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Hawaii DLNR Applauds Environmental Court for Sending Strong Message to Albatross Killer

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case today, applauded Environmental Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti for sending a strong message to the community and to one of the men convicted of the brutal killing of albatross at Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on O‘ahu in December 2015.

“The fact that this man will serve jail time and community service recognizes the severity of these killings and the terrible impact it will have for years to come on the albatross breeding colony at Ka‘ena Point,” Case said after the sentencing of Christian Guiterrez. She added, “Jail time, combined with the fine, sends a very strong message to the community that there is no tolerance for abuse, destruction, or killing of Hawai‘i’s unique and precious wildlife – whether it’s albatross, monk seals, turtles, or anything else.”

Christian Guiterrez file photo

Case and Marigold Zoll, the O‘ahu Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife both presented victim impact statements during today’s sentencing. Zoll provided background on laws, funding, and on the public values of impacted resources. She pointed out that the Ka‘ena Point NAR has been under active management for the past 34 years by DLNR, contractors, conservation partners, and a wide variety of dedicated volunteers.

Zoll testified, “Unlike wildlife found in other places, albatross are so docile that I would trust my eight-year-old child to wander amongst them without threat of injury. The impact of this crime extends well beyond the 32 animals we know were killed. Based on conservative estimates of lifespan, reproduction rates and fledgling success we estimate we lost 320 animals from the intentional killing of 32 adults and eggs by Gutierrez and his friends.” Zoll concluded her testimony saying, “The Department considers the killing or taking or protected wildlife to be the most egregious trespass of our laws.”

DLNR is heartened by the tremendous amount of community outrage directed toward the perpetrators of this heartless action and believes that outrage helped inform the judicial system and today’s resulting sentence. Case said, “It showed that most people truly care about our natural resources and that when they are abused or mistreated in any way, they expect us, prosecutors, and the courts to do the right thing. Today a very strong message was sent that these crimes will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent possible.”

As part of her testimony Case played a DLNR produced video that depicts the work being done with the albatross colony at Ka‘ena Point NAR:

Hawaii Federal Court Judge Declines to Rule on Request to Clarify Scope of Travel Ban

Hawaii federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson today denied the State of Hawaii’s motion to clarify the scope of the injunction regarding the travel and refugee bans in Hawaii v. Trump.

Click to view 6 page docket

In its order today, the court specifically did not address the substance of either party’s arguments regarding the proper scope of the injunction. Rather, the order focused exclusively on the procedural question regarding which court is the appropriate forum to decide the merits of Hawaii’s motion.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “The key takeaway from Judge Watson’s order is that he declined to address the specific merits of our request to clarify the scope of the injunction of the travel and refugee bans. The scope of the travel and refugee bans badly needs to be resolved and not just according to the Trump Administration’s interpretation. While we understand Judge Watson’s direction to address our request to the United States Supreme Court, we must evaluate that against the normal course of order as it relates to appeals and the clarification of injunctions. Whatever course it takes, we will get this resolved.”

Transpac Fully Underway – Many Hawaii Connections Tied to Today’s Start

The 2017 biennial Transpac sailing race from California to Hawaii is now fully underway. The final three divisions with the fastest and biggest boats, including two 100-footers among them and a fleet of five multihulls, crossed the starting line this afternoon with hopes of breaking records in the 2,225-mile journey from Point Fermin on the Los Angeles coast to Diamond Head on Oahu.


There are many Hawaii connections among the racers that started today, including James McDowell and his yacht Grand Illusion from the Waikiki Yacht Club, the 2015 Transpac overall winner and a three-peat winner of this race; Pyewacket, skippered by Roy Pat Disney Jr., is also sailing under the Waikiki Yacht Club flag; Aszhou and her crew, half of which are locals from the islands; and Merlin, skippered by noted sailor and yacht designer Bill Lee (who designed and also built Merlin), has Maui-native Keahi Ho on crew.

In 1977, Merlin set an elapsed time record of 8 days 11 hours 1 min. This record would stand for 20 years until it was broken in the 1997 race by Pyewacket, a Santa Cruz 70 ultralight also designed by Bill Lee, with an elapsed time record of 7 days 11 hours 41 minutes 27 seconds. The record fell once again in 2005, with Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory, a maxZ86 from Germany. Morning Glory was the scratch boat when it led a five-boat assault on the record for monohulls. She finished the race in 6 days 16 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds to win the “Barn Door” trophy, a slab of carved koa wood traditionally awarded to the monohull with the fastest elapsed time.

In a class of their own, Phaedo3, Mighty Merloe, Maserati and others are all going for a course record. If the record should fall, one of these boats will cross the Diamond Head buoy at the lighthouse this coming Monday, July 10, arriving in Hawaii in under 4 days. The current unofficial course record set my Phaedo3 this past May is 3 days 16 hours 52 min 3 sec.

The other divisions of smaller boats set out on Monday and Wednesday. For more information on how to get involved, attend the functions surrounding the race and/or to track the race live (four-hour delay), visit the Transpac website at www.2017.transpacyc.com. Contact PR Chair Janet M. Scheffer at 808-521-1160 for any inquiries.

Solomon Elementary Breaks Ground for Campus-Wide Renovations Fueled By Federal Grant

1SG Samuel K. Solomon Elementary broke ground today on a major renovation project to construct four new classroom buildings, a new playfield and new parking areas that will transform the existing campus and provide modern facilities designed to serve 1,100 students.

Project partners break ground on the campus-wide renovation project. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The improvements will give the campus an entirely new footprint and create four state-of-the-art buildings that will provide an array of opportunities for our Kindergarteners through fifth graders, in support of our military students,” said Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi.  “The Department of Defense continues to be a valuable partner in the improvement of our public schools located on military bases and we thank them for their support.”

Artist’s rendering of the new A-Bldg. as seen from the new entrance driveway entering from Carpenter St.

The project received a grant from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment for approximately $70 million to upgrade and modernize school facilities.  State funding will provide nearly $20 million for the remainder of the total project cost.

“It’s really important that every student in the state of Hawaii have a foundation that they can build a future with and that means having engaging teachers, a supportive community and access to technology and a strong curriculum,” said US Senator Brian Schatz.  “In 2017, it also means having a 21st century facility and by investing in this campus, we’re investing in all of our kids.”

Artist’s rendering of the new B-Bldg. central courtyard.

The project will construct 63 new classrooms, a student support center, two computer labs, an audio/video room, a covered playcourt, cafeteria and administrative offices within a two-story, four-building facility, along with a new entrance driveways on both sides of campus and more than 170 parking stalls.

“We are going to make sure that military students have the best environment, so that when their parents are away serving us and ensuring our freedoms, that they won’t have to worry that their kids are in less than perfect situations,” said US Representative Colleen Hanabusa.  “They will know that their kids are getting the best education that the state of Hawaii can offer.”

The project will construct 63 new classrooms, a student support center, two computer labs, an audio/video room, a covered playcourt, cafeteria and administrative offices within a two-story, four-building facility, along with new entrance driveways on both sides of campus and more than 170 parking stalls.

The four-year project will proceed in four construction phases.  Phase I will demolish the existing open playfield and play courts near Trimble Road in preparation for building construction.  Phase II will construct three new classroom buildings, A, B and C, on the former playfield site with completion anticipated in Summer 2019.  During that summer, school operations will begin using the new buildings in anticipation of the Fall 2019 semester.  Phase III will then relocate existing portable structures and construct new drop-off lanes and parking on the east and west sides of campus.  Phase IV will construct the final classroom Building D, demolish the present-day school buildings and construct a new playfield and play courts with completion anticipated in Summer 2021.

Originally opened in 1969, Solomon Elementary is one of two public elementary schools located on Schofield Barracks, a US Army installation, and serves mainly military-dependent students from families with members serving in Army units.  In School Year 2016-17, it served 933 students from kindergarten through grade five.

The school is named after 1SG Samuel K. Solomon, Jr., a Hawaii-born enlisted member of the 25th Infantry Division’s Wolfhounds.  1SG Solomon earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his courageous effort in saving wounded members of his company in the Vietnam War.  As 1SG Solomon was carrying wounded men to safety, he was hit by gunfire and killed in action.  The school was officially dedicated as 1SG Samuel K. Solomon Elementary School on November 11, 1969.

Hawaii Attorney General Chin Joins 18 States to Protect Students Cheated by for-Profit Colleges

Attorney General Doug Chin today joined a coalition of 18 states in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for abandoning critical federal protections that were set to go into effect on July 1, 2017.

Click to view full document

The complaint, filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in U.S. District Court in D.C. alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by abruptly rescinding its Borrower Defense Rule. This rule was designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans. The rule was finalized by the Obama administration in November 2016 after nearly two years of negotiations, following the collapse of Corinthian Colleges, a national for-profit chain.

Attorney General Chin said, “More than 2,400 students in Hawaii were hurt by the actions of Heald College, the local brand name of Corinthian Colleges. Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Steve Levins and I joined 18 states last month asking the federal government to act quickly to protect them. Secretary DeVos refused and is instead bending over backwards to help for-profit colleges.”

In May 2017, Secretary DeVos announced that the Department was reevaluating the Borrower Defense Rule. On June 14, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Borrower Defense Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comments from any stakeholders or members of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department simultaneously announced its intent to issue a new regulation to replace the Borrower Defense Rule.

In a short notice published in the Federal Register, the Department cited pending litigation in the case California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) v. Betsy DeVos as an excuse for delaying implementation of the Borrower Defense Rule. State attorneys general argue in their new lawsuit that “the Department’s reference to the pending litigation is a mere pretext for repealing the Rule and replacing it with a new rule that will remove or dilute student rights and protections.”

Additionally, without the protections of the current Borrower Defense Rule, many students who are harmed by the misconduct of for-profit schools are unable to seek a remedy in court. The Borrower Defense Rule limits the ability of schools to require students to sign mandatory arbitration agreements and class action waivers, which are commonly used by for-profit schools to avoid negative publicity and to thwart legal actions by students who have been harmed by schools’ abusive conduct.

Today’s complaint asks the Court to declare the Department’s delay notice unlawful and to order the Department to implement the Borrower Defense Rule.

The Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking committee helped develop the Borrower Defense Rule, in large part as a result of state and federal investigations into for-profit schools such as Heald College. Under the rule, a successful enforcement action against a school by a state attorney general entitles borrowers to obtain loan forgiveness, and enables the Department of Education to seek repayment of any amounts forgiven from the school.

The coalition involved in today’s lawsuit, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Healey, include the attorneys general of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the complaint is attached.

10 More Confirmed Cases of Mumps in Hawaii – Total Cases Now Up to 143

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed ten (10) more cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of statewide cases this year to 143. Six (6) of the additional cases of individuals are adults and four (4) are Kauai residents.

None of the individuals required hospitalization and all are recovering. Including this week’s reported cases, there have been eight (8) confirmed mumps cases on Kauai this year. More cases are expected in the coming weeks as mumps is a highly-contagious disease.

Mumps is spread easily through coughing, sneezing and touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. Symptoms include fever, headaches, swollen glands in front of the ears or jaw, tiredness and muscle aches.To prevent the spread of mumps in our community, people who are suspected or diagnosed with mumps are advised to stay at home to avoid exposing others and to contact their healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, everyone is asked to review their immunization records to ensure they are fully vaccinated.

All adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps and who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive one MMR dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose. The second dose for adults is recommended at a minimum of four weeks after the first vaccine dose.

All children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The first dose is given at age 12–15 months and the second dose routinely at 4–6 years of age. However, due to the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of also four weeks after the first dose).

To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

More information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Hawaii Department of Water Supply Apologizes – Special Community Forum July 20th

“The current conditions are critical and we need to act now to prevent a potential catastrophe.”  ~ State Senator Josh Green

Due to the emergency nature of the current and prolonged water restrictions in North Kona and the greater Kona area, we have scheduled this special forum event during the normal West Hawaii Forum series summer break of July-August.   July 20, 2017 at 6pm West Hawaii Community Center

During this forum, we expect officials from DWS to explain the how and why of the current water emergency.

We will also explore, with the help of our community forum audience;

  1. why the agency was not better prepared for critical equipment failures and service disruptions,
  2. why it will take nearly an entire year to fully restore water service to the Kona area,
  3. the lessons learned from this experience and prevention plans to avoid potential future service disruptions and impaired operations.
  4. And we will also explore DWS power dependency and relationship to customer water supply services.

The seriousness of the current area water emergency cannot be emphasized enough.

The Forum’s featured speakers include:

Keith Okamoto, Manager and Chief Engineer of Department of Water Supply along with Kawika Uyehara, DWS Deputy, Kurt Inaba, Head of Engineering, and Clyde Young, DWS Lead Mechanical Engineer.

This forum will feature a new and improved audio listening experience. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Residents in Black Sands Sub-Division Evacuated Because of Brush Fire

Situation Found at Scene: Brush fire on Iolani St. spreading both mauka and makai driven by intermittent trade gusts.  Initial visibility less than 10′, no radio or cell phone communication.

Cause: Unknown

Remarks: Fire located on vacant lots bordering structures on all sides. Engine 10 attacked head of fire on Iolani St., Engine 18, VE-10D and BT-8 defended mauka structures along Cook. St. and Engine 5 defended structures makai along Kapiolani St with at times zero visibility.  Near by residents evacuated.  Chopper 1 called in to assist in aerial survey and Tanker 1 and Tanker 10 for water supply.  Fire area extinguished and wet down with booster, forestry lines and foam.  5 structures threatened, no damage incurred.  4 night watch recall personnel called in to monitor and suppress hot spots and flare ups with T-10 and BT-10 throughout the night.