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Kamehameha Butterflies Return to O`ahu Forests This Earth Day

This week, eight years after the Kamehameha Butterfly was designated as the Hawai‘i State insect, 94 of the stunning, captive-raised butterflies, were released in the Kawainui Marsh. This is both the culmination of and the beginning of an unusual path towards species conservation.

Back in 2009, a small group of 5th graders at Pearl Ridge Elementary engaged in a project that captivated them.  For their teacher it wasn’t enough to simply teach about government and how legislation is created.  She challenged her students to introduce a bill to designate the first state insect. The subsequent chain-of-events can be likened to ‘the butterfly effect’.  That concept was first coined by meteorologists to explain how small causes can have large effects.

Kristi Kimura was 11 years old at the time, but she remembers it vividly. After narrowing their search to two finalists, the class voted. It was between the Kamehameha Butterfly or pulelehua (Vanessa tameamea) and the Hawaiian happy-face spider.  Kimura recalls, “We figured having a spider wouldn’t be great since a lot of people don’t like them and felt the butterfly represented the islands better since it was named after King Kamehameha.”  Now studying biology at Seattle University, Kimura laughs, “I realize now that spiders aren’t technically even insects!”

The species’ conservation status also factored into their decision.  While not yet endangered, the pulelehua had been disappearing from areas like Tantalus in the southern Ko‘olau Mountains, where it had previously been common.  “We figured if we got it approved as the state insect, people would become informed and efforts would be made to try and protect it,” said Kimura.

The class’s wish has been realized through a combination of public interest and hard work by numerous partners.  On release day staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), surround a mesh carrier filled with butterflies.  Almost immediately, the first one flies up towards the treetops to the group’s delight.

Cynthia King of DOFAW’s Hawai‘i Invertebrate Program explained, “After the species was designated as our state insect, several members of the public contacted legislators.  They were concerned they weren’t seeing pulelehua as much anymore and asked what was being done to help them?”

In Hawai‘i, often referred to as the extinction capital of the world’, it is often only when species become extremely rare that resources are secured to save them.  King continued, “We realized how little we knew about our state insect, but saw this as a species we could take steps to stabilize before it reached that critical point”.

The Kamehameha Butterfly is one of only two native butterfly species in Hawai‘i.  Its ancestors made it here from North America or Asia millions of years ago.  Adults are orange with brown, black, and white markings.  The light-green caterpillars feed only on native species in the nettle family, primarily māmaki. They don’t consume non-native plants like crownflower or milkweeds, which are favorites for the introduced monarch butterfly.

Dr. William Haines, a University of Hawai‘i research entomologist, was hired through the UH Center for Conservation Research and Training to lead reintroduction efforts. His position was funded by the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.   His first task was determining the butterfly’s distribution.  He said, “We decided to set up a website for people to send in their sightings, so we could log them on a map.”  Confirmed on most of the main Hawaiian Islands, the pulelehua occurs mostly in gulch or stream habitats where host plants are common.  Using sightings from the website, scientists created a map of suitable habitat based on rainfall, temperature, and elevation. That gave them an idea of where the butterfly should be reintroduced.

Another study by University of Hawai‘i graduate student Colby Maeda investigated causes of mortality.  Overall, it’s thought that habitat destruction, and predators such as ants, are having the biggest influence on their decline.  This brings the project to its third stage: captive-rearing for release, which is expected to continue over the next two years.

Few people realize that real-world conservation is as much trial and error as scientific process.  Haines said, “Getting them to mate in captivity was the hardest part of raising them.  There was one paper from the 80’s about a related species, but pretty much nothing was known about the mating habits of our pulelehua.”

DLNR/DOFAW has a new insect lab, where state and federal funding has provided the tools needed to conserve rare Hawaiian insects and tree snails.  The breeding program has been so effective that taking care of caterpillars has become a full-time job.  With an entire life cycle of only about 45 days, turnaround times are quick.

The Honolulu Zoo has signed on to assist with the breeding program.  A new exhibit is set to open there this year which allows the zoo to assist in housing some of Hawai‘i’s rarest native invertebrates. Honolulu Zoo Curator and Conservation Chair, Laura Debnar said, “It was the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress that really led to this.”  An IUCN representative encouraged zoos to play a stronger role in conservation. We had a workshop last October, “With everyone from keepers, to groundskeepers, to concessions staff providing their feedback.”  She added,  “There was a very obvious consensus that we wanted to move in this direction of getting more involved in conservation in Hawai‘i.”

For King, this week’s release was the culmination of many years of dedication.  She commented, “This project is a perfect example of how we can use research, public engagement and partnerships to successfully conserve a species, before it’s too late.  We’ve had amazing support so far and look forward to working with any new partners that want to help us recover the pulelehua.”

Additional releases are planned for Sunday at the Maona Cliffs Restoration Area.

From a humble class project eight years ago to Earth Day 2017, the first wild release of an at-risk species, has been an exciting and interesting journey for the pulelehua.  Hawai‘i’s real-life butterfly effect.

To learn more about the Honolulu Zoo’s exhibit:

Aloha ‘Aina Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Admission is half-price for all Kama‘aina.

Coast Guard, Navy Medevac Fisherman From Vessel Off Oahu

A 30-year-old Vietnamese fisherman, suffering severe abdominal pain, arrived in good condition to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu Wednesday evening, aboard a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter.

Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter

“This is a great demonstration of how our military branches work together to successfully complete a mission, said Lt. Nic Lannarone, command duty officer at Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu. “We are proud of all crews and their seamless work to ensure mariners in need reach a higher level of care as quickly as possible.”

Watchstanders at JRCC received a call from the master of the 68-foot commercial fishing vessel Lady of the Sea II at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The vessel was reportedly 276 miles south of Oahu making 7 knots (8 mph) en route to Oahu.

JRCC watchstanders requested assistance from the Navy HSM-37 ‘Easyriders’ due to the distance offshore.

The watchstanders briefed the duty flight surgeon and agreed on a medevac. A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point launched to provide top cover and communications while the Navy Seahawk crew launched from Kaneohe Bay.

Coast Guard watchstanders worked with the Navy and the crew of the U.S.-flagged Lady of the Sea II to arrange a Navy surface asset and basket hoist transfer once the vessel was 173 miles south of Oahu.

Weather on scene was reportedly winds of 17 mph with 7-foot seas.

“Epic Boat After Party” Results in Citation at Kaneohe Bay

A boat operator, who advertised his “Epic Boat After Party,” on social media, was cited by the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) on Easter Sunday for conducting commercial activities without a permit.

Among the 15 passengers Adam Taylor carried on his boat to the Ahu o Laka sand bar in Kaneohe Bay, were undercover DOCARE officers who paid Taylor fees for a boat ride. All commercial activities conducted from State small boat harbors, facilities, and near shore waters require a permit from the DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

“We were alerted to this Easter afternoon party at Ahu o Laka by a social media posting,” said DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. “When the possibility of unpermitted activities are blatantly advertised via social media or in blogs and we become aware of it, we will aggressively investigate and take appropriate actions against anyone caught breaking the law,” Farrell added.

Officers had prepared for a major “flotilla” at Ahu o Laka, but overcast skies and cool temperatures likely kept big crowds from developing.  In past years and particularly on major holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, enormous crowds have descended on the popular windward O‘ahu sandbar.  This has resulted in a prohibition against open containers and alcohol consumption and possession at Ahu o Laka during the summer season holiday weekends. In addition, the state boating rule, first established in 2012, prohibits loud, abusive or disorderly conduct; and the presence of persons under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or non-prescription drugs in an area designated as the Ahu o Laka safety zone. The safety zone in the middle of Kane‘ohe Bay is just over a square mile in area and comprises the majority of the sandbar and is defined by six marker buoys.

A first offense for failing to have a commercial activities permit can carry a maximum fine of $5000.

Coast Guard Decommissions Eighth High Endurance Cutter After Nearly 50 Years

The Coast Guard decommissioned its eighth high endurance cutter after nearly 50 years of service as part of recapitalization efforts during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Tuesday.

Crewmembers aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722) man the rails during the decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. The decommissioning ceremony is a time-honored naval tradition that retires a ship from service through a variety of ceremonial observances. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

The Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722), a 378-foot high endurance cutter, will be decommissioned after nearly 50 years of service, including action in the Vietnam War, numerous major drug interdictions and law enforcement cases, and a variety of noteworthy rescues.

“The history of Morgenthau’s operations showcases the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out a diverse and important range of missions vital to the security and prosperity of our nation,” said Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, who leads the service’s Pacific fleet as the commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area in Alameda, California. “The Coast Guard must be ready to protect American security and economic interests wherever called, and recapitalizing our vessels, aircraft, boats and infrastructure has been our highest investment priority.”

Capt. Edward M. St. Pierre, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722), and his crew receive the U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation Pennant during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. Morgenthau was commissioned in 1969 and was the first cutter to have women permanently assigned aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

Morgenthau, commissioned March 10, 1969, was the eighth of 12 Hamilton- class high endurance cutters built by Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans. High endurance cutters are the largest cutters, aside from the three major icebreakers and national security cutters, ever built for the Coast Guard.

Morgenthau was active in the Vietnam War, conducting underway replenishment, naval gunfire support, and patrol duties off the coast of Vietnam until relieved by a 311′ cutter in 1971.

In 1977, Morgenthau became the first cutter to have women permanently assigned, which paved the way for numerous women to serve aboard Coast Guard cutters nationwide.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722) in full dress at the decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. Morgenthau was commissioned in 1969 and has been home to more than 4,000 crewmembers during its 48 years of service. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

In the fall of 1996, Morgenthau was the first U.S. Coast Guard cutter to deploy to the Arabian Gulf. Participating in Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Morgenthau enforced Iraq’s compliance with United Nations sanctions. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Morgenthau participated in Operation Noble Eagle to safeguard America’s prominent port cities through closer scrutiny of maritime traffic.

Capt. Edward M. St. Pierre, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau (WHEC 722), receives the national ensign from Vice Adm. Fred M Midget, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, during the decommissioning ceremony in Honolulu, April 18, 2017. The decommissioning ceremony is a time-honored naval tradition that retires a ship from service through a variety of ceremonial observances. The ensign is presented to the service member with the longest time in service. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

“The significant legacy left in the wake of Morgenthau is evidenced not only by cutter’s history but also by the numerous former crewmembers who attended the ceremony,” said Midgette. “At the end of the day, this was simply a ship used by dedicated men and women to protect America, its people and their interests around the world. This cutter may leave our service, but the legacy of the men and women who served on Morgenthau will live on forever.”

The U.S. State Department is coordinating the transfer of Morgenthau through the Foreign Assistance Act. This act allows the transfer of excess defense articles as a grant to friendly, foreign governments.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Hosts Dinner & Veterans to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Vietnam War

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is hosting a Welcome Home Banquet on Thursday, May 25 to honor POWs, Medal of Honor recipients, Gold Star families and all returning Vietnam veterans. Highlights of the patriotic evening will include a welcome by Medal of Honor recipient Major General Patrick Brady, distinguished military guests, and celebrity appearances.

NBC journalist David Price will emcee a program that recreates and honors the legacy of Bob Hope, who entertained U.S. troops wherever they were stationed around the world, especially at Christmas, for more than 50 years. USO videos will showcase Hollywood celebrities and entertainers keeping the spirits of U.S. troops flying high and reminding them of home. The evening will include a guest appearance by actress, singer and dancer Ann-Margaret and a special performance by recording artist and entertainer Tony Orlando with his band.

Festivities begin at 4:00 pm with a reception and viewing of 14 Vietnam-era aircraft on the apron fronting the Museum’s historic Hangar 79. Cost is $25 each for veterans and their guest tickets, $125 for the general public, with sponsor tables available.

Reservations are required and can be made at PacificAviationMuseum.org/WelcomeHome. For more information, contact: Jobeth.Marihugh@PacificAviationMuseum.org;
808-892-3345.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Historic Ford Island, where bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island Control Tower, Hangars 37 and 79, and bullet holes in Hangar 79. Through its preservation and restoration of World War II fighter planes and accompanying artifacts in the Museum’s historic hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor shares the story of the vital role aviation played in the winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history. Contact:
808-441-1000; Marketing@PacificAviationMuseum.org

Over 500 Attend Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Town Hall in Windward Oʻahu

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Town Hall on Saturday evening for Oʻahu residents of the Second Congressional District.  More than 500 constituents from all over the island, including North Shore, Central Oʻahu, and Waianae Coast residents, gathered in Kailua to hear from and ask questions of their congresswoman. More than 25,000 viewers tuned in via Facebook Live for the third of seven meetings she is hosting on her statewide Town Hall Tour during the April District Work Period.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about her work in Congress, explained the bills she’s introduced and cosponsored that benefit Hawaiʻi families, and answered questions from the audience on a range of topics, including the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation, defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard earned roaring applause for her work to pass “Medicare for All” legislation, her strong positions fighting for peace, demanding transparency in the Trump Administration by releasing the president’s tax returns, and fighting to protect the environment and our precious resources. She used the example of Kainalu Elementary School’s warm cafeteria, where the meeting was held, as she spoke about the many local infrastructure projects here at home that would benefit from taxpayer dollars if they weren’t being spent abroad in regime change wars.

Starbucks Waikiki Store First in Hawaii to Feature a Starbucks Reserve Coffee Bar

Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach is one of the world’s most famous beaches, known for its golden sand and stunning sunsets. Just a few blocks from the beach is an immersive coffee experience inside the Starbucks store at the Waikiki Trade Center, in the heart of Waikiki’s shopping and entertainment district. The café is the first in Hawaii to feature a Starbucks Reserve coffee bar, highlighting the company’s rare, small-lot Starbucks Reserve coffees.

Starbucks Waikiki store the first in Hawaii to feature a Starbucks Reserve coffee bar

The theater of coffee is on display from the store’s front windows, drawing customers in from the promenade with a long, low bar and a variety of eye-catching brewing methods, including manual Black Eagle espresso, pour-over, Clover brewing system, Siphon, Chemex and Nitro Cold Brew taps. Senior designer Agnes Mandeville and design director Jon Alpert took inspiration for the design from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery.

“When you enter the space, the first thing you see is the Reserve coffee bar. It’s a stage for the barista just like at the Roastery in Seattle,” Mandeville said.

Behind the bar is a backdrop inspired by Hawaiian flora and geography. The piece features a hand-painted flower that is a composite of a blossoming coffee plant and Hawaiian plumeria; it appears and disappears as customers move through the space. Wooden slats made from a golden ash wood, similar to those at the Roastery’s Experience Bar, are layered over the design to reveal a cutout of the eight islands of Hawaii.

The team kept the design airy and light with finishes and materials drawing from Asian and Western Pacific influences. A custom graphic mural by Hawaiian illustrator and artist Kris Goto adds energy and movement, with rolling ocean waves and landscapes, painted freehand with pen and just a little paint.

The team also found creative ways to bring Hawaii’s lush vegetation indoors. They worked with a landscape architect to incorporate air plants as living components of the design.

“Our customers here are in a different mode here than if they are in New York or Los Angeles,” Mandeville said. “We wanted to keep the design casual and relaxed to reflect Hawaii.”

The Waikiki store is one of more than 20 Starbucks stores with Reserve coffee bars, including locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and Boston. Starbucks plans to have 20 percent of its global stores include Reserve coffee bars by 2021.

Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group Stops in Hawaii

Ships and units from the Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group (Sterett-Dewey SAG) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, April 11, the first stop of the group’s Western Pacific deployment.

USS Dewey (DDG 105) sits along the pier at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, April 11. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Corwin Colbert)

The command staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31 and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Dewey (DDG 105), along with embarked helicopter detachments from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49 and HSM 78, deployed from Naval Base San Diego on March 31.

During the transit to Hawaii, the Sterett-Dewey SAG completed a series of training and certification exercises tailored to meet projected expectations of Western Pacific operations. The group additionally worked with Carrier Strike Group 11 in a series of communications exercises.

The Sterett-Dewey SAG will operate with regional navies to conduct routine patrols, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability in the Western Pacific.

U.S. 3rd Fleet will retain control of the Sterett-Dewey SAG as it crosses the international dateline. U.S. 3rd Fleet operating forward offers additional options to the Pacific Fleet commander by leveraging the capabilities of both the 3rd and 7th Fleets. This operational concept allows both numbered fleets to complement one another and provide the foundation of stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“The Sterett-Dewey SAG has demonstrated exemplary technical and tactical proficiency and teamwork, giving this deployment a very strong start,” said Capt. David A. Bretz, commander, DESRON 31. “I’m extremely proud of the dedication and mission focus on display from every Sterett-Dewey SAG Sailor, and we are looking forward to putting these sharpened skills to use in support of maritime security and stability operations with our partners and allies in the Western Pacific.”

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy, constantly coordinating with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific theater of operations.

Hawaii House Approves $1.2 Billion Package to Fund City Rail Project

The House of Representatives today agreed to provide an additional $1.2 billion funding package for the City’s financially troubled rail project estimated to cost a total of about $8.1 billion.

In passing SB1183 SD2 HD2, the House extended Oahu’s 0.5 percent general excise tax surcharge for the City’s rail project for an additional two years through 2029 which will generate an estimated $792 million.

The House also agreed to reduce the funds it collects as a GET administrative fee by 90 percent which will generate an estimated $397 million for the City project.

When adding this new funding of $1.2 billion to the $6.8 billion already committed to the project, the State is providing $8 billion for the City rail project.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), Chair of the Finance Committee, said the additional rail funding provided in the bill brings the City very close to its total estimated cost for the entire project.

“This bill is an honest attempt to once again provide sufficient funds for the city’s over-priced, over-budget rail project,” Luke said. “There are many more questions about the rising cost estimates that remain unanswered.”

(For the full text of Rep. Luke’s speech today, click here.)

“This was a reasoned approach and I would hope that reason would prevail at the city. It is incumbent upon the Mayor, the city, and HART to use this opportunity to take control of the cost and its budgets, and look at all viable options. Threatening the public with a property tax increase is doing a disservice to our citizens. The city must first do whatever they can to instill confidence and trust in this project. I am certain given the opportunity they will do that.”

As part of the bill, the Honolulu City Council must vote to allow city funds to be used for rail and approve the GET extension by Dec. 31, 2017 or void the additional State support.

In an impassioned speech, Speaker Joseph Souki (D, Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Waikapu), said building rail is the largest public works project in Hawaii’s history and will provide jobs and a new mode of transportation for commuters.

“This is for the future. The burden now goes to the City. They need to have ‘skin in the game.’ Hopefully, the (City) Council will get the courage to pass it.  I’m asking all of you to support this bill,” Souki said.

Luke said the State must be very mindful of how it spends taxpayer money, and that  lawmakers and the public have lost faith in the credibility of cost estimates by the City and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation administrators.

After providing almost all the funds needed for the project, the State cannot write a “blank check” for more taxes going into the future just in case rail goes over budget again, she said.

Luke said the City should look at cost savings either through r public private partnerships, finding creative ways of securing bond financing, or aggressively looking at their contracts and making cuts to cover the final $100 million of the total cost.

Luke said this $1.2 billion package provides the City with funds to complete the rail project through Ala Moana and will not jeopardize the $1.55 billion in Federal Transit Administration funding.

SB1183 SD2 HD2’s provisions include:

  • Extending the general excise tax surcharge for two additional years, from December 31, 2027 through December 31, 2029, which will generate an estimated $792 million;
  • Redistributing 90 percent of the State Department of Taxation administrative fee to the City, which will generate an estimated $397 million;
  • Requiring the City to approve the extension on or before December 31, 2017;
  • Mandating that the City not prohibit the use of city funds for rail expenses;
  • Prohibiting the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating and personnel expenses;
  • Stating that GET funds can only be used for construction;
  • Giving all counties the option to extend the surcharge.

In addition, the House also moved the following bills on Second Crossover:

Veterans

SB 602 HD1 repeals the requirement that a disabled veteran be in receipt of disability retirement pay from the armed forces to be exempt from the payment of annual vehicle registration fees.

Climate Change

SB 559 SD1 HD2 requires the State to expand strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide in alignment with the principles and goals adopted in the Paris Agreement.

Affordable Housing

SB 1244 SD2 HD2 authorizes qualified nonprofit housing trusts to repurchase affordable units developed with government assistance when a government entity waives its first right of refusal to repurchase the unit.

Internet Privacy

SB 429 SD2 HD2 adopts uniform laws on protecting the online accounts of employees, unpaid interns, applicants, students, and prospective students from employers and educational institutions, respectively.

Condominium Law

SB 369 SD1 HD1 prohibits apartment and condominium associations, boards of directors, managing agents, resident managers, and apartment and condominium owners from retaliating or discriminating against an owner, board member, or association employee who takes lawful action to address, prevent, or stop a violation of Hawaii’s condominium laws or a condominium’s governing documents, or exercises any rights as an owner.

Prison

SB 603 SD1 HD2 requires report to Legislature on solitary confinement in Hawaii and Arizona correctional facilities that house Hawaii inmates. It also requires the Department of Public Safety to expand the environmental impact statement process for potential sites for the Oahu Community Correctional Center relocation and submit a report to Legislature.

Taxation

SB 620 SD2 HD2 requires retailers or vendors that are not located in the State and not required to pay or collect general excise or use tax for sales to send certain information to purchasers in the State.

SB 686 SD2 HD1 establishes education surcharges on residential investment properties and visitor accommodations for funding public education.

SB 704 SD2 HD2 allows transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of operators and plan managers using their services for vacation rentals.

Homelessness

SB 717 SD2 HD2 makes appropriations and establishes a temporary program to clean up state real property after the departure of persons who have illegally camped or lodged on state real property.

SB 1290 SD2 HD2 allocates funds from transient accommodations tax revenues to the Hawaii Tourism Authority in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association for the implementation of initiatives to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas.

Pregnancy Centers

SB 501 SD1 HD2 requires all limited service pregnancy centers to disclose the availability of and enrollment information for reproductive health services and establishes privacy and disclosure requirements for individual records and information.

In Vitro Fertilization

SB 502 SD1 HD1 removes discriminatory requirements for mandatory insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization procedures to create parity of coverage for same-sex couples, unmarried women, and male-female couples for whom male infertility is the relevant factor.

Retirement

SB 249 SD2 HD1 reduces the percentage of average final compensation used to calculate the retirement allowance for a member who first earned credited service as a judge after June 30, 2050, to 2 per cent.

Maui Hospitals

SB 207 SD2 HD1 appropriates funds to the Department of Budget and Finance for collective bargaining cost items related to the transition of affected Maui region hospital employees to employment with Maui Health System, a Kaiser Foundation Hospitals LLC.

Lifeguard Protection

SB 562 SD1 HD1 requires the Attorney General to defend any civil action against the county based on negligence, wrongful act, or omission of a county lifeguard for services at a designated state beach park under an agreement between the State and a county.

A complete list of Senate bills passed by the House to date is available on the Capitol website at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/advreports/advreport.aspx?year=2017&report=deadline&rpt_type=secondCross_ammend&measuretype=SB&title=Second Crossover.

University of Hawaii Gets New 45-Foot Education and Training Vessel for Island Students

Tomorrow, Friday, April 7, 2017, students from Ahuimanu Elementary will board the new 45-foot education and research vessel, Ka Noelo Kai (“seeking knowledge from the sea”), as part of its inaugural week of operations to support place-based experiential learning at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Leaving from He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor, students will deploy a plankton net, collect data, and watch for green sea turtles and other marine life on their transit to HIMB on Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island).

Ka Noelo Kai in Kaneohe Bay, photo credit F. King/HIMB.

HIMB is an internationally recognized research and education facility, situated within Kāne‘ohe Bay and surrounded by 25 acres of protected coral reef refuge designated for scientific research. While on island, the Ahuimanu students will examine plankton through microscopes, participate in an invasive seaweed lab, and tour the research facilities with stops at the lab’s touch pool and shark enclosures. They will leave with new science and stewardship skills to assist them as they become our next generation of scientists, marine managers and ocean stewards, helping to find creative solutions to Hawai‘i’s environmental issues and challenges.

UH scientists and educators Dr. Malia Rivera and Mark Heckman have been growing programs at HIMB to provide pathways to science for Hawai‘i’s underserved elementary through high school student populations for the last nine years. Currently over 4,000 students and teachers attend programs and labs on the island annually. Many students visit the research facility from as young as 5 years of age via the community and family tours. They may come back next with their elementary school or middle school classes, then as high school students in HIMB’s more science intensive programs before entering the University of Hawai‘i as undergraduates.

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology/SOEST/ UH Manoa, photo credit Doug Peebles.

Ultimately a local student who visited as a child may return to gain a graduate degree and become an internationally recognized scientist or natural resource manager.

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation generously provided funds to purchase the vessel, enabling more school groups and students to access the island’s facilities, gain training and delve into the mysteries of Kāne‘ohe Bay’s and Hawai‘i’s beautiful but threatened coral reef ecosystems and ocean waters.

The Ahuimanu Elementary’s fourth grade field trip to HIMB will run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 2017.  Student will gather at He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor located at 46-499 Kamehameha Highway in Kāne‘ohe.  Media are welcome.  For more information, contact Mark Heckman at mheckman@hawaii.edu or (808) 277-1691.

Famous Hawaii Land Saved With Support From Both Republicans and Democrats

Seven-mile coastline where Obama’s mother’s and grandmother’s ashes were spread protected with widespread bipartisan support

The Ka Iwi Coast on the eastern tip of Oahu will be forever preserved from development, ending a 40-year-long battle to preserve the area, The Trust for Public Land and a group of local partners announced today.  The announcement involved the last 182 acres which could have been developed along the 7-mile-long coast.

The area is near where the ashes of former President Barack Obama’s mother and grandmother were spread at Lanai Lookout, and he has surfed at the coast’s famed Sandy Beach.

The Trust for Public Land bought the property a year ago for $3.65 million and finished its sale last week to a local group, Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.  The state of Hawaii and city of Honolulu have imposed restrictions which would block any future development.  Previous owners had proposed buildings resorts or luxury homes at the site.

Will Rogers, President of  The Trust for Public Land, noted that “both Republican and Democratic state legislators have strongly supported this project.  This is the kind of bipartisan support which has helped us save more than 43,000 acres in Hawaii since 1978.  Preserving special places is important to Hawaii residents and visitors, and all Americans, whatever their political beliefs.”

The Ka Iwi coast is a key navigational landmark between Oahu and Molokai for fisherman and boaters.  The Ka Iwi channel is important to native Hawaiians, and is steeped in ancient stories, such as being one of the places where the volcano goddess Pele struck her legendary digging stick looking for a fiery home.

The money to fund the purchase came from a variety of sources, including more than 1,600 individuals, who helped raise more than $600,000.  Additional funds came from the state of Hawaii and the city of Honolulu.

“It is truly inspiring to see how the entire community – both Democrats and Republicans, surfers and fishermen, keiki and kupuna (children and elders) – have come together to fight for nearly half a century to preserve this rugged, wild stretch of coastline,” said Lea Hong, Hawaii director of, The Trust for Public Land. “Each time some new development was proposed, the public rallied to protect this treasured shoreline, keeping it in its natural state for future generations to enjoy.”

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

Coca-Cola Company Expands Watershed Stewardship to Hawai`i

On April 11, 2017, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Coca-Cola Company and the Koʻolau Mountains Watershed Partnership will announce plans for a new replenishment project designed to help restore and recharge the Waiawa watershed. It is the principle recharge area for the Pearl Harbor Aquifer, which supplies the majority of drinking water for communities across Oʻahu; more than 364 million gallons each day.

Company and its Bottling Partners Meet 2020 Water Replenishment Goal Five Years Early; Intend to Maintain Water Stewardship Performance as Business Continues to Grow

Under the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, the State hopes to protect 253,000 acres of critical watershed like Waiawa by the year 2030. The Koʻolau project becomes one of more than 100 such partnerships Coke supports around the country.

Coca-Cola states:

Supporting healthy watersheds is a key priority for The Coca-Cola Company. With more than 100 production facilities in North America, water is essential in the manufacturing of our products and the communities in which we operate.

Water supplies across North America are becoming increasingly stressed. We are committed to doing our part to improve the sustainability of these watersheds. We are working to return to nature and communities an amount of water equivalent to what we use in all of our products and their production by 2020. To achieve this, we focus on improving water efficiency, recycling water used in our operations and replenishing resources through watershed restoration and protection in partnership with conservation organizations, universities and local governments.

 

Hawaii House Finance Committee Approves $1.2 Billion Package to Fund Rail Project

The House Finance Committee today agreed to provide an additional $1.2 billion funding package for the City’s financially troubled rail project estimated to cost a total of about $8.1 billion.

In passing SB1183 SD2 HD2, the committee amended the bill to:

  • Extend the general excise tax surcharge for two additional years, from December 31, 2027 through December 31, 2029, which will generate an estimated $792 million;
  • Redistribute 90 percent of the State Department of Taxation administrative fee to the City, which will generate an estimated $397 million;
  • Require the City to approve the extension on or before December 31, 2017;
  • Mandate that the City not prohibit the use of city funds for rail expenses;
  • Prohibit the use of the GET surcharge revenue to fund HART administrative, operating and personnel expenses;
  • State that GET funds can only be used for construction;
  • Give all counties the option to extend the surcharge.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Pauoa-­Punchbowl-Nuuanu), Chair of the Finance Committee, said the $1.2 billion package will fund the rail project through Ala Moana and will not jeopardize the $1.55 billion in federal funding.

“This is the second time the State has bailed out the City and County of Honolulu and HART for the rail project. The public and the Legislature has lost faith and confidence in their ability to provide an accurate budget estimate and control costs,” Luke said.

“We are concerned with the City and HART being in breach of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This is why we are providing the City and HART with an additional $1.2 billion funding package. The State is even willing to substantially reduce its administrative fee to ensure that this project is completed.

“However, we continue to be disappointed that the City and HART have not considered significant cost cutting measures and alternatives to funding. We believe the funding we are providing today will be sufficient as long as the City and HART do their part to responsibly finance and manage their rail project.”

The bill will now be voted on by the entire House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Navy Complies with EPA, Closes Cesspools on Joint Base – Fined $94,212

The Navy recently closed the last of three remaining Large Capacity Cesspools (LCCs) located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, settling a Consent Agreement and Final Order with the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Navy paid a penalty of $94,212 for violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act at JBPHH.

Adm. John Fuller

Rear Adm. John Fuller, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, announced the closure of the cesspools in his sixth Red Hill stakeholder letter of March 2017. “Just recently, we closed legacy cesspools that predated joint-basing in order to comply with state law.  Our Navy is not perfect, but we are committed to confronting what is not right or not in the nation’s best interest.  We are accountable for our actions, and we are committed to doing the right thing.  We are equally committed to presenting science-based evidence to enhance our understanding,” Fuller wrote.
The Navy acquired the LCCs in 2010 when Hickam Air Force Base and Naval Station Pearl Harbor became Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.  With the Navy as the lead Department of Defense agency for JBPHH, thousands of assets and inventory items were consolidated under Navy responsibility.

Oahu Highway and Road Closures Beginning Sunday, March 26, for a Television Production

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises Oahu motorists of closures on multiple roadways next week for a television production. See closure details below.

H-3 Freeway Sunday, March, 26, and Monday, March 27, from 4:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

  • Closure of the H-3 Freeway in the Kaneohe-bound between the Halawa Interchange and the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base.
  • All onramps from the Halawa Interchange to the H-3 Freeway will be closed, including the Kamehameha Highway onramp in Kaneohe.
  • Alternate routes include the Likelike Highway and Pali Highway.

Kualakai Parkway – Tuesday, March 28, southbound from 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and northbound from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Closure of Kualakai Parkway in the southbound direction between Farrington Highway and Kapolei Parkway.
  • Closure of Kualakai Parkway in the northbound direction between Farrington Highway and the H-1 Freeway Overpass, including the Kualakai Parkway onramp to the eastbound H-1 Freeway. Motorists may enter the eastbound H-1 Freeway at the Makakilo Drive onramp or the Fort Weaver Road onramp.

H-1 Freeway – Tuesday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Intermittent closures on the H-1 Freeway in the eastbound direction in the vicinity of the Kapolei/Ewa offramp (Exit 3). Special Duty Police Officers will hold traffic for approximately 1-2 minutes at a time and then will reopen all lanes. The lanes will remain open for the majority of the time during the closure hours.

Electronic message boards are posted to warn motorists of the closures. Emergency vehicles and first responders will be allowed through the closure zones.

HDOT encourages the public to plan their commute and check traffic apps to avoid congestion. Lane closures will be posted on our website at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/oahu/  and released through our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Illegal Camps Moved Out of Diamond Head State Monument – Six People Cited So Far During Cleanup & Enforcement Operation

Following six months of outreach to homeless individuals living on the slopes of Hawai’i’s iconic Diamond Head, crews from the DLNR Divisions of State Parks and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), along with a private rubbish contractor removed tons of debris from illegal camps within Diamond Head State Monument. They were joined by state outreach representatives.

“We empathize with anyone in Hawaii who does not have a home, and thank Governor Ige’s homelessness team for the work they are doing to find shelter for people who do not have it. State lands, though, are owned by all of Hawai‘i’s residents and cannot be used as a place for long-term camps,” said State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell. Spread across the southeast flanks of Diamond Head, parks and outreach workers have found abandoned clothing, food containers, camping equipment, cans and bottles.

Last week, during the sixth outreach activity, social workers and DLNR staff again hiked to each camp. During previous outreach trips since last October, workers have informed people at camps, in person or in writing that they would need to vacate their camps sometime in mid-March. Cottrell continued, “We are encouraged that several of the 36 camps we originally posted are no longer occupied, and we have been told that some people have been placed into transitional housing.”

As with all the previous visits to Diamond Head, a team of DOCARE officers participated today. As of 9 a.m. they’d issued six (6) citations for the violation of being in a closed area. DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell commented, “Citing these people is the last step in this concerted effort to enforce park rules.” This is the third clean-up of illegal camps at Diamond Head State Monument.

Scott Morishige, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness said, “This operation is not only about maintaining DLNR lands; it’s about connecting people to housing. We’ve been conducting ongoing outreach and notification to the estimated 30-35 people living in the area since October. These efforts have resulted in housing two veterans who had been homeless for a decade.  We will continue to work closely with the state service providers: Kalihi-Palama Health Center, Institute for Human Services, and the CHOW Project, to build relationships with people experiencing homelessness and connect them to housing.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Diamond Head is Hawai’i’s best known natural landmark. Our State Parks are for the enjoyment of all kama‘aina and visitors. Other than the established, paved walking path in Diamond Head crater, the area is off-limits because it’s not managed for public access and therefore not safe.”

The State has identified at least 40 camps or rubbish locations on Diamond Head. So far today workers have filled two large roll-off bins with materials that had previously been tagged as trash or identified by campers as such.

USS Port Royal (CG 73) Returns to Pearl Harbor Friday

The guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) will return from a 212-day independent deployment to the Arabian Sea, Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, South China Sea, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean, March 24.
While deployed to the U.S. 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility, the ship and crew of more than 390 Sailors conducted joint maritime security exercises with South East Asia partners, theatre anti-submarine operations, joint counterterrorism/smuggling exercises, Pacific presence operations in the South China Sea, 5th Fleet sector air defense, and carrier strike group operations with USS Dwight D Eisenhower and USS Carl Vinson. Port Royal also conducted straits transits, providing protection for U.S. and international commerce and projecting sea control in the vicinity of Yemen and Somalia.
“Port Royal’s 2016-2017 deployment was the culmination of the hard work that had been ongoing since the ship’s last deployment. Port Royal’s crew remained focused on getting their ship materially ready for operational excellence, which they demonstrated throughout their 2016-2017 deployment.  The crew has lived up to the ship’s motto, ‘The Will to Win,’ and they have never wavered in their support of the ship and its mission,” said Capt. Adolfo H. Ibarra, Port Royal’s former commanding officer.
Ibarra turned over command to Capt. Christopher J. Budde during an official change of command on Feb. 24, 2017 while the ship was operating in the Western Pacific.  Budde echoed Ibarra’s sentiments. “The Port Royal crew performed brilliantly throughout a seven month deployment spanning the 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet AORs.  More impressive was the effort that went into certification and workups.  Getting this ship prepared for its first deployment in five years was a Herculean task that required incredible work and dedicated deckplate leadership,” said Budde.
Port Royal is a multi-mission ship with air warfare, submarine warfare, surface warfare, and strike capabilities; designed to operate independently or with carrier strike groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups. Lt. Cmdr. Daniel A. Hancock, Port Royal executive officer, said he was proud of the crew’s performance and execution of diverse mission sets throughout deployment.
“At the heart of it, our crew proved that our Sailors truly represent the best of America,” said Hancock. “They have the hearts of lions and showed it daily under combat conditions. I am extremely proud of the work they have done for this nation. This ship returns to Pearl Harbor materially-sound and operationally ready. That is a testament to the leadership of my chiefs and officers, but above all, it reflects the tireless dedication of my Sailors to mission accomplishment. They have exuded excellence throughout this deployment, and because of their efforts, we return to our loved ones with our heads held high, undoubtedly the finest cruiser in the fleet.”
Port Royal is home ported in Pearl Harbor and is part of Naval Surface Forces and U.S. 3rd Fleet.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Hawaii Department of Health Fines Department of Agriculture for Illegal Discharge of Wastewater Into Halawa Stream

The Hawaii State Department of Health has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against the Department of Agriculture for unlawful discharge of animal and human wastewater from their Halawa facility to Halawa Stream. For failing to comply with Hawaii water pollution laws that prohibit the discharge of pollutants such as sewage to state waters, the Department of Agriculture is ordered to pay a penalty of $465,000 and take corrective action to prevent future sewage discharges from their Halawa campus.

Photograph of an elevated section of the H-3 Highway above Halawa Stream. USGS photo by Reuben H. Wolff

“The Department of Agriculture has been sustaining its operations at Halawa with a wastewater system that is in dire need of modernization,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of Environmental Health Administration. “An emergency stand by power source and a warning system, among other corrections, must be in place to prevent future spills and protect the environment.”

The order requires corrective actions that include upgrading the Department of Agriculture’s wastewater system and adding alarms to notify the department’s management of impending spills. The agency may contest the order and request a hearing within 20 days.

Background

The Department of Agriculture operates offices and an animal quarantine facility in Halawa Valley, Aiea on Oahu. As part of its Halawa campus, the department operates a wastewater pre-treatment facility which treats animal and human wastewater before it is pumped into the local sewage system. On June 13, 2016, the campus experienced a power outage causing the pre-treatment facility’s pump system to cease operating. Without power, wastewater overflowed from the pre-treatment facility into Halawa Stream until August 15, 2016, when temporary pumps were installed and water was shut off.

Hawaii Water Pollution laws, along with the Federal Clean Water Act, prohibit discharging pollutants to state waters unless authorized by a state discharge permit. The Department of Agriculture is not authorized to discharge wastewater to Halawa Stream.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor Commemorates 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the World War II Doolittle Raid with special presentations for youth and the general public by Jonna Doolittle Hoppes, author, educator and granddaughter of General Jimmy Doolittle, leader of the famed Doolittle (Tokyo) Raid that took place, April 18, 1942.

On 18 April 1942, airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North American B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands.

On April 17, from 10 – 11 am, students and their teachers are invited to a free youth presentation by Hoppes entitled, “Calculated Risk: Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raid.” The presentation is named after Hoppes’ first book. Hoppes will discuss the Doolittle Raid and the brave men who, under her grandfather’s leadership, inspired a nation and changed the course of WWII.

This youth event is provided at no cost, and teachers who register their classes will receive a free copy of one of Hoppes’ books, Just Doing My Job or Calculated Risk, as well as corresponding curriculum to use before or after the event. Funding for bus transportation will be provided if requested on the registration form. Seating is limited and registration is recommended by emailing Education@PacificAviationMuseum.org or calling 808-445-9137.

On April 18, at 2:30 pm, Hoppes will conduct a Hangar Talk for the general public, followed by a book signing and meet and greet reception. Admission for the Hangar Talk is free with Museum admission, free to Museum members, and free to military and military families with valid ID.

On April 18, 1942, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, eighty men from all walks of life volunteered to fly B-25 bombers (normally land-based aircraft) that took off from the deck of the USS Hornet. The dangerous and unorthodox mission, led by (then Lt. Colonel) Jimmy Doolittle, represented the first air strike by the United States on Japanese homelands. The raid provided a much-needed boost to American morale and changed the course of WWII. It bolstered American morale to such an extent that on April 28, 10 days after the attack, Lt. Colonel Doolittle was promoted to Brigadier General and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Theodore Roosevelt upon his return to the United States in June.

Oahu Casting Call for Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy Movie

A casting call for paid extras and actors in a movie starring Channing Tatum and Tom Hardy will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the Olelo Television Studios in Mapunapuna over on Oahu.