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Hawaii Attorney General Responds to Attorney General Session’s Comment

Attorney General Doug Chin issued the following statement today in response to the statement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is “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.”

“President Trump previously called a federal judge in California a so-called judge. Now U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific. Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason. Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”

Hawaii Tourism Authority Statement: Rat Lungworm Disease is Very Rare and Easily Preventable in Hawaii

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement to reassure Hawaii’s tourism industry and visitors planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands that rat lungworm disease is very rare and easily preventable.

“Some national media attention has been devoted recently to rat lungworm disease in Hawaii, raising concerns among visitors and groups planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands. It is important that people not overreact and gather reliable information before making any assumptions.

“On the recommendation of the Hawaii State Department of Health, residents and visitors of Hawaii can be assured there is nothing to fear about getting infected as long as they use smart common sense when washing, preparing and storing food.

“The key facts that everyone needs to remember about rat lungworm disease is that it is very rare, it is very uncommon for people to get infected, and the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating.

“To the visitors already in the Hawaiian Islands or planning a trip here in the coming months, there is no need to be overly concerned. Please patronize our restaurants and enjoy the delicious island cuisine and fresh produce that helps to make Hawaii such a beloved travel experience.

“I would strongly recommend anyone wanting trusted information about rat lungworm disease to visit the Department of Health website (health.hawaii.gov) and learn the facts.

“Hawaii, which has 1.4 million residents and welcomed more than 8.9 million visitors in 2016, typically has between one to 11 cases of rat lungworm disease reported annually, according to the Department of Health.

“Thus far in 2017, 11 people have been infected with the disease, nine residents and two visitors. While the cause of two cases is still being investigated, the Department of Health reports that the remaining nine cases could have been prevented with better hygiene and by properly washing, preparing and storing food.

“We hope knowing this information helps allay concerns about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, which continues to be the cleanest, healthiest, safest and most welcoming destination in the world.”

Multi-Media Dance Show – “Dance of the Bees”

Saturday, May 6, at 7 pm, and Sunday, May 7, at 4 pm, Kahilu Theatre presents Dance of the Bees, a multi-media dance show that examines the life and plight of honeybees. Director Angel Prince is collaborating with local beekeepers to create an artistic and educational show based on a topic that is both relevant, and urgent. Over 100 students from the Kahilu Performing Arts Classes (KPAC), ages five to adult, will come together in this original Kahilu Production.

Photos by Evan Bordessa

“The subject of the honeybee, an insect of which the future of our species is intrinsically tied too, is an urgent matter,” says Angel Prince. “The concept of the show is to elevate the life of the honeybee to a stage performance, in part to raise awareness of the honeybee, and perhaps to soften their image. This show is both entertaining and exuberant and showcases the talented youth and choreographers of the Big Island.”

Dance of the Bees includes contemporary dance, trapeze, aerial silks, hip-hop and breakdancing, and features choreography by Angel Prince, Lynn Barre (Kona), Elizabeth McDonald, Mana Ho‘opai (Hilo), and Kat Reuss, with exciting and eclectic music from Mum, Zoe Keating, Jon Hopkins, and more.

Dance of the Bees will also play for local schools and children in two youth Shows on Wednesday, May 3rd at 9 am and 10:30 am. For more information about the Youth Shows offered at the Theatre please contact Education Coordinator Lisa Shattuck at youth@kahilutheatre.org.

Doors open at 6 pm for the performance on Saturday, May 6, at 7 pm, and at 3 pm for the performance on Sunday, May 7 at 4 pm. There will be snacks and beverages available for sale at the Kahilu Theatre bar. In the Kahiu Galleries, a Climate of Change Juried Exhibit is on display in the Kohala Gallery, and Dance of the Bees – The Exhibit is on display in the Hamakua Gallery. Both exhibits run through May.

Tickets are $38 / $28 / $22 / $16 and available for purchase online at kahilutheatre.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, M-F 9 am to 1 pm.

This Kahilu Production and these performances are made possible by sponsorship from Terry & Michael Cromwell, Mimi & Brian Kerley, and John & Anne Ryan.

Hawaii Department of Health Cites Beverage Distributors for HI-5 Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has issued Notices of Violation and Order against seven local beverage distributors for failure to comply with the State’s Deposit Beverage Container law.

Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit semi-annual or monthly reports and payments to DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period.

Delinquent semi-annual reporting companies cited:

  • Jugo Life, located at 2463 South King Street in Moiliili
  • Monsarrat Juice Co., dba Shaka Pressed Juice, at 3118 Monsarrat Avenue near Diamond Head
  • Dragononi Inc., dba Hawaiianola, at 89-1368 Mamalahoa Highway on Hawaii Island
  • Penta Water Company, LLC in Colton, California
  • Pressed Juicery Hawaii, LLC at 1450 Ala Moana Boulevard #1375

Delinquent monthly reporting companies cited:

  • Hawaiian Springs, LLC at 3375 Koapaka Street in Honolulu.
  • Eurpac Service, Inc. in Norwalk, Connecticut

Companies were assessed with administrative penalty fees ranging between $400 and $3,240. They were also provided an opportunity to request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty. To date, Shaka Pressed Juice and Eurpac Sevice, Inc., have complied with the enforcement order. The companies submitted a corrective action plan and paid the penalty in full.

“Distributors are reminded to comply with all upcoming deadlines and requirements to avoid penalty fees,” states Deposit Beverage Container Program Manager Darren Park. “Late distributor payments and reports negatively affect the accurate calculations of redemptions rates and impact the DBC funds used to recycle redeemed containers.”

TMT Contested Case Deadlines Set

Presiding Officer Issues Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law Deadlines

In an order (Minute Order No. 43) issued today, contested case hearing officer Judge Riki May Amano (ret.) notified the parties of upcoming filing deadlines in the Contested Case Hearing for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Conservation District Use Application (CDUA) at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. During the evidentiary portion of the Contested Case Hearing, spread over five months in late 2016 and early 2017, twenty-five parties to the case presented testimony and evidence.

Today’s order sets May 30, 2017 as the deadline for the parties to submit proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law.  Responses to these proposals are due by June 13, 2017.  Each response shall identify by Document Number the specific decision and order, findings of fact and conclusions of law to which it responds.

Minute Order No. 43 and all other minute orders and documents related to the TMT Contested Case can be viewed at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/mk/documents-library/.

Complete transcripts from the TMT Contested Case Hearing were made available yesterday at Hilo Public Library, Kailua Kona Public Library, Thelma Parker Memorial Library, and Edward H. Mookini Library on Hawaii island, and at the Hawaii State Public Library on Oahu.

Judge Amano will consider all filings and submit her proposed recommendation.  The matter will then go back to the State Board of Land and Natural Resources for argument, review and final decision.

39th Annual Golf Tournament Supports Brantley Center

The Brantley Center, a services provider for people with disabilities, will host its 39th Annual Golf Tournament at Waikoloa Village Golf Course on Sunday, April 23, 2017.

The 39th Annual Golf Tournament supports the Brantley Center’s work with people with disabilities.

The tournament starts at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start, two-person best ball modified format. Entry fees are $125 per player for golf, lunch and prizes, including a chance to win $10,000 for hole-in-one. A silent auction fundraiser offers exciting items, like rounds of golf at the exclusive Nanea and Kohanaiki golf clubs.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., the Waikoloa Village Golf Course opened in 1972 and is known to be enough for the serious golfer, and a fun experience for beginners as well. The 6,971-yard, par 72 layout includes wide, forgiving landing areas, and well-bunkered and undulating greens with picturesque ocean and mountain views.

Brantley Center, founded in 1964 by Sergeant Gilbert Brantley, a former National Guard Advisor, provides adult day programs for clients with physical, emotional or mental disabilities. In a safe and supportive environment, men and women from North Hilo, Hāmākua and Kohala receive independent life skills and employment training, vocational rehabilitation, and help transitioning into the regular job market. Work opportunity is also available for some clients through the Center’s business services, such as aquaponic lettuce, auto detailing, janitorial, lawn and landscaping services.

A 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization administered by a volunteer Board of Directors, Brantley Center depends on government funding and grants from charitable organizations such as Hawaii Island United Way. The golf tournament and other fundraisers throughout the year fill a critical gap in budgetary need.

Golfers and non-golfers are invited to contribute to the benefit golf tournament, and various sponsorship levels are available. Organizers also welcome silent auction items, gift certificates and other donations at all price levels, to generate enthusiasm and give everyone a chance to participate.

For more information, please contact Golf Tournament Chairman Roland Kaneshiro, 987-7712, or call the Brantley Center, 775-7245.

Sea Floor Erodes, Reefs Can’t Keep Up – Coastal Communities Losing Storm Protection

In the first ecosystem-wide study of changing sea depths at five large coral reef tracts in Florida, the Caribbean and Hawai’i, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found the sea floor is eroding in all five places, and the reefs cannot keep pace with sea level rise. As a result, coastal communities protected by the reefs are facing increased risks from storms, waves and erosion.

Elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata) near Buck Island, U.S. Virgin Islands have died and collapsed into rubble. As coral reef structure degrades, habitat for marine life is lost and nearby coastlines become more susceptible to storms, waves and erosion.  Photo: Curt Storlazzi, USGS. Public domain.

In the Florida Keys, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Maui, coral reef degradation has caused sea floor depths to increase as sand and other sea floor materials have eroded over the past few decades, the USGS study found. In the waters around Maui, the sea floor losses amounted to 81 million cubic meters of sand, rock and other material – about what it would take to fill up the Empire State Building 81 times, the researchers calculated.

As sea levels rise worldwide due to climate change, each of these ecologically and economically important reef ecosystems is projected to be affected by increasing water depths. The question of whether coral colonies can grow fast enough to keep up with rising seas is the subject of intense scientific research.

But the USGS study, published April 20, 2017 in the journal Biogeosciences, found the combined effect of rising seas and sea floor erosion has already increased water depths more than what most scientists expected to occur many decades from now. Other studies that do not factor in sea floor erosion have predicted seas will rise by between 0.5 and 1 meter, or between 19 inches and 3 feet 3 inches, by 2100.

“Our measurements show that seafloor erosion has already caused water depths to increase to levels not predicted to occur until near the year 2100,” said biogeochemist Kimberly Yates of the USGS’ St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the study’s lead author. “At current rates, by 2100 sea floor erosion could increase water depths by two to eight times more than what has been predicted from sea level rise alone.”

The study included areas of the reef tract in Florida’s Upper Keys and Lower Keys; looked at two reef ecosystems, St. Thomas and Buck Island, in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and also included the waters surrounding Maui. The researchers did not determine specific causes for the sea floor erosion in these coral reef ecosystems. But the authors pointed out that coral reefs worldwide are declining due to a combination of forces, including natural processes, coastal development, overfishing, pollution, coral bleaching, diseases and ocean acidification (a change in seawater chemistry linked to the oceans’ absorption of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).

For each of the five coral reef ecosystems, the team gathered detailed sea floor measurements from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration taken between 1934 and 1982, and also used surveys done from the late 1990s to the 2000s by the USGS Lidar Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Until about the 1960s sea floor measurements were done by hand, using lead-weighted lines or sounding poles with depth markings. From approximately the 1960s on, most measurements were based on the time it takes an acoustic pulse to reach the sea floor and return. The USGS researchers converted the old measurements to a format comparable to recent lidar data.

They compared the old and new sets of measurements to find the mean elevation changes at each site. The method has been used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to track other kinds of sea floor changes, such as shifts in shipping channels. This is the first time it has been applied to whole coral reef ecosystems. Next the researchers developed a computer model that used the elevation changes to calculate the volume of sea floor material lost.

They found that overall, sea floor elevation has decreased at all five sites, in amounts ranging from 0.09 meters (about 3 ½ inches) to 0.8 meters (more than 2 ½ feet). All five reef tracts also lost large amounts of coral, sand, and other sea floor materials to erosion.

“We saw lower rates of erosion—and even some localized increases in seafloor elevation—in areas that were protected, near refuges, or distant from human population centers,” Yates said. “But these were not significant enough to offset the ecosystem-wide pattern of erosion at each of our study sites.”

Worldwide, more than 200 million people live in coastal communities protected by coral reefs, which serve as natural barriers against storms, waves and erosion. These ecosystems also support jobs, provide about one-quarter of all fish harvests in the tropical oceans, and are important recreation and tourism sites.

“Coral reef systems have long been recognized for their important economic and ecological value,” said John Haines, Program Coordinator of the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program. “This study tells us that they have a critical role in building and sustaining the physical structure of the coastal seafloor, which supports healthy ecosystems and protects coastal communities. These important ecosystem services may be lost by the end of this century, and nearby communities may need to find ways to compensate for these losses.”

The study brought together ecosystem scientists and coastal engineers, who plan to use the results to assess the risks to coastal communities that rely on coral reefs for protection from storms and other hazards.

The study is available at www.biogeosciences.net/14/1739/2017.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Draft Environmental Assessment Public Meeting Ali‘i Drive Culvert Replacement Project

A public meeting on the Draft Environmental Assessment will be held on Monday, May 1, 2017 at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s Community Meeting Hale (Bldg. G), 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Highway, from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM to:

  • Allow individuals to comment, ask questions, and discuss concerns regarding the Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA).
  • Discuss the County’s plans to replace the double-cell culvert bridging the Waiaha Drainageway on Ali‘i Drive; adjacent to the Kona Tiki Hotel.
  • Present the project’s description, history and scope of work, to construct a new bridge structure that has a wider stream flow opening, a longer span and wider lane bridge above.

A Draft Environmental Assessment was released on April 8, 2017, and can be obtained and viewed by selecting the April 8, 2017 edition of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) Environmental Notice at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/.  A copy can also be viewed at the Kailua Public Library.  Comments on the project and its Draft Environmental Assessment are due on May 7, 2017.

If you require special accommodations or auxiliary aid and/or services to participate in this meeting (i.e. sign language interpreter, large print) or for more details on the meeting, please call Barett Otani, Department of Public Works, Information and Education Specialist at (808) 961-8787.

Coast Guard Seeking Public’s Help in Locating Owner of Adrift Kayak Off Big Island

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help identifying the owner of an unmanned, adrift red kayak found approximately one mile off Airport Beach, on the west side of the Big Island, Thursday.

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help identifying the owner of an unmanned, red kayak found approximately one mile off Airport Beach, on the west side of the Big Island, Thursday.

The kayak was found with bait fish onboard but no gear and has the word tango written on both sides.

Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact Coast Guard Sector Honolulu at 808-842-2600.

At 6:50 a.m., watchstanders from the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center received notification from the crew of the vessel Kamalami that they had recovered an unmanned, adrift kayak.

Sector Honolulu issued an urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and launched an MH-65 Dolphin aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to conduct a search of the area.

There are currently no reported signs of distress or missing persons in the area. Kayak companies on the Big Island are checking the area but reported no kayaks out or missing.

The Coast Guard offers free “If Found” decals to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft through the Operation Paddle Smart program. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

Tourism to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Creates $199,923,400 in Economic Benefits to Local Economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,887,580 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2016 spent $159,195,500 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,917 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $199,923,400.

Visitors observe Kīlauea summit lava lake last month from the Jaggar Museum observation deck, open 24 hours a day in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. NPS Photo by Janice Wei

“It’s exciting to see the steady increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and the consistent economic benefit park visitors provide to our Hawai‘i Island community in the way of jobs, and their spending,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We noticed the increase in visitation from the start of 2016, which marked the 100th anniversary of both the National Park Service and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. When lava from Kīlauea reached the ocean last summer, coupled with the ease of steady viewing of the summit lava lake, visitation continued to climb. We’ve seen consecutive increases in both spending and visitation at Hawai‘i Volcanoes since from 2009,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the NPS. The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse.

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state. To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/Hawaii.