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Compensation for Hawaii Consumers Under Settlements with Volkswagen Over Emissions Fraud

Volkswagen Required to Repurchase or Fix Falsely-Marketed Diesel Vehicles, Provide Restitution and Address Environmental Harms; Attorneys General Nationwide Obtain More Than $570 Million in Civil Penalties 

Attorney General Doug Chin and Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) Executive Director Stephen Levins today announced a settlement requiring Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million for violating state laws prohibiting unfair or deceptive trade practices by marketing, selling and leasing diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed defeat device software.

Volkswagen Recall

This agreement is part of a series of state and federal settlements that will provide cash payments to affected consumers, require Volkswagen to buy back or modify certain Volkswagen and Audi 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, and prohibit Volkswagen from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and regulators.

Attorney General Chin said “This settlement punishes Volkswagen for deceiving Hawaii consumers. It affects the owners of more than 900 vehicles owned or leased in Hawaii. In addition to consumer restitution, it provides up to $10 million in payments to Hawaii.”

Today’s coordinated settlements resolve consumer protection claims raised by a multistate coalition of State Attorneys General in 43 states and jurisdictions against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Porsche AG and Porsche Cars, North America, Inc. – collectively referred to as Volkswagen. They also resolve actions against Volkswagen brought by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), California and car owners in private class action suits.

OCP Executive Director Levins said “This settlement will provide excellent relief to the Hawaii consumers who were victimized by Volkswagen’s outrageous conduct.”

The attorneys generals’ investigation confirmed that Volkswagen sold more than 570,000 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles in the United States equipped with “defeat device” software intended to circumvent applicable emissions standards for certain air pollutants, and actively concealed the existence of the defeat device from regulators and the public. Volkswagen made false statements to consumers in their marketing and advertising, misrepresenting the cars as environmentally friendly or “green” and that the cars were compliant with federal and state emissions standards, when, in fact, Volkswagen knew the vehicles emitted harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at rates many times higher than the law permitted.

Under the settlements, Volkswagen is required to implement a restitution and recall program for more than 475,000 owners and lessees of 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, of the model year 2009 through 2015 listed in the chart below at a maximum cost of just over $10 billion. This includes up to 911 vehicles in Hawaii. 820 affected vehicles in Hawaii are 2.0 liter engine models. The remaining vehicles are 3.0 liter engine models. This settlement specifically pertains to the 820 2.0 liter engines in Hawaii. Lawyers continue to negotiate about what relief will be available later to owners of the 3.0 liter engines.

Once the consumer program is approved by the court, affected Volkswagen owners will receive restitution payment of at least $5,100 and a choice between:

  • A buy back of the vehicle (based on pre-scandal National Automobile Dealers Association (“NADA”) value); or
  • A modification to reduce NOx emissions provided that Volkswagen can develop a modification acceptable to regulators. Owners will still be eligible to choose a buyback in the event regulators do not approve a fix. Owners who choose the modification option would also receive an Extended Emission Warranty; and a Lemon Law-type remedy to protect against the possibility that the modification causes subsequent problems.

The consumer program also provides benefits and restitution for lessees (restitution and a no-penalty lease termination option) and sellers after September 18, 2015 when the emissions-cheating scandal was disclosed (50 percent of the restitution available to owners). Additional components of today’s settlements include:

  • Environmental Mitigation Fund: Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion into a trust to support environmental programs throughout the country to reduce emissions of NOx. This fund, also subject to court approval, is intended to mitigate the total lifetime excess NOx emissions from the 2.0-liter diesel vehicles identified below. Under the terms of the mitigation trust, Hawaii is eligible to receive $7.5 million to fund mitigation projects.
  • Additional Payment to the States: In addition to consumer restitution, Volkswagen will pay to the states more than $1,000 per car for repeated violations of state consumer protection laws, amounting to $570 million nationwide. This amount includes $2.5 million paid for affected vehicles Volkswagen sold and leased in Hawaii.
  • Zero Emission Vehicles: Volkswagen has committed to investing $2 billion over the next 10 years for the development of non-polluting cars, or Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), and supporting infrastructure.

Volkswagen will also pay $20 million to the states for their costs in investigating this matter and to establish a fund that state attorneys general can utilize for future training and initiatives, including investigations concerning emissions violations, automobile compliance, and consumer protection.

The full details of the consumer program will be available online at VWCourtSettlement.com and www.ftc.gov/VWSettlement.

Hawaii is 2016’s 6th Most Patriotic State

Hilton Fireworks

With the Fourth of July just days away, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its list of 2016’s Most Patriotic States as a follow-up to its recent look at the Best & Worst Fourth of July Destinations.

Hawaii ranked 6th in patriotism.

To identify the country’s patriotic hotspots, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 12 key metrics such as military engagement, voting habits and civic education.

Patriotism in Hawaii (1=Most; 25=Avg.):

  • 10th – Percent of Residents Who Enlisted in the Military
  • 1st – Number of Active-Duty Military Personnel per Capita
  • 28th – Number of Peace Corps Volunteers per Capita
  • 9th – Number of Veterans per Capita
  • 22nd – Civics Education Requirement
  • 9th – Number of Americorps Volunteers per Capita

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-patriotic-states/13680/

DBEDT Releases Data on Big Island and Kauai Consumer Spending

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released two reports today that provides data and analysis on spending patterns of Big Island and Kauai households in 2014.

Click to view report

Click to view report

The reports summarizes data obtained through household surveys conducted by DBEDT in 2015 and covers spending in 2014. DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division created the report.

Historically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the consumer expenditure data for Honolulu County, which was compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Consumer Expenditure Survey.  The BLS survey only included Oahu residents and excluded neighbor island residents.  Data on consumer spending patterns for neighbor islands did not exist before DBEDT compiled the data through household surveys.

Some of the findings in the Hawaii County report include the following:

  • An average household in Hawaii County spent an average of $51,700 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, 71.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.H
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 40.5 percent of total expenditures or $20,921 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.3 percent or $8,405), food (14.4 percent or $7,420), and personal insurance & retirement savings (7.8 percent or $4,046).
  • In 2014, a typical Hawaii County household spent about $10,000 less than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Hawaii County consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather similar, both between 71 percent and 72 percent of total expenditures.
  • Hawaii County household’s annual expenditures were slightly lower than the U.S. average in 2014, with Hawaii County at $51,700 and the U.S. at $53,495.  Housing comprised a larger portion in Hawaii County consumers’ spending (40.5 percent for Hawaii County and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Hawaii County consumers spent relatively more on food (14.4 percent for Hawaii County and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and less on transportation (16.3 percent for Hawaii County and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 78.3 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 65.5 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on entertainment and insurance and retirement savings.
  • Homeowners with mortgages spent $65,911 in 2014, which was more than $20,000 higher than the annual expenditures of home renters and home owners without mortgages. Both homeowners with mortgages and renters spent a large share on housing, 42.2 percent and 44.8 percent, respectively, resulting in comparably smaller shares on most other spending categories, relative to home owners without mortgages.

Some of the findings in the Kauai County report include the following:

  • A typical household in Kauai County spent an average of $64,651 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, nearly 73.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 41.5 percent of total expenditures or $26,819 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.8 percent or $10,836), food (14.9 percent or $9,638), and personal insurance & retirement savings (6.8 percent or $4,398).
  • In 2014, a typical Kauai household spent more than $2,000 more than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Kauai consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather close, both at around 73 percent of total expenditures.  Kauai household’s annual expenditures were 21 percent higher than the U.S. average in 2014, with Kauai at $64,651 and the U.S. at $53,495.   Housing comprised a larger portion in Kauai consumers’ spending (41.5 percent for Kauai and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Kauai consumers spent relatively more on food (14.9 percent for Kauai and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and slightly less on transportation (16.8 percent for Kauai and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 80 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 69.8 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on transportation, insurance and retirement savings, and entertainment.
  • Homeowners with mortgages and renters had comparable shares for housing related expenses (44.5 percent versus 44 percent). However, homeowners’ annual expenditure amount was much higher than renters, with $87,460 for home owners with mortgages versus $54,139 for home renters.

The Hawaii County results are based on 554 completed surveys from the Big Island, and the Kauai County results are based on 337 completed surveys from the islands of Kauai and Lanai.

The full reports are available at:

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Big_Island_Survey_Final.pdf

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Kauai_Survey_Final.pdf

Hawaii Department of Health Release Names, Scores and Rankings of ALL Applicants for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today released the scores and ranking of the applicants for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses.

Honolulu Applicants

Click to enlarge

The list of applicants and their respective scores and ranking are posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/latest-updates-and-news/.

Hawaii Applicants

Click to enlarge

A total of 66 applications for eight dispensary licenses were reviewed, evaluated, and scored (based on 13 merit criteria) by four members of a selection panel. Each application could receive a maximum of 520 points (10 points maximum could be awarded for each merit criterion by each of four individual panelists).

Kauai Applicants

Click to enlarge

All applicants were required to submit documentation to prove compliance with the statutory and administrative requirements for both individual applicants and applying entities.

Maui Applicants

Click to enlarge

“To meet the ambitious and expedited time schedule for the selection process and given the large number of applications to review, the vetting process was conducted concurrently with the scoring of the applications,” said Keith Ridley, Chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance.

While all applications were scored, 12 applicants who did not submit the requisite documentation or whose documentation did not establish compliance with the requirements were not ranked in the final compilation of scores.

Non Applicants

Unselected applicants

DOH notified all unselected applicants by certified mail this week prior to the posting of the applicants’ scores. To help ensure the medical marijuana dispensary program can be available for patients, DOH has been working on other requirements for the programs implementation.

The department is continuing work with Bio Track THC to establish the web-based seed-to-sale computer tracking system for dispensaries.

The DOH State Laboratories Division has established a certification process for medical marijuana testing facilities and applications are available at http://health.hawaii.gov/statelab/.

“It’s an exciting time, launching this new industry in Hawaii,” said Margaret Leong, supervisor of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Program. “So far, the licensing staff have met in person with seven of the licensees and the discussions have been really productive and beneficial to all of us. The licensees have generously shared their knowledge of the industry gained through the application process, and we’ve been able to provide more specific guidance to ensure that their facilities conduct operations in compliance with all state requirements to be able to open their dispensaries in a timely manner.”

Additional information about the medical marijuana dispensary program and the registry program is available at health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana.

Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber Joins JCCIH Installation Ceremonies

Officials of the Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry flew to Hilo to participate in the installation of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii (JCCIH) officers for 2016-17.

Darren Nishioka, left, passes the gavel to Russell Arikawa, new president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii

Darren Nishioka, left, passes the gavel to Russell Arikawa, new president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii

During the 66th annual ceremony on June 8, Russell Arikawa of Ginoza Realty, Inc. was installed as president of JCCIH. The two Chambers continue to explore beneficial opportunities between the business communities of Higashi-Hiroshima and East Hawaii.

Arikawa, a realtor, has served the Chamber as government affairs chief and as a chair of the popular Taste of Hilo. He is a director of the Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association, and a commissioner with the Department of Water. Born in Hilo, he graduated from University of Hawaii-Hilo.

During his remarks, Arikawa said East Hawaii faces many challenges, old and new. “It is an era distinguished by community service,” he said, but it is also a time “which challenges every elected official and public servant. We must be more accountable and more accessible to the people.”

Arikiawa received the gavel from immediate past president, Darren Nishioka of CU Hawaii Federal Credit Union.
Other officers of JCCIH include: first VP, Audrey Takamine of Takamine Construction; second VP, Stephen Ueda of Suisan; third VP, Donn Mende of County of Hawaii; treasurer, Joseph Skruch; auditor, Ivan Nakano of I. Kitagawa & Company, Ltd.; and Japanese secretary, Naomi Menor of Naomi’s World Travel Service. The officers and 34 directors were installed by Attorney Peter Kubota.

Sandra Dawson of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) gave the installation keynote address, reporting on the status of the project and its challenges. JCCIH has been a staunch supporter of TMT and has worked closely with the astronomy community to promote culturally appropriate scientific research.

Members of JCCIH and Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry meet at Hilo International Airport

Members of JCCIH and Higashi-Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry meet at Hilo International Airport

JCCIH fosters economic sustainability and perpetuates the Japanese cultural heritage and traditions in Hawaii. The two value pillars that the JCCIH is built on are the Hawaiian Kahiau (giving without expecting anything in return) and the Japanese Okage Sama De (I am what I am because of you.)

The Chamber sponsors the popular annual Taste of Hilo. It also hosts business and cultural events and information sessions throughout the year and works with other business organizations as a watchdog over state and county legislation.

For information about JCCIH programs and membership, visit the website at www.jccih.org

Hawaii Representative Asks Attorney General to Investigate School Air Conditioning Bids

Contractors bids so high that project delayed and students to suffer

As summer heats up and public schools prepare to begin Aug. 1, plans to spend $100 million to cool off 1,000 classrooms have been delayed due to the outrageously high bids from contractors to install air conditioning.

Rep. Matthew LoPresti

Rep. Matthew LoPresti

Rep. Matthew LoPresti has asked the Attorney General to investigate if there is a conspiracy to defraud taxpayers by artificially inflating bids for profit at the expense of school children – who will suffer through yet another unbearably hot summer in stifling classrooms.

“We cannot just wait for another round of bids and hope they are reasonable,” said Rep. Matthew LoPresti. “Classrooms in my district and across the state will soon be too hot for students to learn and teachers to teach. We must find a way to get this project moving forward.

“At the same time, the bids for the work came in so high that it is possible contractors who know the state is hard pressed to get this work done conspired to submit bids much higher than reasonable to make unreasonable profits.”

This past session the Legislature approved more than $100 million to add air conditioning to 1,000 classrooms by the end of the year and Gov. David Ige has been working with the state Department of Education and private companies to get the work done.

The DOE now says the project must be either delayed due to the high bids or far fewer classrooms then expected will be cooled.  As an example, the DOE said the bid for one photovoltaic-powered air conditioning project with an estimated cost of $20,000 came in more than $100,000.

LoPresti said there have also been complaints from contractors that the bid specifications for a $20,000 project were up to 100 pages long and that makes submitting a bid expensive and complicated.

“I would like the DOE to take a look at the bidding process and simplify the documents if possible,” he said. “We need to get to the bottom of why these bids are so high. Whatever the reason, we need to fix it.”

The cool schools project now is being pushed back with bidding reopened with the new fiscal year which begins July 1, 2016.

“If contractors are gouging the state at a time of great need in our schools and the students have to suffer because of this, the Attorney General must find them and prosecute to the full extent of the law,” LoPresti said. “The public deserves answers as to why bids are coming in suspiciously high and we cannot just sit by and accept this.”

As part of his “Cool Schools 4 Ewa” initiative, LoPresti is reaching out to the public to create a hui of professional volunteers willing and able to contribute to the heat abatement effort by donating their time and labor to help the DOE cool classrooms at realistic and reasonable costs.

LoPresti urges those able to install PV or PV AC systems to contact his office so he can help organize and facilitate those willing to step up and help our keiki to move beyond those who would rather profiteer from their suffering.

State Awarded $764 Thousand to Study Military Impact on Hawai‘i’s Economy

The State of Hawai‘i has been awarded a $763,856 grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to complete a Supply Chain Map for Hawai‘i’s defense contracting community. This grant starts on July 1, 2016 and will be administered by the State of Hawai‘i, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

110831-N-IC111-250 PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Aug. 31, 2011) – Sailors and Marines render honors as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) passes the USS Arizona Memorial while entering Pearl Harbor for a port visit. Ronald Reagan is currently in the 3rd Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin B. Gray/RELEASED)

110831-N-IC111-250 PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Aug. 31, 2011) – Sailors and Marines render honors as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) passes the USS Arizona Memorial while entering Pearl Harbor for a port visit. Ronald Reagan is currently in the 3rd Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin B. Gray/RELEASED)

The defense industry is Hawai‘i’s #2 economic sector. Past analyses of the impact of the military in Hawai‘i have been completed at the macro-economic level. The average annual direct defense expenditures in Hawai‘i are about $8.8 billion, resulting in a total output of $12.2 billion into the economy. This sector supports approximately 100,000 jobs, or 16.5% of Hawai‘i’s total jobs, across all islands.

“This grant will enable the State of Hawai‘i to identify the prime contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers to the military. This will enable us to plan ahead to better support this critical component of our economy by ensuring that Hawai‘i  businesses are prepared to adapt to changing defense requirements,” said Gov. David Ige.

The Military Affairs Council (MAC) of the Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i is a strategic partner for this grant. “We look forward to partnering with the state to inventory and study Hawai‘i’s DoD supply chain which includes all of our MAC members. This project will reveal how the defense sector impacts every island and aspect of our economy,” said David Carey, Chairman of the Military Affairs Council.

Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation in Hawaii

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a fifth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until August of this year. The supplemental proclamation provides an additional 60 days in which to continue the state’s cross-sector collaboration and coordinated efforts with the counties.

Click to read proclamation

Click to read proclamation

“The state has taken strides forward in creating a truly client-centered system among federal, state, county and community organizations,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige. “We are seeing unprecedented alignment of services and a commitment to the common goal of connecting people to permanent, stable housing as quickly as possible.” Morishige made the statement from the Maui Landlord Summit, where he outlined progress in the state’s unified response to homelessness:

Section 8 Landlords Recruited

The Maui Landlord Summit is the fourth in a series of state-supported events aimed at increasing government-assisted housing inventory. It serves to introduce potential landlords to homeless service providers and government agencies providing landlord support. The summit dispels misperceptions about Section 8 and the Housing First program, and is a collaborative effort between the State of Hawai‘i, County of Maui and Maui’s nonprofit service providers.

100 Homeless Families to be Housed

The Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) board has approved emergency rules to establish a special rental subsidy program, which will make available approximately $600,000 to quickly move at least 100 homeless families statewide into housing. HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said, “With partnership with local nonprofits, this program is specifically focused on homeless families, where we expect to have an immediate, noticeable and lasting impact across generations.”

Scott Morishige underscored the importance of the developments: “These are two examples of community partnerships the state is forging to effectively and quickly address homelessness.  We are looking at new and creative ways for the community to pool funds, leverage resources, and work in alignment across all sectors to house and stabilize people experiencing homelessness.”

Over the past week, representatives from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the National Governors Association have been in Hawai‘i as the Governor’s office has convened cross-sector meetings with stakeholders from every county and every sector.

Hawaii Department of Education Virtual Job Fair Scheduled

The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) will be holding a Virtual Job Fair to engage with prospective educators, administrators and support staff interested in joining the department.  Users can register for the event here.

Virtual Job FairWebsite information will be available from 11 a.m., Thursday, July 14, through 3 p.m., Saturday, July 16, 2016 (Eastern Standard Time).

Live chat sessions with recruiters from HIDOE’s Office of Human Resources are scheduled on:

  • Thursday, July 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (EST)
  • Saturday, July 16, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (EST)

Registration for this online event is required.  Click here to sign up today.

Hawaii residents unable to attend the online event can visit HIDOE’s Employment Opportunities website or call the Office of Human Resources directly at 808-441-8444 for more information.

Island Air Launches Kona Service – George Applegate Named Island Air’s Hawaii Island Representative

Island Air today launched daily air service to Hawaiʻi Island as part of its continuing efforts to expand its presence in the Islands and offer residents and visitors an alternative option for interisland travel. The airline also announced it has hired veteran tourism industry leader George Applegate to serve as its representative on Hawaiʻi Island.

Photos courtesy of Island Air

Photos courtesy of Island Air

Island Air officials, along with government, business and visitor industry leaders from Hawaiʻi Island and Oʻahu gathered at the Kona International Airport this morning for a blessing of the airline’s new check-in counter located in Terminal 1 and departure/arrival gate (Gate 5). Following the blessing, passengers on the inaugural flights arriving into and departing from Kona were greeted with lei and entertained by keiki from Waimea’s Hālau Hula Ka Noʻeau. In partnership with the Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB), guests also were given a tour of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority located a short drive from the airport.

During the celebration, Island Air’s president and chief executive officer David Uchiyama announced that Applegate will serve as Island Air’s representative on Hawaiʻi Island. Applegate will support the airline’s sales efforts and assist in promoting Island Air’s business on Hawaiʻi Island.

island air day 1a

“Over the years, George has played an integral role in strengthening Hawaiʻi Island’s tourism industry. We are excited to have him join the Island Air team as we work to grow our Kona service,” said Uchiyama. “Our entire Island Air team recognizes the importance of having reliable interisland air travel options that allow local families and businesses to remain connected, support the local economy and provide alternatives for residents and visitors to enjoy Hawai‘i the Island way.”

Applegate has more than 40 years of experience in the visitor industry, including 24 years with the BIVB, 13 of those as its executive director before he retired in 2013. In 2015, he served as an executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi where he assisted with various tourism projects for Hawaiʻi Island. He continues to provide tourism-related consulting services on a contractual basis to the County of Hawaiʻi through his firm George Applegate Consulting.

island air day 1b

“Having another alternative for interisland travel is critical for our community and visitor industry, which is why I am excited about this opportunity to assist with the growth of a second interisland airline that will support both residents and visitors,” said Applegate.

In addition to increasing seat capacity to Hawaiʻi Island with five daily roundtrip flights between Kona and Honolulu, Island Air hired 22 employees to service the new route. The Kona-based team of customer service agents and ramp agents is being led by Shardae Kaupu Lopez, who will serve as Island Air’s Kona station manager and oversee the airline’s airport operations. Lopez is originally from Miloliʻi and started working for Island Air in 2012.

FREE – 2016 Puna Homeowners Association Conference

The non-profit Ku’ikahi Mediation Center is pleased to announce the 2016 Puna Homeowners Association Conference: “Tools for Success.”  The free conference runs from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 25 at Kea’au High School.

Homeowners Conference

Puna Homeowners Associations (HOA) board officers, directors, staff, and community members are invited to gain tools for success in the areas of member relations, association leadership, and meeting management.

“Managing the large private subdivisions in Puna, which stretches from Volcano to Seaview, is not a simple task,” said Ku‘ikahi Executive Director Julie Mitchell.  “We want to support our largely volunteer community leaders to succeed, whether in overcoming challenges, enhancing opportunities, or being of service to members and neighbors.”

This unique conference allows interested HOA to exchange ideas and gain knowledge in three concurrent sessions on Board Success and Meeting Success.

Board Success sessions are: “By-Laws” with Vaughn Cook, “Best Board Practices” with Julie Hugo, and “Transparency” with a panel moderated by Jon Henricks.

Meeting Success sessions are: “Ground Rules” with Lorraine Mendoza, Lucille Chung and Kimberly Dark, “Parliamentary Procedures” with Jon Henricks, and “Meeting Facilitation” with Kimberly Dark.

Pre-registration is required for the free conference, which includes lunch.  For online registration, visit www.hawaiimediation.org/events.html.  Contact Jenifer at 935-7844 x 1 or jenifer@hawaiimediation.org for registration assistance.

This conference is made possible thanks in part to funding from the Hawai‘i Island United Way, County of Hawaiʻi District 4 and District 5 Contingency Funds, and other generous sponsors.

Hawaii National Parks Non-Profit Donates Additional Funds for NPS Centennial Year

In honor of the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service, the board of directors of Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association has approved an additional $100,000 in cash donations to the six parks in Hawai‘i and American Samoa served by HPPA.

Banners for community outreach at the National Park of American Samoa

Banners for community outreach at the National Park of American Samoa

This is in addition to donations of $233,000 approved last fall, and to the over $900,000 in program services donated in the form of staffing. Proceeds from our nine park stores support interpretation, educational programs, research projects, publications, and cultural activities in our partner parks.

Cultural demonstrations at Puʻukoholā Heiau NHP

Cultural demonstrations at Puʻukoholā Heiau NHP

The additional funding, “100,000 for the 100 years,” will allow the parks to provide enhanced programs for the many 2016 centennial events and to encourage visitors to “find your park.”

HPPA funding has and will be used for numerous projects large and small in the parks, including additional Junior Ranger programs, personnel for the Youth Intern program, and increased funding for endangered species management at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park; the Hawai‘i national parks centennial juried exhibition at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, and cultural and community programs in partnership with Haleakalā National Park; community outreach events for the National Park of American Samoa; and additional cultural and community activities at three cultural sites in west Hawai‘i–Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, and Pu‘ukoholā Heiau National Historical Site.

Big Island Police Investigate 23 Counterfeit Money Cases in May

Hawaiʻi Island police are warning the public about a spike in counterfeit cases in the Hilo and Puna districts.

In May, police investigated 23 counterfeit cases in those districts compared with seven cases in April and two cases in January through March. Stores and restaurants have received counterfeit bills in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.

Anyone who receives a counterfeit bill is urged to call the police to file a report.
Counterfit Money
Police ask anyone with information about who is producing or passing these bills 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.

High Technology Development Corporation Hosts Forum on Entrepreneurship with Noted Business Innovation Expert

The High Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) will host a free brown bag lunch lecture by nationally recognized venture capitalist, technology expert, business executive and media commentator Jonathan Aberman on Wednesday, June 1 from 12 noon – 1 p.m. at the NELHA Gateway Center in Kailua-Kona. Seating is limited for Aberman’s presentation, “The Challenge of Growth: It’s a high class problem, but still a problem.”

Jonathan Aberman

Jonathan Aberman

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Jonathan Aberman address our local business leaders in Kailua-Kona,” said Robbie Melton, executive director and CEO of HTDC.  “His vast experience in the technology innovation and business startup fields has made him a highly respected voice that people across the nation look to for guidance. We’re very fortunate to welcome him to Hawaii to share his thoughts on the challenges facing small businesses today.”

Aberman is founder, chairman, and managing director of Amplifier Ventures, a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of technology innovation consulting and investment management businesses that assists technology startups and provide consulting services to government agencies, academic institutions, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations. He has been cited as a thought leader in the areas of technology innovation and entrepreneurship by numerous media outlets. Washingtonian Magazine named him as one of its “Tech Titans,” and the Washington Business Journal tabbed him as one of the “Power 100” in the region. The Commonwealth of Virginia has also listed Aberman as one of its “50 Most Influential Entrepreneurs.”

Online registration is available at nelha-jonathanaberman.eventbrite.com. Tickets are free, but limited to 50 seats. The NELHA Gateway Center is located at 73-4460 Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Island. Following his presentation, Aberman will be available for consultation. Appointments are limited and reservations are required.

To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact Tom Leonard at tom.ni3@htdc.org or (808) 936-0222.

Hawaiian Airline Pilots Authorize Strike

Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) voted today to authorize their elected union representatives to conduct a lawful withdrawal of service if contract talks do not result in a new collective bargaining agreement. Almost 98 percent of the pilot group voted, and of those voting 99 percent voted to support the strike ballot, which opened on April 25.

Hawaiian Airlines Plane in Sky

“This vote shows the deep anger our pilots feel toward their senior management,” said Capt. Hoon Lee, chairman of the ALPA unit at Hawaiian Airlines. “We absolutely do not want to go on strike, but if that’s what it takes to get a market-rate contract, our pilots have told us loud and clear that they will stand together and take that final step.”

Pilots cheered when Lee and other ALPA leaders announced the voting results at a rally near Honolulu International Airport today. The pilots plan to hold an informational picket at the airport on May 25.

The strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent. The National Mediation Board (NMB) must first decide that additional mediation efforts would not be productive and extend an offer to arbitrate the dispute. If either side declines arbitration, the parties enter a “cooling off” period and are free to exercise self-help – a strike by the pilots or a lockout by the company — 30 days later.  Additional mediation sessions are not scheduled past June at this time.

The pilots’ contract became amendable in September 2015. ALPA and Hawaiian management began contract talks in May of last year and began working with a NMB mediator in January 2016.

“At a time when Hawaiian is making more money than ever before, our management stubbornly refuses to share those profits with the employees who earned them,” Lee said.

”Our patience is at an end and we demand a market-rate contract that recognizes our contributions to this airline’s astounding success.”

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world and represents over 52,000 pilots at 30 U.S. and Canadian airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.

NELHA and Hawaii Tourism Authority Receives President’s “E” Award

Today in Washington, DC, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in awarding two ‪#Hawaii companies—Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority and Hawaii Tourism Authority—the President’s “E” Award.

HTA AND NELHA

The “E” Award is the highest honor the United States Government can give to an American exporter and export service provider. Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority and Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority were two of 123 U.S. companies and organizations recognized at today’s ceremony.

This year marks the 54th anniversary of the “E” Awards presentation. For the first time in the award’s 54-year history, winners represent every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Of this year’s 123 honorees, 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

In 1961, President Kennedy created the “E” Awards to recognize companies supporting the expansion of U.S. exports. The President’s “E” Award recognizes persons, firms, or organizations which contribute significantly in the effort to increase United States exports. The President’s “E Star” Award affords continuing recognition of noteworthy export promotion efforts. More information on the awards can be found at: http://export.gov/exportawards/

Approved Route Between Kona and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Expected to Bring in More Than $50 Million to Hawaii Island Economy

Gov. David Ige is applauding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s approval of Hawaiian Airlines’ application to serve Kona from Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Hawaiian Airlines

“This creates the opportunity for us to open up Kona as an international point of entry. This is a significant step toward making that happen,” said Mike McCartney, Gov. Ige’s chief of staff.

Hawaiian Airlines has been flying passengers on the Haneda-Honolulu route since 2010, providing 107,000 round-trip seats a year and generating $564 million in direct spending.

Gov. Ige, who is traveling on the mainland, submitted a letter of support of Hawaiian Airlines’ application for a second route, which said, in part:

“Providing direct service to Kona will open a new Haneda gateway to a market that has significant pent-up demand. Kona is the third largest U.S. airport without nonstop service to Tokyo. It has more point-of-sale Japanese passengers than eleven markets that currently enjoy nonstop service to Japan’s most populous city,” said Gov. Ige.

The U.S. DOT has given Hawaiian Airlines until Jan. 29, 2017 to start the new service.

Hawaii State Urges Consumers with Sports Authority Gift Cards to Redeem Unused Balances Immediately

Stephen Levins, Executive Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s Office of Consumer Protection, is urging Hawaii consumers who may be holding gift cards, certificates or store credits from Sports Authority to redeem their balances as soon as possible. Consumers are also urged to return unwanted merchandise immediately for a refund or exchange.

sports authority gift card

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March of this year, and initially had received approval from the bankruptcy court to proceed with business as usual. The company has since announced plans to begin liquidating its business throughout the United States, including its operations in Hawaii. Change is expected in the coming weeks, with an auction scheduled for late May, making the future of the company uncertain.

“An important guideline with gift cards is to use them as soon as you can, because if a store closes or goes bankrupt, there may be little to no recourse for a consumer to recover an unspent balance,” said Executive Director Levins. “If you currently have a Sports Authority gift card, you should use it immediately to avoid losing whatever credit it contains.”

Sports Authority operates eight stores in Hawaii, in Hilo, Honolulu, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Kaneohe, Kapolei, Lihue, and Waikele.

West Hawaii Forum: Hawaii County Budget Review, FY 2016-17

Learn how your hard earned tax dollars will be applied to County-established budgetary priorities for the fiscal year of 2016-17 on May 12th from 6-8 pm at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Chambers (Doors Open at 5:30).

Kenoi Budget

Mayor Billy Kenoi and members of his cabinet will explain the new County budget and spending priorities for Hawai`i County.

Joining the Mayor will be Department of Finance Director Deana Sako, along with Susan Akiyama – Director, Office of Housing and Community Development, Clayton Honma – Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Warren Lee – Director, Department of Public Works, and  Tiffany Kai – Director, Mass Transit Agency.

Karen Eoff, County Council member for District 8 and Chair of the Committee on Finance, will provide the Forum’s opening remarks and explain the budget development process and how spending and revenue priorities are established.

This informational Forum will be moderated by Sherry Bracken of KKOA, LAVA, and KOA radio.

State Budget Includes Over $389 Million for Capital Improvement Project Funding on Hawaii Island

Under the state budget passed by the Legislature last week, Big Island representatives secured more than $389 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for the biennium of Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 for various projects across Hawaii County.  Hawaii lawmakers were also able to secure $8.5 million in Grants-In-Aid CIP for Big Island nonprofit organizations.

Capital

Notable CIP funding highlights for Hawaii County include:

  • $126 million for Kona International Airport improvements
  • $55 million for construction for a new Kona Judiciary complex
  • $33.5 million for Keaukaha Military Reservation projects
  • $21 million for Hawaii Community Correctional Center for a new housing and a support building
  • $15 million for Highway 130 repair.
  • $12.5 million for a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School
  • $9 million for Hawaii Community College renovations
  • $8.5 million for Workforce Development to build a multi-purpose center
  • $8 million for Mamalahoa Highway, Ninole Bridge rehabilitation
  • $7.9 million for Hilo Harbor improvement.
  • $7.6 million for Saddle Road Maintenance Baseyard improvements
  • $7.1 million for Hilo International Airport improvements
  • $6.7 million for Hilo Counseling Center and Keawe Health Center Improvements
  • $5.5 million for improvements at the Research Campus at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park
  • $4.2 million for improvements at Kawaihae Harbor
  • $4 million for the improvements to the lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project
  • $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements
  • $3.2 million for Hawaii Belt Road improvements
  • $2.9 million for Keaau-Pahoa Road improvements
  • $2 million for Haaheo Elementary School to design and build a covered playcourt
  • $2 million for Hilo Forest Reserve land acquisition
  • $2 million for Hilo Intermediate School for Building A renovations
  • $1.6 million for Youth Challenge Academy upgrade and improvements
  • $1.5 million for Honokaa High and Intermediate School for restrooms in the auditorium
  • $1.5 million for Zero Waste Conversion to develop biofuel and animal feed in Keaau
  • $1.5 million for Kapiolani Elementary School to build a covered playcourt
  • $1.5 million for a Kohala water study
  • $1 million for Puu Waawaa structure improvement and dam compliance
  • $1 million for a Kamuela vacuum cooling plant
  • $830,000 for Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School
  • $800,000 for the Pohakuloa Training Area construction
  • $735,000 for Mountain View Elementary School improvements
  • $660,000 for extending the Daniel K. Inouye Highway
  • $600,000 for Keaukaha Elementary School for cafeteria equipment and improvements
  • $511,000 for Waikea Intermediate School for electrical upgrades and other improvements
  • $500,000 for a feasibility study for a new university hospital in Kona
  • $450,000 for Waiakea High School to build a baseball batting cage
  • $355,000 for Kahakai Elementary School road safety improvements
  • $335,000 for Konawaena High School improvements
  • $300,000 for Kealakehe Elementary School improvements and parking
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Community College at Palamanui for office space and storage
  • $300,000 for Pohoiki Boat Ramp repairs
  • $290,000 for Naalehu Elementary School repairs and maintenance
  • $200,000 for Pahoa Elementary School improvements
  • $200,000 for Keaau Elementary School improvements
  • $150,000 for Kau High School improvements

In addition to the executive budget CIP funding, appropriations for Grants-In-Aid were also awarded to organizations for the benefit of the Hawaii Island community:

  • $1.2 million for Friends of Kona Pacific Public Charter School to plan, design, build and equip a community food kitchen
  • $1 million for Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce to design and build an education facility
  • $1 million for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan design and build a health facility
  • $1 million for Lai‘i‘opua 2020 to desing and build a community center
  • $1 million for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $800,000 for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council to build and complete the Milolii Community Enrichment Historical Center
  • $535,000 for Ho‘oulu Lahui to build a commercial kitchen in Puna
  • $500,000 for Lyman House Memorial Museum to build a new island heritage gallery exhibit
  • $315,000 for Kailapa Community Association to plan, design and build a resource center
  • $300,000 for Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. to build a new adult day care facility in Hilo
  • $285,000 for Friends of the Volcano School of Arts & Sciences to plan, design and build a certified kitchen
  • $250,000 for Hamakua Health Center to design and build and equip a modular building addition to the Kohala Clinic
  • $150,000 for Panaewa Community Alliance to plan and design the Kamoleao Laulima Community Resources Center
  • $100,000 for Hawaii Wildlife Center to fabricate, install and operate exhibits
  • $88,000 for Anekona Ouli Kanehoa VFD Company to construct a volunteer apparatus garage
  • $35,000 for Holualoa Foundation for Art & Culture for repairs at the Donkey Mill Art Center