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Big Island Police Kill Man Wielding Crossbow

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Saturday (April 29), in Papaʻaloa.

At about 3:35 p.m., police were investigating a disturbance at a residence when they encountered a man wielding a loaded crossbow. One officer fired several shots, resulting in the death of the man.

The man’s name is being withheld pending positive identification.

As is standard practice in any officer-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Police ask that anyone with any information about this incident cal l the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Lieutenant Miles Chong at 961-2252, or via email at miles.chong@hawaiicounty.gov. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Kamokuna Ocean Entry Slowly Building New Lava Delta

The episode 61g Kamokuna ocean entry has been slowly building a new lava delta for a little over a month now.

Click to enlarge

Two large cracks parallel to the coast are visible on the delta (center), with the distal portion slumping slightly seaward—suggesting further instability. Thursday, the ocean entry activity, most of which was located along the western side of the delta and obscured by the thick plume, was producing occasional weak littoral explosions.

Three Hawaii Public School Students Selected for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

Seniors from Mililani High School, Waipahu High School and Kalani High School have been selected as semifinalists for the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. These students were selected out of 5,100 candidates and are in the running, along with 723 semifinalists nationwide, to be in the 53rd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.

L to R: Emily Yang, Jommel Macaraeg, Tyler Labonte

The 2017 Hawaii public school semifinalists include:

  • Tyler Labonte, Mililani High School
  • Jommel Macaraeg, Waipahu High School
  • Emily Yang, Kalani High School.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to honor distinguished graduating seniors. The program recognizes students who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, talent in the visual, creative and performing arts and accomplishment in career and technical education fields, as well as evidence of community service, civic leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

“Congratulations to these outstanding students, their families and schools for receiving this prestigious recognition acknowledging their hard work and commitment to academic and civic excellence,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We wish them the best of luck as the finalists are selected, as well as continued success as they pursue their college and career goals.”

As a third degree black in Karate, Tyler Labonte has the discipline and drive it takes to balance a full schedule, which includes advanced placement classes, extracurricular activities and a part-time job. He is currently a member of the Mililani High Student Senate, a programmer for the school’s VEX Robotics team, state president for SkillsUSA Hawaii and executive committee member of Mensa Hawaii.

Jommel Macaraeg has taken on numerous leadership roles at Waipahu High including class president during his junior and senior years, president of Waipahu High’s Academy of Health and Sciences House Council, and secretary for the school’s National Honor Society. He has also balanced a rigorous class schedule maintaining a 4.075 grade point average, while also giving back to the community by volunteering at events like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk, the Great Aloha Run and the Taste of Waipahu.

Emily Yang will be graduating as the top valedictorian of Kalani High and plans on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she will major in Biology. Her interest and talent in science has helped her win numerous awards at district and state Science and Engineering Fairs. This year, she competed in a science fair in Japan and was a return participant at the 2017 Intel international Science and Engineering Fair.

Annually, up to 161 students are chosen for one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. For more information about the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on NSA Ending Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) announcement to end its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that may include mentions of a foreign intelligence target. The announcement marks a break in years of NSA policy to collect email, texts, and other Internet communication that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance.

“For years, Americans have been kept in the dark about our government’s unconstitutional collection of their personal communications and data in the name of national security. This change in NSA policy is an important step in the right direction. In order to ensure we do not backtrack on this progress, I will be introducing legislation to permanently codify this policy change to permanently ban this privacy-invading collection.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital

Hawaii Department of Health Investigating Increase in Mumps Cases

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has been investigating an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide. Since March 2017, DOH has become aware of two clusters of cases, together involving at least nine (9) individuals on Oahu, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide this year to fourteen (14). To date, none of the infected individuals have required hospitalization.“Healthcare providers have been notified, and because this disease is easily spread, we expect additional cases to be reported in the coming weeks,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “There is no specific treatment for mumps infection and while most people will recover completely, mumps can occasionally cause complications, especially in adults. Cases have been reported in vaccinated individuals, but vaccination is still the best protection against this disease. We encourage everyone to review their immunization record and talk to their healthcare provider about mumps vaccination.”

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most, but not all, cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. For this reason, being fully accinated is important in helping to protect the public’s health across the state.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. A classic symptom of mumps is arotitis (swelling of the salivary glands in front of the ears) resulting in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. Persons should seek medical attention immediately if they develop symptoms.

People with mumps are most infectious in the several days before and after the onset of parotitis. The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Transmission can also occur when sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth. Persons with mumps should stay home from school or work for nine (9) days after the onset of parotitis to keep from spreading the disease to others.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/mumps/.

Hawaii Department of Health Publishes First LGBT Health Data Report

Today the Department of Health released the first-ever Hawaii Sexual and Gender Minority Health Report at the Building Competency in Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Youth Conference. The report reveals that, compared to heterosexual youth and adults, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth experience many early risk factors that contribute to poorer health outcomes in adulthood.

Click to view report

“We are pleased to share our current research on the health of Hawaii’s sexual and gender minority people,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of Health. “The new findings will help us tailor programs to better address the health challenges of LGBT people in our State.” Over ten percent of public high school youth identify as LGB or questioning, and three percent of adults aged 18 years and older identify as LGB. An additional 5,600 adults in Hawaii identify as transgender or gender non-conforming.

Sexual and gender minority people experience discrimination and stigma, and are often victims of bullying, family rejection, and lack of acceptance. Consequently, LGB and questioning youth experience greater mental health challenges than heterosexual youth. Half of LGB youth report feeling sad or hopeless, and 60 percent report purposely hurting themselves through behaviors such as cutting or burning themselves. Each year, nearly one in three LGB youth attempt suicide.

LGB youth are also more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors that increase their risk for chronic disease and poor health outcomes later in life. One-quarter of LGB youth report that they currently smoke cigarettes, and nearly half drink alcohol. One in ten LBG youth also say they have injected illicit drugs at least once in their lifetime.

Consistent with the findings on youth, the report shows that LGB adults live with poorer health outcomes than heterosexual adults. Forty percent of LGB adults report having multiple chronic conditions, and they are twice as likely as heterosexual adults to suffer depression.

Women identifying as lesbian or bisexual also experience poorer health outcomes compared to heterosexual women. One-quarter of lesbian or bisexual women have asthma, and they are three times more likely to have a stroke. Men identifying as gay or bisexual are seven times more likely to experience abuse by a partner, and three times more likely to be a victim of rape or attempted rape.

“The report demonstrates that there is much work to be done to understand and address the unique challenges of sexual and gender minority people,” said Lola Irvin, Administrator of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. “By improving the health of at-risk and underserved populations, we will make Hawaii a healthier, happier place for all our citizens.”

To download a copy of the report, please visit https://health.hawaii.gov/surveillance/files/2017/04/HawaiiSexualandGenderMinorityHealthReport.pdf.

Animal Control Activities and Temporary Closure of Mauna Kea Forest Reserve

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), Palila Mitigation Lands, and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawai‘i.

Palila Bird

Aerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawai‘i.

Control schedules are May 10 and 11, 2017.  Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve, Palila Mitigation Lands, the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:

  • 7 a.m. May 10, 2017
  • 6 a.m. May 11, 2017

These actions are pursuant to Hawai‘i Administrative Rules Ch. 13-130-19 and § 13-104-23(a) (3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.  The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, both the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea State Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:

Locked 7 p.m. May 9, 2017, and reopened 7 p.m. May 11, 2017.

Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.

Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. May 3, 2017, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only.  Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in.  A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Pu‘u Ko‘ohi location and 15 permitted vehicles at the Pu‘u Mali location.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicles are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.

Salvage locations are subject to change:

  • On May 10, 2017, at Pu‘u Ko‘ohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea Recreation Area at 7 a.m. sharp.
  • On May 11, 2017, at Pu‘u Mali. Permittees must meet across from the Waimea Veterinary office on Mana Road at 6 a.m. sharp.

Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.

Conference Committee Agree on Funding Honolulu’s Rail Project – Tourists Will Pay More

The House and Senate conference committee came to an agreement this afternoon on the future of Honolulu’s rail project. Earlier today, the House proposed removing the 2-year extension using GET surcharge from SB 1183 SD2 HD2 and replacing it by increasing the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) by 2.75%.

“The City and HART have been telling us over and over again that the cost of rail should be put on tourists and the visitor industry,” said Representative Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa). “We have taken them to heart and we have done that today without imposing a further tax burden on the citizens of the state.”

The amended bill calls for the City & County of Honolulu to contribute $13 million of their share of the hotel room tax to fund the rail project.

The bill allows for a massive infusion of money now for the rail project without putting the cost of it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens, the poor, elderly and low-income working families. The money generated by the increase in the hotel tax in today’s dollars is equivalent to receiving $2.4 billion in future GET revenues. This would provide more funding for rail than any package currently being proposed.

“The end goal has always been to get rail to Ala Moana so that the City fulfills its agreement with the Federal Transit Authority,” said Representative Henry Aquino (Waipahu). “This bill gives the city more tools to use in managing and funding its project.”

The bill also calls for a moratorium on redeveloping the Neil S. Blaisdell Center, which is estimated to cost nearly $500 million, so the City does not fiscally over extend itself and can focus on its number one priority – rail.

The provisions of the amended bill include:

  • Removal of House’s proposed 2 year GET extension for 2027 – 2029;
  • Increase of the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) by 2.75% from its current 9.25% to 12% for 10 years from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2027;
  • Revenue generated from the TAT increases will be distributed as follows:
  1. $50 million will be set aside annually for education in a newly created education special fund;
  2. The City and County of Honolulu will receive $130 million annually over 10 years concurrently with the GET surcharge revenue that they are already receiving now;
  • $13 million of Oahu’s share of the TAT go to funding the rail project;
  • Maintaining the House position to lower the state’s share of the administrative service fee to 1%;
  • Giving all counties the option to extend the GET surcharge;
  • Requiring Honolulu to repeal any ordinance prohibiting use of county funds for rail;
  • Prohibiting the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating, and personnel expenses.

Hawaii Senate Proposed Conference Draft Amendment Protects Neighbor Islands TAT Funds

Calling the House proposed conference draft (CD2) on SB1183 SD2 HD2 an “innovative and creative approach” to funding Honolulu’s rail project and addresses the concerns that have been raised throughout the process, the Senate today offered a counter proposal to the House CD2 which would reduce the distribution of the transient accommodation tax (TAT) funds to only the City and County of Honolulu, thereby allowing the neighbor island counties to keep their share of the TAT.  The House CD2 removes the 2-year GET extension and proposes to raise the TAT by 2.75% which is expected to raise $1.3 billion by 2027.

In introducing the amendment, Senate Ways and Means chair Sen. Jill Tokuda said that removing the TAT split was “only fair given this is a City and County of Honolulu project and would not disproportionately impact the neighbor island counties.”

“Overall, this is a grand compromise. We’ve given the city more money up front and provides a pathway to do bonding,” said Senate Majority Leader, Sen. J. Kalani English. “Essentially, we’ve given the city a lot of tools to work with to finish the rail project without impacting the low-income and elderly citizens of our community through GET extensions or property tax increases.”

100 Days of Broken Promises: Hawai‘i Democrats to Highlight Trump’s Disastrous Administration

Tomorrow (Saturday), April 29th will mark 100 days since Inauguration Day.  So far, Trump’s first 100 days have been filled with broken promises and policies that hurt Americans in every corner of our nation.

For example:

  • Trump promised he would drain the swamp, but instead he’s filled his administration with billionaires, Wall Street bankers, lobbyists and the same Washington insiders he railed against during the campaign.
  • Trump promised better health care that would cost less and provide more benefits, but instead he backed a bill that would have thrown 24 million off of their health care and driven up premiums for older Americans, all while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.
  • Trump promised he would deliver for the “forgotten man,” but his budget would cut funding for vital services like job training, Meals on Wheels, and disease research to finance yet another tax break for the rich.
  • Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but instead he’s trying to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for it in the latest government funding bill.
  • Trump upset bipartisan negotiations to fund the government with a late-in-the-game attempt to get funding for his border wall and even threatened to hold health care for millions hostage to do so.
  • Trump promised he would get tough on outsourcing and trade, but he has failed to stand up to China and continues to hire foreign workers at his resorts like Mar-A-Lago.
  • Trump signed an executive order blocking citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, the most significant hardening of immigration policy in generations. In bringing a national halt to the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson (ruling on a challenge to the ban by Hawai‘i Attorney General Douglas Chin) wrote “The illogic of the government’s contention is palpable… The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
  • Trump’s Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, insulted Hawai‘i residents by saying (in reference to Judge Watson’s ruling) “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” Senator Mazie Hirono responded: “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences – including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous” and Senator Brian Schatz tweeted: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Hawai‘i Democrats will be gathering across the state to continue to #resist by marching for climate change, rallying for our ‘āina, and talking about how Trump’s broken promises, disrespect, and disastrous policies are impacting their lives.

Join us Saturday at an event below as we mark 100 days of the Trump administration’s broken promises:

Waipio Solar Project Completed

The Department of the Navy, Pacific Energy Solutions, LLC, Hawaiian Electric Company, and the Hawaii State Energy Office celebrated the completion of a 14.3 megawatt direct current solar facility at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Waipio Peninsula in Hawaii.

The completion of the project was commemorated in a ribbon cutting ceremony today on JBPHH. Notable ceremony presenters and attendees included Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii; Rear Adm. John Korka, commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific and U.S. Pacific Fleet civil engineer; John Kliem, executive director, DON’s Resilient Energy Program Office; Capt. Stanley Keeve Jr., commanding officer, JBPHH; Ron Cox, senior vice president of Operations at Hawaiian Electric; and Dr. Terrence Surles, interim administrator of the Hawaii State Energy Office.

“Our Navy is tough during wartime and while preserving peace. That same level of determination drives day-to-day problem-solving as well as our approach to energy security. We are bold in our thinking – embracing innovation and new technologies, just as we have done throughout our history. Our senior leaders empower us and expect us to be adaptive, resilient and forward-thinking. That applies to both our nation’s defense and to our commitment to energy security,” said Fuller.

Pacific Energy Solutions built, and will own, operate and maintain the solar facility on JBPHH, and the installation will be the sole consumer of the power produced by the photovoltaic facility under a contract referred to as a Power Purchase Agreement.

“We are pleased to be part of the Waipio solar project and to help the Navy achieve its clean energy goals,” said Matt Handel, vice president of Development for NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, whose subsidiary purchased the membership interest in Pacific Energy Solutions.

The project will contribute to the DON’s diverse energy portfolio, ensuring more secure and resilient operations at JBPHH. It also shows the continued partnership with the state of Hawaii, following last year’s Memorandum of Understanding between the DON and the state, which coordinated goals and strengthened the partnership between both organizations in the pursuit of additional renewable energy in the state of Hawaii.

“The State of Hawaii commends the Navy for its leadership in making the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Waipio Peninsula solar facility a reality. This project is a testament to our shared vision with the Navy and other branches of the military on energy security and self-sufficiency. It will take a genuine commitment on the part of all stakeholders to achieve our clean energy goals, and high-impact projects like this are an important part of that effort,” said Luis P. Salaveria, director of the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The DON continues to improve readiness, combat effectiveness and flexibility through initiatives that focus on energy reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for April – Thomas Chun-Ming

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized South Hilo Patrol Officer Thomas Chun-Ming on Thursday (April 27) as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for April.
On March 27, 2017, Officer Chun-Ming was patrolling the Honomū area following a recent increase in property crimes when he received information about a suspicious vehicle in the garage of a vacant home. Upon further investigation, Officer Chun-Ming arrested a male and female for Criminal Trespass in the first degree. The male suspect received additional charges of Promoting a Dangerous Drug and Drug Paraphernalia.

Later that same evening, while supplementing another shift, Officer Chun-Ming observed a pickup truck without a safety inspection sticker on the rear bumper. As he followed the t ruck onto a side-street in Pepeʻekeo he observed the vehicle to stop suddenly and two males immediately exit from the driver and passenger sides. As he ordered them back into the vehicle and then made further contact with the driver he detected the odor of burnt marijuana and observed drug paraphernalia inside the truck. At this time Officer Chun-Ming arrested the driver for Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the third degree and Driving without a License. The passenger was arrested for a no bail warrant and Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the third degree and the truck was recovered as evidence. The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s VICE section was assigned to continue the investigation and recovered 1.5 grams of methamphetamine and “meth pipe” after serving a narcotics search warrant on the truck. The two males were given additional charges, three counts of Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the third degree and three counts of Drug Paraphernalia.

On March 28, 2017, Officer Chun-Ming spotted a vehicle which had recently been reported stolen to be traveling in the opposite direction of him on Highway 19. After losing sight of the vehicle he continued to make diligent checks of the area and the vehicle was located along a muddy, unpaved road. As Officer Chun-Ming approached, two males immediately fled from the vehicle on foot. After a short foot pursuit, Officer Chun-Ming was able to apprehend one of the males until back-up officers arrived. With the assistance of the Hawaiʻi Police Departments tracking dog, the second suspect was located hiding in the brush and was subsequently also arrested. Both men were arrested for Theft in the second degree and one of them was also arrested for Promotion of a Detrimental Drug.

Chun-Ming was nominated for the award by Sergeant BJ Duarte who stated that he “demonstrates on a daily basis, his attention to detail, superb investigative skills, his dedication to duty and his proactive approach to police wor k.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Chun-Ming is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Attack on Net Neutrality

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke out strongly against the FCC’s recent announcement of plans to unravel net neutrality:

“Yesterday, the new Trump-appointed FCC Chair announced his mission to undermine the net neutrality rules we fought so hard to put in place. In 2015, over 4 million people submitted comments, calling on the FCC to keep the internet open and fair.

“However, the FCC’s new Chairman, who used to work as counsel for Verizon, wants to turn the internet into a system of pay-to-play fast lanes for big money and those who can afford it, leaving everyone else behind in the slow lane.

“This hands the levers of access over to big ISPs at the expense of students, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent content creators, and millions more.

“In today’s digital age, maintaining open and equal internet access is essential to breaking down barriers in education, media, expanding access to jobs and employment, driving innovation in healthcare, and so much more.

“We must stand strong in opposition to the FCC’s attack on fairness, equality, and net neutrality.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has strongly supported net neutrality, and has cosponsored legislation to prohibit multi-tiered pricing agreements between ISPs and content providers.

PACOM Commander Confirms North Korea’s Threat to Hawaii

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), confirmed the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi and detailed potential vulnerabilities that exist within current U.S. missile defense capabilities that could put Hawaiʻi at risk.

Admiral Harry Harris

Asked by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi specifically, Admiral Harris stated, “Kim Jong-un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawai’i today…Our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaiʻi today, but it can be overwhelmed. If Kim Jong-un or someone else launched ballistic missiles—ICBMs—against the United States, we would have to make the decision on which ones to take out or not.”

Following the hearing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Hawaiʻi is home to the largest concentration of U.S. military strategic assets for well over 3,000 miles, making it a prime target for North Korea’s aggression. As I travelled across Hawai’i during my recent state-wide town hall tour, I heard from my constituents on every island their concern about the threat posed by North Korea’s increased nuclear and ballistic missile activity and capabilities that place Hawaiʻi squarely within North Korea’s crosshairs. It is the people of Hawaiʻi and our way of life that are at risk if North Korea’s missiles turn towards our shores. Admiral Harris’ testimony today affirmed the seriousness of this threat, and highlighted the need to strengthen our current missile defense infrastructure to ensure the defense of Hawai’i. I’m continuing this urgent push to strengthen the protection of Hawaiʻi against the threat that exists today, and the complex threat we know will emerge in the future. I urge my colleagues to take this threat seriously and provide the resources and tools necessary to defend Hawaiʻi against this threat.”

Background: Missile defense has been one of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s top priorities throughout her time in Congress. Last year, she passed two amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—one to provide funding to begin the process of bringing an MRDR to Hawaiʻi, and the other to require the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to brief Congress on their short-term plan to enhance missile defense capabilities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific—and also questioned then SECDEF Carter and Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the need to increase Hawaiʻi’s missile defense. She has had ongoing conversations and meetings with the Missile Defense Agency Director, Vice Admiral James Syring, to discuss possible options for the defense of Hawaiʻi, to deal with short term and long term needs. This includes quickly deployable options that are available to further strengthen the existing defensive assets within the state.

Hokulea and Hikianalia Return to Taputapuatea for Ancient Voyaging Ritual and Ceremony

Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia were welcomed by local dignitaries, spiritual elders and community members at Taputapuatea. The marae, or the focal meeting ground, is located on the southeastern coast of Raiatea in French Polynesia. The purpose of the stop was to honor the ancient tradition of Hawaii’s Polynesian ancestors who would go to Taputapuatea, the spiritual center for voyagers of the Pacific, to ceremonially launch and close their voyages of discovery. After sailing about 100 miles from Papeete, Tahiti, the canoes arrived at Taputapuatea yesterday morning following the historic protocol of entering via the sacred pass of Teava Moa.

The ceremony began with pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson and captain Billy Richards returning two sacred stones to the marae that were given to the crew when the canoes last visited Taputapuatea in 2014 to launch the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The return of the two stones signified that the Hokulea and Hikianalia crews fulfilled their responsibility to sail around the world and deepened the connection between Hawaii and its navigational roots in Taputapuatea.

“These stones carried the spirits of all of our ancestors and the direct descendants of all of our families as we sailed around the world,” said Thompson. “Today we brought the stones home to Taputapuatea and were granted permission from by our ancestral family to return home. It’s the last permission based on the fulfillment of many promises we made,” he added.

In addition to the spiritual elders of Taputapuatea, the crew was greeted by French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch, the Taputapuatea mayor Thomas Moutame, and the country’s minister of culture Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu. The day-long ceremony featured the ancient rituals conducted to ceremonially complete a voyage, traditional chants and dance by the Taputapuatea community and students from Kamehameha Schools and Milolii Charter School.

In honor of this ceremonial milestone, crewmembers from Hokulea’s first voyage to French Polynesia in 1976 joined this leg from Tahiti to Raiatea, including Gordon Piianaia, Billy Richards, Snake Ah Hee, Kainoa Lee and John Kruse. Zane Aikau, nephew of 1978 crewmember Eddie Aikau, also participated on the leg on behalf of the Aikau family and 1976 crewmember Buffalo Keaulana who was unable to join the sail.  Special guests who also participated on the overnight sail included Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley, University of Hawaii president David Lassner, and Hawaii State Department of Education superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Once considered the religious and cultural center of Polynesia, Taputapuatea is the location of an ancient marae that was once considered the central temple and religious center of Eastern Polynesia. Established around 1000 AD, the marae was a place of learning where priests and navigators from all over the Pacific would gather to offer sacrifices to the gods and share their knowledge of the genealogical origins of the universe, and of deep ocean navigation.

Most significantly, a truce known as the Faatau Aroha was established with the surrounding islands to form an alliance that lasted for many years and perpetuated the growth of voyaging and exploration leading to the discovery and colonization of all the islands of Eastern Polynesia, including Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa (New Zealand).  New marae were established on each of these islands with a rock being taken from Taputapuatea so that Raiatea served as a spiritual link. However, the Faatau Aroha was broken due to a conflict between two leaders of the alliance that resulted to open warfare and an end to large-scale interisland voyaging.

The archaeological remains of Marae Taputapuatea were restored in 1994 and efforts to preserve the site continues. Association Na Papa E Vau Raiatea is working towards having Marae Taputapuatea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and continuing work to revive connections between communities of the Polynesian triangle and throughout the Pacific region.

Hokulea and Hikianalia are scheduled to depart Taputapuatea today and will return to Papeete, Tahiti where the crews will prepare the canoes for the voyage back to Hawaii. The canoes will depart French Polynesia in mid-May and will arrive at Magic Island on Oahu for a homecoming celebration on Saturday, June 17.

Community Based Palliative Care Program Hosts Free Talk

Kupu Care, a Community Based Palliative Care program offered exclusively in East Hawai‘i by Hospice of Hilo, is inviting the public to join them in their free community talk titled, “Why Does Everyone Need an Advance Health Care Directive” on Wednesday May 3rd , from 5:00pm-6:00pm at the organization’s Community Building located at 1011 Waiānuenue Avenue, Hilo.

Kupu Care Patient, Robert Gomes with Wife Phoebe, receiving a health check from Kupu Care Nurse, Julia Lindbergh.

The session will be presented by Kupu Care’s Clinical Relations Manager, Lani Weigert.  “This program focuses on bringing relief from symptoms caused by treatments for those suffering from serious illness.  Kupu Care currently focuses on providing support and relief to both the patient and their caregivers who are dealing with Advanced Congestive Heart Failure or Cancer,” explains Weigert.

This month’s talk will focus on Advance Health Care Directives.  Developed as a result of widespread concerns over patients undergoing medical treatments and procedures in an effort to preserve life at any cost, from a practical standpoint, medical directives and living wills facilitate a person’s medical care and decision making in situations when they are temporarily or permanently unable make decisions or verbalize their decisions. By having previously documented personal wishes and preferences, the family’s and physicians’ immense decision-making burden is lightened. At the same time, patient autonomy and dignity are preserved by tailoring medical care based on one’s own choices regardless of mental or physical capacity.

“Medical technology makes it possible for patients with little or no hope of recovery to be kept alive for months or even years. This makes it important to discuss what kind of care you want before serious illness occurs.” Said Weigert.  “For those who don’t have an Advance Health Care Directive, we will discuss how that process is done, and why it’s so important to have one.  We will explore ideas and beliefs that affect our end of life decisions, who should be involved and the type of medical care you do or don’t want.”

Those interested in attending the talk are asked to RSVP no later than Tuesday, May 2nd by contacting Lani Weigert at (808) 934-2913 or online at www.kupucare.org (events).

Nissan $10,000 Rebate on New LEAF Sedan Extended for Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Customers

Nissan North America’s offer of a $10,000 rebate on the all-electric LEAF® sedan has been extended through June 30, 2017 for Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Companies’ customers.

Customers should take their electric utility bill and the promotional flyer available at hawaiianelectric.com/nissanleaf to any participating Nissan dealer on Oahu, Maui or Hawaii Island to receive $10,000 off the sticker price of a new 2017 LEAF S, SV, or SL, while supplies last. With potential federal tax incentives, savings could total $17,500.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are leaders in the effort to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Hawaii to help customers save money, to put abundant and less-expensive solar resources to work and to move the state toward its clean energy goals.

The rebate is funded by Nissan, not the utilities. To find a participating Hawaii Nissan dealer, go to nissanusa.com/nissandealers/location/hawaii. The 107-mile range 2017 LEAF, which needs no gasoline, no oil changes and very little maintenance, has a starting price of $30,680.

Japan Tsunami Gift Fund Supported Removal and Detection – How Was Hawaii’s $250,000 Spent?

After the devastating tsunami generated by the 9.0 earthquake that struck the coastal areas of Japan’s Tōhoku Region on March 11, 2011, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment estimated that 1.5 million tons of floating debris had been swept into the ocean. This unprecedented single pulse of marine debris drifted offshore and was eventually swept out to sea by oceanic currents to enter circulation in the North Pacific Ocean. This debris impacted western shores of the continental U.S., Canada, as well as Hawaii.

In 2013, the State of Hawaii received a portion of a $5 million diplomatic monetary gift offered to the United States by the Government of Japan. The gift was intended to help the affected U.S. states address Japan tsunami marine debris or “JTMD”. An initial distribution of $250,000 was made to each of the affected states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. In Hawaii, the Department of Health (DOH) represented the State in a Memorandum of Agreement with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which had been designated as administrator of the JTMD Gift Fund. The Department of Land and Natural Resources was designated as the expending agency, so in November 2013 the funds were transferred from DOH to DLNR and subsequently used to support projects in three general areas:  removal, aquatic invasive species monitoring, and detection.

REMOVAL PROJECTS:  $91,712.66

DLNR staff routinely removes and disposes of marine debris.  When an item exceeds in-house capabilities, contracted services by qualified commercial entities are procured.

  • Contract for services: Removal & disposal of the side of a shipping container on Kauai  $3,875.51
  • Landfill fee for disposal of damaged JTMD vessel on Oahu $219.90
  • Contract for services: Removal of damaged JTMD vessel on Kauai $8,000.00
  • Contract for services: Removal & disposal of 20-ft diameter mooring buoy on Hawaii Island  $28,500.00
  • Purchase of a utility task vehicle for transporting heavy items out of areas inaccessible to larger vehicles and that would otherwise require access on foot    $12,321.79
  • Small equipment for removal of a JTMD boat by sea from a Maui beach site inaccessible to truck and trailer required for street transport  $1,438.22
  • Marine Debris Cleanup Project for a beach at Kanapou, Kahoolawe that included transporting staff and volunteers by boat, camping for four days, transporting the collected marine debris by helicopter to Maui for final disposal at the landfill, and bringing communications staff to Maui to document the activity  $24,716.12
  • Reimbursement for staff time for various JTMD removal activities during 2013-2015   $12,641.12

 AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES MONITORING PROJECTS:  $44,902.05

Marine debris can carry alien species hitchhikers attached to the debris and travel great distances via oceanic currents and wind. If successful at colonizing in new locations, some species have the potential to become invasive and disrupt local marine ecosystems. Researchers have identified over 70 non-native species associated with JTMD landing on Hawai‘i shorelines.  In response to the concern of establishment of non-native species via JTMD, monitoring was conducted to investigate JTMD biofouling species in 2015.  The first deployed a small team of biologists to do visual in-water surveys of nine landing sites on Kauai that were previously known to have been exposed to JTMD-transported alien species. The second project utilized advanced techniques in collaboration with other scientists monitoring JTMD landing sites in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

  • AIS Monitoring Project on Kauai        $3,345.87
  • AIS Monitoring Project on Oahu         $41,556.18

DETECTION PROJECTS:  $69,165.46

DLNR conducted the first state-wide shoreline marine debris survey to census the number and type of marine debris and identify debris accumulation sites.  Aerial survey techniques and analysis were used to estimate the number and type of marine debris distributed throughout the main Hawaiian Islands In early 2015 DLNR biologists applied for a grant to conduct aerial surveys, and received partial funding ($65,000) from a collaborative international group of researchers, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (“PICES”).  The JTMD Gift Fund was used to supplement the PICES grant, enabling complete coverage of all shorelines of the main Hawaiian Islands. In the fall of 2015, the high resolution aerial images were successfully collected, the first such effort in the State of Hawai‘i. Analysis of the images followed through a contract with the University of Hawai‘i.

  • Contract for Aerial Survey of Main Hawaiian Islands $37,994.76
  • Aerial Survey Post-Image Processing Contract         $31,170.70

MARINE DEBRIS COORDINATOR:  $44,219.83

Since marine debris response activities are conducted by various DLNR staff with many other duties, a dedicated marine debris coordinator position was created through a seven month contract with the University of Hawaii.  This position contributed support for all of the project areas as well as database management and outreach activities related to JTMD.

After the initial distribution of $250K to each of the five Pacific states, the remainder of the $5 million gift fund was held in reserve for specific subsequent requests. This diplomatic monetary gift was unprecedented in U.S. history. Managing it at national and state levels required adapting existing protocols for accounting and expenditures, and sometimes processing could be a bit challenging. In the end, however, the diplomatic gift helped fill a gap for the previously unfunded liability of marine debris and through the projects it supported, bring more public awareness to this international problem.

Hawaii State Capital Improvement Project Highlights – CIP Part of Fiscal Years 2018, 2019 Budget

As part of the state budget bill passed in conference committee yesterday, lawmakers included funding for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) statewide.

Representative Sylvia Luke and Senator Jill Tokuda co-chaired the conference committee and Rep. Kyle Yamashita and Senator Donovan Dela Cruz managed the CIP funding.

Capital Improvement Projects are renovations, repairs, and major maintenance to existing facilities, landscape improvements, new construction, land acquisition, and utility modifications.

Capital Improvement Projects Biennium Budget Totals (not including CIP grants-in-aid):

  • FY2018: $1,007.9 billion General Obligation Bond Funds
  • FY2019: $49.4 million General Obligation Bond Funds
  • FY2018: $2,269.7 billion All Means of Financing Funds
  • FY2019: $695.1 million All Means of Financing Funds

CIP highlights

Agriculture

  • $608 thousand for invasive species treatment units.
  • $1.2 million for improvements to the Waimanalo irrigation system.
  • $4 million for improvements to the Waiahole water system.

Accounting and General Services

  • $10 million for master plans and an environmental impact study for Aloha Stadium.
  • $15 million for improvements and maintenance of existing public facilities and sites, statewide.

Business, Economic Development, and Tourism

  • $3 million for an underground utility distribution system in Kalaeloa.
  • $25 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and $25 million for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund to finance additional affordable rental housing.
  • $1 million for transit-oriented development master plan of state-owned parcels near proposed rail stations.

Defense

  • $6 million to retrofit buildings with hurricane protective measures to increase the number of emergency shelters, statewide.
  • $5 million for incremental addition, replacement, and upgrade of the state Civil Defense warning and communications equipment, statewide.

Education

  • $90 million to address condition for school facilities statewide.
  • $32.9 million to address equity for school facilities statewide.
  • $32.9 million to address program support for school facilities statewide.
  • $27 million for a new classroom building at Campbell High School.
  • $77 million for the construction of the new East Kapolei Middle School.
  • $63 million for the construction of Kihei High School
  • $11.5 million for the construction of a fifteen classroom building at Mililani Middle School
  • $12.3 million for the construction of a new administration building at Waihee Elementary School.
  • $15 million for the construction of a performing arts center at Moanalua High School
  • $15 million for Phase I of a new classroom building at Waipahu High School.
  • $10 million for the new Pohukaina Elementary School.
  • $6.5 million for health, safety, accessibility, and other code requirements for public libraries, statewide.

Hawaiian Home Lands

  • $19.4 million for the development of Hawaiian Home Lands’ lots.
  • $7.6 million for repair and maintenance projects on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Human Services

  • $20.1 million for site, dwelling, and security improvements at Hawaii Public Housing Authority facilities.

Health

  • $1.6 million for improvements and renovations to the Kahuku Medical Center.
  • $19.9 million for improvements and renovations to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, statewide.
  • $2.1 million to modernize elevators at Diamond Head, Lanakila, and Leeward Health Centers.
  • $4.5 million for re-roofing, interior and exterior improvements to the Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center.

Land and Natural Resources

  • $2.2 million for assessments, maintenance, and remediation of dams under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
  • $5 million for dredging and related improvements to the Ala Wai Canal.
  • $3 million for rockfall and flood mitigation at various locations, statewide.
  • $9.3 million for Kaanapali beach restoration and berm enhancement.
  • $100,000 for hazardous tree mitigation in forest reserves, game management areas, natural area reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries.
  • $400,000 to provide statewide support for fire and natural disaster response.
  • $2.5 million for improvements at various boating facilities, statewide.
  • $3 million for flood damage reconstruction at the Iao Valley State Monument, Maui.
  • $20.3 million for construction and improvements at small boat harbors, statewide.

Public Safety

  • $34.4 million for new additions, renovations, alterations, electrical and mechanical infrastructure improvements and rehabilitation of buildings, at Public Safety facilities, statewide.
  • $8 million for a new consolidated women’s housing associated support office, and other improvements at the Women’s Community Correctional Center, Oahu.

Transportation

  • $31.6 million for renovations and new restroom facilities at various airports statewide.
  • $170 million for improvements to the overseas terminal ticket lobby at Honolulu International Airport, Oahu.
  • $30 million for improvements at gates 29 and 34 to accommodate A380 Aircraft at Honolulu International Airport, Oahu.
  • $8.7 million for a new United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Inspection Station at Kona International Airport, Hawaii.
  • $39.2 million for holdroom and gate improvements at Kahului Airport, Maui.
  • $10.5 million for inbound baggage handling system improvements, Kahului Airport, Maui.
  • $7.2 million for terminal improvements at Molokai Airport, Molokai.
  • $4.5 million for a new aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) garage, renovation of the terminal, and replacement of airfield lighting at Kalaupapa Airport, Maui
  • $17.8 million for ticket lobby and holdroom improvements at Lihue Airport, Kauai.
  • $7.5 million to address storm water run-off, erosion, passenger safety issues, ineffective drainage, and/or subsurface irregularities at Nawiliwili Harbor, Kauai.
  • $190.6 million for the repair, rehabilitation, improvements, and/or replacement of bridges, statewide.
  • $56.8 million for improvements, installation, or upgrading of guardrails and shoulders on state highways, statewide.
  • $89 million for a new roadway and/or realignment, and extending the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Hilo Terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Hawaii.
  • $50 million for shoreline protection, highway realignment, and beach fill/nourishment for state highways, statewide.

University of Hawaii

  • $30 million for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, Phase II at Kapiolani Community College, Oahu.
  • $5 million for renovations at Snyder Hall, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Oahu.
  • $83.2 million for the renewal, improvements, and modernization of facilities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • $10 million for capital renewal and deferred maintenance at University of Hawaii Community Colleges, Statewide.
  • $10 million for minor capital improvement projects at University of Hawaii Community Colleges, Statewide.

Lobster and Kona Crab Season Closes Monday, May 1

If you love your fresh-caught local lobster or Kona crab, remember the closed season for ula (spiny lobster), ula papapa (slipper lobster) and Kona crab runs from May 1 through the end of August.  During that time it’s illegal to take, possess, or sell these shellfish.

According to Suzanne Case, chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, “These rules are in place to protect lobsters and Kona crabs during the summer months, which are the peak of their reproductive season, and to help ensure their populations will continue to be sustainable.”

However, any commercial marine dealer may sell, or any hotel, restaurant, or other public eating house may serve spiny or slipper lobster lawfully caught during the open season by first obtaining a license to do so, pursuant to section 13-74-41, Hawaii Administrative Rules.

During the open season catching, taking or possessing of female spiny and slipper lobsters and female Kona crab is prohibited.  Also, any spiny or slipper lobster, or Kona crab, caught with eggs must immediately be returned to the waters from which it was taken. Taking or killing of females is prohibited year round.

The Hawai‘i Fishing Regulations booklet, available at all Division of Aquatic Resources offices and most fishing supply stores, shows how to determine the sex of spiny lobsters and Kona crabs.  Or go online to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/how-to-determine-sex-of-regulated-invertebrates/

For more information on regulations concerning these and other marine invertebrates, including minimum sizes, go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/  or call the Division of Aquatic Resources.

To report any violation of these or other fishing regulations call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 643-DLNR.