FEMA Aid Denied to Hawaii and Iselle Victims

The State of Hawaii’s request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle was denied today by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate. The request sought Individual Assistance for individuals and households affected by the tropical storm in early August and Hazard Mitigation funds for use in statewide projects.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014.    Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014. Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Administrator Fugate’s denial letter states: “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), formerly known as State Civil Defense, continues to work with federal and county officials on an application for assistance to rebuild public infrastructure.

People still in need of assistance following Iselle should call Hawaii County at (808) 935-0031 or the volunteer request line at (808) 464-3175.

The American Red Cross and the Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters continues to take donations to help those affected by Iselle. Donations can be made through the following channels:

American Red Cross (Hawaii Chapter), Phone: (808) 734-2101 http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu

Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters

Hurricane Iselle Long-Term Relief and Recovery Fund

Iselle donations may be dropped off at any American Savings Bank.

https://hivoad.communityos.org/cms/contact_hi

 

Loans Available for Farmers Suffering Storm Damage

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture yesterday approved an emergency loan program for farmers across the state who are suffering from recent storm damage.
iselle dlnr

“Our field surveys and reports from farmers indicate significant damage to not only crops, but to some facilities and farm infrastructure,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The emergency loan program will provide assistance to get the farms back into production as soon as possible.”

Eligible farmers may now apply for emergency loans of up to $100,000 at 3 percent interest.  Loans of $50,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans.

The board also authorized state loan officers to modify or waive collateral requirements, as deemed necessary, on a case-by-case basis. Loan applications for emergency loans relating to this storm event will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2014.

Farmers suffering damage throughout the state should contact their nearest HDOA office:

  • Hilo – 933-9975 and 933-9977
  • Kona – 323-7591
  • Maui – 984-2400, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Molokai – 1-800-468-4644, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Oahu – 973-9460
  • Kauai – 241-3141, extension 39460 (Toll Free)

For more information on agricultural loans, call the Agricultural Loan Division at 973-9460 or go the division’s webpage:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/

Governor Releases $39 Million for Facility Improvements at UH Campuses

As the fall semester kicks off, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $39 million to the University of Hawaii (UH) System for capital improvement projects (CIP) at various campuses.

abercrombieheader“These projects, at campuses from Lihue to Hilo, are long-term investments in our state university system, an anchor of our island community,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “They address needed repairs, maintenance and upgrades to ensure functional academic environments and accessible, affordable higher education opportunities for the people of Hawaii.”

$29,000,000 – Systemwide Health, Safety and Code Requirements, statewide – Construction funds for health and safety projects at UH Manoa and UH Hilo. Projects at UH Manoa include accessibility improvements, sewer and storm drain upgrades, health and safety improvements at Lyon Arboretum, and walkway upgrades. Projects at UH Hilo include a lead roof replacement of Hale Kehau, a Kawili Street pedestrian overpass, an emergency shelter, traffic safety improvements at Panaewa Farms, sidewalk/crosswalk upgrades at Kapiolani and Lanikaula Streets, and emergency generators.

$10,000,000 – Minor CIP Projects for Campuses of the Community College System, statewide – Design and construction funds for capital renewal and deferred maintenance projects of UH Community College (CC) campuses, including the renovation of the cafeteria at Honolulu CC, refurbishment of Ohia Auditorium at Kapiolani CC, renovation of the Diamond Head portables at Leeward CC, renovation of storage space to science lab/classroom at Hawaii CC, renovation of the former Ceramics Building at Maui CC, and renovation of the Fine Arts I Building at Kauai CC.

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

Senator Schatz Urges President Obama, FEMA for Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) wrote letters to President Barack Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate today supporting the State of Hawai‘i’s request for a major disaster declaration due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

Senator Brian Schatz  in Puna.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna.

“Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i,” Senator Schatz wrote. “Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.”

Senator Schatz also expressed his support for the State’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County, statewide Hazard Mitigation, and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs to help with the recovery.

Since Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall, Senator Schatz’s office has been in close contact with the White House to discuss the impact of the storm and how the federal government can help residents and communities rebuild. Last week, Senator Schatz traveled to Puna and met with Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Russell Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council, and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia trees, which damaged infrastructure and caused widespread debris on Hawai‘i Island.

The full text of the letter to President Obama follows:

August 25, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in support of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s request for a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i due to damages caused by Tropical Storm Iselle from August 7-9, 2014.

On August 7, 2014, Hurricane Iselle approached the Hawaiian Islands and made landfall on August 8, 2014, which then became a tropical storm. The Governor declared a statewide state of emergency on August 6, 2014 and signed a supplemental proclamation on August 14, 2014, which extended the state of emergency until October 17, 2014. Tropical Storm Iselle caused strong winds, heavy rain, flooding, high surf, storm surge, and lightning, which resulted in damages reported across all four counties in the State of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i County has a majority of the damages where it experienced loss of power and a lack of access to water. Hawai‘i County also has widespread debris that made it difficult for residents to access emergency services. Furthermore, preliminary damage assessments estimate that the total loss and damage to the island of Hawai‘i in agriculture and commodities is $66 million. With all available state and local level resources being used, federal assistance is needed to support our communities’ recovery.

Pursuant to Section 401 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5121-5207), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.36, I ask that you swiftly approve Governor Abercrombie’s request that the State of Hawai‘i receive a major disaster declaration. Specifically, I support the Governor’s request for Individual Assistance for Hawai‘i County. I also support his request for Hazard Mitigation statewide and Small Business Administration loan assistance programs.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Regards,

BRIAN SCHATZ
United States Senator

SNAP Reimbursement Deadline Extended for Maui County and Hawaii Island

The federal Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which administers states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) formerly known as Food Stamps, has extended Hawaii’s reimbursement deadline for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle.

Snap Card

Hawaii SNAP administrators requested the extension through Aug. 30, 2014 to provide thousands of Hawaii Island and Maui County households additional time to apply for assistance.  Due to storm damage and debris, many individuals and families were unable to leave their homes by the original deadline.

Reimbursement is limited to the actual dollar value of food destroyed and cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment. To qualify, the individual or household must have been receiving SNAP benefits when the disaster occurred, and report the food spoilage to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) office on their island by Aug. 30, 2014.

Individual or household applying for reimbursement must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1)        Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2)        General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3)        Length of time household power was out;

4)        Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5)        Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned by the specified deadline.

Natural disasters affect everyone in striking range.  However, elderly and/or disabled individuals, families with infants and minor children, and families with limited income are disproportionately affected because they are lack the necessary resources to replenish food supplies or other basic necessities.  It is these populations that make up the estimated 98,000 Hawaii households that currently receive SNAP benefits.

To reach the BESSD offices in Maui County call on Maui 808-984-3300; on Molokai 808-553-1751; and on Lanai 808-565-7102.  To reach the Hilo BESSD Office call 808-981-7288.

 

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at: scd.hawaii.gov

Medical Grants Available for Children in Hawaii

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is seeking grant applications from families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan or TRICARE.

Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant with a lifetime maximum of $10,000 per child to help pay for medical services and equipment such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, counseling services, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

To be eligible for a grant, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and have TRICARE or a commercial health insurance plan. Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at www.UHCCF.org, and there is no application deadline.

In 2013, UHCCF awarded more than 1,700 medical grants, worth $5.6 million, to children and their families across the United States for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

UHCCF was founded in 1999. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 7,500 medical grants, totaling more than $23 million, to children and their families across the United States.

“Thousands of children struggle every day for something many of us take for granted – our health. That reality is the driving force behind UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation’s mission to help families in need access medical care that will improve their child’s health. Our medical grants have already helped thousands of children in need, and we are looking to help thousands’ more children in the future,” said David Heywood, president, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Hawaii.

New children’s book to raise funds

To help raise funds for its child medical grant program, UHCCF has published a new children’s book, “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” – the second book in the Oliver & Hope series.

Oliver

The new 32-page hand-illustrated book continues the story of Oliver the lovable bear and Hope the spirited butterfly as they join their friends Millie the barn owl and Chewie the English bulldog for their first camping trip. The night is filled with amazing discoveries and silly games that make the shadows a little less scary and the adventure a lot more fun. The book follows last year’s award-winning book, “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure.”

Both “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” and “Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure” are available on Amazon.com for $13.95 each. The first 250 people who purchase an “Oliver & Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars” book will receive a Chewie the English bulldog plush toy, to be shipped separately.

Proceeds from UHCCF products, including the Oliver & Hope books, help fund UHCCF grants that help families pay for children’s medical expenses not covered, or not fully covered, by commercial insurance. Also, organizations and private donors can make tax-deductible donations to UHCCF at www.UHCCF.org. Donations are used for grants to help children and families in the region in which they are received.

Both books were written and illustrated by Meg Cadts and Samantha Fitch. Meg Cadts is the pen name for the UHCCF team of writers and contributors.

The Oliver and Hope characters also host their own page on the UHCCF website, Oliver & Hope’s Clubhouse (www.UHCCF.org/oliverandhope), which features free audiobook versions of the books, activities and games.

For more information on UHCCF and to visit the clubhouse, visit www.UHCCF.org.

 

Medical Marijuana Policy Advocates Announce Series of August Events on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (co-founders of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii) have announced three free, public events on medical marijuana policy in August.

Medical Marijuana Meetings

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested by 8/20, walk ins welcome, space permitting. RSVP for any event to: office@acluhawaii.org or call (808) 522-5906. Neighbor Islands call toll free, 1-877-544-5906. All venues ADA-accessible, request special accommodation by 8/18.

  • Oahu, Saturday, 8/23/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” featuring Robert Jacob, Mayor of Sebastopol, CA and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a non-profit healing center and cannabis dispensary, and James Anthony, a former Oakland City prosecutor, now a full time attorney specialized in medical cannabis dispensary land use law. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Blaisdell Center Maui Room (second floor), 777 Ward Avenue.
  • Hilo, Sunday, 8/24/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” repeats. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani Street.
  • Kona, Friday, 8/29/14: “Medical Marijuana TalkStory”. A free form conversation among patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates conducted by staff of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. 2pm to 4pm at the Royal Kona Resort, in the Resolution Room. 75-5852 Ali‘i Drive.

Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Snap Card

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

DHS Opens Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Department of Human Services

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

How to Help Puna Residents in Need After Hurricane Iselle

Residents in the Puna District on the Big Island of Hawaii were among the hardest hit when Hurricane Iselle made landfall.

Senator Brian Schatz helping with the chili and rice give away today at Nanawale Longhouse in Puna.

Senator Brian Schatz helping with the chili and rice give away today at Nanawale Longhouse in Puna.

Work to clear roads and restore utilities continues. Some areas may still be cut off and people in these areas may need ice, coolers, propane, lanterns, canned food, blankets and clothing.

Powerlines in Hawaiian Beaches

Powerlines in Hawaiian Beaches

Hawaii Island United Way in conjunction with Hawaii County Civil Defense are coordinating relief efforts.

Residents will be without power for quite some time.

Residents will be without power for quite some time.

If you are interested in donating to the people of Puna please contact the Hawaii County Civil Defense Hotline at 808-935-0031.

HELCO Statement on Restoring Power to the Puna Areas of the Big Island

Hawaii Electric Light crews are continuing to work on restoring power to customers who lost electricity as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

An estimated 9,200 customers remain out of power in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna, Orchidland Estates, Leilani Estates, Nanawale, Kapoho, Kalapana, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, and Waipunahina. In addition, there are outages affecting smaller pockets of customers of customers in areas from Hamakua through Volcano. Customers who have not yet reported an outage in a location that is not listed should call 969-6666 to report the outage.

Iselle caused extensive damage to power lines and utility poles and crews are still assessing the damage. As a result, customers still without power should expect extended outages, which could last into next week and in some cases, particularly the Puna area, much longer.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Crews are focusing their efforts on repairing damage to the island’s transmission system, which serves as the backbone of the electric grid and is essential to providing service across the island. Much of the damage is in remote areas that are difficult to access. In many cases, crews have to cut their way through fallen trees to provide access for vehicles, equipment and personnel. The Puna District, which was especially hard hit by Iselle, is also quite large; the entire island of O‘ahu can fit within the Puna District.

To assist with the restoration process, Hawaiian Electric crews from O‘ahu and Maui will be traveling to Hawai‘i Island.

All storm-related outages on Oahu and Maui County were restored on Friday.

For those who will be without power for an extended time, below are some food safety tips.

Important safety information for those still without power:

  • When using a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Do not plug the generator into your household electrical outlets. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, or garage. Only use the generator outside, away from your home’s windows, doors, and vents. Connect a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated power cord to the generator. Appliances can then be connected to the power cord. Make sure the outdoor-rated power cord is sufficient to handle the maximum electrical flow or electrical load from the generator. Check that the generator is properly grounded. Store reserve fuel in a safe place away from the generator or any other equipment that might ignite the fuel; use containers designed for fuel storage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized, or “live,” and dangerous. If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help and do not approach the injured person.

Refrigerated foods

  • Discard any perishable food that has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers before you cook or eat it.
  • Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

Frozen foods

  • Foods can stay frozen in the freezer for one to three days: one day for a half-full freezer, three days for a fully stocked freezer
  • Food that has been thawed completely and has not been held at or below 41 degrees should be cooked and eaten immediately. If your food still has ice crystals, it’s safe to refreeze.

As a general rule, “when it doubt, throw it out.”

If your power is out for an extended period, consider using dry ice if available. Please remember to use gloves or tongs when handling dry ice. Dry ice can be placed directly on top of your foods, since dry ice cools things under it.

These tips have been adapted from the Hawai’i Department of Health’s “Food Safety – During and After a Power Outage” brochure and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Foodsafety.gov website. For specifics on when to save or throw out certain types of food, see pages 68 and 69 in our Handbook for Emergency Preparedness, which can be found on our website at www.hawaiielectriclight.com under the “Safety and Emergency” tab.

Damage Claims:

Customers who wish to submit damage claims can access a claim form at www.hawaiielectriclight.com under the “residential services” section.

State of Hawaii Attorney General Announces $11.3 Million Settlement Involving Deceptive Credit Card Business Practices

Attorney General David M. Louie announced today that the State of Hawaii has reached settlements totaling approximately $11.3 million to resolve cases against four credit card companies, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Discover Financial Services, and Citibank, regarding marketing practices for credit card payment protection plans alleged by the Attorney General to be deceptive under state law.

JP Morgan“We filed these cases to protect Hawaii consumers and stop illegal and deceptive practices of marketing credit card protection plans,” said Attorney General Louie. Consumers were typically solicited by their credit card company via phone or email with misleading sales pitches that omitted important information.

Many Hawaii consumers were duped into signing up for a service that they would not have otherwise purchased. The improper conduct included: enrolling consumers without their consent; providing misleading information about free trial periods; distorting plan benefits; billing for services not provided; unfairly charging credit card customers for interest and fees; or denying plan benefits to eligible customers.

“With the resolution of these cases we have taken a strong stance against unfair and deceptive credit card practices,” said Attorney General Louie. Louie added that “These cases are important because they put the credit card industry on notice that it will be held accountable if it engages in misleading practices.”

Federal enforcement actions involving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and private class action lawsuits have sought and are seeking restitution for Hawaii consumers. The proceeds from these settlements will go to the State General Fund.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s office worked with the law firms of Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks; Baron and Budd; and Golomb & Honik on these cases.

Pacific Edge Magazine Announces New Gala Date and Updated Nomination Deadline

Hawaii’s best and brightest companies and business leaders to be honored at red-carpet awards gala on September 25

Pacific Edge Magazine (PEM) announced today it has moved the Fourth Annual Pacific Edge Magazine Business Achievement Awards to September 25, 2014. Element Media, Inc., Hawaii’s premier custom publishing firm, will host the exclusive red-carpet soiree to recognize the state’s most influential business leaders, organizations and non-profits while celebrating the company’s eighth anniversary.

pacific Edge

Local business and community leaders are encouraged to submit nominations for the Fourth Annual Pacific Edge Magazine Business Achievement Awards by August 14, 2014 at www.pacificedgeawards.com. Self-nominations are encouraged.

“Since our very first issue in 2005, we’ve been passionate about highlighting the individuals, companies and organizations that inspire and innovate our local business community through our monthly networking events, in-depth articles and online presence,” said Jamie Giambrone, co-founder of Element Media, Inc. and co-publisher of Pacific Edge Magazine. “This awards gala will provide the opportunity to shine the spotlight on those most deserving of their achievements, while also celebrating the eighth anniversary of Pacific Edge.”

Nomination categories include:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Young Professional of the Year
  • Business Executive of the Year
  • Educator of the Year
  • Commitment to Green Award
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Award
  • Best New Business
  • Best Family-Run Business
  • Best Social Media Campaign

All submissions are evaluated by an independent panel of judges comprised of respected local community leaders.  Detailed information about the gala and award nomination submissions are available at www.pacificedgeawards.com.

Last year’s gala attracted an esteemed crowd of more than 350 guests in which the following individuals, businesses and organizations were recognized:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Mel Tanioka, Founder & President, Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering
  • Young Professional of the Year Award – Ina Chang, President, Aloha Data Services
  • Business Executive of the Year Award – Shelley Wilson, President & CEO, Wilson Care Group
  • Commitment to Green Award – Oceanit
  • Educator of the Year Award – Matt Lawrence, Teacher, Waikiki Elementary School
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Award – Pop-A-Lock of Honolulu
  • Best Social Media Campaign Award – W.M. Keck Observatory
  • Best Family-Run Business Award – Kamaka Hawaii
  • Best New Business Award – Mojo Barbershop
  • Best Non-Profit Impact – The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery

Inquiries about corporate sponsorship or nominations can be directed to Jamie Giambrone at (808) 737-8711 or Jamie@elementmediahi.com

Receive updates and the latest awards news by following Pacific Edge Magazine on Twitter at @PacificEdge and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PacificEdge.

Hawaii Missed Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure

Millions of dollars in federal funds intended for drinking water projects in Hawaii and four other states have sat unspent, according to a federal report.

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA's OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren't compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states.  Click to view report

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA’s OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren’t compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states. Click to view report

The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency said it found that five states reviewed — Missouri, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico — have $231 million in unspent balances above the goal level in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for cities, towns and local water districts to make drinking water infrastructure improvements.

We found that the EPA and the five states we reviewed took many actions to reduce DWSRF unliquidated balances, but those actions have not reduced DWSRF unliquidated balances to the goal of below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

For the period we examined the five states reviewed — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico — executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of all DWSRF resources, including capitalization grant awards. State programs reviewed were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable the states to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.

We also noted that states’ project lists included in the capitalization grant application —called fundable lists —did not reflect projects that would be funded in the current year and overestimated the number of projects that will receive funding.

Less than one-third of the projects on the fundable lists we reviewed resulted in executed DWSRF loans during the current grant year.

We found that, generally, these states did not have a consistent “ready-to-proceed” definition.

When projects are not ready to proceed, expected environmental benefits are delayed.

Because states use the fundable lists to justify their annual capitalization grants, the fundable lists should communicate to the EPA and the public the projects that will be funded with taxpayer money.

Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions

  • We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the Office of Water’s 13-percent-cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.
  • We also recommend that the Assistant Administrator develop guidance for states on what projects are to be included on the fundable lists and require regions, when reviewing capitalization grant applications, to ensure states are complying with the guidance.

The EPA agreed to take sufficient corrective actions on most of the recommendations.  The EPA still needs to take steps to ensure states have adopted the EPA’s guidance on the definition of “ready to proceed.

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Launches New Data Visualization Application

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission launched a new data visualization application on its website, which will permit anyone to see how noncandidate committees which includes Super PACs are raising and spending money on 2014 state and county races.

In partnership with the State of Hawaii’s Office of Information Management & Technology (OIMT), Information & Communication Services Division (ICSD), and Socrata, the Commission unveiled its newest tool today on its website.

Access the Noncandidate Committee Data Visualization App

This new application will permit you to view charts of a noncandidate committee’s campaign spending data for a particular election period.  Similar to the candidate committee application which was released in November 2013, this app will permit you to view pie charts, a geo-map and a bar chart from data derived from the noncandidate committees’ reports which are filed electronically with the Commission from the last 6 years.  Highlights of the new app include:

  • Percentage of how contributions are funded (by individuals, candidate committees, noncandidate committees, vendor/business)
  • Percentage of contributions received from in-state versus out-of-state including geo-maps
  • Percentage of contributions by states as well as zip codes
  • Fundraising activity
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by office
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by party
  • Percentage of expenditures by category
  • Percentage of expenditures versus independent expenditures
  • Percentage of in-state versus out-of-state expenditures

campaign

This application was conceived to provide greater transparency and accountability in government and enable the public to follow the money of noncandidate committees’ participation in the elections in Hawaii.  “We hope this app will increase interest and voter engagement as we enter the primary election on August 9th and move towards the general election on November 4th,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao.

For more information, contact:

Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao
Associate Director Anthony Baldomero
Campaign Spending Commission
Phone:  (808) 586-0285

Statement from the Governor and Finance Director on Revised Council on Revenues Forecast

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Finance Director Kalbert Young today commented on the adjusted forecast from the state Council on Revenues.

abercrombieheaderGov. Abercrombie stated:

“The outcome of today’s meeting is another reason for us to remain optimistic about Hawaii’s strong and vibrant economy.

“Due to sound fiscal management, our financial house continues to be on a solid foundation, with the state concluding fiscal year 2014 with a $664.8 million ending balance, even after contributing $55.5 million to our state reserves via the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund and setting aside $100 million for the state’s unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits.

“Hawaii’s economy is running at a sustainable level and regardless of short-term revenue cycles, we are focused on long-term fiscal stability.”

Finance Director Young added the perspective:

“As finance director, my approach is to manage the budget and financial condition across multiple fiscal years. As a result, near-term revenue forecasts are evaluated and incorporated into the state’s six-year plan.

“As in the past, the state’s financial management team is prepared to exert measured controls of the state’s budget to ensure that programs are sustainable through any economic cycle. You will continue to see that exhibited in fiscal year 2015.

“While the fiscal year 2014 revenue collection is down 1.8 percent compared to fiscal year 2013, revenue growth over a five-year period from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2014, has been substantial – about 21.7 percent. The Council’s forecast shows revenue and economic growth of at least five percent a year for the next five years.”

Following the Money in Local Politics? There’s an Site/App for That!

Hi Damon,

I’m working with Common Cause Hawaii (along with an organization I co-founded called Hawaii Open Data) to spread the word about new tools designed to help Hawaii residents get a better view of how local government works. With the Primary Election looming next week, it’s the perfect time to try them out.

I wanted to encourage you to consider covering these web apps, which all work with publicly available data from the Campaign Spending Commission, but offer different ways to make sense of it. As the data is statewide, there’s also an additional opportunity to gain insight into candidates and campaigns on Hawaii Island specifically.

Here’s a list of the free apps, each of which was created by a local developer (or team of coders) that participated in the Civic*Celerator, a tech competition that challenged geeks to build something to encourage greater participation in civic life and greater transparency in government: http://civic.celerator.org/apps/

Though we’re not talking fun and games like Angry Birds here, I hope the value of these apps to the community is clear. :)

Examples? Perhaps the most compelling web app, visually, is the Hawaii Campaign Spending Data tool by Jason Axelson. Beautiful yet intuitive graphic representations of campaign spending by office (governor, Hawaii county council, OHA, etc.), candidate, party, category… just click around for a minute or two, and some interesting patterns will emerge: http://viz.hawaiicampaignspending.com/

spending data

Spending data 2Or here’s an app by Royce Jones that includes both candidate filing information and campaign spending information, and links it to an easily-navigated map of the islands: http://civic-celerator.maps.arcgis.com/home/

Spending data 3

You can figure out which voting precinct you’re in, who’s running, who’s donating to their campaigns, and even see online exactly what your ballot will look like.

Spending data 4

These only scratch the surface of these free tools, created for everyday people by (slightly geekier) every day people. While there’s been volumes and volumes of data available for years, now a growing corps of “civic hackers” are building ways to make sense of it all.

Not only do I think these web apps would make for a great “tech for good” story, but I think bloggers like you could actually use them to generate a number of other interesting stories. Which candidate spent the most on food on Hawaii Island? Which political party, besides the Democrats, is fielding the most candidates for public office statewide? The possibilities, once you begin to explore the data in new ways, are endless.

Please let me know if you’d like to speak to someone about these tools. I can help connect you with some of the organizers of the Civic*Celerator for the big picture, or help set up a walk through from one of the developers for an in-depth tour of any of the apps. Just reply to this email and I’ll get the ball rolling. Otherwise, feel free to try them out, review them or post a tour, whatever you think will help demonstrate the value of campaign spending data and these volunteer-built apps.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Burt Lum, Hawaii Open Data