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Hawaii TSA Worker/Department of Human Services Worker Busted for “Double Dipping”

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Ms. Roselani Wise was sentenced last month after pleading no contest to theft in the second degree for receiving unearned compensation from the State of Hawaii, Department of Human Services (DHS) from 2008 through 2012. During that four year period, Wise was employed as an Investigator for DHS. An investigation revealed, however, that while Wise was supposed to be working at her job at DHS, she was simultaneously working for – and being paid by – the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Lihue Airport.

Roselani Wise

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Public employees can hold outside employment as long as it is not legally prohibited. In this case, however, Ms. Wise claimed to be working for DHS during the same exact time she was actually working for TSA. That is theft of state money and that is why she was prosecuted.”

Due in part to her lack of prior criminal history, Wise was granted a deferred acceptance of no contest plea by Judge Randal Valenciano on July 21, 2016. The terms of Wise’s sentencing include five (5) years of probation, restitution to the State of Hawaii in the amount of nine-thousand seven-hundred-one dollars and thirty-two cents ($9,701.32), and 200 hours of community service. Wise is also required to pay eight-hundred ninety-five dollars ($895) to the Crime Victim Compensation Commission.

Theft in the second degree, a violation of section 708-831, Hawaii Revised Statutes is a class C felony.

Sustaining Healthy Forested Watersheds For Hawaii’s Communities

As global climate change progresses, what will happen to Hawai‘i’s aquifers and the ecosystem services which healthy forest watersheds provide? Will we be able to meet our future fresh water needs for drinking and agriculture?

Watershed fence

A report just issued by the Hawai‘i Environmental Funders Group, “He Lono Moku: The State of the Environment,” says “Hawai‘i consumes water at almost double the national average, with residents and non-agricultural businesses using an average 144 gallons of water per day, or 4,320 gallons per month, due in part to the impact of 7 million tourists a year.” The report was issued in advance of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress meeting in Honolulu, Sept. 1-10, and highlights the need to protect and more efficiently use our fresh water supply.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) manages a little more than one million acres of public land.  Approximately 900,000 acres fall within a Watershed Partnership boundary.

One way that DOFAW seeks to protect priority watersheds is by supporting Watershed Partnerships. These are voluntary alliances between public and private landowners who recognize that cooperating across landscapes and landowner boundaries is the most cost-effective way to maximize watershed protection.  Watershed Partnerships play an important role in protecting and preventing the loss of more native forest by: combating the main threats of ungulates (hooved animals such as goats, deer, sheep, pigs, cattle); controlling invasive species; and outplanting native forest species.

These management actions also benefit our coastal and coral reef areas by reducing erosion and sedimentation effects in streams and during heavy rains.

Watershed Partnerships help secure grant funding and in-kind services matching state dollars to achieve broad scale conservation goals. DLNR is currently going through its annual process of awarding $2.5 million in state funding to Watershed Partnerships and other groups engaged in watershed protection and management.

To formally recognize the state’s dedication to watershed protection, the Hawai‘i Association of Watershed Partnerships* (HAWP) was established in 2003 to build public and private support for watershed protection.  Division of Forestry and Wildlife Watershed Partnerships planner Katie Ersbak says, “Over the last 25 years they’ve grown to encompass 10 active partnerships across the state, covering about 2.2 million acres; roughly half the land in the entire state. These are areas that are the most critical for water recharge. They also have the highest percentage of biodiversity, unique flora and fauna, and rare and endangered plants.”

The Watershed Partnerships involve over 74 public and private landowners and partners. The benefits of collaborative management practiced under Watershed Partnerships are many:

  1. Cooperative management actions address large landscapes and threats affecting multiple habitats and species;
  2. Leverage available funding for maximum benefits and allow the pooling of resources as well as expertise to reduce redundancy efforts;
  3. Allow operational infrastructure to fill gaps and work on both public and private land
  4. Develop long-term relationships with communities and hire locally to help train the next generation of conservation leaders.

DLNR & YOU-Sustaining Healthy Forested Watersheds for Hawaii's Communities from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

22 New Cases of Hepatitis A Reported in Hawaii

hepatitis header

As of August 24, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 22 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 58 have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Eleven (11) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and three visitors have returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
228

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 8/16/16.

Places of Interest

An employee of the following food service business(es) has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. This list does not indicate these businesses are sources of this outbreak; at this time, no infections have been linked to exposure to these businesses. The likelihood that patrons of these businesses will become infected is very low. However, persons who have consumed food or drink products from these businesses during the identified dates of service should contact their healthcare provider for advice and possible preventive care.

Business Island Location Dates of Service
Chili’s Oahu Kapolei (590 Farrington Highway) July 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, and 27, 2016
Hawaiian Airlines Flight list (click here) July 1-26, 2016
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Oahu Honolulu (801 Kaheka Street) July 21-23, 26-30, and August 2-6, 9-11, 2016
Sushi Shiono Hawaii Waikoloa Beach Resort, Queen’s MarketPlace (69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive) July 5-8, 11-15, and 18-21, 2016
Taco Bell Oahu Waipio (94-790 Ukee Street) June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11, 2016
Tamashiro Market Oahu Kalihi (802 N. King Street) July 2, 4, 6–8, 11–13, 15–19, and 23, 2016
Papa John’s Waipahu Oahu Waipahu (94-1021 Waipahu Street) July 23-24, and Aug. 2, 2016
New Lin Fong bakery Oahu Chinatown (1132 Maunakea Street) July 20, 22-23, 25, 27, 29-30, and Aug. 1, 3, and 5-6, 2016

Unable to view the table? Try another web browser (e.g. Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer).

Hepatitis A — Information and Resources

New Case of Hepatitis A Identified in Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendant

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is continuing its investigation of an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak on the island of Oahu, and today confirmed a new case in a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant.

scallopsThe flight attendant served inflight food and beverages to passengers on the following flights:

  • July 31, 2016 – Flight HA22 from Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Seattle, WA (SEA)
  • August 1, 2016 – Flight HA21 from Seattle, WA (SEA) to Honolulu, HI (HNL) August 10, 2016
  • Flight HA18 from Honolulu, HI (HNL) to Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
  • August 12, 2016 – Flight HA17 from Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Honolulu, HI (HNL)

The public is being alerted only as a precaution; the risk of transmission is extremely low and Hawaiian Airlines is not the source of the ongoing outbreak. DOH has identified imported frozen scallops as the likely source and embargoed the product statewide on August 15, 2016.

Subsequent laboratory testing by the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the presence of hepatitis A in the scallops.

“This case is a reminder that hepatitis A symptoms can appear up to 50 days after exposure,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.  “This is why we expect to continue to see cases in coming weeks, and why we need to remain vigilant to prevent further transmission, even though the product has been pulled off the market.”

As of August 17, 2016, DOH has confirmed a total of 206 cases of hepatitis A as part of this outbreak investigation.

Updated case counts and information are provided each Wednesday along with a complete list of food service establishments who have had employees diagnosed with hepatitis A infection at the following link: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/hepatitis-a-outbreak-2016/.

Vaccination provides the best protection from hepatitis A, so any individuals who may have been exposed to the disease are recommended to contact their healthcare providers about receiving a vaccine or immune globulin (IG). This may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure.

A statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies can be found at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf , or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Hawaiian Airlines customers may go to www.hawaiianairlines.com/hepatitisA for detailed information on the affected flights and other support available.

Hawaii is 2016’s Best State for Women’s Equality

With Women’s Equality Day just three days away and the U.S. in 28th position on the Global Gender Gap Index — falling eight places since 2014 — the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst States for Women’s Equality.
equalityIn order to determine the most gender-egalitarian states, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states across 15 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the gap between female and male executives to the disparity between women’s and men’s unemployment rates.

Women’s Equality in Hawaii (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 1st – Earnings Disparity
  • 7th – Executive Positions Disparity
  • 5th – Work Hours Disparity
  • 1st – Educational Attainment Disparity (Among Bachelor’s Degree Holders)
  • 5th – Minimum-Wage Workers Disparity
  • 1st – Unemployment Rate Disparity
  • 8th – Entrepreneurship Rate Disparity
  • 1st – Political Representation Disparity

For the full report, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-women-equality/5835/

Hawaii State Highway Bonds Sale Secures $247 Million, Saves State More Than $22 Million

On Aug. 10, 2016, the State of Hawai‘i successfully sold $204.485 million in Highway Revenue Bonds at the lowest interest rate in the history of the state’s Highway Revenue Bond Program. The sale raised $247.581 million.

Highways DivisionApproximately $120 million of the bond sale proceeds will be used to fund various highway projects throughout the state and about $127 million of the proceeds will be used to refinance existing state bonds. The refinancing will reduce debt service payments and save more than $22 million in interest costs.

“This financing is a tremendous success for the state, enabling continued investment in our infrastructure at a very affordable borrowing cost,” said Gov. David Ige. The low interest rates achieved demonstrate bond investors’ confidence in Hawai‘i’s economic strength and its continued practice of sound fiscal management. This is the result of years of discipline and conservative fiscal management.”

Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service and Fitch Ratings affirmed the state’s strong bond ratings of “Aa2”, “AA+” and “AA,” respectively. Each rating agency also attached “stable” outlooks on their ratings, indicating secure future economic and financial trends for Hawai‘i. Rating agencies cited the stability and diversity of revenue streams that are pledged as security for the bonds, as one of the key strengths of the credit.  Other strengths cited include strong legal provisions, high debt service coverage, and stable revenue trends, particularly in those sectors that are less reliant on economic activity.

The marketing plan for the bonds included investor presentations, both in-person in Hawai‘i and on the mainland, as well as internet-based presentations and conference calls. The extended marketing generated strong demand for the bonds from institutional investors.

There was very strong demand for the bonds by both Hawai‘i and national investors. Orders for the bonds amounted to 4.5 times the amount available for sale. The strong demand resulted in net interest rates on the bonds that ranged from 0.50 to 2.50 percent, with the average net interest rate less than 2.25 percent. This is the lowest rate the state has achieved since starting the Highway Revenue Bond Program in 1993.

“The success of the recent bond sale and the low interest rate on the offering is due in no small part to the hard work of the Highways Division in adhering to its sound fiscal and debt management policies,” said Ford Fuchigami, director, Hawai‘i  Department of Transportation. “We are extremely pleased with the demand for the bonds and the needed infusion of capital the Highways Division will receive from the sale.”

The bonds were sold by a financing team led by Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, serving as book-running senior manager and Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo Securities, serving as co-senior managers.

Attorney Filing Lawsuits on Behalf of Hawaii Residents Who Got Hepatitis A

Attorney Wayne Parson will be filing lawsuits on behalf of Hawai‘i residents who got hepatitis A as a result of contaminated scallops eaten at one of the Genki Sushi restaurants in the islands.

Genki Sushi

Lawsuits for people who have contracted hepatitis A in this outbreak will not be part of a “class action”. These will be individual lawsuits for each affected person because the injury suffered by each person is unique to that person. The lawsuits will be filed in state Circuit Court which is the main court for jury trials in Hawai‘i. Since there will be multiple lawsuits, it is not uncommon for the court to assign the cases to a single judge for the purposes of having consistency in rulings by the court on pretrial matters and an orderly setting of cases for trial.

For more detailed questions call his office at 808-845-2211 or his mobile phone at 808-753-0290. There will be no charge for this call. It is most important that people get answers to their health questions so the injuries can be prevented or the harm minimized.

He is currently involved in 30+ lawsuits filed on behalf of Hawai‘i residents who suffered liver damage as a result of another food product. His office has great experience in helping people with injury to their liver get back on their feet. In those other cases, as well as the upcoming cases to be filed in regard to the contaminated scallops, he will be working with Andrews & Thornton, a mainland law firm, which has a long history of success in representing persons who have suffered damage to their liver from food products. In these types of cases he works on a contingency fee which means that the lawyers do not get paid unless and until money is recovered for the injured person. All litigation costs are paid by his firm and Andrews & Thornton. The fact that two law firms are working on the cases together does not mean an increased fee.

The fee will be the same as charged for a single law firm and my firm and Andrews & Thornton divide up the standard fee. The client gets the benefit of two law firms for the price of one. The client also will have him as their local lawyer to be responsible for all aspects of the case. Anne Andrews has developed national prominence in legal circles for representing people who have suffered injuries like those suffered by the patrons of Genki Sushi who ate the contaminated scallops.

Some people have called him over the weekend with questions about what they should do if they ate the scallops at Genki Sushi but have not become ill.  The answer is that they should go to a doctor and get a blood test to see if they have hepatitis A. They should then follow the doctor’s directions going forward.  The incubation period for hepatitis A is 15 – 60 days and people should be alert to the following symptoms according to the CDC:

Some persons, particularly young children, are asymptomatic. When symptoms are present, they usually occur abruptly and can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

If you ate at Genki Sushi and develop any of these symptoms go to your doctor  or an emergency room and get a blood test to find out  if you have hepatitis A.

Remember  that hepatitis A can be  spread  by human contact  and therefore  is important to find out if  a person has contracted hepatitis A. Since the incubation period can stretch up 60 days the fact that a person does not have symptoms is not completely reassuring. so they don’t spread it to family members and friends. It is equally  important to know that you could  contract hepatitis A even though you didn’t eat  the contaminated scallops but had contact  with someone  who has contracted  hepatitis A from the scallops. The Hawaii  Department of Health  has been outstanding  in  managing this outbreak and getting information to the public  that will allow people to protect themselves.  Following  daily announcements  at the Department of Health website  is the best way  to get the latest information on how to protect you and your family.

Wayne Parsons Law Offices, (808) 845-2211

www.wayneparsons.com

USGS Release – Living with Vog on an Active Volcano: New Resources

New informational products about the health hazards of volcanic air pollution known as “vog,” are available through a new interagency partnership.

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon.  Photo taken 8/16/2016

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon. Photo credit: Michael Poland, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Photo taken 8/16/2016

The products include a booklet of frequently asked questions, a brochure and poster about protecting yourself during vog episodes and a web-based “dashboard” that provides comprehensive links to a wide range of vog resources, including vog forecasts and air-quality information.

Communities downwind from Kīlauea Volcano’s active vents frequently experience vog as a visible haze or as a sulfurous smell or taste. People exposed to vog report a variety of symptoms, such as eye irritation, coughing, wheezing, sore throats and headaches. The new products were co-developed by U.S. Geological Survey scientists Tamar Elias and Jeff Sutton at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, John Peard and other officials at the Hawaii Department of Health, and Claire Horwell from Durham University in the United Kingdom, with participation by Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense and other agencies.

Peard, with Hawaii DOH said, “The diverse partnership has allowed us to develop new, consistent products that more fully address the needs of the community.”

“The products offer advice on vog protection measures, such as staying indoors, limiting physical activity, and staying hydrated when vog levels are high. Providing relevant, up-to-date information to a population living with decades of an ongoing volcanic eruption may help people to better cope with the frequent vog conditions,” said Horwell.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The new, mobile-friendly vog dashboard is hosted by the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, a clearinghouse for information on the health impacts of volcanic eruptions. All of the new Hawaiʻi vog products are available online, and are accessible through the dashboard.

Vog, the pollution formed from acidic gases and particles released by active volcanoes, is composed primarily of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and its oxidation products, such as sulfate aerosol.  Sulfur dioxide from Kīlauea Volcano, now in its 34th year of nearly continuous eruption, leads to the vog that challenges communities, agriculture, and infrastructure on the Island of Hawai‘i and across the state. Scientists at USGS HVO regularly monitor the quantity and composition of gases released from Kīlauea. Among other things, HVO data are used as input for vog models that forecast the volcanic plume dispersion and vog locations.

Horwell’s previous study in 2015, investigated how Hawaiian communities perceive vog, how they protect themselves, and their preferences for receiving advice. The results from the study support the need for consistent online advice from all federal, state and local agencies; increased access to web- and non-web-based information on vog exposure and protection; and updated guidance on how to access resources about vog. HVO’s long involvement in vog studies, coupled with the community studies about perception and needs, led to the development of the new vog informational products.

For more information about Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions, please visit HVO’s website, or network with others on the ‘Vog Talk’ Facebook group.

Community Voices Sought for Input on Public Education Plans

Since April, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and Board of Education’s (BOE) has engaged the community as it reviews its joint Strategic Plan. BOE members have hosted meetings in Waimea (Hawaii Island) and Wailuku, and the public has more opportunities to provide feedback at upcoming community meetings on Oahu, Kauai and Molokai.

A group brainstorms ideas during the Maui Community Meeting on Aug. 8.  Photo: Department of Education

A group brainstorms ideas during the Maui Community Meeting on Aug. 8. Photo: Department of Education

“It is important for us to dialogue with members of all sectors of our communities as we work on strategies towards achieving student success,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Education affects all of us, that’s why we appreciate the public input provided so far and urge others to attend the few meetings we have left before finalizing plans that will set the direction for public education in the upcoming years.”

The public has the remaining opportunities to lend their voice at the following community meetings:

  • Aug. 22: Kailua High School College and Career Center, 451 Ulumanu Drive
  • Aug. 31: Manoa Public Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
  • Sept. 1: Kaunakakai Elementary School, 30 Ailoa Street
  • Sept. 14: Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou Street
  • Sept. 15: Waianae Public Library, 85-625 Farrington Highway

All meetings will be held from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Storyline Consulting, a third-party facilitator, brought in to ensure the objective report of community input, reported on the first phase of HIDOE’s community outreach, which included 108 focus groups on six islands and 1,429 online survey responses. The Phase I report noted the following emerging themes as community-based descriptors of student success:

  • Giving back to the community, environment, and world;
  • Discovering and pursuing passions so students can reach their full potential;
  • Demonstrating strong academic and soft skills, and showing an ability to think critically, solve problems, and apply knowledge to new situations or contexts;
  • Being prepared for life after high school, including setting clear goals and developing short-term and long-term engagement in learning;
  • Exhibiting strength, confidence, and resilience in their every day lives and being generally healthy and happy; and
  • Gaining a strong sense of cultural understanding and appreciation for Hawaii.

For more information, view the digital and print reports.

The Department and BOE are updating the description of student success, and strategies for school and community innovation, professional development, leadership and more. A draft plan will be presented to the BOE in mid-October, and final plan will be presented to the BOE in December.

“Since we embarked on community engagement in April, we have received tremendous amounts of valuable information that will help us craft a Strategic Plan that meets the ever-changing needs of our students and community,” said Tammi Chun, assistant superintendent, Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance. “The process has been two-fold as we’re also using the feedback from the community to help us with our state plan in response to the new federal education law, ESSA, that is required to receive federal funds.”

HIDOE continues to monitor the national changes for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and has offered feedback to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) on how the rules and timelines will impact Hawaii.  The Department took issue with the draft regulations appearing to be more prescriptive than what is described in the spirit of the law. HIDOE anticipates submitting the state’s plan for ESSA funding on the USED’s March 6, 2017 deadline.

For more information about the Strategic Plan and HIDOE’s ESSA efforts, click here; to join the conversation on social media use #HIQualityEd.

Hawaii Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a sixth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until Oct. 19. The supplemental proclamation provides 60 additional days in which to further expand the state’s collaborative efforts to house the most visible and chronic homeless individuals.  In the past year, the proclamations have helped more than 4,800 people — representing 1,353 families — move out of homelessness or prevent it altogether.

Click tor read

Click tor read

“The tide is turning,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige.  “Collectively, our state is moving forward with a unified strategy that addresses three levers of change: affordable housing, health & human services and public safety. All stakeholders are working together in unison across multiple sectors. This coordinated and persistent approach is moving people off the streets,” he said.

Lever One: Affordable Housing

A major priority for the Ige Administration is to increase affordable housing. The proclamations allowed for emergency housing of approximately 300 homeless individuals who were in jeopardy of being displaced after federal budget cuts to seven local organizations.

impact1Additionally, the proclamations reduced the development time of nine different joint projects with the counties by up to a year per project. These housing projects are specifically designed for homeless individuals and families, including the Family Assessment Center in Kaka`ako Makai, which will open in September and house 240 people per year.  Today’s supplemental proclamation adds two additional City & County of Honolulu long-term housing projects, bringing the total to 11.

Lever Two: Health & Human Services

The proclamations allowed faster distribution of financial resources for permanent housing and to prevent homelessness.  Between August 2015 and July 2016, there was a 51 percent increase in the number of individuals and families moving into housing or preserving housing, as compared to the prior 12-month period.   This includes a 55 percent increase on O‘ahu and a 47 percent increase on the neighbor islands.  The following programs received increased funding:

  • The State Homeless Emergency Grant (SHEG) provides one-time assistance for housing, food, medical and other types of expenses arising from emergency needs.
  • Housing Placement Program (HPP) provides first month’s rent or security deposit, as well as temporary case management, for homeless families with minor children.
  • Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative (CSHI) provides homelessness prevention and Rapid Re-Housing statewide, and increases coordination for the statewide telephone navigation service (2-1-1) for homeless individuals.

impact2

Lever Three: Public Safety

By enabling the quick execution of contracts and allocation of dedicated resources, the emergency proclamations supported the reduction in the number of unsheltered persons in the Kaka`ako Makai area.  The population decreased from a high of approximately 300 unsheltered persons in August 2015 to approximately 50 unsheltered persons in August 2016.

Ceremony Schedule for Late Congressman Mark Takai at State Capital

The ceremony tomorrow for Late Congressman Mark Takai at the the Hawaii State Capital is scheduled to begin at 10:00 A.M.

Congressman Mark Takai

Congressman Mark Takai

The proposed schedule follows:

  • 9:00 a.m. Reception tables open
  • 9:45 a.m. Depart Borthwick
  • 10:00 a.m. Hearse and car(s) with Takai family arrive at State Capitol Casket is carried from hearse into rotunda by Hawaii National Guard. Family follows casket. Mrs. Takai and children are escorted into rotunda by Governor Ige, House Speaker Souki, and Senate President Kouchi.
  • 10:15 a.m. Emcee Representative Luke to settle and welcome guests
  • 10:20 a.m. National Anthem by CPT Torano Harris Hawaii Ponoi by CPT Torano Harris
  • 10:25 a.m. Opening Prayer by Pastor Dan Chun
  • 10:30 a.m. Scripture Reading of John 15:1-8 by Representative Scott Saiki
  • 10:35 a.m Remarks by U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • 10:40 a.m. Remarks by House Speaker Souki
  • 10:45 a.m. Remarks by Senate President Kouchi
  • 10:50 a.m. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Holunape (Kama Hopkins, Kekoa Kaluhiwa and Kanaia Nakamura)
  • 10:55 a.m. Remarks by Adjutant General Logan
  • 11:00 a.m. Remarks by Governor Ige
  • 11:05 a.m. Scripture Reading — Psalm 23 by Representative Nishimoto
  • 11:10 a.m. Closing Prayer by Pastor Dan Chun
  • 11:15 a.m. “Aloha Oe” by Holunape
  • 11:20 a.m. Representative Luke closes the program and thanks all for coming. Instruct on the viewing. Family will pay respects first and depart for their Green Room.
  • 11:30 a.m. Public Viewing and Paying of Respects until 7:00 p.m.
  • 7:00 pm National Guard to move casket from Capitol to mortuary.  Ross Takai (brother) will be on site to escort casket back to Borthwick
  • Move wreaths into Capitol Auditorium on basement level
    Friday 8/19 in morning
  • National Guard to move wreaths to First Presbyterian Church/Koolau Ballrooms

Based on the crowd and possible line for the viewing, decision will be made on or about 7:00 p.m. on whether to extend or shut down for the evening.

Senator Schatz Accepting Applications for High School Internship Program

Schatz Seniors Internship Program Open to High School Seniors from Across the State

The office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) is currently accepting applications for this year’s Schatz Seniors High School Internship Program.

Sen. Schatz in Puna after Iselle hit the area.

Sen. Schatz in Puna after Iselle hit the area.

The Schatz Seniors program provides a hands-on learning opportunity about the U.S. Senate and encourages students to be advocates in their schools and communities.   Schatz Seniors will work with outreach staff, identify issues of interest to their communities, and attend and staff special events.

“Each year our Schatz Seniors show a commitment to service and our state that keeps me optimistic about Hawai‘i’s future.  I encourage all high school seniors who want to help make a difference in their communities to apply to be a part of our team,” said Senator Schatz.

This is not an office position.  Students will complete the majority of assignments in their homes, schools, and communities and should miss little or no class time.  The internship runs from October 2016 – April 2017, and interns must commit for the full term.  Public, private, charter, and homeschool seniors may apply.  Students must have a GPA of 2.5 or better and have personal access to email throughout the internship.  Schatz Seniors will be selected based on their involvement in their community, diversity of interests and life experiences, and demonstrated leadership.

The application is available on his website at schatz.senate.gov and must be completed no later than 6:00pm on Friday, September 16, 2016.  Please contact our Honolulu office at 808-523-2061 with any questions.

Internships for undergraduate and graduate students are also available year-round in our Washington, D.C. and Honolulu offices.  More information can be found on his website.

Hepatitis A Outbreak in Hawaii Climbs to 206 Reported Cases

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is continuing to investigate a cluster of hepatitis A infections in the state.

As of August 17, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 38 new cases of hepatitis A.  All cases have been in adults, 51 have required hospitalization.

Findings of the investigation suggest that the source of the outbreak is focused on Oahu. Nine (9) individuals are residents of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, or Maui, and one visitor has returned to the mainland.

CONFIRMED CASES OF HEPATITIS A
206

Onset of illness has ranged between 6/12/16 – 8/9/16.

On August 15, 2016, HDOH identified raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai as the likely source of the ongoing outbreak. The product of concern is Sea Port Bay Scallops (Wild Harvest, Raw Frozen) that originated in the Philippines (states “Product of the Philippines” on the box), distributed by Koha Oriental Foods. As a result, HDOH ordered this product embargoed (not to be sold, purchased, or consumed) throughout the state, and the temporary closure of all Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai.

scallops

The scallops received by True World Foods have not been distributed to any restaurants in the state, and were embargoed at their warehouse. The scallops served at Genki locations on the Big Island and Maui originated from a different supplier and have not been associated with the outbreak.

The outbreak investigation is ongoing.   It continues to be challenging because of the long incubation period of the disease (15 to 50 days) and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place.

Healthcare providers have been informed and are asked to notify HDOH immediately if they have a patient they suspect may be infected.

HDOH encourages Hawaii residents to consider getting vaccinated for hepatitis A, and advises that they talk to their healthcare provider about hepatitis A if they are interested. Vaccination for hepatitis A is strongly recommended for certain individuals who are especially at risk (see HERE for a CDC list of groups recommended to be vaccinated for hepatitis A).

Hawaii residents are also advised that the demand for the vaccine during the outbreak has led to varied supply levels around the state, so it is recommended that they call ahead to assure the vaccine is available at a particular clinic or pharmacy before going there.

The Hawaii Department of Health is conducting a case control study to determine what food items served at a local restaurant chain might have led to the increase in hepatitis A infections in Hawaii. We are looking for individuals who ate at Genki Sushi after April 23, 2016 and have not been ill with hepatitis A.

Your assistance is extremely important. We are using this survey to obtain contact information for individuals who would be willing to participate in the study.  Selected individuals will be contacted by phone in the next 1-2 weeks and interviewed about particular foods eaten at Genki Sushi restaurant(s). Participation is voluntary and, if selected, should take about 30 minutes.  Your personal information will be kept confidential and will not be shared outside of the investigative team.

Mahalo.

Click here to take the survey

Did You Know… 2015 State of Hawaii Data Book Released

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released the “2015 State of Hawaii Data Book” today. The resource is available on the DBEDT website at dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/databook/ and may be downloaded in whole or in part as either PDF or Excel files.

2015 Data BookThe state’s Data Book is the most comprehensive statistical book about Hawaii in a single compilation. With more than 800 data tables, it covers a broad range of statistical information in areas such as population, education, labor, energy, business enterprises, government, tourism and transportation.

“The state’s Data Book provides comprehensive information from all sources, both public and private,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.  “It’s the most popular product on the DBEDT website and has been consistently produced for 47 years.”

“We try to add more data series to the Data Book to accommodate a wide range of data needs,” said Chief State Economist, Dr. Eugene Tian.  “Among the new data series in this Data Book are the Hawaii homes purchased by origin of buyers.”

Some of the interesting data in this newest edition show that:

  • About 60 percent of the 58,144 domestic in-migrants to Hawaii in 2014 were between the ages of 20 to 44 years old. (Table 1.65)
  • A majority of marriages (55 percent) were interracial in 2014 in situations where at least one partner was a Hawaii resident. (Table 2.44)
  • The tuition per semester for a full-time resident undergraduate student at University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2015 was $5,172, or 5 percent higher compared to previous year. (Table 3.25)
  • Hawaii State Library system circulated 475,652 copies of electronic media up 33.6 percent compared to previous year and an increase of 644 percent compared to five years ago. (Table 3.28)
  • In 2015, there were 4,068 people in state adult and juvenile correctional facilities which was a 4 percent increase from the year before. (Table 4.20)
  • There are 15 dams throughout the state that have a Maximum storage of 600 acre-ft. or more, 13 out of 15 of those dams are on either Oahu or Kauai. (Table 5.23)
  • In 2015 Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide measurements at Mauna Loa exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements have been taken starting in 1958. (Table 5.44)
  • U.S. Department of Defense procurement prime contracts awarded with Hawaii as the “place of performance” ranged from $1.7 billion to $2.8 billion over FY 2011 to FY 2015.  Over this period the value of prime contracts awarded to small business ranged from 38.1 percent to 50.2 percent of the total.  An average 75 percent of the small business contracts went to minority businesses over the period. (Table 10.25)
  • As of Sept. 30, 2015 there were 17,600 military retirees in Hawaii, of which almost half (46.3 percent) were over 65 years old.  Of the military retirees, 37.8 percent retired from the Army; 28.1 percent Navy; 6.3 percent Marines, and 27.8 percent Air Force. (Table 10.35)
  • In 2016 there were 1,047 licensed child care centers in the state, double the number of centers in 2004 when there were 523. (Table 11.22)
  • The occupation with greatest employment in Hawaii in 2015 was “Retail salesperson” with 24,770 employment and $11.46 average hourly salary. The next highest occupation was “Waiters and waitresses” with 15,299 employment, followed by cashiers (14,790 employment) and general office clerks (13,660 employment). (Table 12.36)
  • According to the Regional Price Parities from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis the “All Items” price level in Hawaii was 16.8 percent higher than the overall national price level in 2014.  “Goods” component was 8.9 percent higher while “Services: rents” component was 58.4 percent higher than the national average in the year. (Table 14.02)
  • The three banks in Hawaii with assets of more than $1 billion in 2015 employed more than 5,000 full-time equivalent employees. (Table 15.05)
  • There were 3,324 fires in 2015 resulting in 5 deaths and losses of more than $23 million. (Table 15.14)
  • In Hawaii, 85.6 percent of the population had access to a computer with an internet subscription in 2014.  Comparing by age group, persons under 18 years of age had the highest percentage at 90.2 percent, whereas persons 18 to 64 had 87.4 percent and persons 65 years and older had 72.3 percent. (Table 16.12)
  • The average electricity price for residential customers was 30 cents per kWh in 2015, 7 cents per kWh or 19 percent decrease from the previous year. (Table 17.09)
  • A majority of the more than 19,000 home purchases in 2015 were by local buyers (78 percent) with an average sales price of $546,146; followed by mainland buyers (19 percent) with an average sales price of $751,210; and lastly foreign buyers (3 percent) with an average sales price of $783,774.  (Table 21.38)
  • Duty free store revenue in 2015 was $135.6 million, which was a decrease of 18.5 percent compared to 2014. (Table 23.12)
  • Another record year in the State of Hawaii for hotel occupancy and room rates in 2015 as the average hotel occupancy reached 78.8 percent, 1.8 percentage point increase, and the average daily room rate reached $243.93, $9.08 or 3.9 percent increase compared to the previous year. (Table 23.39)
  • Foreign Agricultural Exports, on a farm receipts-basis, have grown from $151.5 million in 2000 to $400.4 million in 2014. Of that total about 90 percent on average has been of plants products, such as fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, coffee, and horticulture products. (Table 24.11)

DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division (READ) also maintains the historical series of tables and updates the data continuously throughout the year.

The historical series and the update can also be found on the DBEDT website at dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/databook/.

NEHLA and County of Hawaii Host Energy Storage Conference

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) announced today that it is partnering with the County of Hawaii to host a conference on energy storage trends and opportunities in Kailua-Kona on Sept. 12 and 13.

The NEHLA Plant from above

The NEHLA Plant from above

”As the state works to reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2045, energy storage will be necessary to address increasing amounts of variable resources brought into the grid,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “This conference will bring together experts from U.S. National Laboratories, academia, government and industry to present energy storage technologies and applications and consider opportunities and challenges.”

“We are excited about the caliber of the speakers that will be presenting,” said Gregory Barbour, NELHA’s executive director. “This conference brings together experienced scientists, engineers, and policymakers to discuss energy storage and microgrid initiatives, issues and projects. This is an area that is not only at the forefront of renewable energy but also critical to widespread implementation of intermittent renewable technologies such as solar and wind technologies.”

The conference, which is supported in part by the County of Hawaii, includes presentations and panel discussions as well as visits to site demonstrations. It aims to have the latest information presented by leaders in energy storage technology, particularly on the economics of energy storage. Meeting participants will also discuss opportunities as well as regulatory and policy issues.

“We are pleased to partner with NELHA on this conference in an effort to bring leaders in the field of energy storage to the Island of Hawaii to share their insight and explore opportunities” stated Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Hawaii Island is already generating 50 percent renewable energy and grid-scale energy storage is certainly part of the equation for building towards our 100 percent goal”.

Attendance to the conference is open to the public.

Registration information is located at: nelhaenergystorage2016.hawaii-conference.com/.

Governor Ige Appoints Damien Elefante as Deputy Director of the Department of Taxation

Gov. David Ige announced the appointment of Damien Elefante to be the deputy director of the Department of Taxation (DoTax). Elefante’s appointment follows the departure of Joe Kim, who moved to the private sector in July.

Damien Elefante

Damien Elefante

Following graduation from Kailua High School, Elefante earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He went on to receive a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

Elefante brings to the position more than a decade of experience working on tax issues for the state. Most recently he served as the compliance coordinator in the department of taxation. Prior to that he was the deputy attorney general who represented the state’s interest in contested tax-related cases. Involved in litigating and appearing before Federal and State Courts in Hawai‘i, he collected over $50 million for the benefit of the state. Prior to joining the state, Elefante worked at Hisaka Stone Goto Yoshida Cosgrove & Ching, and served as a law clerk for Chief Judge James S. Burns at the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

“Damien will be a valuable part of the team implementing the Tax System Modernization program, which will transform the operations of the department. He understands the need to maintain the department’s consistent and fair practices on behalf of all taxpayers in the state,” said Gov. Ige.

“I am honored to serve as the deputy director and grateful to Gov. Ige for giving me the opportunity to be part of his administration. I am eager to carry out his mission for the Tax Department to ‘modernize our tax system, increase efficiency for taxpayers and hold accountable those who do not pay their taxes.’ I look forward to working with the legislature and the community,” Elefante said.

Mr. Elefante’s appointment is subject to Senate approval.

Hawaii Department of Health Orders Embargo of Frozen Imported Scallops and Closure of Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai

Based on evidence gathered and analyzed during an extensive investigation spanning almost two months, the Hawaii State Department of Health has determined a strong association between a majority of the cases in the Hepatitis A outbreak first announced by the department on July 1, 2016. Investigation findings implicate frozen imported scallops served raw at Genki Sushi Restaurants as the likely source of Hepatitis A infection.

Genki Sushi“After determining the strong probable link between the majority of cases, the department immediately notified Genki Sushi Restaurants, ordered the embargo of the frozen scallop product, and the closure of all Oahu and Kauai facilities,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The business has complied with all orders, contacted all of their Hawaii restaurants, and is working with the department to ensure the safety of its customers. Our staff is in the field today working with distributors to embargo the product.”

Department of Health has ordered the embargo of all frozen scallop products distributed by Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods in Hawaii. An embargo of products restricts their use, sale or distribution. Because Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai had received, handled and served the product, the establishments were ordered to close immediately. Koha Oriental Foods had supplied the product to Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai. The frozen imported scallop product recently began to be distributed also by True World to Genki Sushi restaurants on Maui and Hawaii Island. Although there have been no cases related to these recent shipments, given the uncertainty of the safety of the product, all scallop products sent to these restaurants were embargoed as the department continues its investigation.

“Genki Sushi in Hawaii has a history of good compliance with food safety regulations which includes good employee hygiene,” said Peter Oshiro, Sanitation Branch Chief. “We will continue to work with Genki Sushi Restaurants to ensure their safe operation after the investigation is completed.”

Product tracing is being conducted to locate all potentially contaminated products. DOH has also been in contact with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Hawaii office to investigate the product origin. Food products imported from outside the state are regulated by the U.S. FDA.

“We are gratified to uncover this major piece of the investigation,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, “my staff have been persistent and tireless in their search for clues to prevent new cases and put an end to the outbreak. Our investigation continues, as we work to confirm our findings and ensure contaminated product is no longer in circulation and the risk of transmission is eliminated.”

Genki Sushi Restaurants on Oahu and Kauai will remain closed until the Department of Health can ensure their safe operation.  All frozen scallop products from distributors Koha Oriental Foods and True World Foods are being restricted and will be destroyed to prevent any further illness.

Anyone who consumed products, specifically scallops, prepared or served at Genki Sushi on Oahu or Kauai should consider contacting their healthcare provider about the possibility of receiving a vaccine or immune globulin (IG). A statewide list of vaccination locations is available at www.health.hawaii.gov. Individuals who ate at these restaurants longer than two weeks ago, should monitor their health for 50 days after their exposure and consult their doctor if they develop symptoms of hepatitis. All persons should practice thorough hand washing.

Senator Kai Kahele Says Mahalo Hilo!

Senator Kahele Mahalo

This was not a paid ad and I’ve placed this on my website at my own will.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Hawaii’s Open Primary Elections

In a published opinion issued today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hawaii’s practice of holding open primary elections. The Democratic Party of Hawaii had sued the state office of elections in 2013 and sought to limit participation in the Democratic primary election to registered Democrats only.

Democrat lawsuit

Click to read

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Democratic Party did not show that the open primary system burdens its associational rights. The Party offered no evidence that the open primary impacted its candidates or messages. The Ninth Circuit noted that Hawaii’s voters may vote in only one party’s primary election.

The case, Democratic Party of Hawaii v. Nago, was originally filed in the federal district court of Hawaii. In November 2013, Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled in the State’s favor, upholding the open primary. The Democratic Party appealed. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in May 2016.

“The open primary is part of Hawaii’s commitment to make voting easier and to include more persons in the democratic process,” said Attorney General Doug Chin. “This ruling keeps Hawaii’s primary elections open to all registered voters, regardless of their formal party affiliation.”

This ruling has no effect on the 2016 primary or general elections. A copy of the court’s opinion is attached.

Hawaii Election Results Online

Hawaii GifElection results will be posted upon the close of polls on Election Day. Links to the Summary Reports will be available at that time.

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Reports (PDF format)