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Hawaiian Electric Companies Work to Restore Power – Lanai Still Without

In the aftermath of powerful windstorms that swept through the state on Saturday, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light crews continue their work today to restore service to thousands of customers who remain without power.

Photos via Francine Grace

Winds remain gusty across the islands today and more outages are likely.

According to preliminary assessments, damage to electrical equipment from the windstorms was some of the most widespread in years, affecting customers on each of the five islands served by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light.

Presently, all 1,700 customers on Lanai are without power and are being asked to plan for an extended outage as crews work to safely restore power.

On Oahu, there were more than 100 separate outages in the past 24 hours, affecting about 100,000 customers. All but about 1,900 in Palolo had been restored by this morning and there are still dozens of localized outages across the island, including in Makaha, Waianae, Wahiawa, Manoa and Kalihi.

After high winds snapped or damaged 19 utility poles on Lanai yesterday, Maui Electric crews are continuing restoration efforts today. The estimated time of restoration for Lanai City is by 11 p.m. tonight, with the Manele area to follow by Monday evening.

On Maui, crews are working to restore about 560 customers in pockets of Upcountry Maui and Paia.

On Molokai, Hawaii Electric Light crews will arrive later today to assist Maui Electric with the restoration of power to a radio tower. Currently no other customers are out.

Hawaii island experienced scattered outages caused by branches in lines, affecting about 7,500 customers over the past 24 hours. The largest outage was in the Waimea-Kawaihae area affecting about 2,700 customers Saturday night. All customers on the island have been restored.

Customers are reminded to stay away from downed power lines since they could be energized and are extremely dangerous.

When lines from a utility pole fall to the ground, touch a guardrail or land on a car, please remember:

  • Do not touch these lines. Stay away from downed power lines – at least 30 feet or more.
  • Report downed lines immediately by calling Hawaiian Electric’s Trouble Line; the number is 1-855-304-1212, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help.
    • Don’t try to rescue the individual because electrical current can travel through them to you and you risk becoming a victim yourself.
    • Warn others to stay away.
  • Always assume downed power lines are energized and dangerous.
  • A downed line touching a fence or guard rail can energize it for several thousand yards and pose a hazard to anyone coming into contact with these structures. Don’t run away; instead, keep your legs together and shuffle away with both feet on the ground to a safe distance (30 feet or more).
  • If a power line falls on your car while you are inside, follow these instructions:
    • Remain where you are, if possible, and call and wait for help.
    • If you must get out of the car because of a fire or other hazard, jump free of the car, hopping with both feet together so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground.
    • Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 30 feet away, with both feet on the ground.
  • Never step down or simultaneously touch the ground and equipment that is in contact with the power line, as this will increase the risk of electrical shock.

Hawaii State Environmental Council Releases Annual Report on Hawaii’s Sustainability

The State Environmental Council has released its annual report for 2015-2016 on Hawaiʻi’s environment. The report identifies environmental priorities for the State and makes important recommendations on measuring sustainability.

Click to view report

The Environmental Council is tasked with submitting to the governor and legislature a report on the state of the environment. This year’s report, which covers 2015 and 2016, discusses the status of Hawaiʻi’s progress towards a more sustainable future. The report uses the State Environmental Policy (Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 344) to look at the common elements of Gov. David Ige’s Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative, the Aloha+ Challenge, and the Mālama Honua Promise to PaeʻĀina. These initiatives are then placed in a global context through a review of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the World Conservation Congress “Hawaiʻi Commitments.” The Environmental Council identifies the common elements of these sustainability approaches as: Ocean, ʻŌhiʻa, and ʻOhana.

“We are delighted to receive this report on the State’s environmental progress,” said OEQC Director Scott Glenn. “We greatly appreciate Environmental Council members working on this. They are all volunteers active in their careers and communities. This report helps make sense of the great sustainability efforts underway in Hawaiʻi and how they connect with worldwide sustainability.”

The report also continues the Environmental Council’s focus on the Genuine Progress Indicator for Hawaiʻi. The work of Dr. Regina Ostergaard-Klem of Hawaiʻi Pacific University and Dr. Kirsten L.L. Oleson of the University of Hawaiʻi is highlighted as a means of measuring our sustainability. The Genuine Progress Indicator complements Gross Domestic Product in monitoring our wellbeing in terms of economy, environment, and society. Moreover, there is an opportunity to integrate the Genuine Progress Indicator with the performance indicators in the Aloha+ Challenge to synthesize the various goals into a comprehensive metric that can be compared to Gross Domestic Product.

“The development of quantitative metrics, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Aloha+ Challenge Dashboard, for measuring the State’s environmental performance, will help guide public policy throughout the State of Hawaii,” said Chair Joseph Shacat. “When fully implemented, these tools will provide additional context for the wise use of limited taxpayer dollars.”

The Environmental Council has several critical functions that affect the environment and development across Hawaiʻi. The Council is a liaison between the Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) and the general public. The OEQC’s Director Scott Glenn regularly advises Gov. Ige on environmental matters. The Council also monitors the progress of the state in meeting its environmental goals through the publication of its annual report on the state of Hawaiʻi’s environment. It creates the administrative rules for Hawaiʻi’s environmental impact statement (EIS) process and vets state and county agency lists for actions that can be considered exempt from having to prepare EISs or environmental assessments (EAs).

The full report is available at: http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/.

Additional information about the Environmental Council is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/oeqc/environmental-council/. The Council normally holds its meetings on the second Tuesday of every month.

Hawaiian Electric Companies to Offer Discounted Medical Needs Rate

The Hawaiian Electric Companies will offer a special medical needs discount rate for customers of all three companies. This pilot is subject to Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approval to go into effect on April 1, 2017 for two years.

Up to 2,000 customers dependent on life support equipment or increased heating and cooling needs due to a medical condition verified by a physician may save up to $20 a month on the first 500 kWh of energy use. Use above 500 kWh will be charged at regular residential rates.

“Everyone depends on electricity, but for some with special medical needs it can be a life or death matter,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “We believe most people will agree that providing a little financial relief for some of our neighbors is the right thing to do.”

Applications will be made available online, subject to commission approval, and will require a licensed physician’s signature. To qualify, a customer or a full-time resident in the customer’s home must be:

  • Dependent on life-support devices used in the home to sustain life or relied upon for mobility as determined by a licensed physician, including but not limited to: aerosol tents; apnea monitors; hemodialysis machines; compressors; electric nerve stimulators; pressure pumps; electrostatic nebulizers; and intermittent positive pressure breathing machines.
  • A paraplegic, hemiplegic, quadriplegic, multiple sclerosis or scleroderma patient with special heating and/or cooling needs.

Based on the number of applicants, the Hawaiian Electric Companies will determine whether to continue the rate after two years.

Residential customers with anyone in the home dependent on life support or emergency equipment are encouraged to inform their island utility of that fact by calling customer service today so they can be notified about future planned maintenance outages. However, because unplanned outages can occur, it is essential that customers with life support or emergency equipment needs make alternate plans should the power go out.

Hawaii State Senate 29th Biennium Legislative Session Convenes

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate convened the 29th Biennium Legislative Session reaffirming their commitment to work collaboratively in addressing the state’s most pressing problems and ready the state to be sustainable and prepared for the future.

A photo from Senator Kahele’s Facebook page.

Today’s opening session commenced with an oli by kumu hula Leina‘ala Pavao and included an invocation by Kahu Curt Kekuna, Pastor of Kawaiahao Church. The National Anthem was performed by Ms. Nalani Brun and Hawai‘i Pono‘i by Mr. Nick Castillo.  The Kahaluu Ukulele Band and Na Hoku Hanohano nominee Shar Carillo and Kaua‘i artists Loke Sasil and Shay Marcello also provided entertainment during today’s program.

Among the honored guests in the Senate Chamber were government officials from the Fukuoka Prefecture, Consul General Yasushi Misawa of Japan, Commander Ulysses Mullins, United States Coast Guard, Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, Governor David Ige, Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui, and former Governors George Ariyoshi, John Waihe‘e, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie, and mayors from the neighbor islands.

In his remarks, Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi pressed his Senate colleagues to work towards building our economy and creating educational opportunities for the younger generation in Hawai‘i.

Senator Kouchi recognized Chenoa Farnsworth, managing partner of Blue Startups, a Honolulu-based startup support program, for her efforts in supporting entrepreneurship and creating jobs to build the economy in Hawai‘i.  Farnsworth also manages the Hawai‘i Angels investment network, which has invested over $40 million in startup companies. She also co-founded Kolohala Ventures, a Hawai‘i-based venture capital firm that invested $50 million into Hawai‘i-based technology start-ups.

In highlighting the successes of Hawaii’s education system, Senator Kouchi mentioned Waimea High School principal and Masayuki Tokioka Award winner, Mahina Anguay. The Senate President said Anguay represents the best of Hawai‘i’s school administrators and under her leadership, a record number of students at Waimea High School are now the first in their family to attend college.

Senate President Kouchi also introduced Sarah Kern, who is currently a teacher at Wai‘anae High School. Kern was Valedictorian at Kaiser High School and graduated with a degree in Biology from Tufts University where she made the Dean’s List throughout her four years. The Senate President said Kern was a shining example of Hawai‘i’s young people who come home to pursue noble, but not necessarily high-paying careers, such as teaching.

“We need to create the economy to support all of our citizens,” said Senator Kouchi. “We need to support principals like Mahina and just as importantly we need to support teachers like Sarah who are on the frontline, so that we can create the educational opportunities for our young people.”

Senator Kouchi went on to say, “the only equalization that we can offer our children is a quality education to ensure that they get the tools and the skills to compete in the global market that they are going to enter.”

The Senate President introduced Mr. Kevin Johnson, the former Mayor of Sacramento and professional basketball player, whom he lauded for his work in establishing award-winning after school programs, reading programs and programs for the homeless.

Senate President Kouchi said he has been meeting with Johnson and hopes to work with him to address many of the concerns in Hawai‘i that mirror those of the Mayor’s hometown. “Our problems are not unique to the rest of the world. Where we have others who have found success why not find those who can help us solve our problems,” said Senator Kouchi.

The Senate President also referenced the Senate Majority Legislative Program which outlines the main themes for the State Senate.

“The Senate Majority Legislative Program serves as a guide as to where we will focus our work over the next sixty days and continue to build upon the work from the previous session,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English.

The public can access more information on hearings and session activities on the Hawai‘i State Legislature’s website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov

Hawaii House of Representatives Opening Day Remarks

In his opening day remarks, Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki called on members of the House of Representatives to extend the general excise tax to finance rail, to find viable alternatives to prison incarceration and to provide human compassion to those who are mentally ill and terminally sick.

“We have a lot on our plate for this session. And the last revenue forecast by the Council on Revenues does not make our job any easier,” Souki told legislators. “But we’ve been there before, as lawmakers and as a community. And we will together find solutions to our most pressing issues.”

In his speech, Souki also supported making needed changes to our public education system and completing the privatization of Maui’s public hospitals.

He called on legislators “to look for solutions like rail to relieve traffic on our roads. It does come with a high cost, but make no mistake, rail is the key to the future of Oahu.”

Souki wants to remove the sunset date on the original general excise tax financing bill, but only if we reduce the tax rate with the city making up the difference. He also wants to reduce administrative costs from 10 to 5 percent.

He proposed a feasibility study to see if elevated toll roads would make sense for Honolulu.

“We must employ a multi-faceted approach, utilizing our buses, flex scheduling and technology that allows distance learning, tele medicine and alternative workplaces to reduce commuter travel,” he said.

With our prisons severely overcrowded and an estimated 10 years needed to build a new one, Souki suggests using electronic bracelets to confine those guilty of misdemeanor, white collar or non-violent crimes to their homes.

“With new technology, we can employ varying degrees of restrictions based on the crime committed, and monitor movements of those under supervision,” he said. “What I’m talking about is creating a whole new level of Non-Institutionalized Incarceration.”

Souki said human compassion is important to everyone in Hawaii and we can see our family members who are near death that need our support.

“Those who are suffering from a terminal illness and are of sound mind should be given the opportunity to decide how they will end their own lives,” Souki said.

He will submit a bill to allow medical aid in dying this session.

The House will continue to provide food and rental tax credits for low income families that are about to expire, Souki said.

“There is nothing more important to human dignity than food on the table and a roof over your head,” Souki said.

House Majority Leader Scott Saiki welcomed the five new members to the House and asked the returning representatives to draw from their aspirations to be constructive and find solutions to our most pressing challenges.

“The need for Hawaii to be functional has never been more critical. In just two days, the United States will undergo profound change,” Saiki said. “We need to be ready and we need to overcome differences so that we can make Hawaii more effective and viable.”

Saiki asked the representatives to heed the words of President Obama to not demonize each other but listen, fight for our principles and find common ground.

(LINKS TO FULL SPEECHES, SOUKI, SAIKI)

Commentary – Former Councilman Airlifted to Oahu, Cardiac Care Unit Wanted at Kona Hospital

Former Council member Dominic Yagong is the latest high profile community member to be airlifted for heart or stroke problems to Maui Memorial or Queen’s on Oahu. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists.

Yagong posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Medivac to Queens hospital tomorrow morning. Spending the night in Waimea ER after experiencing severe chest pains at Basketball game in Honokaa. Sorry girls for missing announcing your game. I’ll be fine,,,,got my lucky Green Bay cap with me! Thanks Kahea for calling EMT. No worries…thumbs up!”

THE PROBLEM: There is a 2- hour window when patients need to be treated in order to expect a full recovery. Think about where you live on the Big Island. From my home it would take 45 minutes to get to Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, then the time to be diagnosed and then get the helicopter and then the 45 minute + time to Oahu, getting checked in and a cardiologist hopefully is at the hospital and you need to be seen, an Operating Room hopefully is available. Get the picture? Other important island residents to be airlifted are Mayor Kim, Council Chair Pete Hoffmann and OHA Representative Bob Lindsey.

I talked to an architect who specializes in building hospitals and a medical planner at NBBJ Architects. There is currently no facility or any cardiologists to staff a dedicated cardiac care unit for West Hawaii. We agreed that Kona Community Hospital (KCH) was the best location for a Cardiac Care unit. Kona Community Hospital has one cardiologist, Dr. Michael Dang who travels from Honolulu. Dr. Larry Derbes is an interventional cardiologist in private practice in Kona, who agrees that a Catheterization Lab to do stents and ablations and to treat strokes, would save lives and result in better outcomes and quality of life for cardiac patients. He is eager to help. I talked to Jay Kreuzer, is the CEO of KCH, and has also been a cardiac patient. He pointed out that staffing the Catheterization Lab is the biggest challenge because we lose doctors, because the Medicare reimbursement rate of only 93% of the actual cost is compounded by Hawaii Medical Services Association (Hawaii’s biggest healthcare insurer), which compensates at only 110% of the Medicare Reimbursement. He told me that there is an airlift almost every day from KCH to either Queens in Honolulu or Maui Memorial and they are usually for heart or stroke patients.
I also met with Dr. Frank Sayre, Chair of the Board for the West Hawaii Regional Hospital Board of Directors, which oversees Kona Community Hospital and the North Kohala Community Hospital. He agreed with Jay Kreuzer. He told me that he had discussed setting up a “funded chair” for specialists (similar to academic chairs) as a stipend to keep doctors on the island.
SOLUTIONS:
1. A HYBRID CATHETERIZATION LAB/ OPERATING ROOM FOR KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL was recommended by architect and planner. The recent flooding of the Operating Room at KCH presents an opportunity to remodel the Operating Room and accommodate Cath Lab equipment.
2. STAFFING: An annuity with the Hawaii Community Foundation or the Kona Community Hospital Foundation to generate a yearly stipend for two cardiologists to establish a “chair position.
Please get in touch with your State Representatives and State Senators to include these items as allocation in their Budget Legislation for the coming year.
There has been some discussion about building a new hospital sometime, but even if that were started tomorrow, it would still take about 6 years to be built, with land acquisition, EIS, plans, hiring a contractor and building. We need a Cardiac Care unit NOW to save our friends and family and allow heart attack and stroke patients to recover fully and at home on our island. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists. Healthy people are happy people.

For more information go to this site: https://debbiehecht.com/2016/06/21/a-cardiac-care-unit-for-the-big-island-of-hawaii/

Debbie Hecht
Kailua-Kona

Python Snake Turned in on Oahu

An illegal snake was turned in over the weekend under the State’s Amnesty Program. The snake was turned in on the evening of Friday, Jan. 13th to the Hawaiian Humane Society on Oahu. Inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) picked up the snake the next morning and it is being safeguarded at the Plant Quarantine Branch. It has been identified as a ball python and measures about four-and-a-half feet long and weighs about four-and-a-half lbs.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. They have no natural predators here and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds. Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Ball pythons are non-venomous and are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa and are related to boas, which are also constrictors that subdue its prey by coiling around and suffocating it.  Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds.  Ball pythons may grow up to six-feet long.

Under the amnesty program, illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA office, Honolulu Zoo, Panaewa Zoo on Hawaii Island or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed. Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).  The maximum penalty under State law for possession and/or transporting illegal animals is a class C felony, $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison.

Hawaii Child Advocates Announce Legislative Priorities

Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN) released their annual “Children’s Policy Agenda” today.  HCAN was created to help nonprofits, businesses, government, and citizens advocate for policies aimed at improving kids’ lives.

According to the group’s executive director Deborah Zysman, the event is all about collaboration.  “A diverse group of policy experts, non-profits advocates and coalitions have come together to prioritize the next steps we can take to make Hawaii the best place for children. Together, we share a common goal to improve the health, economic security, and education of our children,” said Zysman.

Over fifty organizations participated in the creation of this year’s Agenda.  Issues are categorized by economic security and equality, strengthening families, child safety, health and wellness, and education. All contain policy ideas that will be led by various groups.

Senator Karl Rhoads (D-13) and Rep. Matt Lopresti (D-41), new co-chairmen of the Keiki Caucus, supported HCAN for the launch.  The Keiki Caucus previously was chaired by former Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland until she retired last fall.

“We realize that of course kids are indeed our future,” said Rhoads.  “It’s an honor to chair this Caucus and to help carry the torch of doing what we need to do to make Hawaii a great place for children to grow up,” he said.

According to Lopresti, the future looks bright for the cooperation between citizen groups and lawmakers.  “We rely on citizen groups and issue experts in the same way that advocates rely on lawmakers to keep making progress,” said Lopresti.  “The Children’s Policy Agenda is a great way for us to open up the channels of dialogue and share expectations,” he said.

More information about the Children’s Policy Agenda can be found at www.hawaii-can.org

Annual Stop Flu at School Vaccination Clinics Start Today

The Hawaii State Department of Health’s (DOH) annual Stop Flu at School program begins today, and will continue in more than 240 public, private, and charter schools statewide through Feb. 28, 2017. This marks the 10th year for the voluntary program, which administers free flu vaccinations to Hawaii students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled at participating schools.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older. Each year, flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths in the United States, and the most recent CDC report showed flu activity beginning to increase in the United States. Influenza A viruses, often associated with more severe illness, especially in young children and people 65 and older, have been the most common circulating strains so far this season.

“Through the Stop Flu at School program, we hope to vaccinate many of our school-age children,” said Dr. Sarah Park, State Epidemiologist. “Since flu can cause severe illness in people of all ages, we encourage everyone to talk to their doctor to learn more and get vaccinated. Vaccination is our best defense against the flu.”

For more information about the Stop Flu at School program, go to http://flu.hawaii.gov/sfas.html or call the Aloha United Way’s information and referral line at 2-1-1.  To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your neighborhood, use the DOH Vaccine Finder at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/where-to-get-your-adult-and-flu-vaccinations/.

The Stop Flu at School program is an innovative partnership between DOH, Department of Education, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and Hawaii Catholic Schools. The program is endorsed by the Hawaii Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, and is made possible through funding from DOH, CDC and Hawaii Association of Health Plans.

DLNR & YOU TV Special Chronicles Hawaii’s Endangered Forest Birds

The latest DLNR & You television special, The Endangered Forest Birds of Hawai‘i, documents the efforts of dozens of organizations and hundreds of people across the state to halt the extinction of critically endangered forest birds.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We hope this show brings the serious plights of these native birds into our homes.  When you see a tiny ‘Akikiki (Kaua‘i honeycreeper) in the forest or hear the call of the native crow, the ‘Alalā, it reinforces why so many people are undertaking some pretty extraordinary steps to reverse the downward trend of numerous forest bird populations.  The birds have long been part of Hawai‘i’s natural landscape, and culturally they’ve been revered for centuries by Native Hawaiians.”

Photographed over the course of nearly two years, “The Endangered Forest Birds of Hawai‘i, transports you deep into the Alaka’i Plateau on Kaua‘i, where the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP) is working with numerous partners to try and save three endangered species of tiny birds on the brink of extinction (‘Akikiki, ‘Akeke’e, and Puaiohi). Dr. Lisa “Cali” Crampton, the KFBRP Project Leader commented, “The most recent estimate for the number of ‘Akikiki is 450 birds, give or take fifty.  The worst thing that could happen is for any of these forest birds to join the list of twenty-three endemic bird species that have gone extinct since 1778. All of our partners and everyone working to reverse these trends are excited to show viewers around Hawai‘i some pretty astonishing projects underway to save these amazing forest dwellers and their native homes.”

The show chronicles some of these remarkable projects and the people working in some really tough environments, toward the common goal of preventing further population reductions and ultimately extinction.  In one segment you can watch as a staffer from San Diego Zoo Global climbs a freely suspended ladder, 40-feet in the air, to collect marble-sized eggs from a treetop nest in an ʻōhiʻa tree. Another segment is dedicated to “The ‘Alalā Project,” which for several decades has worked tirelessly toward the reintroduction of captive-raised ‘Alalā, back into the Pu’u Makaʻala Natural Area Reserve on Hawai‘i Island. You’ll see, first-hand, the tremendous amount of work being done by a broad collaboration of federal, state and non-profit partners to be sure the birds continue to exist and thrive in their natural habitats.

The Endangered Forest Birds of Hawai‘i, airs on KFVE-TV (K5) on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 at 9:30 p.m.  It will be available on line for viewing after 7 p.m. on Jan. 21st at https://vimeo.com/199157463. This is the third DLNR & You television special to have been broadcast by K5.  In 2016, Renegades, Risks and Rewards of the Napali Coast, traced the work of the DLNR Division of State Parks and Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement to clean-up the fabled Napali Coast State Wilderness Park.  The second show, The Endangered Sea Birds of Kaua‘i, describes the plight of native seabirds, very much like the same issues facing forest birds.  Airtime for all three programs is provided by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.

Hawaii Department of Health Cites Safeway, Inc. for HI-5 Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a Notice of Violation and Order against SAFEWAY, INC. (Safeway) for failure to submit payments and reports required of beverage distributors by the state’s deposit beverage container law. Safeway was delinquent for the monthly reporting period of Aug. 1-31, 2016.

Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit monthly distributor reports and payments to DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the payment period. Safeway received multiple written notices reminding them of reporting requirements prior to being assessed a penalty.

DOH has assessed an administrative penalty against Safeway of $2,800 for its failure to comply with deposit beverage container requirements.

Safeway may request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty.

Hawaii Governor Calls for Reboot of School System

Gov. David Ige today promised to reshape the Department of Education to support dreams and aspirations of each student in remarks he made at the 3rd Annual Hawai‘i School Empowerment Conference at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

The conference was sponsored by the Education Institute of Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization committed to improving public education in Hawai‘i. The annual conference aims to increase awareness and deepening understanding of the effort to improve public education through school empowerment and innovation in learning.

Here is the full text of Gov. Ige’s prepared remarks:

A Clear Path to Achieving Excellence in Hawaiʻi’s Public Schools 

Coding. Robotics. Digital media. International education exchanges. None of these programs were offered when I attended public schools in Pearl City, and it’s impossible to predict what fascinating opportunities await students in coming years.

What I can tell you is this: The success of today’s students in the future workplace and in our communities requires an absolute reboot of the rigid school system built over a century ago. Our school system is simply not relevant to today’s students.

That’s why I asked the members of the Board of Education, those I appointed and those who began serving prior to my taking office, to develop and implement a plan to transition from yesterday’s system to one that truly prepares students to think creatively and to be innovators. I asked board members to design a system that encourages teachers and principals to make meaningful decisions about curriculum and instruction, educational programs, and expenditure of schools funds.

The Board responded to my challenge. They worked with the community to develop a new strategic plan for the department. They courageously determined that transformation requires a fresh mindset, starting at the top. And they initiated a search for a new superintendent. I fully support this decision. We need a change agent who is committed to exploring unconventional options in the quest to prepare our students for the future.

I want students, parents, teachers and other educators to be assured that my goal is to reshape the department so that it supports the dreams and aspirations of each student. I believe those closest to the students understand best how their students should be educated. That is the type of system we are working together to achieve.

The community supports this goal as evidenced by the tremendous participation in last summer’s Education Summit and dozens of follow-up meetings in communities throughout the state. I am proud of the work my volunteer team, parents, teachers, business leaders and community members have done to create a Blueprint for Hawaiʻi’s education system. I asked them to think big, and they did. I can tell you, there is no shortage of innovative thinking in Hawaiʻi.

My passion for education isn’t new, and the solutions I am promoting now aren’t a surprise to anyone who has been recently engaged in the dialogue on education. I campaigned on this issue and education remains my top priority.

We don’t know what the next technological wave will bring. But we do know that Hawaiʻi’s public education system must be set up so teachers are able to exercise their professional judgement and employ tools that enable student success.

Students who design robots in elementary school will build the communities of the future. Students who experience what it’s like to be innovators and entrepreneurs in high school will drive the state’s new economy. Students who travel with their class will collaborate with their peers around the world to solve global challenges. It is our responsibility to provide them with a robust learning experience so they can achieve rewarding and successful lives.

Veterans Treatment Court Celebrates 22 Successful Graduates

The Veterans Treatment Court of the First Circuit (Oahu) held its fourth graduation ceremony on January 13, 2017.  Friends and supporters gathered in the Supreme Court courtroom to congratulate the six U.S. veterans who graduated from the intensive two-year program.

First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court Presiding Judge Edward H. Kubo, Jr. (left) congratulates a veteran of the program’s January 2017 graduating class. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Matthew K.H. McCarville, an Associate Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management (right), served as the distinguished speaker for the First Circuit Veterans Treatment Court’s fourth graduation ceremony.

Twenty-two veterans have now successfully completed the First Circuit program since it was initiated by Judge Edward Kubo in 2013.  Over the past four years an increasing number of attorneys have heard about the Veterans Treatment Court and submitted applications for their clients to be referred to the program.  Hawaii now has Veterans Treatment Courts on both Oahu and Hawaii Island (Third Circuit).

Soldiers returning from war have demonstrably higher rates of co-occurring posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, pain, and substance use disorders (SUDs) than the general population.  Often, these issues are compounded by family strife, unemployment, and homelessness, ultimately leading to incarceration.

A 2016 study published by the Community Mental Health Journal found that veterans who participate in veterans treatment courts experience significant improvement in housing, relationships and social connection, overall functioning and well-being, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and mental and emotional health.

The Veterans Treatment Court takes a holistic approach to helping veterans by providing them with the resources and treatment they need to regain their health, obtain steady employment, and return to being law-abiding citizens so they may enjoy the freedoms they helped protect.

Each program participant has undergone extensive treatment and counseling, which includes frequent urinalysis, meetings with probation officers, and court appearances.  Many of the services rendered to these veterans were provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at no cost to the state of Hawaii.

Participants have also been assisted with finding housing and employment.  Their graduation celebrates their success in achieving a clean and sober lifestyle and a chance for a successful future with a job and other opportunities.

“I’d like to thank the staff from the U.S. Vets and Sand Island Treatment Center for their role in Veterans Treatment Court,” said Judge Edward Kubo.  “I’d like to also recognize the volunteer veteran mentors, who are an integral part of this program’s success.  These men and women understand the difficulties our program participants are facing, and walk alongside them throughout the process of recovery.  Veterans Treatment Court is a team effort, and that’s what changes lives.”

Democratic Party Rally to Save Health Care

The Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) will host a Rally to Save Health Care on Sunday, January 15th 2017 from 11am – 2pm at the Hawai‘i Legislature Rotunda.

DPH State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer, Sen. Brian Schatz, health experts Dr. Reni Soon and Dr. Steven Kimble, and other health care professionals and elected officials will speak to the dynamics — preserving and improving health coverage and how to be involved. There will be a sign waving on Beretania Street following the Rally.

At a time when the United States remains the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a right, the Republicans want to throw nearly 30 million people off of health insurance, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. What, if anything, they would replace it with has not been articulated.

Senator Schatz explained, “The ACA is covering more Americans and saving lives. It’s working. And while we can all agree that the ACA can and should be improved, leaving millions of Americans with no coverage, and no alternative, is just irresponsible. It’s time to stand together, organize, and fight every attempt to repeal the ACA.”

DPH Chair Tim Vandeveer said, “We gather not only to stand up for health care as a fundamental human right, but also to state unequivocally, that we will not compromise our values or go back on the rights we fought so hard to achieve.” Vandeveer stated that the event will also “Be a chance to thank President Obama for fighting to make heath care accessible and affordable to all Americans, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

The Rally will begin with a remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (upon his day of birth) and a reading of his quote: “Of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.”

The Democratic Party encourages attendees to bring their own signs for waving on Beretania Street after the Rally. Light snacks will be provided.

Court Interpreter Applicants Wanted

The state Judiciary is seeking individuals who speak English and another language to become court interpreters.Applications are now being accepted for the next state court interpreter orientation workshop to be held on each of the major islands in February and March. Completion of the two-day workshop is one of the mandatory requirements to become a court interpreter for the Hawaii State Judiciary.

The two-day orientation workshops will be held on:

  • Hilo: February 16-17, 2017 (Thursday/Friday)
  • Maui: February 22-23, 2017 (Wednesday /Thursday)
  • Kona: February 28-March 1, 2017 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
  • Oahu 1: March 4-5, 2017 (Saturday/Sunday)
  • Kauai: March 7-8, 2017 (Tuesday / Wednesday)
  • Oahu 2: March 11-12, 2017 (Saturday/Sunday)

Registration deadline is February 10, 2017. Registration forms are available on the Judiciary’s website and from the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at 539-4860.

The workshop registration fee is $95.  A grant from the Hawaii Women’s Legal Foundation and Hawaii Friends of Justice and Civic Education is being used to lower the cost from the original $120 fee.

Certified sign language interpreters are also encouraged to apply.

In addition to successfully completing the orientation workshop, persons seeking to become a
state court interpreter must pass a written English proficiency exam and court interpreter
ethics exam and clear a criminal background check.

Court interpreters work on a freelance basis as independent contractors in cases when parties or witnesses are unable to hear, understand, speak or use English sufficiently.  Depending on their performance on written and oral exams, court interpreters are paid between $25 to $55 per hour with a two-hour minimum.

Governor Ige to Consider Nominees to Replace Retired Judge Karen Ahn

Gov. David Ige has received a list of nominees from the Judicial Selection Commission for the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Karen S. S. Ahn. Ahn retired in June 2016.

The commission submitted the list of nominees to the governor on January 12, 2017 after careful evaluation and investigation into the background and qualifications of each applicant.

The nominees are:

  • Todd W. Eddins – Attorney, Todd Eddins, Attorney at Law
  • Jeffrey A. Hawk – Attorney, Hawk Sing Ignacio & Waters, Attorneys at Law
  • Darolyn Lendio Heim – Attorney/Partner, McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon
  • Keith K. Hiraoka – Attorney/Managing Partner Roeca Luria Hiraoka LLP
  • Timothy E. Ho – Attorney, Chief Deputy Public Defender, State of Hawai‘i
  • Paul B. K. Wong – Judge, District Court of the First Circuit

Gov. Ige will interview each nominee and is seeking public comment on the governor’s website at governor.hawaii.gov – Contact the Governor.

Gov. Ige has 30 days, or until Feb. 11 to make his appointment.

Governor Ige to Consider Nominees to Replace Retired Judge Steven Alm in First Circuit Court

Gov. David Ige has received a list of nominees from the Judicial Selection Commission for the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Steven S. Alm. Alm retired in August 2016.

Judge Steve Alm

The commission submitted the list of nominees to the governor on Jan. 12, after careful evaluation and investigation into the background and qualifications of each applicant.

The nominees are:

  • James H. Ashford – Judge, District Court of the First Circuit
  • Todd W. Eddins – Attorney, Todd Eddins, Attorney at Law
  • Jeffrey A. Hawk – Attorney at Law
  • Keith K. Hiraoka – Attorney/Managing Partner Roeca Luria Hiraoka LLP
  • Catherine H. Remigio – Judge, Family Court of the First Circuit
  • Paul B. K. Wong – Judge, District Court of the First Circuit

Gov. Ige will interview each nominee and is seeking public comment on the governor’s website at governor.hawaii.gov – Contact the Governor.

Gov. Ige has 30 days, or until Feb. 11 to make his appointment.

Governor Ige Announces Increases in Shelter Beds Through New State Contracts

Gov. David Ige announced the state Department of Human Services will award contracts to 33 homeless shelters. Funding will total $13,000,000 for 12 months. The new contracts require shelters to focus on outcome measures such as the number of people they will permanently house over the coming year.

Photo by Sean King

The results of the competitive bids show a net increase in state-funded homeless shelter beds, with 3,761 for the next year vs. 3,577 for last year. Additionally, the shelters are proposing to double the number of people they place in permanent housing from approximately 3,000 to 6,200.

“This is about more than increasing shelter beds,” said Gov. Ige. “It’s about increasing results. For the same taxpayer investment as last year, we’re doubling the number of people getting housed. We are finding better solutions, getting better efficiency, and creating better cooperation.”

The Request for Bids (RFP) process was open to all shelters statewide and follows state law which requires shelters to increase accountability, privacy, and safety for residents while moving people more quickly into permanent housing. In accordance with the state procurement process, shelters were encouraged to ask questions about the RFPs and received written answers. Revisions were made to the RFP based on their feedback. A written record can be found on the state’s procurement office website at:

http://gpcprod.spo.hawaii.gov/spo2/health/rfp103f/detail.php?id=MTI1Mw==&hs=e53b7f8e4919fbec14cb2c182ab6b247.

Contracts will be effective as of Feb. 1, 2017. All state-funded shelters will receive training by the Department of Human Service’s Homeless Programs Office.

Shelter RFP Award Listing

Bed Count Projections

Dying Cancer Patient Leads Suit Asserting Hawaii Law Allows Medical Aid in Dying

Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing and Compassion & Choices filed suit on Wednesday on behalf of a Hawaii resident with terminal cancer, John Radcliffe, and a physician asserting the Hawaii constitution and existing state law allow the practice of medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to peacefully end an unbearable dying process peacefully.

Compassion & Choices Hawaii patient plaintiff John Radcliffe, attorney Anderson Meyer, pollster Barbara Ankersmit, Compassion & Choices Hawaii campaign mgr. Mary Steiner at news conference announcing lawsuit asserting Hawaii law allows medical aid in dying.

In conjunction with filing Radcliffe et al. v. State of Hawaii in the First Circuit Court of Hawaii, Compassion & Choices Hawaii has launched a legislative campaign as the second part of a dual approach to giving Hawaii residents definitive access to medical aid in dying. A bill is nearing final draft and will be announced at the opening of the Legislature on Jan. 18 with broad support from lawmakers.

A Nov. 2016 statewide survey by Anthology Marketing Group showed 80 percent of Hawaii voters support medical aid in dying, across all demographics including age, race, religion and geographic location. Six other states explicitly authorize aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, California and Colorado; there is not a single documented case of abuse or coercion.

“We must pursue every path to make medical aid in dying an accessible option for terminally ill adults in Hawaii as soon as possible,” said Compassion & Choices Hawaii Campaign Manager Mary Steiner. “Mr. Radcliffe can’t wait and see whether the courts or the legislature will ultimately resolve this question, but our hope is that this option will be made available to him as soon as possible. By filing litigation now, we have put the process in motion on all fronts.”

Compassion & Choices won a similar suit on behalf of terminally ill patient plaintiff Bob Baxter in Montana in 2009 when the Montana Supreme Court ruled: “… we find no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying provided to terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients is against public policy.”

About the Plaintiffs

John Radcliffe, 74, is a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii. He was diagnosed in June 2014 with incurable colon cancer that has metastasized to his liver. He is currently undergoing his 43rd round of chemotherapy. He has been to the emergency room 15 times and had three extended hospital stays.

Dr. Charles Miller is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology. He served for 30 years in the U.S. Army Medical Department, was chief consultant to the Surgeon General and spent nine years as chief of hematology at Kaiser Medical Center in Honolulu.

Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. Leading the end-of-life choice movement for more than 30 years, we support, educate and advocate. www.CompassionAndChoices.org/hawaii.

Hawaii State Senate Unveils 2017 Legislative Program

Our communities, environment, sustainability and public safety are areas of which the Hawai‘i State Senate will focus in the 29th Legislative Biennium.

The areas are incorporated under four over-arching themes that embrace Hawaiian values and collectively form the Legislative Program the Hawai‘i State Senate will use as a guide throughout the Regular Session of 2017.   

“On many of these issues, we’re continuing the work that had begun in the previous legislative sessions,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English. “We recognize the importance to be self-reliant and take care of our island home. There’s also a responsibility to be prepared for the future, ensuring that the next generation is not saddled with problems we can do our best to address right now.”

The 2017 Legislative Program for the Hawai‘i State Senate is as follows:

Ola Lehulehu – People and Communities

  • Education – We will collaborate with educational leaders and interested stakeholders to identify and focus on priority educational needs and opportunities. We will strive to produce workforce-ready graduates to provide opportunities to cultivate and diversify the workforce and economy of Hawai‘i.
  • Affordability – We acknowledge Hawai‘i’s extremely high cost of living and the financial stress this places on many individuals and families. We will therefore explore options to increase affordability for residents, including avenues to better support low-income wage earners in Hawai‘i.
  • Social Services – We will support the State’s core functions, including strengthening our social safety net to ensure our keiki, kūpuna, families, and individuals are protected. We will also continue to support the creative coordination of social service and educational strategies that address the multi-faceted nature of homelessness.
  • Health Care – We will support collaborative efforts to ensure that funding for Native Hawaiian health care continues. We will further support Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by focusing on essential social and cultural determinants that improve health outcomes amongst our indigenous population. We will also encourage options to improve health care for our keiki and our residents in rural areas and will support collaborative efforts to provide better dental care for keiki and adults throughout our communities.
  • Food Security – We will further explore opportunities and policies that support our local farmers, encourage good agricultural practices, and increase our local food production. Efforts that support food self-sufficiency will have positive effects on our local job market and economy.

 Aloha Kaiāulu Ho‘oulu – Preparedness

  • Community Development – We will work diligently to understand and promote smart community development, in particular transit-oriented development. We recognize transit-oriented development as a unique opportunity to address many socio-economic challenges. Because land along public transportation corridors presents an opportunity for the State to maximize land development, we support collaboration with interested stakeholders, including private businesses and non-profit organizations. We are also committed to supporting affordable housing and necessary infrastructure to strengthen our community.
  • Government Services – We will focus on improving the efficiency and modernization of government services, including election participation. We will continue to encourage the enhancement of the State’s information technology systems and incentivize the use of technology. We will also support efforts to advance innovation-oriented projects that improve living standards in Hawai‘i, while streamlining resources to most efficiently and effectively promote innovation and economic growth.
  • Financial Analysis – The Hawai‘i State Senate is committed to analyzing tax credit cost information provided by state agencies; assessing the viability of existing tax credits, exemptions, and exclusions; and determining whether each tax credit, exemption, or exclusion continues to be useful and beneficial to the State.

 Aloha Honua – Climate Change and Energy

  • Environment – We will protect and preserve Hawai‘i’s natural resources by exploring ways to improve agricultural practices and mitigate climate change impacts. We are committed to supporting the preservation of Hawai‘i’s unique geographical features, including coastlines and watersheds. In addition to supporting existing conservation and enforcement efforts, we will encourage the use of innovative technologies to combat invasive species, address biosecurity risks, conserve the State’s water resources, address changing sea levels, and protect the State’s fragile marine ecosystem.
  • Sustainability – We will continue our commitment to renewable energy alternatives that are practical and economical for the State and take into account Hawai‘i’s natural environment and terrain. With recent progress and clean energy goals in mind, we will further encourage the availability of renewable energy and advance projects to improve energy efficiencies.

 Pono Kaulike – Transforming Justice

  • Rehabilitation – We will explore alternatives to incarceration and options to reduce the recidivism rate amongst our incarcerated population, through means such as strengthening community ties. We will support efforts that enable incarcerated individuals to develop useable skills that will help in their transition back into their communities.
  • Public Safety – In an effort to promote continued public safety, we will encourage effectiveness, transparency, and interagency collaboration, and insist on higher standards of conduct and appropriate training.

It is the Hawai‘i State Senate’s sincere hope that we can work collaboratively with the House of Representatives, the Governor, and the Judiciary to achieve all the goals outlined in this Program.