Resource Caregivers Receive Increased Board Payments

Families that care for children placed with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Service (CWS) Branch will receive a foster board pay increase, effective July 1, 2014. Called resource caregivers, families will receive their first increased payment in August.

Department of Human Services

To ensure that resource caregivers receive the funds necessary to provide safe, healthy, and nurturing environments for children awaiting permanent placement, the DHS requested a legislative appropriation of $8,502,936 in 2014. The budget request was passed in its entirety as part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 executive budget package.

“Hawaii’s rate increase is based on the DHS’ review of foster care rates and practices in 46 other states,” explained DHS Director Patricia McManaman, “and the benefits that Hawaii resource families currently receive in addition to tax-free monthly foster care payments.”

Children enter and exit the foster care system throughout the year. They can remain in resource family homes for days, months, or years in some cases. While siblings are often placed together, resource families also may care for two or more unrelated children.  In 2013, the average number of children per month in resource homes was 1,096.  In June 2014, a total of 1,156 children were in foster care across the State.

Representative Mele Carroll, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, was a strong supporter of increasing foster board payments.  “The bill is a huge step forward to help support the foster families that are integral members of our communities.”  Her Senate counterpart, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland agreed.  “I am very happy with the passage of this legislation and am grateful to the Department of Human Services, Governor, Legislature, advocates and foster families for this team effort!”

The increase in basic board payment also applies to families eligible for adoption assistance, permanency assistance, youth receiving higher education board allowance payments, and to young adults who choose to enroll in DHS’ new program of extended Voluntary Care to Age 21.

Foster board payment rates vary across the nation. Hawaii based its new rates on an age-tiered system indexed to documented costs contained in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Expenditures on Children by Families annual report.   The monthly per child payment to Hawaii resources caregivers has been increased from a base rate of $529 to $575 for 0-5 year olds, $650 for 6-11 year olds, and $676 for children aged 12 and above.

Similar to other states, Hawaii’s resource caregivers also receive QUEST health insurance benefits for their foster children, difficulty of care payments, and a clothing allowance. Difficulty of care payments are provided to resource caregivers that support children who require more intensive physical, emotional, psychological or behavioral care and supervision, as determined by a treating professional.

Resource families also are eligible to receive special circumstances or events payments, designated transportation costs (school bus fare or private car mileage, local bus fare) that effect child placement or promote family reunification, and $500 per child per year for extracurricular activities, social activities, hobbies, and camp funds.

Reimbursable costs include attendance at authorized meetings, respite care and child care coverage, limited liability insurance training, and  enhancements necessary for the child’s growth and development (e.g. Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, community soccer, community baseball, community swimming, Boys and Girls Clubs).

To learn more about becoming a resource care giver or attending one of the statewide informational briefings, please visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/ssd/home/child-welfare-services/foster-and-adoptive-care/ 

Big Island Police Charge Puna Man With 13 Offenses in Connection to Kidnapping

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 38-year-old Puna man with 13 offenses in connection with a kidnapping that led to a police pursuit and an attempt to run down two officers.

Riley Asuncion

Riley Asuncion

At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday (July 23), Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of third-degree assault, and one count each of kidnapping, terroristic threatening, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, fourth-degree theft, driving without a license, reckless driving and resisting an order to stop. His bail was set at $1,521,000. He remains in the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Thursday (July 24).

Investigation by the Area I Criminal Investigations Section determined that Asuncion illegally entered the sports-utility vehicle of a 30-year-old female acquaintance Monday morning without her knowledge. As the woman was driving on Kīlauea Avenue in Downtown Hilo, he surprised her from the back seat, assaulted her and gained control of the SUV. The woman was able to escape from the vehicle on Kinoʻole Avenue near Haihi Street.

Police responding to an 11:26 a.m. report of an apparent domestic incident in a pink SUV located the vehicle in the Panaʻewa area. The driver swerved in an attempt to ram a police vehicle and then fled to Stainback Highway, turned around on a side road and drove toward two officers, who had exited their police vehicles. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which then continued down Stainback Highway. It stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

Asuncion surrendered and was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment. Detectives determined that he was struck by one of the rounds, which caused a superficial wound to his torso. Asuncion was released from the hospital early Monday evening and taken to the Hilo police cellblock shortly before 7 p.m. while detectives continued the investigation.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. The two officers involved are on desk duty during the investigation. One is a six-year veteran police officer and the other has been an officer for approximately a year.

Man With Hate Rips Off State

The Hilo man who parks his truck at Lincoln Park and spews hateful words out of the back of his truck on cardboard signs has been convicted of obtaining benefits from the state illegally.

Facebook profile picture of James Borden

Facebook profile picture of James Borden

According to arrest records, James G. Borden, 64 of a Hilo address was indicted for Theft in the 2nd Degree on November 21, 2013. Borden was arrested at a Kapiolani Street address on December 17, 2013, and bail was set at $2,000.

Borden indictment 1

The indictment alleges that from April 1st, 2012 to April 30th, 2013, Borden obtained public assistance benefits “by deception” from Department of Health Services that totaled more then $300. He was initially charged with Theft in the 2nd Degree, but on July 11 Judge Glenn Hara accepted Borden’s plea of no contest to a reduced charge of Theft in the 3rd degree.

Borden up at the Hilo Pride Parade being a hate monger against everyone and anything

Borden up at the Hilo Pride Parade being a hate monger against everyone and anything

Borden filed a motion to defer acceptance of his no contest plea, and received a suspended jail sentence. Hara also ordered Borden to complete 50 hours of community service, and to repay the state Department of Human Services.

Borden List

Another condition of his release is that he must obtain and maintain legal and verifiable full time work or enroll in educational program. It’s unclear whether those court-ordered activities might interfere with his Lincoln Park demonstrations.

Pahoa Man Arrested for Attempted Murder and Other Offenses

A 32-year-old Puna man has been arrested on a Grand Jury indictment for attempted murder and other offenses.

Gilbert H. Waiau

Gilbert H. Waiau

Gilbert H. Waiau of Pāhoa was arrested Monday morning (July 21) on the strength of a bench warrant following a Grand Jury indictment charging him with attempted second-degree murder, attempted first-degree assault, attempted second-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree criminal property damage. His bail was set at $85,000. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock pending a court appearance Tuesday.

The charges stem from an incident on April 30, 2013. Puna Patrol officers responded to a report of a possible domestic dispute on the roadway. Officers responded to Kahakai Boulevard at Puni Mauka Loop, where a 23-year-old woman reported that Waiau had followed her in his car and tried to run her off the road, then intentionally hit her car with his. When she got out of her car, he reportedly attempted to ram her with his car.

The case was routed to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and then presented to a Grand Jury.

Big Island Police Arrest Pahoa Man for Trying to Run Down Two Officers

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested 38-year-old Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder for attempting to run down two officers on Monday.

Riley Asuncion

Riley Asuncion

Asuncion was taken to the Hilo police cellblock shortly before 7 p.m. Monday (July 21) after being released from Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated for a bruise to his torso sustained when the officers fired at him when he tried to run them down while they were on foot.

Asuncion was also arrested on suspicion of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and assault for an incident that started in downtown Hilo. In that case, passersby reported what they thought was a domestic dispute in a vehicle traveling from Hilo to the Panaʻewa area. The 30-year-old female victim, who was an acquaintance of Asuncion’s, managed to escape from the SUV before police located and began to pursue it. Police later located her in Hilo.

The pursuit began shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday, when South Hilo Patrol officers responded to the reports of a domestic incident in a pink sports-utility vehicle.

The officers located the SUV. When they attempted to contact the operator, it fled. Officers followed it to Stainback Highway, where it turned around on a side road and drove recklessly toward two officers, who had exited their police vehicles. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which continued down Stainback Highway. It then stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

Police determined that no one else was in the SUV at that time.

They located Asuncion a short time later, arrested him and took him to Hilo Medical Center.

Asuncion remains at the cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. The two officers involved are on desk duty during the investigation. One has been with the Hawaiʻi Police Department for six years and the other for approximately a year.

First Group of New Inmates Arrive at Kulani Correctional Facility

The first group of 21 inmates were transported up to Kulani Correctional Facility this morning.

Kumu Kini K. Burke, dignitaries, and guests gather for the blessing of Kulani Correctional Facility on July 2nd.

Kumu Kini K. Burke, dignitaries, and guests gather for the blessing of Kulani Correctional Facility on July 2nd.

The facility closed in 2009, resulting in the displacement of nearly 100 staff and the transfer of almost 200 Hawaii inmates to other overcrowded state facilities.

On July 1, Gov. Neil Abercrombie joined Public Safety Department (PSD) Director Ted Sakai and members of the East Hawaii community to mark the grand re-opening of Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Warden Ruth Coller-Forbes untie the maile lei and officially open the Kulani Correctional Facility.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and Warden Ruth Coller-Forbes untie the maile lei and officially open the Kulani Correctional Facility.

There are currently 56 staff working at the facility. Sixteen new ACOs started Basic Corrections Training on June 30 and will begin their jobs at Kulani upon graduation in August. In addition, 19 more positions are in various stages of recruitment.

Kulani’s 200 low-risk inmates will return in phases. The rest will return in increments over the next five months.

Governor Neil Abercrombie accepts a plaque from the Kulani Staff.

Governor Neil Abercrombie accepts a plaque from the Kulani Staff.

Vocational training and substance abuse treatment programs will be added through partnerships with community providers and other state departments. The vocational programs include a Facility Maintenance Program, Agriculture/Horticulture Program and other technology career training programs.

“The Facilities Maintenance Program teaches the inmates important trade skills like carpentry, drywall, solar installation, and electrical and plumbing fundamentals,” said Kulani Warden Ruth Coller Forbes. “The inmates will be helping to maintain and upgrade Kulani while learning important trade skills. We want them to leave Kulani as self-sufficient, productive members of society and never come back.”

PSD is also working with kupuna from East Hawaii to develop programs based on traditional Hawaiian values. In addition, the Departments of Agriculture and Labor are working with Kulani to develop a plan for a sustainable agriculture program that can help inmates develop essential work skills and provide fresh produce for the facility.

Kulani Banner

Kulani’s reactivation is a major accomplishment of the Abercrombie Administration and is consistent with Hawaii’s participation in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), launched last year. The JRI strategy is a data-driven plan to reduce spending on corrections, reinvest savings generated in strategies that would reverse crime trends and eventually bring inmates housed in Arizona back to Hawaii.

In anticipation of the reopening, $686,400 was allocated for construction and renovation of the facility.

Big Island Police Involved in Hilo Shooting

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a non-fatal officer-involved shooting in Hilo on Monday.

HPDBadgeShortly before 11:30 a.m., South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a domestic incident in a pink sports-utility vehicle in the Panaʻewa area.

The officers located the SUV. When they attempted to contact the operator, it fled. Officers followed it to Stainback Highway, where it turned around on a side road and drove recklessly toward two officers. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which continued down Stainback Highway. It then stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

It was determined that no one else was in the vehicle at that time.

The suspect was located a short time later. He was identified as 38-year-old Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa, arrested on suspicion of terroristic threatening and taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he remains in stable condition with a non-lethal injury to his torso.

Investigation determined that the 30-year old female victim of the reported domestic incident had exited the SUV before officers began following it. She was later located in Hilo.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Senator Schatz Lobbies FAA to Support Hawaii’s Ban on Aerial Advertising

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has confirmed that Honolulu’s aerial advertising ordinance remains valid.

Aerial Banner

The mainland-based company Aerial Banners North has been flying aerial banners over Oahu in violation of Honolulu’s ordinance banning aerial advertising, while ignoring citations from the Honolulu Police Department. The company has argued that its FAA certificate of waiver preempts the Honolulu ordinance and allows it to fly aerial banners over Oahu. In Washington, DC this week, Senator Schatz reached out to the FAA at the request of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and received a written response that the Honolulu ordinance prohibiting aerial advertising remains valid.

“This is great news for Oahu residents who don’t want to see their skies cluttered from mainland companies. One of the things that makes Hawai‘i beautiful is that we have well-thought out rules governing signage,” said Senator Schatz. “This letter from the FAA makes it clear that this rogue company is violating our law and we expect and hope that this clarification will cause them to stop what they’re doing.”

In the 2002 case of Skysign International, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 276 F.3d 1109 (9th Cir. 2002), the Ninth Circuit ruled in support of Honolulu’s view that its prohibition on aerial advertising is not preempted by federal law. The FAA confirmed in writing today that the precedent from the Skysign case remains the FAA’s position and that Honolulu has the right to prohibit aerial advertising.

Community Meetings Scheduled to Assist and Educate Kupuna From Becoming Victims of Crime

Mayor Billy Kenoi, the Hawaiʻi Police Department, Hawaiʻi County Office of Aging and Hawaiʻi County Mass Transit Agency, in partnership with  Department of Attorney General, Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division, Community and Crime Prevention Branch, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair, Office of the Securities Commissioner, Department of Health, Executive Office on Aging, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP Hawaiʻi), Department of Public Safety, Narcotics Enforcement Division will hold four Kupuna Alert Partners (KAP) presentations to assist and educate our kupuna to curtail and prevent becoming victims of fraud, prescription drug misuse and crime.

HPDBadgeThe KAP program was initially formed as a State multi-agency group partnership to bring pertinent information on Medicare fraud prevention, securities fraud prevention and prescription drug misuse to the community. Additionally, the Hawaiʻi Police Department will provide information and tips on securing your residence to prevent burglaries and thefts.

“Because our kupuna are particularly vulnerable and oftentimes targeted as victims of property crimes, the Hawaiʻi Police Department has established partnerships with these State and County agencies in order to reach out and educate our kupuna about awareness and prevention,” said Police Chief Harry Kubojiri. “These KAP presentations are not only for our kupuna, but also for their family members and caregivers.”

Immediately following each 1-hour Kupuna Alert Partners presentation, the Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Enforcement Division will conduct a half-hour prescription drug take-back operation. Participants are encouraged to bring their unused or expired mediation for safe, anonymous disposal.

The following topics will be covered during the KAP presentations in Kona and Waimea on August 12 and in Hilo and Puna on August 13:

Medical Identity Theft and Medicare Fraud Prevention
Preventing Prescription Drug Misuse
Investor Fraud Prevention
Burglary Prevention Tips

The presentations will take place at the following times and locations:
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kona
West Hawai‘i Civic Center, County Council Room
10:30-11:30 a.m. (Medication Take-Back 11:30-12:00)

Waimea
Hawaiian Homes Hall
2:30-3:30 p.m. (Medication Take-Back 3:30-4:00)
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hilo
Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale
10:00-11:00 a.m. Wednesday (Medication Take-Back 11:00-11:30)

Puna
Keaʻau Community Center
2:00-3:00 p.m. (Medication Take-Back 3:00-3:30)

The public is encouraged to attend.

Pahoa Man Steals Milk – Leads to Other More Serious Offenses

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 25-year-old Puna man in connection with a burglary and two auto thefts in Puna.

At 2:10 p.m. Monday (July 14), police responded to a report of a burglary in the Ainaloa subdivision. A 51-year-old woman was home when an unknown man reportedly entered her Hilonani Street home and removed a gallon of milk. Responding officers found the suspect nearby in the bushes.

Lake Charles K. Lively

Lake Charles K. Lively

Lake Charles K. Lively of Pāhoa was arrested and found to be in possession of hydrocodone and marijuana. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

On Tuesday, Lively was charged with burglary, theft, promoting a harmful drug and promoting a detrimental drug. He was also charged with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle in an unrelated case. In that case, an Acura Integra was reported as stolen from a property in Kurtistown sometime between June 25 and June 26.

Bail for the above offenses was set at $38,000.

After Lively reported to court for those offenses on Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with another count of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. In that case, a Honda Civic was stolen from the parking lot of a business in Kurtistown and found behind a vacant house in Kurtistown. Bail for that offense was set at $10,000. Lively was taken to Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center pending his initial court appearance on that offense.

Big Island Police Searching for Man Caught Using Stolen Credit Card On Video

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a person captured on video surveillance while using a stolen credit card.
Credit Card Thief 3

The credit card was in a purse stolen August 25, 2013, from a business in downtown Hilo. The card was used the next day at two convenience stores in Hilo.

Police ask anyone who knows the identity of the person in the surveillance image to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Wendall Carter at 961-2378 or wcarter@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Help Identifying Couple Suspected of Theft

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man and a woman suspected of a theft from a department store on Puainakō Street in Hilo on Wednesday (July 16).

Unknown Couple

Unknown Couple

Unknown Woman

The woman shown was wearing a distinctive scorpion-design bracelet, as shown.

Unknown BraceletThe pair was seen leaving in a light-color pickup truck, as shown.
unknown truck

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call Officer Jacob Obermiller at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Hawaiian papaya and banana growers have joined cattlemen and floral producers to fight a ban on open-air growing and testing of genetically modified crops imposed by the Hawaii County Council.

The ban exempts existing papaya crops and growers. However, no new acres can be planted, according to the case filed June 9 in federal court. Hawaii County includes the entire Island of Hawaii. A scheduling hearing is set Sept. 8.

Growers say the ban — known as Bill 113 — conflicts with state and federal laws and is unconstitutional, according to the case filed by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association (HPIA) and the Big Island Banana Growers Association. Other plaintiffs joining in the case include the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, the Pacific Floral Exchange and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Hawaii County Council approved Bill 113 in December with a 6-3 vote. It requires existing GMO growers to annually register and pay a $100 fee. In another court action, a judge recently ruled the county cannot make public growers’ personal information and specific field locations collected in the registry.

Growers challenged publication of the registry saying it would encourage vandalism, which has previously resulted in crop destruction.

Hawaii’s papaya industry was nearly destroyed by ringspot virus in the early 1990s, and development of the Rainbow variety was the industry’s answer. The Rainbow variety passed federal review and was first planted in 1998. According to court documents, at least 85% of the papaya crop grown on Hawaii Island is Rainbow.

“Bill 113 has stigmatized HPIA members by conveying a false message that (GMO) crops and plants harm human health and the environment and has imposed other costs on HPIA,” according to the lawsuit.

Banana growers, including Richard Ha who is a plaintiff in the federal case, contend they need the option to test and possibly plant GMO bananas to mitigate threats from bunchy top virus and other diseases.

More here: Cattlemen Sue Hawaii County Over GMO Ban

Big Island Police Searching for Man Wanted on Six Warrants

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 46-year-old man wanted on six warrants for contempt of court.

Pio Kapeli Jr.

Pio Kapeli Jr.

Pio Kapeli Jr. is also wanted for questioning in connection with a theft investigation.

He is described as 5-foot-10, 215 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair and numerous tattoos. He has no permanent address but frequents the Puna area.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Robert Almeida at 961-2386 or ralmeida@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Governor Abercrombie Expedites 3 Appointments to Boards and Commissions with Several Vacancies

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the nominations of Jonathan Scheuer to the Land Use Commission (LUC), as well as Rona Fukumoto and Edwin Taira to the Board of Directors of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), effective immediately. All are interim appointments subject to state Senate approval.

Scheuer was appointed to an at-large seat and is the first LUC appointee to fill vacancies left by five recent resignations on the nine-member commission.

For HHFDC, Fukumoto was appointed to the “community advocate for low-income housing affiliated with a private nonprofit” seat, and Taira to the Hawaii County seat. Two vacancies remain on HHFDC, also a nine-member board, which likewise had multiple resignations recently.

“Filling vacancies on the Land Use Commission is a top priority for the administration right now so commissioners can resume decision-making,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The appointments to HHFDC were expedited to avoid interruption of its duties. I thank Jonathan, Rona and Ed for quickly stepping up to accept their nominations to ensure that the public continues to be served.”

Jonathan ScheuerJonathan Scheuer of Honolulu has 25 years of experience in policy and land management in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. Since 1990, he has run his own consulting practice helping clients manage conflicts over natural resources. Scheuer was also land management director for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) from 2006 to 2010 and a policy analyst for OHA from 2004 to 2006. He has been a lecturer at the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa, a fellow with the Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools, staff lead for the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Natural Area Reserves System Commission, and a legislative aide to Rep. Jim Shon. Scheuer currently serves on the Board of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust and with the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter. His previous public service includes serving as vice chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council and work with the Oahu Land Trust, Malama Manoa and Malama Hawaii. An Iolani School graduate, Scheuer holds bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a master’s degree from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Rona Fukumoto

Rona Fukumoto of Honolulu is currently division administrator for Catholic Charities Hawaii’s Housing Assistance and Referral Programs, and is the nonprofit’s former director of intake, information and referral. Prior to that, she worked her way up from employment specialist to vice president and director of employment and community programs at Winners at Work from 1995 to 2004. Fukumoto also served as an educational specialist and office assistant at UH Manoa’s KOKUA Program. She currently volunteers as a member of the Catholic Charities Housing Development Corporation and Hawaii State Department of Human Services Financial Assistance Advisory Council, and is a former member of the Hawaii Parkinson Association. Fukumoto also volunteers for Project Dana, providing respite care through home visits to elderly individuals. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in public administration from UH Manoa.

Edwin Taira, a resident of Hilo, has more than 30 years of housing experience that includes management, program and development background. He previously served as housing administrator, assistant housing administrator and development division head for Hawaii County’s Office of Housing and Community Development. While there, Taira gained experience with the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Investment Act, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 and Community Development Block Grant programs. His development experience includes numerous affordable for sale and rental projects. Taira has served on the Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation and the Rental Housing Trust Fund Commission, and has been a private consultant for HHFDC and private developers. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UH Manoa.

Land Use Commission

The State Land Use Law was adopted in 1961, establishing a framework of land use management and regulation in which all state lands are classified into urban, rural, agricultural or conservation districts. The Legislature established the Land Use Commission to administer this statewide zoning law. The commission is responsible for preserving and protecting Hawaii’s lands and encouraging those uses to which the lands are best suited.

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation

The mission of the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation is to increase and preserve the supply of workforce and affordable housing statewide by providing leadership, tools and resources to facilitate housing development.

The Office of the Governor oversees more than 180 boards and commissions established by the state constitution, statutes or executive orders.

Star-Advertiser Poll Confirms that Majority Oppose Federal Involvement in Native Hawaiian Recognition

A new online poll by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser confirms that despite continued support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a significant majority are opposed to the federal government’s involvement in the creation of a Native Hawaiian government.

Advertiser PollThe poll, which appeared on the Star-Advertiser website as a daily poll question for July 15, 2014, asked, “Should the U.S. Department of Interior keep open the process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians?” An overwhelming 67% of those responding voted “No,” while only 33% supported the continuation of the DOI’s efforts.

In light of the strong opposition voiced at the recent DOI hearings, these results were not a surprise. Support for the nation-building process has waned over the years, but the recent efforts from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the federal response from the Department of the Interior have met with increasing criticism. Many Hawaiian citizens are concerned to see the nation-building process pursued so vigorously despite the many questions that have been raised about it.

“The people of Hawaii have put up a giant flashing ‘Stop’ sign for OHA and the federal government to see” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “In every possible venue they are expressing opposition to the state’s race-based nation-building program.   The question shouldn’t be whether the people support a Native Hawaiian government. The question should be whether the State will finally listen to the voice of the people and abandon this wasteful and divisive effort.”

“After the expenditure of millions of dollars and considerable influence, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has still failed to convince the People of the merit of its nation-building effort,” continued Dr. Akina. “How much more will they throw away on this process? These resources could be better spent helping the people of Hawaii in real and substantial ways such as improving educational achievement or job training. Let us hope that OHA finally hears what the citizens of Hawaii have been trying so hard to tell them–it’s time to get out of the nation-building business.”

2014 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner Announced

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have a 2014 “Rusty Scalpel” winner, HB2434, CD1, Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax! The two organizations offer a “Rusty Scalpel” award for the most altered bill whose original content is no longer recognizable because of “surgical techniques” that changed the original purpose of the bill.

hb2434During a Conference Committee near the end of the 2014 legislative session, without meaningful opportunity for public or agency comment, HB 2434 SD 2 was drastically amended. When introduced the measure was a bill to allocate $3 million of hotel tax revenues to a multi-purpose conservation fund. After the Conference Committee discarded the SD2, the bill morphed to a measure to refinance the Convention Center debt. Proceeds of the refinancing will be used to acquire the conservation easement at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Regardless of the final proposal’s merits, there was no compelling reason not to extend the session and hold public hearings on this important amended bill.

HB2434_SD2 Pdf File
HB2434_SD1 Pdf File
HB2434_HD2 Pdf File
HB2434_HD1 Pdf File
HB2434_CD1 Pdf File
HB2434 Pdf File

It disrespects Hawaii’s Constitution when a legislative committee adopts bill amendments with no rational connection to the subject of the bill referred to that committee. Article III, Section 14 of our Constitution specifically requires that each bill have a single subject expressed in the bill’s title and prohibits changing any bill’s title. Article III, Section 15 requires that each bill have three separate readings in each house of the Legislature. The unambiguous intent is to encourage informed public comment on all proposed legislation and thorough consideration of all relevant factors by both House and Senate subject matter committees. The public obviously is not aware of and cannot comment on substantive amendments being proposed in Conference Committee.

Ann Shaver, League President, said “This makes a travesty of the democratic process. Just because there are enough votes to pass a measure doesn’t make it Constitutional. HB2434 CD1 proposed a new idea, maybe even a great idea, but it was obviously unrelated to the bill’s original purpose. The content of the CD1 stunned us; it was passed without a single public hearing when there was no emergency. “

Carmille Lim of Common Cause added, “Citizens should be able to participate in the legislative process in a fair and orderly manner. In this case, a $40 million dollar appropriation was grafted on to a major last-minute change, depriving many members of the legislature from the normal review and give and take of budget discussions. Gutting bills and replacing content with new and unrelated content that alters the bill’s original intention does a disservice to members of the public and distorts the legislative process.

“Last year the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other civic organizations petitioned both houses of the Legislature asking that they amend legislative rules to ban such practices, but the legislature chose to do nothing. Maybe a Constitutional amendment to prohibit this would make democracy work a little better.

In the 2014 session the League and Common Cause identified dozens of bills which were subjected to these techniques. For example, HB 193 concerned developer compliance with conditions for land use district boundary amendments while HB 193, SD 1 concerned use of State property for transit-oriented development. Or for example, SB 2535 concerned State acquisition of real property for agricultural production while SB 2535, proposed HD 1 concerned labeling of genetically modified food.

In general, when the subject of a bill was totally changed after cross-over, only one public hearing was held on the amended subject (with the Senate totally disregarding public testimony to the House, and the House totally disregarding public testimony to the Senate). However, HB2434, CD1 was our “winner” because not only was it a “gut and replace” no hearing was held on the CD1 version of the bill.

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and improving Hawaii’s political process and holding government accountable to the public interest. For more information, www.commoncause.org/states/hawaii/

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information visit http://www.lwv-hawaii.com/index.htm

Big Island Police Need Help Identifying Composite Drawings of Robbery Suspects

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying robbery suspects shown in composite drawings.

Composite Sketch

Composite Sketch

Sketch2
At 2:20 a.m. on June 27, Kona Patrol officers responded to a reported robbery near the intersection of Highway 190 and Loloa Drive in Kalaoa.

The victim, a 27-year-old Kailua-Kona man, had been hitchhiking at the intersection of Palani Road and Henry Street in Kailua-Kona when two men in a dark Jeep Cherokee picked him up. Near the intersection of Highway 190 and Loloa Drive, the Jeep pulled off the road onto an access road to the Department of Water Supply’s pump station. The driver then reportedly exited the vehicle, went to the rear passenger door armed with a knife and robbed the victim of an undisclosed amount of cash. While the victim was walking away from the Jeep, the driver attacked him, causing a stab wound to his right arm and a laceration to his chest.

The victim was able to flee the area and call 911. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Following the victim’s lengthy recovery, detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section were able to work with a Police Department forensic artist to produce composite sketches of the suspects. The driver was described as a local male, 6-feet tall, 200 pounds in his early 30s. The passenger, who was only seen from the rear, was described as a heavy-set local male with long hair in a pony tail that had several dark bands.

Police ask anyone with information about this case or the suspects’ identities to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Levon Stevens at 326-4646, extension 275, or lstevens@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Man Dies in Crash in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates

A 20-year-old Kaʻū man died Sunday (July 13) from injuries he sustained in a single-vehicle crash late Friday on Hawaiʻi Belt Road and the junction with Ginger Blossom Lane in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.

Austin Yurong

Austin Yurong

He has been identified as Austin L. Yurong of Hawaiian Ocean View Estates.

Responding to a 11:10 p.m. call Friday (July 11), Kaʻū Patrol officers determined that Yurong, who was the operator and sole occupant of a 1986 Toyota pickup truck, was traveling east on Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 11) between the 80- and 81-mile markers approaching the junction with Ginger Blossom Lane when he lost control and veered off the right shoulder, colliding with a lava embankment. The vehicle veered back into the southbound traffic lane and then back into the lava embankment, rolled twice and came to rest upright, straddling the center lane markings.

Yurong was ejected from the vehicle and found lying unconscious on the south shoulder. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital and later transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, where he was pronounced dead at 12:39 p.m. Sunday.

Hawaiʻi Belt Road was closed to all traffic from about 11:10 p.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday.

Police believe that alcohol and speed may be contributing factors to this collision.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a coroner’s inquest investigation and has ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the collision to call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.

This is the 8th fatality this year compared with 17 at this time last year.

Canadian Navy Orders Ship Return After Misconduct by Sailors at RIMPAC

I just don’t know what to say about these Canucks at times!

HMCS Whitehorse

HMCS Whitehorse

The head of the Royal Canadian Navy has taken the rare step of ordering one of its ships to return from an international exercise because of misconduct by its sailors.

Vice Admiral Mark Norman issued the message Monday, citing three incidents involving the crew of HMCS Whitehorse that took place during Exercise RIMPAC 2014.