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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Lānaʻi Town Hall, Addresses Local and National Issues

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted an intimate Town Hall on the Island of Lānaʻi this evening, where over one hundred residents turned out despite the pouring rain—something they welcomed after a very long period of dryness. Students from the Lānaʻi Academy of Performing Arts kicked off the meeting with a lively local rendition of The Lion King’s “Circle of Life.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about her work in Congress and the bills she’s introduced and cosponsored that affect Hawaiʻi communities. The Lānaʻi residents were particularly interested in her work to improve access to services and health care in rural areas, high cost of housing, and increased opportunities for workforce vocational training. They stressed the importance of protecting our environment and preserving precious water resources.

Other local issues discussed included federal funding for highways and education, improving veteran services on the island, and supporting local farmers whose focus is farm-to-table and increasing food security.

A Lānaʻi resident from Syria thanked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for fighting for peace in her home country after the congresswoman spoke about the need to end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria. Other topics of interest included the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation, defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria.

Hawaii Attorney General Urges Hawaii Residents to Submit Claims for Provigil Settlement

Attorney General Doug Chin urges eligible Hawaii residents to file claims or make their views known on a $125 million multistate settlement that provides $35 million to consumers who purchased the brand-name drug Provigil or generic Modafinil from June 24, 2006 to March 31, 2012.

The deadline to file claims is June 25, 2017.

Eligible consumers include residents of Hawaii and all other states except California or Louisiana, who paid for the drug from June 24, 2006 to March 31, 2012.

Provigil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve wakefulness in adult patients with excessive sleepiness. In August 2016, Hawaii and 47 other state attorneys general announced the settlement with biopharmaceutical company Cephalon and its affiliated companies. The settlement resolved allegations that the companies engaged in unlawful “pay-for-delay” anticompetitive conduct involving patent exclusivity for Provigil. “Pay for delay” occurs when a branded drug company unlawfully maintains its exclusive rights by paying a would-be generic competitor to delay entry into the market, keeping prices at artificially high levels.

As the patent for Provigil neared expiration in 2001, the states alleged that Cephalon intentionally misled the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) in order to secure an additional patent for the purpose of preventing competition. By misleading the PTO, Cephalon was able to obtain FDA exclusivity for Modafinil until June 2006, and extend patent exclusivity until April 2012.

For additional information or to obtain a claim form, visit www.StateAGProvigilSettlement.com or call 1-877-236-1413.

Industry-Led Coalition Launched to Prepare Next Generation of Hawaii Workforce

The Hawaii State Department of Education announced its Connect to Careers (C2C) coalition today alongside business and education partners. The initiative is designed to collaboratively prepare students for success in high-skill, in-demand career pathways.

Legislators and business and education leaders came together to launch the C2C coalition. Photo Credit: Department of Education

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced its Connect to Careers (C2C) coalition today alongside business and education partners including the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) and the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund. The initiative is designed to collaboratively prepare students for success in high-skill, in-demand career pathways.

“Preparing students to be ready for life after high school is an evolving target, and it is important that professionals from various industries and trades are involved to ensure we are providing the right skill sets and aptitudes in our schools,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are thrilled to launch C2C and grow Hawaii’s future workforce and economy, and thank our partners for supporting and investing in our students.”

The effort has three pillars:

  1. Business-led: Industry identifies needed entry-level skill sets and employability qualities, and collaborates on degrees and certifications that prepare students for these opportunities.
  2. Aligned curriculum and opportunities: The K-12 and post-secondary educational systems coordinate relevant and rigorous learning pathways that answer these needs.
  3. Tracking effectiveness: Industry identifies needed entry-level skill sets and employability qualities, and collaborates on degrees and certifications that prepare students for these opportunities.

“When we have a strong workforce, it creates a healthy economy,” stated Linda Chu Takayama, DLIR director.  “By educating our middle and high school students about the practical application of their skills after they graduate, our kids not only have a shot at employment but also we put them on a path for their future careers.”

The announcement took place in Kapolei at the Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund site.

“For our local construction industry, this is a valuable partnership,” said Edmund Aczon, executive director, Hawaii Carpenters Apprenticeship and Training Fund. “Currently we have programs underway at Kahuku, Waianae and McKinley high schools. In addition to aligned curriculum, we have teacher support and coursework at community colleges.”

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and the University of Hawaii are leading industry partners.

“During our sessions we are able to determine what career pathways are needed most and discuss the changes that are taking place in our industry sectors,” stated Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and chief executive officer, Chamber Commerce of Hawaii. “C2C is transformative work that we believe will put students on a path towards success and result in an innovative workforce.”

For more information about C2C, visit http://bit.ly/Connect2Careers.

Ongoing Partner Investment

The C2C coalition building and planning was first facilitated through the New Skills for Youth grant that was competitively awarded to HIDOE in 2016 from JPMorgan Chase in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers and Advance CTE. Hawaii was among 24 states and the District of Columbia to receive the New Skills for Youth grant.

C2C industry partner Harold K. Castle Foundation recently approved up to $200,000 to be spent towards Career and Technical Education within C2C to improve, enhance and expand career academies. The following six schools were awarded funds for the following initiatives:

  • Waipahu High School: $30,000 to expand quality and rigor to three more high school academies so that all five meet National Standards of Practice and achieve National Certification as model academies.
  • Farrington High School: $29,600 for the Health Academy to meet National Standards of Practice and achieve National Certification as a model academy.
  • Kapaa High School: $29,100 to create the Natural Resource Academy.
  • Kapolei High School: $20,550 to improve overall governance, student voice and staff capacity as a wall-to-wall academy school that offers eight career academies.
  • Waimea High School: $28,513 to expand the Engineering Academy and create the Natural Resource academy.
  • Pearl City High School: $30,000 to help the school transition to wall-to-wall academies in school year 2018-19 as well as to improve the rigor of the existing SALT Academy.

In total, $167,763 was awarded directly to selected high schools. The Castle Foundation  also budgeted $12,500 for a mid-point gathering in October 2018 and $19,500 for the National Career Academy Coalition to conduct a Baseline Analysis in each participating high school at the end of the grant period as way to gauge progress and impact.

“We understand the benefit of investing in areas that connect our students to career opportunities and these schools are committed to developing educational pathways for students,” shared Alex Harris, senior program officer for education, Harold K. Castle Foundation. “We congratulate all of the schools and look forward to seeing the progress of the career academies.”

Hawaiian Electric Companies Open Up Capacity for Grid-Supply Solar Program

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are adding capacity to the Customer Grid-Supply (CGS) program that credits solar customers for the excess electricity they send to the grid. A recent decision by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) created space in the CGS program by transferring it from private rooftop solar systems that were approved in the past several years but never completed.

The CGS program at all three utilities last year reached the capacity caps set by the PUC. To enable more customers to enroll, the companies proposed that space be transferred from approved but long-inactive rooftop projects. Estimates show at least 20 megawatts of CGS capacity is available for customers of the three companies, representing about 2,800 private rooftop solar systems. More than half of that capacity is on Oahu.

Hundreds of CGS applications are already in line for processing. Those applications will be processed in the order received and only as capacity becomes available through Oct. 21, 2017. Customers interested in submitting an application should first review our Going Solar webpage and check the online Locational Value Maps to determine if the circuit serving their neighborhood has room for more solar. If the circuit is saturated, equipment upgrades might be required, potentially adding to the cost and time needed for approval.

To allow for more integration of private solar, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are testing the latest technologies, including advanced inverters that may be used to improve circuit conditions.

Hawaiian Electric advises grid-supply applicants to install a “right-sized” system calculated for their household’s actual energy use rather than an oversized system designed mainly to sell electricity to the grid. Oversized systems cost more and can potentially export more electricity than the homeowner will receive credit for on their electric bill. By using Solar WattPlan, the companies’ online calculator, customers can determine what size system is right for them.

Installing a “right-sized” system helps leave room for future interconnections on the circuit, making space for others.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies lead the nation in the adoption of solar power. Nearly 78,500 customers have had their systems approved or installed on Oahu, Maui County, and Hawaii Island. To date, 16 percent of all customers have PV systems – nearly 20 times the national average.

Man Tries to Fool Cops on April Fool’s Day – Fakes Kidnapping

Detectives with the Area II Criminal Investigation Section arrested 21-year-old Dwain Lum-Young of Waikoloa this morning (April 13) after investigation revealed that a previously reported kidnapping incident was fabricated.

Dwain Lum-Young

On Saturday, April 1, 2017, Lum-Young reported that on the previous evening while on Mauna Kea Beach Drive, he picked up a male hitchhiker who assaulted him and attempted to force him to drive to Waimea. During this same incident, Lum-Young reported his vehicle was involved in an accident with another vehicle and he left the accident scene due to the alleged kidnapper’s actions.

As Area II Criminal Investigation Section detectives continued their efforts to develop leads in the kidnappin g investigation, they determined the reported kidnapping and assault incidents did not happen.

Detectives arrested and charged Lum-Young at 9:10 a.m. today for false reporting to law enforcement authorities, accident involving damage to vehicle, and duty to give information and render aid. He was released from police custody after posting bail of $1,500 and will appear in court at a later date.

Police ask anyone who may have information about this investigation to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Carrie Akina at (808)326-4646, ext. 277 or via email at Carrie.Akina@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.

Grants Approved for Digital Repository of Spoken Hawaiian Language

Grants approved for digital repository of spoken Hawaiian language
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) have collectively awarded grants totaling $448,464 over a three-year period to fund a project involving multiple University of Hawaiʻi campuses to build a digital online repository of spoken Hawaiian language, or ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

Principal Investigator Keiki Kawai`ae`a, director of Ka Haka ʻUla O Ke`elikōlani (KHUOK) College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

The NSF grant is for $283,464, while the NEH portion totals $165,000. The awards are effective August 1, 2017 and will be managed by Principal Investigator Keiki Kawai`ae`a, director of Ka Haka ʻUla O Ke`elikōlani (KHUOK) College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, along with co-Principal Investigators Larry Kimura, associate professor at KHUOK, and Andrea Berez-Kroeker, associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at UH Mānoa.

The project, entitled “Building a Hawaiian Spoken Language Repository,” will create Kani`āina, a digital corpus of recordings and transcripts of Native Hawaiian language. Kani`āina will feature hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings, fully searchable transcripts in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, catalog information in both English and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, and a unique crowd-sourcing feature for soliciting enhanced transcription and content-tagging of the recordings from the public.

The recordings and transcripts will be accessible online at Ulukau: The Hawaiian Electronic Library, beginning with Phase 1 of the first two collections: Ka Leo Hawaiʻi and Kū i ka Mānaleo, later this year. The content will be archived for long-term preservation in Kaipuleohone, the University of Hawaiʻi Digital Language Archive, which is part of ScholarSpace, the UH institutional repository.

Kawai`ae`a says the awards also include funding for undergraduate research opportunities and for a cross-campus graduate educational exchange in language documentation and revitalization, which is especially timely.

“We are elated that we can now move toward building a larger public repository of audio and visual native speaker collections to support the growing population of Hawaiian speakers,” Kawai`ae`a said. “Kani`āina comes at a crucial time when the number of Hawaiian speakers is increasing as the last of the native speaking elders is rapidly dwindling. We now estimate the number of elder native speakers outside of the Ni`ihau community to total between 20 and 30.”

Data from an April 2016 report by the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism on Hawaiʻi’s non-English speaking population found the number of persons aged 5 and older who spoke Hawaiian at home statewide totaled 18,400. Kawai`ae`a also noted that more than 3,000 students are presently enrolled in Hawaiian-immersion schools P-12, while 13,500 are enrolled in Hawaiian language coursework in public and private educational institutions, and 2,000 students are enrolled in similar coursework at UH campuses.

Kawai`ae`a says the broader impacts of Kani`āina will include its integration into immersion-based language education from pre-school to the university level, Hawaiian knowledge in the natural and social sciences, and beyond. The project will also engage underrepresented groups as citizen scientists through its creation of a publicly available corpus of an endangered U.S. language.

Big Island Police Charge Women Who Stole from Schools Booster Club

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 42-year-old Hilo woman in connection with the theft of money from a public school booster club.

JoAnn Maldonado

On Monday (April 10), JoAnn Maldonado reported to South Hilo Patrol officers that an unknown suspect entered her Waiākea Uka residence and removed, among other personal belongings, in excess of $10,000 cash which belonged to the Waiākea Intermediate School Ukulele Band Booster Club.

She was arrested on Tuesday (April 11) after the investigation indicated that Maldonado, who is the club’s Vice President, took the money for herself, staged the burglary and made the fictitious report to police about a break-in.

At 1:55 p.m. Thursday afternoon (April 13), detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section charged JoAnn Maldonado with second degree theft and false reporting to law enforcement authorities.

Maldonado is being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $2,500 bail, pending her initial court appearance in South Hilo District Court scheduled for Monday afternoon (April 17).

Concerns Grows for Young Monk Seal on Kaua`i

After wildlife biologists and veterinarians relocated a 10-month-old Hawaiian monk seal on March 30th from the Lihi Canal in Kapa‘a, to a beach on the island’s west side they’d hoped she would stay away from the canal.  Two days ago the seal, identified as RH92, returned to the canal along with an adult seal (RK13). Together they’ve been seen feeding on small fish in the manmade waterway along with discarded fish parts. The return of RH92 to Lihi is prompting stepped-up public awareness and outreach and potentially enforcement of littering laws for fishermen who dispose of fish parts in the water.

Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained, “Any time you attract a wild animal into an area where human use is high, you’re increasing the risk of interaction between people and the seal.  You’re also exposing the seal to more risks, such as fishing nets that might be in the water, fishing hooks or strikes by boats.”  The endangered Hawaiian monk seal is protected by both federal and state laws, and injuring or killing a seal carries serious penalties.

The day after RH92 (now carrying a radio transmitter on her back so her movements can be tracked), returned to the canal she rested and basked in the sun on nearby Fuji beach.  As is standard practice with any of Kaua‘i’s population of an estimated 45 Hawaiian monk seals, volunteers posted signs asking people to give her wide berth. “We try to foster the co-existence with public education and outreach,” said Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Field Coordinator with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  She added, “We depend on people taking up a sense of doing what’s appropriate around these large marine mammals.  We’d like to see people respect them, give them their space, and not to create situations that put both seals and humans at risk.”

The disposal of litter, like fish parts, is not only illegal, they decompose in water that people fish and swim in. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are increasing their visibility and patrols at Lihi. For now they want to be sure captains, crews, and fishers on boats that launch from the canal’s ramp know that disposing of any fish parts in the water is against the law. If one-on-one education doesn’t work DOCARE officers may begin writing citations for littering.

Monk seals frequently explore inland fresh waterways like streams and rivers. The attraction of discarded fish parts in these areas is particularly hazardous for young monk seals. Over the past two and a half years, two yearling seals were found dead in the Lihi Canal. It’s believed they drowned, possibly after getting entangled in fish nets. Neither seal had any sign of disease or obvious trauma.

“The last thing we want is to lose RH92, because she’s come back to Lihi, for the easy food of discarded fish guts, heads, and tails,” Thomton said.  He added, “We’re focusing outreach, education and possible enforcement efforts on boat fishing, as this is where the parts are coming from.”  The law requires that all fish parts be thrown into garbage cans provided at all State of Hawai‘i small boat harbors.

Hawaiian monk seals feed mostly on small reef fish, tako (octopus), and lobsters. Despite beliefs to the contrary, they do not feed on fish like ono, ahi, and mahi mahi.  Extensive scientific studies have shown what species of prey the monk seals prefer, and there’s no evidence that they feed on the large, fast moving pelagic fish that deep sea fishermen prefer.

Moreover, according to DAR’s Mimi Olry, “Top predators like seals and sharks help keep reef fish populations healthy, because just like wolves on the land, they pick out the sick and injured fish to feed on. Marine mammals are part of our ecosystem and the Hawaiian monk seal is a sentinel species, in that the health of its population can provide advance warnings about environmental conditions for people. We can and should co-exist with them”

There are no plans to move RH92 a second time and it’s hoped with increased outreach and education people will stop throwing fish scraps into the water and she’ll move on to safer locales.

Hokulea and Hikianalia Arrive in Tahiti

Legendary Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia have arrived in Tahiti.

This arrival marks the first time the sister canoes have reunited since the vessels embarked on separate Malama Honua sail plans in spring of 2015 – when Hikianalia sailed for the Hawaiian Islands to advance the education mission of the Worldwide Voyage while Hokulea continued on her unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe. The canoes’ arrival will be celebrated with the Tahiti community tomorrow, April 14, 2017.

Tahiti holds special historical significance for the Polynesian Voyaging Society as the destination of Hokulea’s first deep sea voyage in 1976, over 40 years ago. Tahiti is the largest island of French Polynesia and shares origins with the rest of the Polynesian Triangle. The mountain, Moua Orohena, tops the island and stands 7,352 feet tall, earning the distinction as the highest point in French Polynesia; its height has made Tahiti the home base of voyaging for generations.

Sister canoes Hokulea and Hikianalia will travel to Raiatea for a ceremony in Taputapuatea on April 25. Hokulea and Hikianalia will sail home in early May to begin the final deep-sea leg of the Worldwide Voyage.