmental Protection Committee.

“As EAC members we advise DOE on current and future electric grid reliability, resilience, security, sector interdependence, and policy issues,” said Representative Lowen. “My goal is bring Hawaii’s unique perspective to the conversation, and to further our nation’s commitment to renewables, resilience, and a clean energy future.”

The 35 members of the EAC are from state governments, regional planning entities, utility companies, cyber security and national security firms, the natural gas sector, equipment manufacturers, construction and architectural companies, non-governmental organizations, and other electricity-related organizations. Rep. Lowen will be one of two elected officials in the nation to serve on the committee.

Face Coverings Mandated on Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced that the City and County of Honolulu’s proposal to Governor David Ige has been approved to mandate non-medical grade face coverings on O‘ahu effective Friday, July 3. This directive is outlined in an amended Order 5: Non-Medical Grade Face Coverings of the Mayor’s Emergency Order No. 2020-18 (Amendment to Ho‘oulu i Honolulu 4.0).

The amended Order 5: Non-Medical Grade Face Coverings now requires everyone on O‘ahu to wear non-medical grade face coverings over their noses and mouths at indoor public spaces, like Essential Business and Designated Businesses and Operations, as well as outdoor areas where physical distancing is unlikely or difficult to maintain. 

Face coverings under this Order may not be worn only under the following circumstances: 

• Within banks, financial institutions, or using automated teller machines where the inability to verify the identity of the customer or visitor of the bank, financial institution or automated teller machine poses a security risk; 

• By individuals with medical conditions or disabilities where the wearing of a face covering may pose a health or safety risk to the individual;

• By individuals engaging in physical activity outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained (e.g., walking, jogging, hiking, etc.)

• By children under the age of 5; 

• By first responders (Honolulu Police Department, Honolulu Fire Department, Honolulu Emergency Services Department) to the extent that wearing nonmedical grade face coverings may impair or impede the safety of the first responder in the performance of his/her duty; 

• By children in childcare, educational, and similar facilities consistent with the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) for such facilities; 

• As allowed by another provision of this Order. The wearing of face coverings under this Order is intended to complement, not serve as a substitute, for physical distancing and cleanliness. 

Face coverings will not be required if an individual has no engagement or interaction with anyone else (e.g. working alone at an office desk). If you are unable to wear a non-medical grade face covering due to medical conditions or disabilities where the wearing of a face covering may pose a health or safety risk to the individual, a face shield should be worn instead. 

“Face coverings are one of the easiest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I know wearing a face covering can be a bit inconvenient and take some time getting used to, but think about who you’re trying to protect. Throughout the month of June we saw double-digit bumps in the daily new cases of the virus here on O‘ahu and unfortunately another coronavirus related death. Doing all we can to control the spread of COVID-19 now, is imperative.”

“Non-medical grade face covering” or “face covering” as used in this Order, means a tightly woven fabric without holes that is secured to the head with either ties or straps, or simply wrapped and tied around the wearer’s nose and mouth. 

If you have any questions on Mayor Caldwell’s Ho‘oulu i Honolulu Order 3.0, the City and County of Honolulu COVID-19 information call center remains open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on holidays. O‘ahu residents are encouraged to visit the website, oneoahu.org to get answers to frequently asked questions. If they do not find an answer to their questions on the site, residents can call the 768-CITY (2489) information hotline or email covidresponse@honolulu.gov.

Return to Learn: Hawaii Public Schools Preparing to Safely Welcome Back Students & Staff

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) today released its Return to Learn: School Reopening Plan that public schools are using to prepare safe and healthy learning environments and worksites for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

“As we move forward in our commitment to reopen schools on Aug. 4 for the fall semester, we know that the delivery of instruction in Hawai‘i, across the nation and globally is going to look very different,” Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said. “Our HIDOE ʻohana has been diligently working on plans for the new school year, growing from our experience navigating a global pandemic and applying lessons learned toward our commitment to high-quality learning and equity of access.”

The Department is committed to maintaining the standard 180 instructional days in the new school year while providing learning models that are developmentally appropriate to the needs of learners, adhere to health and safety guidelines, and consider the impact of COVID-19 in communities.

School Models

As part of the reopening plan, HIDOE school leaders have created elementary, middle/intermediate, and high school models for reopening in the fall. Schools will be informing families about their selected models.

In general, models include face-to-face learning, where all students are on campus daily for instruction, and various blended learning models, where a combination of in-person learning and structured online distance learning is provided. Priority for daily face-to-face learning will be given to K-2 students and vulnerable students. The approaches support social distancing while ensuring academic rigor. See here for more information. 

All schools are preparing for the possibility of future school closures by increasing device accessibility to students, building teacher capacity for virtual engagement, and expanding course offerings for credits toward graduation. The Department recognizes there may be situations when parents may prefer virtual-only learning. The Department’s E-School stands ready to provide courses for students in grades 6-12. The Department is exploring a K-5 virtual solution. Working with their home school, once a parent selects a virtual-only option, the parent commits to the program for the length specified in order to earn the credit or grade.

Health Safeguards

The Department worked closely with public health officials to develop guidelines around health and safety measures as part of the reopening plan. In consultation with labor unions representing school staff and using recommendations from the Hawai’i State Department of Health, the Department created baseline guidance for schools that include:

  • Cohorts: For on-campus learning, the same group of students should be kept with the same staff throughout the day; all day for younger students and as much as possible for older students.
  • Physical distancing: A distance of 6 feet between students and staff members should be maintained whenever possible.
  • Face coverings: Face coverings should be worn by employees, students and visitors, especially when physical distancing is difficult or impossible.
  • Meals: Individually plated meals are to be consumed in classrooms or at designated outdoor locations, or distancing precautions must be instituted in cafeterias. 
  • Ventilation: Windows should be opened for greater natural air circulation when possible. 
  • Monitoring health: Employees, students and visitors should be screened for overt signs of illness in a safe and respectful manner.
  • Hygiene: Adequate cleaning supplies, including soap, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be made available to schools and offices.
  • Sanitation: Campuses, classrooms and offices will be cleaned and disinfected on a routine and frequent basis. High-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
  • School buses: Students, drivers and anyone else riding the bus should wear face coverings, and physical distance should be maintained between children on buses.

Return to Learn Plan

The Return to Learn reopening plan articulates the scope of work required to respond to health and safety issues while implementing the Hawaii State Board of Education’s call to action for school communities “to give hope, act with kindness and work toward togetherness” in preparing for the reopening of schools. It’s scheduled to be presented at the Board’s July 9 meeting.

The plan is centered around seven topic areas to help guide decision-making: health and safety, school design, equity and access, operations, staff capacity, family and community, and contingency planning. School-level tools accompanying the plan include a Principal Handbook and Health and Safety Handbook.

As the situation evolves and as new guidance becomes available, the Department will adjust as necessary to uphold its commitment to providing a safe learning and working environment.

‘COVID-19 in Hawaii’ Study Reveals Impacts of Pandemic on Residents

Today, Bank of Hawaii Foundation released findings from its COVID-19 in Hawaii: Facts and Insights report, commissioned from Anthology Research.

The COVID-19 in Hawaii study is the largest research survey of its kind to provide specific feelings, fears and financial hardships related to the virus during the heart of Hawaii’s shutdown. Between May 14 and 22, a total of 1,096 Hawaii residents statewide were surveyed, in which two in five Hawaii households revealed experiencing job-related impacts over the first months of the pandemic.

“Hawaii ranked as one of the most expensive states prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Peter Ho, chairman, president and CEO of Bank of Hawaii. “The research findings illustrate just how much the pandemic has exacerbated hardships for residents. Many are adding to their existing credit card debt or selling personal items to make ends meet. The hope is that this study will provide detail to shape discussions and future solutions to ease the financial, as well as emotional, toll on residents and business owners of our state.”

The full COVID-19 in Hawaii study can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.boh.com/facts-figures. Key findings of the survey are outlined below: 

  • Hawaii households have taken a financial hit, with residents struggling to afford basic necessities and relying on public and private support to navigate these difficult times.
    • 45% have seen their household income decline since the start of COVID-19.
    • 1 in 4 are delinquent paying at least some of their bills.
    • 1 in 5 have had issues with food security in the past three months.
    • 13% have sought out food from a local food drive or food bank.
  • Fear of COVID-19 among residents is substantial.
    • 81% worry about contracting COVID-19.
    • 71% consider COVID-19 a threat to themselves or others living in their household.
    • 57% worry about passing the virus on to others.
    • 83% who know at least one person who has tested positive for COVID-19 considers the virus a threat to their household.
    • 18% know someone (including themselves) who tested positive.
  • The pandemic continues to impact residents’ behaviors and habits, especially in relation to patronizing local businesses.  
    • 47% of residents will dine-in at restaurants less.
    • 44% of residents will go to movies or shows less.
    • 33% of residents will shop in-store at retail establishments less.
       
  • Financial support from the federal government is slated to end in the weeks ahead. The reality for many residents and businesses already facing financial hardship is that their situations may worsen. 
    • 83% of households statewide received or expect to receive an Economic Impact Payment.
    • 81% found the federal stimulus payment to be valuable.
    • 49% found the federal stimulus payment to be very valuable.

The study on which findings in the COVID-19 in Hawaii – Facts and Insights report is based was conducted for Bank of Hawaii Foundation by Anthology Research and involved a statewide online and telephone survey of full-time Hawaii residents. The resulting overall margin of error is +/– 3.02% at the 95% level of confidence.