Judge Riki May Amano Affirmed as TMT Contested Case Officer

All seven members of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (Board), in a decision released today, directed retired Hawai‘i island Judge Riki May Amano to proceed as the contested case hearing officer for the Conservation Use District Application (CDUA) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.

TMT laser

In response to objections raised by certain parties (“Petitioners”) to Judge Amano’s selection as the TMT hearing officer due to her family membership in the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (“‘Imiloa”) operated by the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the Board stated: “A ‘family membership’ does not confer any right to participate in ‘Imiloa’s governance or decision making, in contrast to organizations where members may vote for a board of directors or other officers,” and the membership simply allows her and her family to “view exhibits and displays at a museum that focuses on astronomy, Mauna Kea, and Hawaiian culture.”

In written disclosures to the Board last month, Judge Amano stated that she and her husband paid $85 per year since 2008 to maintain an ‘Imiloa family membership, which allows free admission to the astronomy center and discounts at the center restaurant and gift shop. Judge Amano further declared that her family membership expires on May 24, 2016 and will not be renewed.

The Board stated, “No reasonable person would infer that the possibility of this ‘benefit’ (‘Imiloa family membership) would override the hearing officer’s duty to make an impartial recommendation to the Board.”  The Hawai’i Revised Code of Judicial Conduct directly addresses the issue of how to treat Judge Amano’s membership if ‘Imiloa is assumed to be a party to the contested case. “The rule provides that a judge shall disqualify herself if the judge or her specific listed relative are a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, general partner, managing member of trustee of a party.  While this list is not exhaustive, what is significant to the BLNR is that all of these grounds involve some kind of fiduciary or managerial relationship between the judge (or the judge’s relative) and the party.  Such relationships do not remotely resemble the ‘family membership’ at issue here,” said the Board in its decision.

The Board carefully deliberated as to Judge Amano’s statement that she initially saw no connection between ‘Imiloa and the TMT application, and her statement that she did not know that ‘Imiloa was part of UH-Hilo. The Board accepted Judge Amano’s explanation and added, “The Board would certainly encourage hearing officers to disclose a broad range of known relationships…but it will not disqualify Judge Amano for not disclosing her ‘Imiloa family membership, which even in connection with facts she did not know, is not something that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the impartiality of the arbitrator. The Board finds that under the applicable legal standards, a reasonable person knowing all the facts would not doubt the impartiality of Judge Amano.”

The Board also found that the public notice soliciting attorneys to apply to serve as the TMT contested case hearing officer was properly published on January 29, 2016. Additionally the Board ruled that its decision to delegate the selection of the hearing officer to the Board Chairperson did not need to be made in an open meeting pursuant to chapter 92 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (the “Sunshine Law”).  Citing legal decisions, the Board found that the Sunshine Law did not apply to boards exercising adjudicatory functions, such as conducting a contested case hearing. Further, the Petitioners’ claim that they should have received prior notice of the selection process was not required because, “The Board’s decision to delegate authority to a hearing officer and the selection of a hearing officer are properly adjudicatory functions.”

On December 2, 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court remanded the TMT permit application to the circuit court to further remand to the Board for a contested case hearing.  On February 22, 2016, circuit judge Greg K. Nakamura remanded the matter to the Board.  Four days later on February 26, the Board met to restart the contested process.  A public solicitation for a hearing officer occurred, a three member committee evaluated applications, and the hearing officer was announced on March 31.  Three supplemental disclosures were filed by Judge Amano in April, followed by more opportunities for the Petitioners to respond. The Board gave all parties until May 2 to raise legal arguments for or against the selection process and selection of the hearing officer.

Today’s sixteen-page decision denies the Petitioners’ objections and directs Judge Amano to begin the contested case process.

2016 UH Hilo Awards and Recognition Celebration Awardees

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo honored several members of the University community at its 2016 Awards and Recognition Celebration held on Thursday, May 5.
UH Hilo Moniker
Mathematics Professor Dr. Mitch Anderson was presented with the Excellence in Service Award, given to a faculty or professional staff for service-related professional skills to UH Hilo and the community.

Anderson is one of the most active professors in the UH Hilo Faculty Congress and the go-to faculty member for program review, assessment and accreditation, one nominator noted. He was a key author of the new Program Review Handbook that went into effect two years ago, and also spearheaded one of the nation’s biggest mathematical curricular redesigns by working with the State Department of Education to align its mathematics curriculum to state Common Core Standards (CCSS). His efforts have helped make Hawai’i a model for curricular alignment to CCSS.

Kaliko Trapp, lecturer, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, received the Distinguished Service Award for Improving Student Life for making outstanding contributions beyond the boundaries of his official responsibilities.

His student nominator, Vanessa Winchester-Sai, who is largely confined to a wheelchair, credits Trapp with helping her get the most out of her educational experience. In addition to being an instructor, he provided the technical accommodations necessary for Winchester-Sai to participate in her other classes as well. She said Trapp has made a profound difference in her life, for which she is eternally grateful.

The Pūlama ʻIke Award, which recognizes a significant contribution to developing and promoting the spirit and mission of the University, was presented to Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

As a member of UH President David Lassner’s Hawai’i Papa O Ke Ao task force to indigenize each campus, she has spearheaded activities to increase student success, faculty and staff development, and institutional and extramural funding. Makuakāne-Lundin has led the Kupa ʻĀina Summer Bridge program with Kamehameha Schools, which provides incoming students with a six-week residential experience focused on cultivating academic learning, personal development and professional skill sets. Her U.S. Department of Education grant-funded Ho’okahua initiative provided $1 million in improvements and renovations to the Hale Kanilehua dormitory while funding a Scholars-in-Residence program that included Dr. Manulani Meyer and Keali’i Reichel among its participants.

Dr. Mahavir Chougule, associate professor, department of pharmaceutical sciences, was awarded the Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation, which recognizes creativity in teaching, scholarship and artistic production at UH Hilo.

Chougule has contributed to UH Hilo’s training and research mission with innovative nanotechnology research, focusing on targeted delivery to improve the therapeutic outcomes of diseases such as cancer and asthma that resulted in filing a provisional application for a patent. His research has led to establishment of the first nanotechnology-based extramural funded lung cancer and asthma program in the State of Hawaiʻi, bringing national recognition to the University in the form of the American Association of Cancer Research Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Award.

The Excellence in Building & Grounds Maintenance Award was presented to Kevin Hand, the University’s electrician.

Hand is currently UH Hilo’s only electrician, who is currently working on a campus-wide lighting conversion. The replacement of old fluorescent light fixtures with modern LED fixtures is enabling the University to maintain existing light levels with half as many lights, while saving an estimated 60 percent on electricity for lighting. He has also helped beautify the grounds and buildings by installing new conduits inside and underneath buildings.

Jamie Ouye, Housing’s senior resident student assistant, was named Student Employee of the Year.

Selected for a strong work ethic and attention to detail, Ouye plans and implements engaging training and staff outreach, and has coordinated various informational outreach and awareness programs, such as suicidal ideation, the effects of bullying, stress management, and the importance of community service. Ouye was also credited for going the extra mile for her co-workers by covering shifts during breaks and holidays to allow them to travel home to visit family.

The event also recognized retired employees and those receiving various years of service awards.

Hawaii Police Community Satisfaction Survey Results

Chief Harry Kubojiri wishes to thank the 583 members of the public who participated in the Hawai’i Police Department’s 2016 Community Satisfaction Survey during the month of March.

As in previous surveys, Chief Kubojiri said the survey was a tool to assist him in:

  • identifying problem areas the community is experiencing with the Police Department
  • determining if he can rectify those issues through specific training of Police Department personnel
  • making changes to policies and procedures if necessary
  • clarifying misinformation about laws and/or police practices

“Your feedback has been invaluable in providing input into the impressions of the community and visitors to our island,” Kurojiri said. “Your input is one of the many tools we use in our continuing efforts to improve how we provide services to the public.”

The survey results can be viewed here.

Click to see all the results of the survey

Click to see all the results of the survey

The chief encourages the public to continue to provide feedback throughout the year by using the “Feedback” link on the Police Department’s website.

Volcanoes National Park Escape Road Improvements Begin Monday

A project to improve and repair Escape Road from Highway 11 to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will begin Monday, May 9. The road will be closed Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of June or until the project is complete.

escape road

The section of road from Highway 11 to Nāhuku will be open when work is not scheduled.  The section of Escape Road from Nāhuku to Mauna Ulu will not be impacted.

Escape Road is an emergency access route that cyclists, hikers and equestrians enjoy.