Informational Meeting On Hawaii Coral Reef Bleaching

Senator Will Espero, in cooperation with the Friends of Hanauma Bay, is co-hosting an informational meeting on Wednesday, June 21 in conference room 229 from 10:30 a.m. to noon on the eroding health of Hawai‘i’s coral reefs due to pollution from personal health products such as sunscreen.

During the meeting, Dr. Craig Downs, Executive Director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory will present his latest scientific findings on sunscreen pollution and its damaging impact on Hawai‘i’s coral reefs, including the creation of what researchers call “coral reef zombies.”“The health of our coral reefs is important not only for the protection and preservation of our oceans, but also to our state’s economy and tourism industry,” said Sen. Espero. “Efforts were made to mitigate the toxic effect of pollution from oxybenzone on our coral reefs through a number of bills introduced this past legislative session. Through meetings like this, we’ll continue to work collaboratively with scientists and stakeholders to address the protection of our reefs for future generations.”

  • WHO:  Sen. Will Espero, Friends of Hanauma Bay, Dr. Craig Downs
  • WHAT:  Informational Meeting
  • WHERE:  Conference Room 229, Hawai‘i State Capitol
  • WHEN:  Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Hawaii Auction of Seized and Forfeited Property this Weekend

A public auction will be held by the State of Hawaii, Department of the Attorney General on June 24, 2017, in the Pikake room of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

The auction will include property that was acquired through the State’s Asset Forfeiture Program.  It will also include property from other government agencies and sources. Examples of property to be auctioned include:

  • 2006 Toyota Tacoma Crew Cab 4×4 Pickup
  • 2007 GMV Envoy SUV
  • 2003 Toyota Tundra SR5 Access Cab Pickup
  • Lifted and supercharged 2001 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4×4 Pickup
  • Avionics repair equipment
  • Growing lights
  • Gold and Silver Collectible jewelry and coins (including Ming)
  • Rolex watches
  • Artwork
  • Other miscellaneous property

The property to be auctioned may be inspected starting at 11:00 a.m. The auction, conducted by Rosen Auctions, will begin at noon.

For a list, pictures, and more information on the property to be sold, visit www.rosenauctions.com.

The auction is the result of ongoing efforts by state and county law enforcement agencies to fight crime by seizing and forfeiting assets used or acquired in connection with criminal activities.

Assets that were used in, or obtained from, the commission of certain criminal offenses can be seized and forfeited under the state’s asset forfeiture law.

Taking away the tools criminals use to commit crimes and the profits from those crimes are ways to deter and impede criminal conduct.

Proceeds from this auction will be used by state and county law enforcement agencies to combat crime.

Employees (and their immediate family members) of county police departments, county prosecuting attorney’s offices, and the Department of the Attorney General are not eligible to purchase forfeited property.

Anyone having information about individuals who are profiting from criminal activity should call the Crime Stoppers hotline at (808) 955-8300.

VIDEO: Battle Against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Includes Top-Notch Technology

With 75,000 acres of Hawai‘i island ʻōhiʻa forest now showing symptoms of the fungal disease known as Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death, federal and state agencies and non-profit partners are using an array of high technology to detect its spread.

“The battle against the two types of Ceratocystis fungus that causes Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death has always been a hugely collaborative effort,” said Rob Hauff, State Protection Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). “Now,” Hauff explained, “the collaboration between the agencies and organizations engaged in the fight against this devastating disease not only continues, but is expanding, particularly on the detection front.”  Early detection is considered critical in helping to identify Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death’s spread on the Big Island and to other islands and to provide data and scientific information to aide researchers working hard to find a way to stop it.

During a demonstration today, researchers showed off three of the high-tech survey/detection tools currently involved in mapping and on-site testing for the presence of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Carter Atkinson a Research Microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey based at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, developed what the team from the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BISC) fondly calls a “lab in a suitcase.”  Recently the BISC team collected ʻōhiʻa samples from towering trees in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve on the Big Island’s east coast. Prior to the development, earlier this year, of Atkinson’s portable testing laboratory, all samples were sent to the USDA ARS Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo.  Since the cause of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death was first discovered in 2014, Dr. Lisa Keith who runs the main testing lab, has been overwhelmed with samples.  Bill Buckley, the Forest Response Program Coordinator for BISC said, “The lab in a suitcase has been really nice.  We can collect our samples in the field, and nearby under a portable tent the testing equipment is set and ready to go.  Within a few hours we get preliminary results. In the remote location’s we often work in, this is really beneficial. If we get a positive result, we then can go immediately back out and do additional sampling to get a better sense of how widespread the infection is. This greatly speeds up management decisions.”  Positive samples are sent to Dr. Keith’s lab for further testing and verification.

On the same day BISC tested samples in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve, another team of researchers prepares to launch an unmanned aerial system (UAS) off the side of Stainback Road, one of the epicenters of the infection. Dr. Ryan Perroy of the Department of Geography & Environmental Science at UH Hilo and his team are now spending about 25% of their time flying the UAS for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death mapping and detection.

Perroy said the “drone” has been in use in the battle against Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death for about a year and a half.  “It’s very good for monitoring changes in the forest on an individual tree basis, because the resolution of the imagery is so fine that you can see individual leaves and branches,” Perroy explained. That allows researchers not only to see changes over areas already infected by the fungus, but to detect suspected new cases. As valuable as the UAS imagery is, Perroy said it’s very difficult to fly over ʻōhiʻa forests every month and see the rapidity of tree decline. “It’s not the best day when we come back and we see more and more trees down since the last time we flew. Our efforts are one piece of the larger effort to better understand the disease and better protect our forests,” Perroy concluded.

Above, at 8,000 feet, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) is in the process of remapping roughly 650,000 acres of ʻōhiʻa forest on Hawai‘i island. This is the second time this twin-engine aircraft with millions of dollars of highly sophisticated equipment on board has peered into the very structural makeup and chemistry of individual trees to measure forest health.  The first time was in January 2016. This month’s flights will provide additional 3D imaging and data to fuse with ground data and the UAS data to give scientists and resource managers a really clear picture of the scope of spread of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Greg Asner leads the CAO effort. He explained, “Our 3D imaging system means we see the leaves in the forest canopy on individual trees.  We can determine tree heights, the tree’s structure and the chemical make-up.” Utilizing imaging spectrometers, mounted in the rear of the plane, along with laser-based technology, super high resolution GPS, and a high-end, military-grade intertial motion unit (IMU) Asner and his team are about two-thirds finished remapping the Big Island’s ʻōhiʻa forests, in this second round of flight missions.

He added, “Our work provides the whole island view and that interfaces with all the field work and with some of the high-resolution mapping that’s happening locally within some of the canopies.  We give the big picture, landscape scale view, but also with a lot of detail.”

All of the researchers and managers working to combat Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death agree that their collaborative efforts are about the only silver lining to what is a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s most important native tree. Ōhiʻa protect the state’s watersheds by providing a sponge-effect to allow rainwater to slowly seep into underground aquifers.  They also help prevent erosion and the spread of invasive species and they are very culturally significant and prized in lei making.

“I think it’s really encouraging in this daunting threat to our precious native ecosystem, to have a community of natural resource managers and scientists come together to find a solution,” said Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Survey and Resource Forester for DLNR/DOFAW. He added, “I think this experience of having dedicated partners, complete collaboration and the deployment of top-notch technology has greatly improved cross-agency communications and efficiency and we all hope eventually leads to a treatment for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.”

Top-Notch Technology in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death VNR 7-19-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Department of Health – Lead Tests Can Give False Results, Advises Parents About Re-Testing Their Children

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents with children less than 6 years old who had a venous blood lead test drawn before May 17, 2017 consult with their health care provider to determine whether their child should be retested. This advisory does not apply if the child was tested with a finger or heel stick. Additionally, pregnant women and nursing mothers who had a venous blood lead test before May 17, 2017 should consult a health care provider about retesting.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers used by some Hawaii laboratories. Magellan blood lead tests on blood drawn from a vein may provide falsely low results. The warning does not apply to capillary blood test results collected by finger stick or heel stick.When the warning was issued, DOH contacted local independent testing laboratories using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers. The DOH also contacted the chief medical officers of all health care facilities statewide. Working closely with laboratories throughout the state, and as more information became available, it was determined that a substantial number of children’s test results in Hawaii may have been affected. At this time, the exact number of inaccurate blood lead test results received within the state is not known.

“It’s very important to identify children who may have been exposed to lead” said DOH Director, Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The faulty test underestimates low blood lead levels and even low levels of lead exposure may cause adverse health effects such as learning and behavior problems in young children. If your child was tested for lead with blood drawn from a vein from 2014 to May 17, 2017, please contact your health care provider to discuss the need for retesting.”

For further questions on lead exposure contact the Hawaii Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Information on the national safety alert is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/about/blood_lead_test_safety_alert.html

Hawaii Legislative Leaders Target Special Session on Rail for July or August

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau) and House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (McCully, Kakaako, Kaheka, Downtown) sent a joint letter to the Executive Director of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) advising the FTA of the Legislature’s commitment to convene a special session in July or August.

Click to view full letter

Although no specific dates have been set for the special session and no rail funding mechanism has been agreed upon, Speaker Saiki and President Kouchi said that, “after working with members of our federal delegation, it was deemed necessary and prudent to assure the FTA that the Legislature recognizes and understands the requirements under the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) between the City and County of Honolulu and the FTA.”

USS Carl Vinson, Embarked Tigers, Depart Pearl Harbor for Home

Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, after a scheduled four-day port visit, June 17.

While in Hawaii, Carl Vinson Sailors hosted tours and greeted family and friends who will ride the ship on her easterly transit to her homeport of Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

“Being able to have my family get a feel of the ship when we’re out here grinding every day is really special,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jason Stanfield, of Cypress, Texas. “I’m really looking forward to showing them my spaces and the air power demonstration the ship has coordinated. It’s a rare opportunity.”

Stanfield’s father shared his son’s enthusiasm, noting that he is excited to see what life is really like on a Navy warship at sea.

“We see many portrayals of life at sea in the media, but I am looking forward to experiencing it firsthand,” said Chad Linna. “As I do that, I get to spend the final days of my son’s deployment with him. It’s an all-around rewarding and unique experience.”

U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific regularly and routinely for more than 70 years and will continue to do so. Carl Vinson has deployed to the region several times, starting with a deployment to the Western Pacific in 1983 a year after commissioning. Most recently in 2015, Carl Vinson conducted port visits and exercises with regional navies in the South China Sea.

Early Bird Registration for the 2017 Global Tourism Summit Now Available

Early-bird registration offering flexible discounted rates is now available for the 2017 Global Tourism Summit, being presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Sept. 19-21.   Participants can register via the dedicated website, www.globaltourismsummithawaii.com, and choose from one of several options to attend the conference being held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.


Sustainability is the theme of this year’s summit and how it is incorporated in the future of tourism will be a featured topic of the presentations. The significance of Hawaiian culture, global marketing, technology and innovation will also be highlighted in presentations and panel discussions, with the collective focus on improving tourism in Hawaii and abroad.

George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO, said, “The core objective of the Global Tourism Summit is the collaboration and sharing of knowledge to make tourism stronger and better for the Hawaiian Islands and the industry as a whole. Tourism has stakeholders in all walks of life and all around the world and we are encouraging anyone interested in seeing this global industry succeed to participate in the summit, share their insight, and be part of this greater effort for everyone’s future benefit.”

Early-bird registration is available through July 31 for the following discounted rates:

  • Individuals: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $325, a savings of $70
  • Groups of 8 or More: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $300 per person, a savings of $65 per person (Groups can mix and match different attendees during the conference)
  • Student and Faculty Members: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $150
  • Individuals, Partial Conference, Sept. 19-20: $275
  • Individuals, Partial Conference, Sept. 20-21: $265

“We want to be flexible and provide interested attendees, especially those from Hawaii, with options that allow them to participate in the Global Tourism Summit in a way that best meshes with their daily work responsibilities,” said Szigeti.

Information on sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities is also available online at the dedicated website. A complete listing of sessions, programs and speakers will be added in the coming weeks.

Formerly known as the Hawaii Tourism Conference, HTA changed the name to the Global Tourism Summit to more accurately reflect Hawaii’s emergence as a leader in international travel and tourism.

Free Hilo Community Film Screening – “Being Mortal”

Hospice of Hilo, in partnership with Community First, Hilo Medical Center and East Hawaii Independent Physicians Association is holding a free, community screening of the documentary “Being Mortal” on Saturday June 24, at the William Charles Lunalilo Center–Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus. Doors open at 10am, screening begins at 10:30am.  After the screening, audience members can participate in a guided conversation on how to take concrete steps to identify and communicate wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences.

“Being Mortal” delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness. The film investigates the practice of caring for the dying and explores the relationships between patients and their doctors. It follows a surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, as he shares stories from the people and families he encounters. When Dr. Gawande’s own father gets cancer, his search for answers about how best to care for the dying becomes a personal quest.

Atul Gawande, MD bestselling author of Being Mortal

The film sheds light on how a medical system focused on a cure often leaves out the sensitive conversations that need to happen so a patient’s true wishes can be known and honored at the end.

Seventy percent of Americans say they would prefer to die at home, but nearly 70 percent die in hospitals and institutions. Ninety percent of Americans know they should have conversations about end-of-life care, yet only 30 percent have done so.

“Being Mortal” underscores the importance of people planning ahead and talking with family members about end-of-life decisions. “Planning is an integral part of everyday existence,” said Community First’s Karen Maedo.  “It is often said that ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’ and who among us plans to fail?  It’s your life; it’s your choice.  Have that meaningful conversation, sharing wishes for your end-of-life.  It is the ultimate act of love and will better enable loved ones to move on without you.”

The free screening is made possible by a grant from The John and Wauna Harman Foundation in partnership with the Hospice Foundation of America.

For more information about the free screening, contact Lisa Kwee at (808) 969-1733 or email lisak@hospiceofhilo.org.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Votes to Accept Former Republican Representative Fukumoto Into Party

On Saturday June 17th, members of the O‘ahu County Committee (OCC) of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) voted unanimously to accept the application of Representative Beth Fukumoto to become a member of the DPH.

The vote comes as the final step in a process required by party bylaws for elected officials switching parties and after several meetings with Rep. Fukumoto, including one-on-one discussions with elected members of the party as well as State Chair Tim Vandeveer, the OCC Executive Committee, and DPH caucus members.

Dr. Rich Halverson, Chair of the O‘ahu County Committee stated “though talk of Rep. Fukumoto’s request to become a Democrat has been ongoing for months, we received her formal application less than one month ago. We were pleased to meet with Rep. Fukumoto and take this vote in a way that we felt was timely and inclusive for everyone involved.”

Of the vote, DPH State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer said “we have maintained from the beginning that we would ensure Rep. Fukumoto a fair process and that should things align and unfold accordingly, we in Democratic leadership would welcome her in. I applaud the O‘ahu County Committee for their work.”

“I firmly believed that our Party should hold Rep. Fukumoto to no stricter an ideological standard than anyone else with a ‘D’ behind their name that currently sits in the big square building” explained Vandeveer. “While I agree with the notion that we should seek to elect better Democrats and not just more Democrats, I also understand that we are a ‘big tent’ party that is welcoming of many different ideas and viewpoints. This is the balance that confronts us.”

Of the process, Rep. Fukumoto said “(Saturday)’s vote was the result of weeks of meetings and conversations with Democratic Party members about our mutual goals, passions, and how we can work together to make a better life for the people of Hawai‘i. I got involved in politics with the goal of making Hawai‘i more affordable for local families, and I’m looking forward to doing that work with the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.”

Repaving Work on Komohana Street to Begin on Wednesday

The County Highway Maintenance Division will begin repaving work on Komohana St. from Kūkūau St. to Mohouli St. on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, and is estimated to be completed by Friday, June 23, 2017.  Working hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weather conditions permitting.

Motorists are advised to expect delays and to drive with caution as heavy vehicles and machinery will be in the work zone.  One lane closures, alternate lane closures, lane shifts will be in effect and at a minimum, one lane of travel (for two way traffic) will be provided at all times through the construction area.  The lane closures are necessary to complete the roadway resurfacing work in a timely manner and for the safety of the workers and the traveling public.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please contact Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist at 961-8787.