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Former Heald College Students Eligible for Federal Student Loan Cancellation and Refunds

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) Hawaii Post-secondary Education Authorization Program (HPEAP), joined with at least 42 other states and the District of Columbia, is notifying nearly 2,500 Hawaii residents who attended schools operated by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. – including Heald College in Honolulu – that they are eligible for cancellation of their federal student loans used to attend those schools.  If a student’s federal loan is cancelled, the student will make no more payments on the loan, and any payments already made will be refunded.

Approximately 2,474 Hawaii residents are eligible for federal student loan cancellation and will receive a letter explaining the relief available and enclosing a short application that must be filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

After intense scrutiny by various government entities, for-profit Corinthian Colleges abruptly ceased operations in 2015, transferring some of its campuses to a non-profit called Zenith Education Group.  The U.S. Department of Education then found that while it was operating, Corinthian Colleges made widespread misrepresentations between 2010 and 2014 about post-graduation employment rates at its Heald College campus, and elsewhere across the nation. Lists of the affected campuses, programs, and dates of enrollment are available at https://www.StudentAid.gov/heald-findings and at https://www.StudentAid.gov/ev-wy-findings.  Students who first enrolled in the identified campuses and programs during the specified time periods are eligible for streamlined discharge of their federal student loans.

“Former students are still unnecessarily paying for loans that should be forgiven,” said Bobbi Lum-Mew, HPEAP Program Administrator.  “This is the latest effort by state and federal officials to reach these Hawaii residents and put money back in their pockets.”

 HPEAP’s outreach will be sent to students who fall within the U.S. Department of Education’s findings of fraud discussed above, and who are eligible for a special “streamlined” process to discharge their federal student loans.  However, any student who attended Corinthian Colleges and believes that the school lied about job prospects, the transferability of credits, or other issues may apply to have their federal student loans canceled using the Department of Education’s universal discharge application at https://borrowerdischarge.ed.gov.  More information is available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/borrower-defense.

Borrowers should beware of student loan scams.  You can apply for loan forgiveness, or get information on loan forgiveness, for FREE through the U.S. Department of Education.  The U.S. Department of Education never charges application or maintenance fees, so if you’re asked to pay, walk away.

It may take time for the U.S. Dept. of Education to process applications, so anyone who applies for loan discharge should continue making payments on the affected loans until informed by the U.S. Dept. of Education or his loan servicer that his federal loans are in forbearance while his application is pending or that his loans have been cancelled.

If you have questions, more information about the Office’s outreach to former Corinthian Colleges students can be found at http://www.HealdOutreach.com.  Students can also call the U.S. Department of Education hotline at 1-855-279-6207 or e-mail questions about discharge of their federal student loans to FSAOperations@ed.gov.

Travel Ban Case Update: Hawaii Files Answering Brief with the Ninth Circuit Court Appeals

Last Friday afternoon the State of Hawaii filed its answering brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hawaii v. Trump.

Click to read

On March 15, 2017, Judge Derrick Watson issued a 43-page opinion temporarily enjoining the federal government nationwide from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of a second Executive Order issued by President Trump (the travel ban).

The travel ban would have restricted immigration from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, and also temporarily suspended refugee admissions. The travel ban had been scheduled to become effective on March 16, 2017.

The temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban was converted to a preliminary injunction on March 29, 2017. On April 7, 2017, the Department of Justice filed its opening brief seeking to overturn that preliminary injunction.

Hawaii’s answering brief states in part:

“The Executive Order flouts [the] protections [in the Constitution]. While the Constitution commits the immigration power to Congress, the President claims it for his own, recognizing no statutory limits on his powers of exclusion. And while the Bill of Rights guarantees Due Process and forbids the establishment of religion, the President seeks to enact a thinly veiled Muslim ban, shorn of procedural protections and premised on the belief that those who practice Islam are a danger to our country. The Constitution is not so easily cast aside.”

The Trump Administration is expected to file a reply brief on April 28, 2017. The appeal is scheduled to be heard before a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on May 15, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle, Washington.

National Take-Back Day on the Big Island of Hawaii

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies on the Big Island of Hawaii on Saturday, April 29th to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets.

Locations:

  • Hilo – Ka Waena Lapa‘au Medical Complex (Upper Parking Lot), 670 Ponohawai St., Hilo, HI 96720
  • Kona – Hawai‘i Police Department Kealakehe Police Station Parking Lot, 74-0611 Hale Māka‘i Pl., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety from accidental poisonings and groundwater contamination.

This recurring one-day effort is intended to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse and provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

  • The program is free & anonymous.
  • Prescription and over-the-counter solid dosage medications, i.e. tablets and capsules accepted.
  • Liquid medications – cough medicine with codeine and other over-the-counter liquid medications accepted.
  • Injectables (pre-loaded with medication) and needles/sharps/syringes will not be accepted.
  • Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

Hawaii Lawmakers Approve State Budget

House and Senate conferees met today to approve a final version of HB100 HD1 SD1, the state budget bill covering fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

The committee agreed on funding for pesticide regulation and studies and three Department of Agriculture positions for pesticides compliance; special funds for an enhanced 911 dispatch software upgrade; general funds for the Hawaii Promise Program to provide college tuition support; and general funds to support housing, outreach and legal services for homeless people.

The committee also decided to add $1 million to the budget for the Department of Health to fight Rat Lungworm Disease citing the need to act quickly in preventing the spread of the disease.

The House Finance and Senate Ways and Means conference committee met several times to iron out the differences between the two budget versions which must be completed by April 28, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.

The final conference draft will be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, sent to the governor for his signature.

Rep. Sylvia Luke (Dist. 25 – Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), said the conference committee was able to come up with a successful budget because of the hard choices made initially by both the Senate and the House.

“When we first received the budget from Governor David Ige, we were looking at a very different financial picture,” said Luke, the House Finance Committee Chair. “As it became clear that the state would have less revenue, we needed cut millions of dollars from the governor’s request. We were able to do that because of the hard work of the committee members.”

“Our ability to reach agreement on the budget reflects a shared belief that as resources are constrained, we must focus on priority needs that can be sustained. Even as fixed costs and unfunded liabilities rise, our communities look to us to provide support for the most basic and essential programs and services from homeless and health care to protecting the environment and resources for our keiki and kupuna,” said Senator Jill Tokuda (Dist. 24 – Kaneohe, Kaneohe MCAB, Kailua, Heeia, Ahuimanu), chair of the Senate committee on Ways and Means.

At today’s meeting, the committee highlighted many budget items upon which the House and Senate reached agreement.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

  • Add $1,500,000 in general funds in FY18 for Agricultural Loan Revolving Fund (AGR101/GA).
  • Add (2) permanent positions and $226,134 in FY18 and (3) positions and $200,000 in FY19 in general funds for the Agricultural Food Safety Certification Program (AGR151/BB).
  • Add (1) position and $115,772 in general funds in each FY for the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program (AGR151/BB).
  • Add (3) permanent positions and $79,236 in FY18 and $158,472 in FY19 in general funds for pesticides compliance (AGR846/EE).
  • Add $750,000 in general funds in each FY, non-recurring, for pesticide regulation expenses and studies (AGR846/EE).

DEPARTMENT OF ACCOUNTING AND GENERAL SERVICES

  • Add (1) permanent position and $39,000 in FY18 and $77,000 in FY19 in general funds for contract audits (AGS104/BA).
  • Change means of financing for (5) permanent positions and $505,585 from trust funds to general funds in each FY for Campaign Spending Commission (AGS871/NA).
  • Add $7,800,000 in special funds in FY18 for Enhanced 911 Board Computer Aided Dispatch Software Upgrade (AGS891/PA).

DEPARTMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

  • Add $5,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for Litigation Fund (ATG100/AA).
  • Add $70,000 in special funds in each FY for maintenance of internet based registration systems and charity registration databases (ATG100/AA).

DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND TOURISM

  • Add (1) permanent position and $25,386 in FY18 and $50,772 in FY19 in general funds for compliance with decisions and orders of Land Use Commission (BED103/DA).
  • Add $250,000 in general funds in FY18 for feasibility and benefits study for establishing a small satellite launch and processing facility in the State (BED128).
  • Add $200,000 in general funds in FY18 for a market assessment and feasibility study for the development of a basalt fiber manufacturing plant in Hawaii (BED128).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $28,584 in FY18 and $57,168 in FY19 in general funds for economic research (BED130/FA).
  • Add $1,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for Excelerator Program for High Technology Development Corporation (BED143).
  • Add $1,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for manufacturing grant program for High Technology Development Corporation (BED143).
  • Add $1,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for small business innovation research program (BED143).
  • Add (1) temporary position and $27,618 in FY18 and $55,236 in FY19 in general funds for Special Action Team on Affordable Rental Housing (BED144/PL).

DEPARTMENT OF BUDGET AND FINANCE

  • Add $34,625,428 in FY18 and $70,673,178 in FY19 in general funds for additional retirement benefit payments funding for the State to reflect phase-in of employer contribution rate increases.
  • Add (1) permanent position and $28,116 in FY18 and $51,432 in FY19 in general funds for the Administrative and Research Office’s Information and Technology staff (BUF101/BA).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $55,671 in FY18 and $107,552 in FY19 in funds for Hawaii Domestic Relations Orders implementation (BUF141/FA).
  • Add $9,700,000 in each FY for statewide centralized vacation payout (BUF103/VP).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $148,930 in trust funds in FY19 for investment analysis (BUF143/EU).
  • Add (3) permanent positions and $445,768 in general funds in each FY for Community Court Outreach Program (BUF151).
  • Add $33,420,000 in general funds in FY18 for operations subsidy for Maui Health System (HTH214/LS).

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS

  • Add (1) permanent position and $51,000 in FY18 and $84,000 in FY19 in trust funds for condominium education (CCA105/GA).
  • Add $200,000 in special funds in FY18 for consultant services and training (CCA901/MA).

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

  • Add $325,000 in general funds in FY18 for Diamond Head Sewer Lift Station Emergency Generator (DEF110/AA).
  • Add $768,000 in general funds in FY18 for tree trimming and removal at Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery (DEF112/VA).
  • Add (1) permanent positon and $27,556 in FY18 and $54,112 in FY19 in general funds for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning maintenance (DEF110/AA).

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

  • Add $1,000,000 in general funds in each FY for Early College High School Initiative (EDN100/BX).
  • Add $2,027,645 in general funds in FY18 for Office of Hawaiian Education (EDN100/CJ).
  • Add $2,800,000 in general funds and $2,800,000 in federal funds in FY18 for Hawaii Keiki Healthy and Ready to Learn program (EDN100/BX).
  • Add (2) permanent positions and $183,818 in general funds in each FY for Hawaii Teachers Standards Board (EDN200).
  • Add (15) permanent positions and $703,980 in general funds in each FY for Homeless Concerns Liaisons (EDN200/GQ).
  • Add $1,100,000 in general funds in FY18 for Student Information System Enhancement and Expansion (EDN300/UA).
  • Add (6) permanent positions and $135,216 in FY18 and $270,432 in FY19 in general funds for Workers’ Compensation Program (EDN300/KO).
  • Add $670,000 in general funds in FY18 for Alternative Teacher Route Programs (EDN300/KO).
  • Add $293,557 in general funds in FY18 for Community Engagement Office (EDN300/KD).
  • Add (15) permanent positions and $779,310 in FY18 and $1,434,885 in FY19 in general funds for Title IX and Civil Rights Compliance Capacity (EDN300/KH).
  • Add (4) permanent positions and $1,755,525 in FY18 and $3,711,835 in FY19 in general funds for student transportation services statewide (EDN400/YA).
  • Add $100,000 in general funds in FY18 for athletic travel to and from Molokai and Hana (EDN400/YA).
  • Add $800,000 in general funds in each FY for environmental health services (EDN400/OC).
  • Add $1,500,000 in general funds in each FY for utilities (EDN400/OE).
  • Add $283,403 in FY18 and $207,445 in FY19 in general funds for personal services and food provisions for School Food Service programs (EDN400/MD).

PUBLIC LIBRARIES

  • Add (3) permanent positions and $50,592 in FY18 and $101,184 in FY19 in general funds for Nanakuli Public Library (EDN407/QD).
  • Add $500,000 in general funds in FY18 for repair and maintenance backlog (EDN407/QB).

CHARTER SCHOOLS

  • Add $9,797,069 in FY18 and $10,668,406 in FY19 in general funds for Per Pupil Adjustment (EDN600/JA).

EARLY LEARNING

  • Add $136,688 in FY18 and (10) permanent positions and $556,842 in FY19 in general funds for Pre-Kindergarten and Induction Program (EDN700/PK).

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

  • Add $117,167 in general funds in each FY for membership fees for national and regional chief executive organizations (GOV100/AA).

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

  • Add $3,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for Housing First Program (HMS224/HS).
  • Add $1,500,000 in general funds in FY18 for homeless outreach services (HMS224/HS).
  • Add $250,000 in general funds in FY18 for legal services for homeless persons (HMS224/HS).
  • Add (29) permanent positions and $1,828,585 in FY18 and $2,510,996 in FY19 in general funds for multi-skilled worker pilot program (HMS229/HA).
  • Add $1,553,559 in general funds and $2,309,090 in federal funds in each FY for nursing facility inflation factor (HMS401/PE).
  • Add $240,000 in general funds in FY18 for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention (JJDP) (HMS501/YA).

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT

  • Add $3,274,000 in FY18 and $3,524,000 in FY19 in general funds for worker’s compensation claims (HRD102/SA).

HAWAII HEALTH SYSTEMS CORPORATION

  • Add $36,486,000 in FY18 and $34,686,000 in FY19 in general funds for operations subsidy for the regions (HTH212/LS).
  • Add $3,000,000 in general funds in FY18 for working capital or region operating subsidy (HTH212).
  • Add $33,420,000 in general funds in FY18 for operations subsidy for Maui Health System (HTH214/LS).
  • Add $30,637,298 in general funds in FY18 for employee separation benefits related to the transfer of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Maui Region.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

  • Add $500,000 in general funds in each FY for services for homeless individuals with serious and persistent mental health challenges (HTH420/HO).
  • Add $800,000 in general funds in FY18 for outreach and counseling services for chronically homeless individuals and families with severe substance abuse disorders (HTH440/HO).
  • Add $1,340,000 in FY18 and $1,613,000 in FY19 in general funds for purchase of service contracts for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (HTH460/HO).
  • Add (6) permanent positions and $422,540 in general funds in each FY for vector control (HTH610/FN).
  • Add $500,000 in general funds in each FY for Rat Lung-worm Disease (HTH610).
  • Add $799,833 in general funds in FY18 for statewide emergency ambulance services (HTH730/MQ).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $46,638 in FY18 and $93,276 in FY19 in general funds for investigation of suspected health clusters from environmental sources (HTH849/FD).
  • Add $4,145,695 in general funds in FY18 for Kupuna Care (HTH904/AJ).
  • Add $1,700,000 in general funds in FY18 for Aging and Disability Resource Center (HTH904/AJ).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $157,168 in general funds in each FY for long term care ombudsman program (HTH904/AJ).

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS

  • Add $750,000 in general funds in each FY for enrichment programs of the advisory boards for health care, agriculture, and STEM (LBR111).
  • Add $450,000 in general funds in each FY for transition to the federal workforce innovation and opportunity act (LBR135).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $24,966 in FY18 and $48,280 in FY19 in general funds for labor law enforcement (LBR152/CA).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $19,746 in FY18 and $39,492 in FY19 in general funds for legal support (LBR153/RA).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $60,530 in each FY for grants management (LBR903/NA).

DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Add (3) temporary positions and $152,520 in general funds in each FY for ocean resources management plan support (LNR401/CA).
  • Add $4,000,000 in general funds in each FY for Hawaii Invasive Species Council (LNR402/DA).
  • Add $750,000 in general funds in each FY, non-recurring, for Rapid Ohia Death response (LNR402/DA).
  • Add $400,000 in general funds in each FY for fire protection program (LNR402/DA).
  • Add $350,000 in general funds in FY18 for second phase of new integrated information management system and digitization of reports, records, and files (LNR802/HP).
  • Add (15) temporary positions and $1,065,147 in FY18 and $1,097,047 in FY19 in general funds for personnel and operating funds for management and restoration of Kahoolawe Island Reserve (LNR906/AA).

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

  • Add $165,000 in general funds in each FY for malpractice insurance (PSD421/HC).
  • Add $92,500 in general funds in FY18 for psychological testing for deputy sheriffs (PSD900/EA).
  • Add $1,500,000 in general funds in FY18 for lease rent for Department of Public Safety Administration building and moving costs (PSD900/EA).

DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION

  • Add $93,860 in general funds in each FY for security for medical marijuana tax collections (TAX107/AA).

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

  • Add (7) permanent positions and $157,939 in FY18 and $303,878 in FY19 for Airside Operations Section Security Unit Pass and Identification Office (TRN102/BC).
  • Add $300,000 in each FY for custodial and janitorial supplies for Custodial Services Unit (TRN102/BC).
  • Add (6) permanent positions and $162,752 in FY18 and $293,004 in FY19 for Federal Inspection Station (TRN114/BE).
  • Add $400,000 in each FY for Automated Passport Control Kiosk Maintenance Statewide (TRN195/BB).
  • Add $200,000 in each FY for underwater and superstructure pier inspections (TRN395/CB).
  • Add (2) permanent positions and $101,809 in FY18 and $203,618 in FY19 for H-3 Tunnel Management Center (TRN501/DC).
  • Add (10) permanent positions and $679,152 in special funds in FY18 and $1,243,998 in special funds and $216,000 in federal funds in FY19 for Intelligent Technology Systems Branch (TRN595/DB).
  • Add $800,000 in FY19 for trash reduction plan implementation (TRN501/DC).
  • Add $3,514,950 in FY18 and $1,242,000 in FY19 for information technology projects (TRN995).

UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

  • Add $350,000 in general funds in each FY for concussion awareness (UOH100/AA).
  • Add (2.64) permanent positions and $240,800 in general funds in each FY for Heeia Reserve (UOH100/AA).
  • Add $250,000 in general funds in each FY for Title IX Administrator and Investigator for UH Manoa (UOH100/AA).
  • Add (2) permanent position and $150,000 in general funds in each FY for Title IX Administrator and Educator/Advocate for UH Hilo (UOH210).
  • Add (1) permanent position and $70,000 in general funds in each FY for Title IX for UH West Oahu (UOH700).
  • Add $1,829,000 in general funds in each FY for Hawaii Promise Program (UOH800).
  • Add (4) permanent positions and $820,000 in general funds in each FY for Title IX Coordinators, Confidential Advocates, and Legal Support (UOH800).
  • Add (2) permanent positions and $375,000 in general funds in each FY for Title IX System-wide Legal Support (UOH900).

Budget worksheets detailing the appropriations in the overall Executive, Judiciary and Office of Hawaiian Affairs budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2017budget.aspx.

Maui Resort to Attempt Record Longest Lei Exchange

May 1st is also known as Lei Day and is a statewide cultural celebration in Hawaii. At The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, May Day festivities will include the Longest Lei Exchange in Ka‘anapali as a unique experience and attempt to set a record, with 500+ persons targeted to be in attendance.

Nine handcrafted leis designed in celebration of May Day. Each will be unveiled on FB & Instagram @TheWestinMaui.

The significance of presenting a lei speaks to the authenticity and practice of Hawaiians in celebrating an occasion. Known as the spirit of Aloha, the lei exchange by two persons symbolizes the love, respect and friendship shared between them – whether they are family members, couples or friends.

Resort associates and family members perform in Westin Maui’s annual May Day & Aloha Week festivals. Seen here (from left): Kafa Grijalva, Corienne Keanini, Melissa Los Banos, Jasmine McCoy and Gresilda Harrison.

Pamakane Lopes of Ocean Dreamer Florals has designed nine special leis that highlight the diversity of Maui’s scenic settings and experiences featuring locations such as Haleakala, Kula, Hana, Paia, Iao Valley, Makawao, Ulupalakua, Honolua Bay and Ka‘anapali. Images of the leis will be unveiled one per day via the resort’s FB & Instagram @TheWestinMaui beginning on Aloha Friday, April 21.

Recognizing the importance of preserving Hawaiian culture, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is also committing $2,500.00 to benefit the cause of Na Leo Kalele that supports Kula Kaiapuni O Maui Ma Nāhiʻenaʻena, a Hawaiian language immersion school located within Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena public school in Lahaina, Maui. Considered a school within a school, Kula Kaiapuni O Maui Ma Nāhiʻenaʻena is unique in that it utilizes Hawaii’s indigenous language, culture, perspectives, and practices to implement its curriculum.

The Westin Maui

The event is open to Westin Maui guests and associates, local residents and island visitors. For more details on participation and sign-up in the Lei Exchange, visit the resort’s FB @TheWestinMaui. Parking is available at Whalers Village, neighboring The Westin Maui.

WHEN & WHERE:  Monday, May 1, 2017

  • 7:30 am – Check in at Aloha Pavilion, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
  • 8:30 am – Hawaiian Blessing Ceremony with Oli Chant & Hula
  • 8:45 am – Participants begin lining up on the beachwalk side fronting Westin Maui
  • 9:00 am – Lei Exchange begins
  • 9:30 am – Craft Fair & Aloha Lei Day Activities at Aloha Pavilion

Kohala Officer of the Quarter: Tyler Prokopec

The Hawaiʻi Island Safety and Security Professionals Association has recognized Officer Tyler Prokopec as the “Kohala Officer of the Quarter” for the first quarter of 2017. A ceremony was held on Friday (April 21), at the Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.

Pictured from left to right: Captain Randall Ishii, Mayor Harry Kim, Officer Tyler Prokopec, Bill King of Securitas, and Wesley Taketa of Royal Kona Resort

Officer Prokopec was honored for his actions while off-duty which resulted in the arrest of a disorderly male at the Waikoloa Queen’s Market Place in February.

On February 15, 2017, at 9:30 p.m., Officer Prokopec, who was off-duty, was driving along Waikoloa Beach Drive when he observed a security guard and a civilian struggling to detain a disorderly male near the Queen’s Market Place. The disorderly male, upon being alerted that Prokopec was a police officer, immediately jumped up and ran to the roadway in an attempt to flee. The male then attempted stopping a moving vehicle before jumping onto the hood of a pickup truck and then shattered it’s windshield by kicking it. Officer Prokopec was then able to remove the suspect from the truck and safely place him under arrest. It was later learned that the suspect had caused damages to two other vehicles in the area.

Sergeant Erich Jackson commented in his nomination papers that “without Officer Prokopec’s immediate and decisive intervention, the suspect may have harmed himself further or committed more crimes. Officer Prokopec exemplified the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s core values of Professionalism, Integrity and Community Satisfaction and is deserving of this award.”

The Hawaiʻi Island Safety and Security Professionals Association is an organization of hotel and airport security managers and visitor industry professionals. Its “Kohala Officer of the Quarter” program is an opportunity to recognize outstanding officers from the North Kohala and South Kohala Districts.

Carrying On with Tradition with Robert Cazimero on the Big Island

Saturday, May 13 at 7 pm, Hawai‘i’s most revered and loved Kumu and singer, Robert Cazimero, returns to Kahilu Theatre to carry on with an unbroken 32-year-old tradition – celebrating May Day in Waimea.

Robert’s beautiful voice is so distinctive that whether he performs on piano or with his brother Roland as the Brothers Cazimero, people recognize him instantly and are compelled to listen.

Robert has been a part of close to forty full album projects; many considered classics in the history of Hawaiian music. The popular success of the music he has made and participated in has been recognized through dozens of awards, performances on the world’s most prestigious stages and the millions of albums that have been bought by people around the world.

Robert has studied the art of hula for decades and has been an essential player in the evolution of modern Hawaiian music. His passion and talent have played a huge role in taking Hawaiian music and dance to stages all over the globe. Robert’s kane of Na Kamalei were overall winners at the 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival.

“Waimea is one of my favorite places in Hawai`i, and it’s always such a pleasure to perform for the folks (many I consider family),” says Robert. “It wouldn’t be spring without this concert, and I relish our time at Kahilu Theatre, one of the best venue’s in Hawaii!”

Doors open at 6 pm for the performance on Saturday, May 13, at 7 pm, with snacks and beverages available for sale at the Kahilu Theatre bar.  In the Kahiu Galleries, a Climate of Change juried exhibit is on display in the Kohala Gallery, and Dance of the Bees – The Exhibit is on display in the Hamakua Gallery.

Tickets are $68 / $58 / $48 / $20 and available for purchase online at www.kahilutheatre.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm.

This performance is made possible by sponsorship from Marianne Maynard, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and Kona Brewing Co.

Hawaiian Airlines and KAPA Radio sponsor the 2016/17 Hawaiian Series.

Leeward Oahu Administrator Named Hawaii’s 2017 National Distinguished Principal

The Hawaii Elementary and Middle Schools Administrators Association today named Principal Nelson Shigeta from Makaha Elementary School as the 2017 National Distinguished Principal. Shigeta will join the National Association of Elementary School Principals awardees from the other 49 states in Washington D.C. in October.

2017 National Distinguished Principal Nelson Shigeta thanks his staff and praises other nominees and administrators. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“These school leaders possess strong collaborative values, working with their teachers and staff to create effective school communities to support students,” said Deputy Superintendent Keith Hayashi. “Congratulations to all of the nominees, Principal Nelson Shigeta and the Outstanding Vice Principal of the Year Greg Nakasone.”

Shigeta is a veteran educator who has spent many years on the Leeward Coast. He values technology and has identified ways to incorporate 21st Century Learning strategies to improve reading proficiency, and increased the number of 1:1 devices available to students in order to enhance access to leveled texts in each classroom. As a result, students have spent more than 5,000 hours reading a total of 19,000 books, and reading proficiency has improved in numerous areas.

“I’m humbled to be recognized, especially after hearing the stories of the other nominees,” shared Shigeta. “Leadership is a team effort and one of the things I’m most proud of at Makaha Elementary School is my staff who work hard everyday to meet the needs of our students. This award means so much to me because it recognizes their commitment too.”

The other 2017 National Distinguished Principal (NDP) nominees who were honored include:

  • Alison Higa, Shafter Elementary School
  • Darlene Javar, Naalehu Elementary School
  • Gay Kong, Keolu Elementary School
  • Jason Yoshida, King Kaumualii Elementary School
  • Kim Mukai-Ontai, Kamalii Elementary School
  • Laura Vines, Kalihi Kai Elementary School

Front Row (L to R): Nelson Shigeta, Laura Vines, Darlene Javar; Second Row (L to R): Gay Kong, Kim Mukai-Ontai, Alison Higa, Jason Yoshida, Greg Nakasone. Photo Credit: Department of Education

The 2017 NDP awards took place at the Hale Koa Hotel and were sponsored by Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union and VALIC.

The Hawaii Elementary and Middle Schools Administrators Association (HEMSAA) is the local chapter of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The purpose of HEMSAA is to facilitate positive educational leadership and serve as a voice for elementary, middle-level principals and other members. For more information, click here.

Students from Kalani High School Power Ahead to 20th Annual National Ocean Sciences Competition

Kalani High School students will be competing for the first time in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The 20th annual Nationals Finals Competition will take place April 22-23 at Oregon State University. The team joins 24 other regional winners out of a total of 392 competing teams.

L to R: Zoe Asahan, Rovi Porter, Mika Ishii, Daniel Huang, David Higashi, Coach Leslie Hamasaki.  Photo Credit: Kalani High School

Students from Kalani High School will compete against other top high school scholars in the 20th annual National Finals Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) this Sat., April 22 and Sun., April 23. The team won the Hawaii regional competition and joins 24 other regional winners (out of a total of 392 competing teams) at the finals at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

“This is the first time that students from Kalani High School will be competing in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and we are excited to cheer them on this weekend,” said Principal Mitchell Otani. “The lessons and skills the students have learned by preparing for the competitions have given them a strong foundation as they pursue post-secondary opportunities in science-related fields as well as public policy.”

Students will test their knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology by answering buzzer-style, multiple choice questions, and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions. They will also participate in the Science Expert Briefing, a mock congressional hearing where they present science recommendations on a piece of legislation, enhancing their critical thinking skills and building a better understanding of the broader context of science.

The Kalani High School team consists of: Zoe Asahan, David Higashi, Daniel Huang, Mika Ishii and Rovi Porter.

The NOSB, a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, is building the next generation of ocean-literate citizens and scientists, educating them on timely topics that will remain relevant for years to come. The Finals competition theme this year is “Blue Energy: Powering the Planet With Our Ocean.”

Follow the Kalani High School team at the NOSB National Finals competition this weekend on Twitter (@NOSBRocks), FacebookInstagram, and Tumblr, using #NOSB17 and #NOSBturns20.

Umauma Bridge to Reopen to Two-Way Traffic Monday – Continued Alternating Lane Closures

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) alerts the public it will be reopening the Umauma Bridge on Mamalahoa Highway (Route 19) in the vicinity of Hakalau on Monday, April 24, 2017. One lane of traffic will be contraflowed over the bridge beginning at 9 a.m., weather permitting, and the bridge will be open to two-way traffic at 3 p.m. There will continue to be alternating lane closures at the bridge on Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Dayton Kalai YouTube clip screenshot

The Umauma Bridge, which was built in 1911, underwent a full rehabilitation. The $31 million improvement project involved the reinforcement of the bridge’s deteriorating steel structure by building concrete towers within the existing steel towers. Other improvements included widening and replacement of the bridge deck, an asphalt concrete pavement overlay with 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders, and new concrete railings that comply with current federal pedestrian and bike safety regulations.

HDOT thanks the public for their patience and support during this project. Lane closure updates are posted weekly to our website at http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/roadwork/hawaii/.

On Earth Day, Hawaiian Electric Companies Note Progress in Reducing Emissions, Use of Fossil Fuel

To mark Earth Day 2017, the Hawaiian Electric Companies today noted their progress in replacing fossil fuels with renewable resources for power generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading efforts to switch to zero-emission electric vehicles.

Many of the companies’ ambitious clean energy goals are described in the Power Supply Improvement Plan submitted to the Public Utilities Commission in December 2016. The plan calls for reducing operations that use fossil fuels, doubling private rooftop solar systems and aggressively seeking grid-scale renewable resources, among other goals.

Here are some highlights of the companies’ progress toward a clean energy future:

Renewable energy

The Hawaiian Electric Companies reached a milestone in 2016, with 26 percent of the electricity used by customers coming from renewable resources – up from 23 percent the year before.

Hawaii Island customers’ use of renewable electricity passed the halfway mark for the first time, with 54 percent of electricity coming from renewables, up from 49 percent in 2015. Maui County also reached a new high of 37 percent, up from 35 percent. On Oahu, 19 percent of electricity used by customers was from renewable resources, up from 17 percent the year before. The Power Supply Improvement Plan forecasts exceeding the state’s renewable energy milestones of 30 percent in 2020, 40 percent in 2030, 70 percent in 2040 and 100 percent by 2045.

The companies’ forecasts for future milestones include:

  • 48 percent by the end of 2020;
  • 72 percent by the end of 2030;
  • 100 percent by the end of 2040, five years ahead of the 2045 deadline

Oil consumption down 21%

Renewable goals exist to increase self-sufficiency by relying on local resources like sun, wind, geothermal, local crops and waste. The companies’ ultimate goals are to reduce dependence on imported oil and climate-altering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially carbon dioxide.

  • From 2008 to 2016, Hawaiian Electric’s use of oil in generators on Oahu fell to 6 million barrels from 7.8 million barrels. For all three Hawaiian Electric Companies, oil use fell to 8.5 million barrels from 10.7 million barrels, a 21 percent decrease.
  • The Hawaiian Electric Companies’ goal is to reduce GHG emissions to the 2010 level by 2020.  In fact, it’s anticipated the companies will do better, reducing the 2020 level to 16 percent below the 2010 level. That would cut emissions by 865,000 tons per year. That is equivalent to any one of the following:
    • 1.8 million barrels of fuel per year
    • Emissions from 166,000 passenger car in a year
    • 1.9 million miles driven by passenger cars
    • Energy consumed per year by 116,000 homes

Electric vehicle use accelerates

The number of registered plug-in electric vehicles (EV) has broken the 5,000 mark, a promising milestone that makes Hawaii second in the nation after California in EVs per capita. Hawaiian Electric has helped form Drive Electric Hawaii to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles through coordinated efforts and make it easier to expand vehicle-charging infrastructure in a way that brings more renewable energy onto the electric grid.

Drive Electric Hawaii partners include the Blue Planet Foundation; Hawaii State Department of Transportation (HDOT); Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Hawaii State Division of Consumer Advocacy; the Hawaiian Electric Companies (including Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light); Kauai Island Utility Cooperative; Ulupono Initiative; and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Hawaiian Electric Companies’ specific role is installing fast chargers to reduce drivers’ “range anxiety.”

A dozen fast chargers are available at shopping centers, visitor attractions and on utility property across the five islands the companies serve. More are coming. Transactions at our companies’ fast chargers shot up in March as EVs on the road increased and drivers became more aware of the growing number of fast chargers.

For more about environmental progress, visit: http://www.hawaiianelectric.com/about-us/our-commitment.

Commentary – Mayor’s Administration Has Taken Action Against Me

Mayor Harry Kim ran on a platform of transparency, and restoring trust in county government. Nonetheless,  his administration has taken action against me, which goes against those campaign promises.

The problems started on February 6th, 2017 when the Department of Public Works director Frank DeMarco sent me an official e-mail stating that I cannot communicate with anyone in the Department of Public Works going forward. Mr. DeMarco also states all further inquiries from me have to be sent to the mayor’s office through postal mail. This e-mail was disseminated to all DPW managerial staff, and to the mayor’s secretary.I was able to get  that  part rescinded, so I could go through DPW’s public information officer for any future inquiries. This somewhat addressed the issue at hand, but not completely. This directive made it impossible to provide feedback about future county highway projects.

In addition,  I still couldn’t communicate with front line engineers,  or division heads. I’ve established relationships with these individuals that  have lasted ten or more years in some cases. These individuals have always appreciated my efforts to report traffic signal and pothole issues, along with my assistance with getting various highway projects completed.

DPW Director DeMarco has painted a different picture of my efforts, which he stated in recent testimony to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on April 11th. He stated that I was making too many inquiries with DPW staff, which was causing issues for DPW and other county departments.

This statement doesn’t make any sense whatsoever based upon the positive feedback I’ve received from public works  staff over the years. This is why I believe  this directive is smokescreen for the real reason why I’ve been treated this way. Mayor Kim simply doesn’t welcome, or want, feedback from from community.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hawaiian Airlines’ Airport Operations Lowering Fuel Use, Carbon Emissions

Carrier decreasing its reliance on jet fuel to power aircraft at the gate

Hawaiian Airlines this month achieved a key milestone in its ongoing effort to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions when it powered all wide-body aircraft arriving at airports in a single day with electrical power at the gate. The carrier’s initiative to connect parked aircraft to more efficient external electricity is significantly reducing pilots’ use of the onboard auxiliary power unit, or APU, which burns jet fuel to keep lights, avionics systems, air conditioning and other equipment on.

The work has the potential to reduce Hawaiian’s APU usage by an estimated 30 minutes per flight, saving some 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and cutting CO2 emissions by 5,933 metric tons. That’s roughly enough fuel to fly the airline’s wide-body fleet for a day, while the carbon reductions equate to removing 1,253 cars off the streets each year.

Hawaiian Airlines ground crews connect external power to a wide-body aircraft at Honolulu International Airport.

In the past year, Hawaiian made headway toward an ambitious goal of having gate power available to its entire wide-body fleet within three minutes of arrival as aircraft fly between Hawaii, 11 U.S. gateway cities and 10 international destinations. Line service and ground crews have met the target on 92 percent of flights on average. But on April 12, in what is internally being celebrated as “100 Percent Day,” employees reached a milestone when 47 wide-body flights received external power as aircraft arrived at airports from Auckland to New York.

“It’s very much like a carefully choreographed dance requiring great timing and the tight coordination of everyone involved in bringing our airplanes to the gate once they’ve landed,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our teams must ensure the availability of working external power at the gate, monitor minute-by-minute the estimated arrival time of the aircraft, and ensure all personnel are in place and ready to receive the aircraft.”

Hawaiian already provides external gate power to its narrow-body fleet that average 170 daily flights between the Hawaiian Islands. The airline also owns portable power units that can be deployed in the event jetbridge electricity is unavailable or malfunctioning.

Hawaiian’s success in reducing APU usage aligns with the carrier’s ongoing commitment to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

Hawaiian, which operates one of the youngest fleet in the U.S. industry, is investing in fuel efficient aircraft by adding 18 new A321neos starting later this year. Last year, the airline conducted two demonstration flights to Honolulu from Brisbane and Auckland using a series of gate-to-gate environmental best practices outlined by the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE.

Most recently, Hawaiian became the first U.S. carrier to join an international scientific monitoring project that enlists commercial airlines to research climate change and air quality worldwide. Hawaiian partnered with the In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) venture by equipping one Airbus A330-200 aircraft with an atmospheric monitoring tool that will collect valuable data throughout the airline’s far-reaching network covering the Pacific, Asia and North America.

Big Island Students Qualify for National Speech and Debate Tournament

Parker School qualified five students for the National Speech and Debate Tournament during the three-day Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament held at Kamehameha and Punahou Schools on O’ahu April 6-8, 2017.  This sets a new school record for the number of students to qualify for nationals during a single season.

Five Parker School students qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama during the recent Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament April 6-8, 2017.

Parker junior Kirk Hubbard, IV and senior Susie Krall placed first in Varsity Policy Debate, followed by Parker sophomores Zoe Vann and Anna Gaglione earning second place. By placing first and second, both Parker debate teams instantly qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Alabama in June and are the only two teams to represent Hawai’i at the national level. Parker freshman Hunter Kalahiki-Arnbrister also qualified for the national tournament after placing second in Program Oral Interpretation.

Other highlights include freshman Jordan Vedelli and junior Zach Mader taking first place in Junior Varsity Policy Debate, with freshmen Tyler Thomas and Hiroki Soler placing second.  In addition, senior Alex Coley placed fourth in Championship Lincoln Douglas, sophomore Colin Klimt fourth in Student Congress, sophomore Malia Dills fourth in International Extemporaneous Speaking and junior Kirk Hubbard IV placed fifth in Impromptu Speaking. In the program’s eleventh year, the debate team sent 45 students to compete in the state tournament.

Hawai’i Island schools had a strong presence at this year’s Hawai’i Speech and Debate State Tournament having won half of the six major debate categories. Parker earned top honors in both the Varsity Policy Debate and Junior Varsity Policy Debate, while Hilo High School’s newly founded debate team won Beginning Public Forum.

“Coach Roland Laliberte and the Hilo High School debaters did an amazing job in their first year at states,” says Carl Sturges, Parker School headmaster and debate coach. “Having had regular inter-squad matches with Hilo’s debate team this season, our entire team was excited for their success.”

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.

Navy Attending Merrie Monarch Festival, Will Join in Royal Parade

The U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will march and perform in the 54th annual Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on April 22. Capt. James Jenks, Chief of Staff, Navy Region Hawaii, will also attend the festivities.

HILO, Hawaii (April 26, 2014) Under the direction of Lt. Patrick K. Sweeten, the Pacific Fleet Band marches in the 51st annual Merrie Monarch Festival Parade. The parade is the culmination of a week-long festival featuring an internationally acclaimed hula competition and a grand parade through the heart of Hilo. (U.S. Navy photo by Musician 2nd Class Andrea Sematoske/Released)

Capt. Jenks will attend the Hula Kahiko competition on Friday, April 21. He will also attend the Group Hula ʻAuana & Awards and participate with the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on Saturday, April 22 at 10:30 a.m. along downtown Hilo.

The Navy recognizes that the Merrie Monarch Festival honors the legacy left by King David Kalākaua, who inspired the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, native language and arts. King Kalākaua negotiated a treaty with the United States that led to the Navy’s presence at Pearl Harbor.

“We appreciate King David Kalākaua’s commitment and legacy,” Jenks said. “King Kalākaua supported the Navy and provided the opportunity to establish a coaling station at Pearl Harbor more than a century ago. He was a big supporter of education, which is something we all value today; especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”

Members of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band have been on Hawaii Island this week, working with local school bands, reinforcing STEM education and providing community outreach.

Commentary – How Lawmakers Can Deal With “Annoying” Citizens

Dear Damon,

This was the year when we learned how “annoying” the public can be to government agencies, what with their constant demands for transparency, sunshine, and access to government records.

In fact, some state agencies were so annoyed that they sought help from the legislature, which responded with a bill to limit the rights of “vexatious records requesters.” That bill (HB1518) is still alive, but fortunately the latest version requires a decision from a court before stripping government watchdogs of their rights.

The funny thing is that if anyone is entitled to feel “vexed” by the state’s transparency laws (and process), it’s the public. According to Civil Beat, state and city officials have regularly tried to hide records or withhold them by charging ridiculously high fees to the person requesting them.

The Grassroot Institute frequently requests public documents, and our researchers could share a few stories about the tactics agencies use to delay or avoid a response. When we worked with Judicial Watch to gain a copy of the Native Hawaiian Roll — a public voter list — we even had to go to court to get the records released.

Ironically, there’s a shockingly simple solution that would make everyone happy: just be more transparent.

It’s perfect. Requesters would get the documents they want and state workers could be spared the stress of coming up with reasons to avoid handing them over. In fact, if agencies were more open in their operations, some of those requests wouldn’t even be necessary.

There’s even a proposal already in place at the legislature. HB165 (now headed to a Conference Committee) would modernize the existing Sunshine Law by requiring electronic posting of public agency meeting notices and minutes and making board packets available for public inspection.

It’s an important step forward for transparency in Hawaii and a common sense way to reduce the work associated with records requests. After all, there’s no need to make a request when something’s already online.

Of course, several state agencies oppose HB165 and have testified about why they would find it difficult to comply with the bill. It’s almost as if they prefer being “vexed.”

Still, we hope that the legislature will embrace greater openness in government and take advantage of the internet to make more records publicly available. They could even think of it as a public health service. Because all that stress and vexation can’t be good for our state workers.

E hana kakou (Let’s work together!),

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D. – President/CEO Grassroot Institute

More Than 1,000 Maui Residents Pour Into Castle Theater For Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Last Stop On Statewide Town Hall Tour

At the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater last night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted her seventh Town Hall to an audience of more than 1,000 Maui residents, making it the largest of the crowds to gather for a stop on the congresswoman’s statewide tour between April 11-20. In total, more than 3,500 constituents from Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island participated in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Aloha Town Hall Tour” with many of the meetings having more than 30,000 viewers via Facebook Live.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “As we wrap up this Aloha Town Hall Tour that has brought together so many of us from communities across the entire state, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to come out, to listen, to share, and to ask questions—your kindness, your activism, and your aloha is what made these meetings so powerful and productive. Each of us has an opportunity to act with love and aloha, to respect others, and to work together despite any differences we have as we do our best to be of service to others.”

Issues of concern that came up on the Valley Isle tonight included online privacy rights and the congresswoman’s fight to stop Internet Service Providers from selling individuals’ internet browsing history without consent, Maui’s water infrastructure, overcrowding at the island’s prison, the need for more programs that assist inmates and reduce recidivism, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and access to truly affordable healthcare—not just health insurance. The audience expressed support for her Stop Arming Terrorists Act, her continued push to end the illegal regime change war in Syria, and her fight for peace.

Earlier today on Maui, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard participated in the Future Forum with her House colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell (D, CA-15) to address common issues facing millennials, the challenges of entering the work force, and solutions to exponentially increasing student debt. The congresswoman also visited the Maui Food Innovation Center, where she met with young entrepreneurs and UH Maui College students to discuss sustainable business practices and food security on the Valley Isle.

For more information, please contact Erika Tsuji at (808) 286-0803.

Hawaii Attorney General Responds to Attorney General Session’s Comment

Attorney General Doug Chin issued the following statement today in response to the statement from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he is “amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”

“President Trump previously called a federal judge in California a so-called judge. Now U.S. Attorney General Sessions appears to dismiss a federal judge in Hawaii as just a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific. Our Constitution created a separation of powers in the United States for a reason. Our federal courts, established under article III of the Constitution, are co-equal partners with Congress and the President. It is disappointing AG Sessions does not acknowledge that.”

Hawaii Tourism Authority Statement: Rat Lungworm Disease is Very Rare and Easily Preventable in Hawaii

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement to reassure Hawaii’s tourism industry and visitors planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands that rat lungworm disease is very rare and easily preventable.

“Some national media attention has been devoted recently to rat lungworm disease in Hawaii, raising concerns among visitors and groups planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands. It is important that people not overreact and gather reliable information before making any assumptions.

“On the recommendation of the Hawaii State Department of Health, residents and visitors of Hawaii can be assured there is nothing to fear about getting infected as long as they use smart common sense when washing, preparing and storing food.

“The key facts that everyone needs to remember about rat lungworm disease is that it is very rare, it is very uncommon for people to get infected, and the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating.

“To the visitors already in the Hawaiian Islands or planning a trip here in the coming months, there is no need to be overly concerned. Please patronize our restaurants and enjoy the delicious island cuisine and fresh produce that helps to make Hawaii such a beloved travel experience.

“I would strongly recommend anyone wanting trusted information about rat lungworm disease to visit the Department of Health website (health.hawaii.gov) and learn the facts.

“Hawaii, which has 1.4 million residents and welcomed more than 8.9 million visitors in 2016, typically has between one to 11 cases of rat lungworm disease reported annually, according to the Department of Health.

“Thus far in 2017, 11 people have been infected with the disease, nine residents and two visitors. While the cause of two cases is still being investigated, the Department of Health reports that the remaining nine cases could have been prevented with better hygiene and by properly washing, preparing and storing food.

“We hope knowing this information helps allay concerns about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, which continues to be the cleanest, healthiest, safest and most welcoming destination in the world.”