Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act – New Bill Promotes Safer Roads and Communities

Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.

Sample Driving License

“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.

Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.

Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record.  In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.

Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.

Queen’s and North Hawaii Community Hospital Mark New Relationship with Internal Hawaiian Ceremony

The Queen’s Health Systems (Queen’s), corporate parent of The Queen’s Medical Center (QMC), and North Hawaii Community Hospital held a special internal ceremony this week to mark their new formal affiliation relationship, which took effect on January 15, 2014.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

The special internal Hawaiian ceremony held on Tuesday, January 21stat NHCH and led by Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon, a Hawaii Island Cultural Practitioner, was attended by more than 50 hospital staff, including several of Queen’s Administration. “The purpose of this ceremony is to formally acknowledge and welcome the joining of one house with the other,” says Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon. “We ask for growth, longevity, preservation and that there be a reciprocation and an exchange of mana or life force in this new relationship,” said Garmon.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

During the ceremony Diane Paloma from Queen’s Native Hawaiian Health Program presented NHCH’s outgoing board chairman Bob Momsen with a “ho`okupu”, or a gift of symbolic significance. “By offering this ho`okupu with items representing our founders Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, we symbolically welcome NHCH into The Queen’s Health System’s `ohana,” said Paloma. Attendees participated in a Native Hawaiian ceremony by consuming foods that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

To close the ceremony, Momsen returned the ho`okupu to The Queen’s Health Systems President and Board Chairman, Art Ushijima. This symbolic gesture represents the mutual acceptance and embracing of the new relationship between the two organizations. Ushijima marked the exchange by adding, “This is a great occasion for Queen’s. We look forward to becoming a part of your community and extending the Queen’s mission in North Hawaii.” The Queen’s Health Systems mission is “to fulfill the intent of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV to provide in perpetuity quality healthcare services to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii.”

On December 16, 2013, Queen’s announced it had officially entered into an affiliation agreement with NHCH. In the agreement, NHCH became a corporate entity under Queen’s, similar to The Queen’s Medical Center and Molokai General Hospital. QMC has had a clinical affiliation with NHCH since 2005.

Commentary – “The Coupe Family Single-Handedly Held Up the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass for 11 Years”

The acquisition the of right of way for highway projects is an ongoing issue for the State and County of Hawaii it seems.  Two projects come to mind; the second phase of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass and the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Inouye Highway Photo by Aaron Stene

Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Coupe family single-handedly held up the Mamalahoa  Highway bypass for 11 years. They fought the condemnation of  1,500 feet of their property all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Coupe’s petition, which ended their battle and paved the way for the county to acquire the necessary right of way for this much-needed highway.

I’m deeply concerned the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is facing the same fate. Three holdout landowners (Marvin Arruda, Richard Alderson and Rick Towill) refuse to convey part of their lands for this 5.7 mile highway. These parcels are located on the Puna side of the Puainako Street Extension and Country Club Drive.

I’ve tried to ask the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s office where things stand with the right of way acquisition for this phase, but they refuse to acknowledge my e-mails and hide behind attorney-client privilege.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation response to my inquiries isn’t much better.

The final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is currently unfunded.  I firmly believe its important to finalize the right of way acquisition, so this phase is shovel ready when funding is available.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan Receives National Award

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is honored to be selected for the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning by the American Planning Association.  HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan was chosen as part of the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the nation to have a statewide pedestrian focus.  In conjunction with other efforts, the pedestrian master plan focuses on infrastructure improvements that may help lower pedestrian fatalities while enhancing connectivity.

“The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox is a key component of the plan and includes guidelines and best practices for the planning, design, operation and maintenance of pedestrian facilities,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “The Toolbox offers a one-stop resource for pedestrian improvements that planners and designers will use as they move forward on HDOT’s many highway projects.”

For more information on Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan go to the HDOT website at hidot.hawaii.gov.

To view all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

DLNR Invites Public Input On Survey Of Hawaii’s Outdoor Recreation Trends, Needs, Priority

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks (State Parks) in partnership with PBR HAWAII, is inviting the public to participate in a survey designed to assess Hawai‘i’s outdoor recreation trends, needs and priorities.

DLNR

The survey is one component of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). This plan is updated every five years to provide guidance for our Hawaii’s recreational future and to remain eligible to receive funds for outdoor recreation projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal grants program administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Public participation in the survey will help State Parks and NPS select projects to receive federal funding that best meets Hawaii’s recreational needs and help resolve any recreational conflicts.

“In the 2008 plan, the public identified multi-use paths for walking, jogging, and bicycling as one of Hawaii’s recreational priorities. In response to this demand, we look forward submitting a grant to support the construction of the new Hilo Bayfront trail in 2014. It is with the public’s input that we are able to support projects that best meet the community’s recreational needs,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

The survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HISCORP2014 and is open now through Feb. 28, 2014. Public meetings will be held over the next several months to give the public the opportunity to directly express their recreation needs and concerns. Meeting announcements will be also be made through news media outlets and via the DLNR Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Land and Water Conservation Fund grants provide a match for state and county funds to acquire new land for outdoor recreation and develop or renovate recreational facilities. Since 1967, the State of Hawaii and the four counties have received more than $38 million in LWCF grants for acquisition and development of outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

In recent years, LWCF grants have been awarded to the County of Hawaii to install new playground equipment at Panaewa Zoo in Hilo, the City and County of Honolulu to replace the ball field lights at Ala Wai Community Park, the County of Maui to construct a new skate park within the Lahaina Recreation Center, and State Parks for renovation of park cabins, pavilions, and comfort stations at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on Hawaii island.

Senator Introduces Anti-Child Pornography Bill “Alicia’s Law”

Senator Will Espero, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2595, also known as “Alicia’s Law,” a measure that would provide a dedicated revenue stream for Hawaii’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

The initiative is named after Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was abducted by an Internet predator, held hostage and tortured in her Virginia basement at the age of 13.

“I’m here today because the ICAC Task Forces were there,” said Kozakiewicz. “I was the needle in the haystack. I received the miracle. Because of that, I feel a moral obligation to help save as many other children who are subjected to abuse.”

There are thousands of ICAC leads in the state of Hawaii trafficking in sadistic images and videos of children being raped and tortured.  Nationally, 50% to 70% of these cases lead detectives to rescuing children from sexual abuse. The FBI reports that “the scope of the problem is worse than anticipated and growing exponentially.”

“The Hawaii ICAC task force is doing the best job they can with the limited resources of a Federal grant,” said Sen. Espero. “However, they are only able to investigate one to two cases per month.  With thousands of children needing protection this is unacceptable, and Hawaii needs a permanent revenue stream to fund the ICAC task force.”

“We know that most internet predators are also hands-on offenders and we know that child sexual abuse is a stealth crime,” said Grier Weeks, Executive Director of The National Association to Protect Children. “We can’t let children languish in abusive situations if we have the ability to provide law enforcement with a tool that allows for the immediate rescue of that child.”

SB2595

“This bill, should it become law, will help to keep our keiki safe,” added Sen. Espero. “Internet-based social media applications have become popular and easily accessible over the years especially amongst youth. These technologies and other internet sites can leave minors exposed to a litany of abuses and exploitations. It is imperative that we provide the necessary tools and resources to fight this growing epidemic.”

2014 Auto Body Hawaii Senior & High School Teacher Essay Contest

Auto Body Hawaii is announcing their 3rd annual Essay Contest for Seniors & High School Teachers. Auto Body Hawaii will provide West Hawaii’s graduating High School Seniors the opportunity to showcase their writing skills for the chance to win $500.

Auto Body Hawaii

Auto Body Hawaii will also award $500, as well as a gift certificate for a Super Wash Detailing Service; to the winning High School teacher. Teachers often choose to spend their own money to buy additional supplies for classes need; Auto Body Hawaii would like to help.

Here is 2014’s essay theme:

“If you had the opportunity to recommend a new subject that is not currently being offered in your school’s curriculum, what would you recommend & why would it be beneficial for students to learn”!

Contest deadline is April 30th 2014. For a list of invited participating schools & contest rules please visit: www.autobodyhawaii.com!

Call Tiffiny Taylor, 329-2544; essay@autobodyhawaii.com for more information.

 

Big Island Rep. Onishi Calls for Stronger Protections For Hawaii’s Farmers and Ranchers

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act.

HB2506

Hawaii’s right-to-farm law is designed to protect and preserve agricultural operations by allowing farmers, who meet all legal requirements and use accepted farming management practices, protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.

The law also documents the importance of farming to the local community and State of Hawaii and puts non-farming rural residents on notice that generally accepted agricultural practices are reasonable activities to expect in farming areas.

“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.

“But if we are interested in sustainability and moving Hawaii toward greater self-reliance, we will have to strike a better balance between our rural and urban needs. This measure is designed to do just that by protecting our local farmers and ranchers. They have a right to farm in the best way they see fit, as long as they follow legal and accepted agricultural practices, whether we’re talking about ranchers, poultry, hog, vegetable, flower and plant farmers.”

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bill at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2506&year=2014

Hawaii Representative Introduces Legislation for the Cultivation and Exportation of Marijuana

In the interest of economic development, Representative Rida Cabanilla (Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe, West Loch) has introduced HB2124 that asks the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism in consultation with the Department of Agriculture to convene a working group to develop an action plan to legalize cultivation of marijuana in Hawaii for sale and export to foreign jurisdictions where usage is lawful.

HB1224

All commercial activities from the production and export of marijuana and marijuana-related products will be taxed and revenues would be utilized for public education, health care and human services programs.

“Commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana is a bold approach toward generating revenue while capitalizing on Hawaii’s inherent strengths.  Hawaii’s rich soil, coupled with its temperate climate, provide ideal conditions for year-round farming and cultivation. Hawaii is well situated to provide an abundant supply of quality marijuana to fill a growing international demand,” said Cabanilla.

Sex Abuse Victims in Utah Seek justice from Maui Land & Pine, Mormon Church, and Others

Honolulu attorneys Charles McKay and Randall Rosenberg of Rosenberg & McKay filed a complaint in Second Circuit Court on Maui yesterday afternoon against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P), Youth Development Enterprises, Inc. (YDE) and Brian R. Pickett, who currently resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  The Plaintiffs are two Utah men, Kyle Spray (42) and Jake Huggard (41), who now live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.  Also consulting on the case are Idaho and Seattle Attorneys Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon and Weeks, P.A., and Mark Leemon of Leemon + Royer.

Kyle Spray

Kyle Spray

Jacob Huggard

Jacob Huggard

The lawsuit alleges the LDS (Mormon) Church and ML&P recruited boys in the 1970s and 80s from Mormon communities in Utah and Southeastern Idaho to pick pineapples at camps in Maui, where the Plaintiffs were sexually molested.  The camps closed in the early 1990s.

“There were hundreds of boys over more than a decade cycled through these camps,” explained attorney Randall Rosenberg, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.  “Hundreds were exposed to the alleged sexual predator in our case.  We do not know how many others may have been molested, but our experience is that child sexual predators with access to kids have multiple victims.”

Maui Land and Pineapple

“We are asking for anyone with knowledge about sexual abuse at these camps to come forward,” added attorney Charles McKay, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.

LDS men in their twenties, who qualified for supervisory positions after completing their two-year missions from the LDS Church, ran the camps.   When recruiting boys, the suit alleges the LDS Church represented to parents that the camps were a safe training ground for boys to become Mormon missionaries.

According to the suit, Defendant Brian R. Pickett, a Camp Coordinator, molested the Plaintiffs as boys while overseeing up to 200 boys at one camp from 1986 to 1988.  ML&P promoted Picket in 1988 to Vice President of Operations over both camps, exposing him to more than 400 boys employed at the camps. The alleged sexual abuse took place at the ML&P barracks while Picket was Camp Coordinator. Abuse of one boy allegedly continued at Pickett’s Maui upcountry home.  In addition to being the boys’ boss, Pickett was their spiritual leader.  Pickett was the Branch President, similar to a Mormon Bishop, who presided over the boys’ religious training.  According to the suit, Pickett baptized one 15-year-old victim who had been recruited as a non-Mormon, then sexually molested the boy.

“We believe Brian R. Pickett used his position over our clients as their supervisor and religious leader to gain access to the boys and manipulate them,” said attorney Craig Vernon, Esq., of James, Vernon and Weeks.  “The [Mormon] Church marketed this as a safe, wholesome and exciting adventure; fly to Hawai’i and pick pineapples.  That was extremely attractive to Mormon boys in Utah and Idaho in the 70s and 80s.”

[youtube=http://youtu.be/TvhaAvWdnSU]

“Thanks to a new Hawai’i law, abuse survivors as far away as Utah and Idaho now have access to justice for harm they suffered as boys in Hawai’i,” explained attorney Mark Leemon, Esq., of Leemon + Royer.   “We share our clients’ concern that other boys who may have been abused at these camps in the 70s and 80s only have until April of this year under the new law to file their claims.”

The two-year window statute in Hawaii allows child sexual abuse survivors to come forward and file suit until April 2014, regardless of when the abuse took place.

Equitable relief

Like similar suits Rosenberg and McKay filed against the Catholic Church, they and their team seek more than money for their clients.  “Our clients seek equitable relief for the protection of children, in addition to acknowledgement and restitution for the harm to them,” explains Rosenberg.   “We ask the LDS Church to take concrete steps to prevent future abuse and for the healing of victims.”  The relief sought demands the Church:

  • Change its corporate policies regarding reporting of suspected child sexual abuse. According to the suit, current policies instruct members and leaders to contact the Church instead of police or child protective services when they suspect child sexual abuse.
  • Reject current policies that state Church leaders should avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases involving abuse (Handbook 1, State Presidents and Bishops 2010, Section 17.3.2.)
  • Institute regulations that:

o   All alleged sex abusers will be immediately removed from exposure to children.

o   Members and leaders must report suspected abuse to the police and child protective services.

o   Leaders and members shall cooperate with civil and criminal authorities in cases involving sexual abuse, including testifying.

  • Publicly list abusers names on the LDS homepage of all its web sites to alert people of danger, including on the list Brian R. Pickett as a credibly accused pedophile with his last known address.
  • Identify all leaders and members who have been credibly accused of sexual molestation of a child in Hawaii.
  • Never support any laws that would shield child sexual abusers.
  • Establish age appropriate sex abuse training and educations for children ages 3 – 18 years old. This will include a “safe haven” for children to report abuse to any of three people in each Ward (a collection of individual churches).
  • Adopt a whistleblower policy so those reporting abuse will not have any retaliatory action taken against them.
  • Publish through its President an annual written statement that there exists no undisclosed knowledge that any leader has sexually abused any person in Hawaii.
  • Send a letter of apology to Plaintiffs.

“Equitable relief ensures there is concrete action for the prevention of future abuse and for the healing of victims,” explained McKay. “Given the number of young boys under Pickett’s supervision in the 1980s, there could be many more boys who experienced this abuse in Hawaii and now live in shame and silence in Idaho and Utah.”