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Hawaiian Electric Companies and Nissan Offer Utility Customers $10,000 Rebate on a New Nissan LEAF

The Hawaiian Electric Companies and Nissan North America are offering electric utility customers a $10,000 rebate off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on the all-electric Nissan LEAF® sedan at participating dealers.

Customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Companies who buy a new 2016 or 2017 LEAF S, SV, or SL can receive the rebate at purchase by presenting their electric bill and the flyer available at www.hawaiianelectric.com/nissanleaf. The offer expires March 31, 2017, or while supplies last. The offer expires March 31, 2017, or while supplies last.

“This is an example of our efforts under the Drive Electric Hawaii initiative to accelerate clean, cost-effective, electric transportation in Hawaii and move us closer to achieving the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for business development and strategic planning. “We’re excited to offer our customers this opportunity to save money, reduce tailgate emissions and help break our state’s dependence on fossil fuels.”

Combining the special rebate and $7,500 in federal tax incentives, utility customers could save up to $17,500. The 107-mile range 2017 LEAF, which needs no gasoline, no oil changes and very little maintenance, has a list price starting at $30,680.

See your participating Hawaii Nissan dealer for details. Find a dealer near you at nissanusa.com/nissandealers/location/.

VIDEO: Senator Kahele Announcing the “Hilo Community Economic District” Bill

Senator Kai Kahele announces the “Hilo Community Economic District” Senate Bill that he is about to introduce during the 2017 Hawaii State Legislature.

Building on the work of the Banyan Drive Hawai‘i Redevelopment Agency, this bill will expand the application and scope of their effort and move toward crafting a master plan of all state lands in the Hilo urban core, including Banyan Drive, Wailoa State Park, Kanoelehua Industrial Area, the Hilo International Airport and Pier, and other nearby state lands.

“This initiative combines the strengths of the public sector, private enterprise, and the community to conduct long-range planning and community building unlocking the economic potential of East Hawaiʻi,” said Sen. Kahele. “This is truly a game-changer for Hilo. With this kind of synergy, we can build a Hilo for the future. A Hilo that our children can thrive in.”

Hawaii Democratic Party to Release “Haven of Aloha” Call to Action Letter and Petition

With the prospect that the themes and statements of intolerance from the 2016 presidential and congressional elections could find their way into the laws and policies of our national government, the Democratic Party of Hawai’i releases a statement on Thursday explaining how that outcome is unacceptable to the people of Hawai’i and contrary to the core values of our society.

The letter, entitled ‘Haven of Aloha” is intended to serve as a recognition of the need for protecting members of the Party and community at large as well as a call for state and local officials to stand up for these values and fill the void of leadership in protecting the social safety net for all.

“We felt it necessary to articulate the values that we stand for and will not compromise. Other municipalities and states have issued similar statements, but ours is unique to our culture and place because it is framed in the Aloha spirit.” said Tim Vandeveer, Chair of the DPH. According to the statement, this is because in Hawai‘i, ‘we are defined by diversity and guided by Aloha.’

“We have much to be proud of in these islands. By the greatest margins in our nation, we overwhelmingly rejected the politics of bigotry, misogyny and hatred. But still, we must redouble our efforts,” Vandeveer stated, “It is in this context that the job of local city and state governments and judiciaries, becomes so important.”

“Our congressional delegation will stand up for us to ensure that we have a voice as the party in opposition to the potentially hostile agenda of the GOP-majority Congress and the President. However, where the social safety net is torn asunder at the federal level it will become incumbent upon our local leaders to utilize our values to bind together and preserve our quality of life and character of our society– to take leadership and responsibility for the most vulnerable among us as well as our youth and coming generations.”

The message is the core of a document the DPH created and invited the Congressional Delegation, State Executive, Senate and House leadership, the Mayor and City Council, and others to sign onto as a unified public statement of shared values to send notice of recognition and protection to potentially affected communities.

The letter serves as a call to action for party members and elected officials to stand up for all people, and fight to protect abiding values of liberty, social justice, economic justice, protection of the environment, and compassion and respect for the dignity and worth of the individual. It urges residents to continue to respect and welcome immigrants, refugees, people of all religions, races and sexual identities, as we work for the betterment of humankind.

“Hawai‘i must continue as a diverse, inclusive, and positive model for our fellow citizens across the ocean and beyond. May we always be an inspiring ‘Haven of Aloha’,” said Vandeveer.

Please join us at DPH Headquarters located at 627 South St. #105 on Thursday, January 26 at 2pm for a formal unveiling and release of the ‘Haven of Aloha’ document, list of signatories, additional statements of support and invitation for public participation via an islands-wide petition.

Hawaii Chief Justice Delivers 2017 State of the Judiciary Address

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald delivered the State of the Judiciary address today at a joint session of the State Senate and House.
The Chief Justice began by thanking Judiciary supporters, including the Hawaii State Legislature: “I thank the Legislature for its strong support of the Judiciary.  We are grateful to all of you for funding construction of a new courthouse in Kona,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “When that courthouse opens in 2019, it will provide the people of West Hawaii with a modern, efficient and secure place for obtaining justice.”

The Chief Justice also thanked Governor Ige for his strong support of the Kona courthouse and the Judiciary’s efforts to increase access to our civil justice system.

He acknowledged the Judiciary staff and judges for working every day to accomplish the Judiciary’s mission: “I am grateful to our eighty-two full time judges, many of whom are here today, and our dedicated staff who strive to ensure that everyone is treated with fairness and respect when they come before our courts.”

“One of the most fundamental roles of the courts is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community.  We do that in many different ways.  First and foremost, we provide a fair and transparent forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes.  We do a lot of that: this past fiscal year, alone, more than 100,000 cases were filed in Hawaii’s courts, along with hundreds of thousands of traffic and parking citations,” Chief Justice Recktenwald stated.

Although the Judiciary’s core mission is deciding cases, the Chief Justice shared about the court’s role that goes beyond the courtroom.  He talked about how the courts are helping to address the underlying problems that affect our community such as drug addiction and homelessness through programs like the Veterans Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, Drug Court, HOPE Probation, and the Steps to Avoid Eviction program.

The Chief Justice also discussed Family Court and the work being done to protect families and children.  He highlighted an innovative program to address truancy, started by judges in First Circuit (Oahu) Family Court, in partnership with the Departments of Education and the Attorney General, as well as the Office of the Public Defender.  Waianae Intermediate School was selected as the site to implement this pilot project last school year, since it had the highest rate of truancy among middle schools on Oahu.

“Of the 63 students in the program, most had missed more than 3 months of the prior school year,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “The results were amazing.  78% of those students completed the school year with less than 10 unexcused absences.”

Another area with tangible results is the Judiciary’s efforts to increase access to justice.  In 2016, Hawaii was ranked among the top three states in the country for practices that provide access to justice.  These practices and initiatives include partnerships for Self-Help Centers, Hawaii’s Online Pro Bono (HOP), and self-help interactive form software, all of which assist individuals who cannot afford a lawyer to better navigate the legal system.  A recent study showed that for every dollar spent on civil legal services in Hawaii, more than $6 is returned to the economy.

Chief Justice Recktenwald also unveiled Hawaii Courts mobile, a free mobile app that will make it easier to access a wealth of information about the courts.  Hawaii is only the second statewide judiciary in the country to offer this service.  “We view technology as an opportunity to make the courts more transparent, more accessible, and more responsive,” he said.

The Chief Justice concluded the address by talking about the challenges of the future and the values that will guide the Judiciary as it moves forward.  These values include transparency and integrity.

“Integrity means standing up for what is right, even when it is not easy or comfortable to do so,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.  “For judges, it means faithfully applying the law to the facts of each case, without regard to the popularity or status of the parties, or fear of reprisal.  Throughout Hawaii’s history as a state, our courts have been open to all.  Our merit-based system of judicial selection and retention gives judges the independence to make the call when the legal interests of a minority are challenged by the will of the majority. Our judges are grateful for that trust and ever mindful of the great responsibility that accompanies it.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Returns From Syria with Renewed Calls: End Regime Change War in Syria Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) returned to Washington, DC after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. She heard stories of suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country.

Tulsi Gabbard meets with Syrian religious leaders in Aleppo, led by Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, and joined by Archbishop Joseph Tabji of Maronite Church of Aleppo, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, and others. Each called for peace, and an end to foreign support of terrorists who are trying to rid Syria of its secular, pluralistic, free society. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

She met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government.

Tulsi Gabbard visits with Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian workers at the Jibreen shelter, housing nearly 1,400 families who fled mostly the eastern part of Aleppo City. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

The Congresswoman also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these women at the Barzi Community Center. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on opposite sides of the war, but who find friendship and empowerment together in their daily sewing classes. They have hope to be able to provide for their family and take care of their children. When asked, “Where is your husband?” many reply, “He is lost.” Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement upon her return:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is a twice-deployed combat veteran who has served as the United States Representative for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Lebanon and Syria as part of a delegation led and sponsored by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS)–Ohio. The 7-day trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, as required by House rules, and was not taxpayer funded. The trip included visits to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017. Other members of the delegation included former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, longtime peace advocates Elie and Bassam Khawam, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s husband, Abraham Williams.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these children at a shelter in Aleppo. Their families fled the eastern part of the city. Many of these children have only known war, loss and hardship. Their families’ only wish is for peace. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Earlier this year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

Lions and Taiko and Chefs – Celebrate Asian Fest at Queens’ MarketPlace

Queens’ MarketPlace is getting ready to crow on Friday, February 3, 2017 from 5-8 p.m., as they welcome the Year of the Rooster during the annual Asian Fest. The free event is a unique and popular way to experience and enjoy the music, cuisine and customs of China, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and other Asian cultures.
According to the Chinese zodiac, a Rooster year is supposedly full of patience and passion, bravery, some bravado, and hard work to reach success. Its motto is “Always higher, always going on,” appropriately for Queens’ MarketPlace, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Goings on at the shopping center ring in the Rooster Year in style, with great food, nonstop entertainment and a spectacular Lion Dance.

The centuries-old tradition, essential to New Year’s festivities in Hawai‘i, the colorful Chinese Lion Dancers perform acrobatic feats and leaps, interacting with the audience and parading through Queens’ MarketPlace from door to door. Participants young and old can “feed” the Lion small donations in red envelopes called lycee (provided) to bring good fortune in the year ahead.

Taiko also plays an essential part of Asian Fest, and the thundering drums of Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko of North Kohala kick off the excitement at the Coronation Pavilion. Their high-energy style of taiko brings movement and music together for a dramatic performance that captivates audiences of all ages.

Throughout Queens’ MarketPlace, chefs will provide food samples (while they last) from Charley’s Thai Cuisine, Ippy’s Hawaiian BBQ, Island Gourmet Markets, Lemongrass Express, Paradise Pizza & Grill, Sansei Seafood, Steak and Sushi Bar, Sushi Shiono’s, Waikoloa Beach Marriott, A-Bay’s Island Grill, Roy’s Waikoloa, Mai Grille, Tropics Ale House and Dairy Queen.
Asian Fest is a complimentary event provided by Queens’ MarketPlace and its businesses as a celebratory start to the new lunar year. For more information, please call 886-8822 or visit www.queensmarketplace.net

Asian Fest Entertainment Schedule:

  • 5:00    Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko
  • 5:55    Hawaii Lion Dance Association
  • 6:30    Kona Daifukuji Taiko
  • 7:00    Visayan Dance Group, Filipino Dancers from University of Hilo
  • 7:20    Lion Dance begins at Island Gourmet Markets and proceeds door to door

Celebrating its tenth anniversary in the Waikoloa community, Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort has earned a reputation among visitors and kama‘āina as “the gathering place of the Kohala Coast,” full of shopping opportunities, services and great food, along with entertainment and arts programs, movies under the stars and large-scale concerts in Waikoloa Bowl at Queens’ Gardens. For more information, visit www.QueensMarketPlace.net or call 886-8822.

Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Kona Boy Missing Since November

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Kailua-Kona boy who was reported missing.

Thomas Salonia

Thomas Salonia was last seen November 7 in Kona.

He is described as 5-foot-5, 125 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Invasive Beetle Species in Hawaii Can Now Be Identified Faster With New Genetic Test

Researchers at the University of Hawaii have developed a new genetic-testing method for identifying the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle, which promises to be much faster than existing physical identification methods. The new tool, reported in the Journal of Economic Entomology, could be a significant step toward keeping the species–a damaging pest to coconut palm trees that was first seen in Hawaii in 2013–from becoming widespread.

Coconut rhinoceros beetle and a similar species, oriental flower beetle, are nearly indistinguishable until they’ve grown to their later life stages, which makes early detection difficult. Currently, egg or larvae samples from the field had to be raised in a lab until their third life stage, which could take several weeks, before insect scientists could determine which species they were looking at.

However, a genetic testing method known as a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay, can be used to identify the species with genetic material extracted from samples of the beetles’ eggs, larvae, or excrement. Researchers Shizu Watanabe, Ph.D., and Michael J. Melzer, Ph.D., of the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, at UH identified genetic markers in the beetles’ DNA that can be used for differentiation via the test. Once samples are received in the lab, the PCR assay can be conducted in just a few hours, Melzer says.

The new method will help “ensure that eradication efforts are being directed at coconut rhinoceros beetle and not oriental flower beetle. This assay will help to prevent any misidentification in the field,” Melzer says. “Such misidentifications might result in resources targeting oriental flower beetle, or worse, ignoring a coconut rhinoceros breeding site because the specimens discovered were identified as oriental flower beetle.”

“For species that require highly technical expertise for identification, molecular assays represent a reasonably straight-forward approach for identification, either as stand-alone assays or in parallel with morphological identification,” Watanabe and Melzer write in their article. “For pests of regulatory concern, rapid and accurate insect identification is essential, and molecular assays can address these needs.”

Open Application Period Underway for Preschool Open Doors Program

The Department of Human Services encourages families to apply for its Preschool Open Doors (POD) program, which is currently open until Friday, March 31, 2017.  Applications received during this period will be considered for preschool participation during July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

This program, which currently serves more than 1,500 children statewide, provides child care subsidies to eligible low- and moderate-income families to pay preschool tuition. POD aims to provide children whose families might otherwise not be able to afford preschool the opportunity to gain essential skills to be successful in school and in life.

To qualify for the program, children must be eligible to enter kindergarten in the 2018-2019 school year (born between August 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013). Families are reminded that a child must be five years old on or before July 31 to enter kindergarten. Families may choose any one of the 433 state-licensed preschools. Underserved or at-risk children receive priority consideration for the POD program, and funds are limited.

Interested families may request an application from the Department’s POD contractor, PATCH, by visiting www.patchhawaii.org or calling 791-2130 or toll free 1-800-746-5620.  PATCH can also help families locate a preschool convenient for them.

Applications must be received by March 31, 2017 to be considered during the July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018 program period. Applications should be dropped off, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the following:

PATCH – POD
560 N. Nimitz Hwy, Suite 218
Honolulu, HI 96817
Fax: (808) 694-3066
Email: PODAdmin@patch-hi.org

Eligibility and priorities for POD program selection are detailed in HAR §17-799, which is available online at humanservices.hawaii.gov/admin-rules-2/admin-rules-for-programs. For more information about other DHS programs and services, visit humanservices.hawaii.gov

Volcanoes National Park Identifies Victim of Fatal Two-Vehicle Crash

The male victim of a fatal two-vehicle accident that occurred in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Saturday afternoon has been identified as 65-year-old Paul Hernandez of New Jersey.

Nāmakanipaio Campground (NPS Photo)

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to the crash which happened on Highway 11 near the intersection of Nāmakanipaio Campground around 1 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 21.

Hernandez was traveling northbound on Highway 11 in a white Hyundai Elantra sedan. According to a witness, the Hyundai left its lane of travel as if doing a U-turn, and was struck by a blue Toyota Scion headed south, driven by a 33-year-old local male. Hernandez was fatally injured upon impact. The local male was transported by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center.

Anyone with information regarding this accident is asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.