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Pacific Paradise Finally Removed From Waikiki Reef

The grounded Pacific Paradise was successfully removed from the reef off Kaimana Beach Thursday.

Following removal from the beach, crews prepare the Pacific Paradise further about a mile offshore from Oahu, Dec. 7, 2017. A combination of salvage and response experts worked over a 58-day period to repair, refloat and remove the vessel from the beach. The cause of the original grounding remains under investigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Todd Duke/Released)

The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources will assume the lead as the coordinating agency to work with the owner of the Pacific Paradise to conduct cleanup of the wreck site as the pollution threat has been removed. The state will assess any damage done to the reef and facilitate the next step in mitigating the impacts and rehabilitating the reef.

“This response has been long and challenging, but the professionalism and expertise of the crews that came together was nothing short of impressive”, said Capt. Michael Long, captain of the port and commander U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. We appreciate the patience and support of the public, the diligence and persistence of our partners and are grateful the Pacific Paradise was safely removed.”

Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, expressed her sincere appreciation to everyone involved for their patience, persistence and care in getting the Pacific Paradise removed from the reef successfully and safely. Case said, “These efforts are complex, and with the addition of unpredictable ocean conditions, the position, size and weight of the ship on the reef, and its proximity to one of Hawaii’s most populated beach areas, it was important that we all worked together to remove the ship while minimizing risk to people and to the environment. DLNR is conducting a full assessment of the reef and any associated natural resource damage that occurred during the event.”

Response crews refloated the Pacific Paradise Wednesday and moved the vessel about 600 feet into the sandy channel before losing the tide. Crews conducted additional work to the vessel late in the day to prepare for the refloat and tow Thursday. That effort was ultimately successful in fully removing the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on the high tide using the tug Pi’ilani.

Just over a mile offshore the tow was switched over to the tug American Contender for the transit out to the EPA-approved disposal site 13 miles south of Oahu in federal waters. The responders are now in the process of sinking the Pacific Paradise in nearly 1,800 feet of water, which may take several hours.

During the operation to refloat and remove the grounded vessel minimal pollution entered the water.
The vessel originally grounded just before midnight Oct. 10. In the time since, local and mainland experts have worked diligently to remove the vessel as quickly and safely as possible with the least amount of impact to the marine environment. Responders spent the past weeks preparing and patching the hull, removing excess weight by pumping water and removing heavy spare parts including sheet metal and the rudder and adding additional buoyancy. The challenging environment and weather did slow or delay some work.

The Coast Guard is continuing the investigation into the cause of the grounding. That process will likely take several months. Once complete those findings will be released to the public and action will be taken to levee any fines or punitive actions that may be deemed appropriate.

DUI Checkpoints in Place for Thanksgiving Weekend

DUI checkpoints to increase during holiday season. BIN photo.

As part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” officers will conduct islandwide DUI checkpoints in anticipation of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

Sgt. Robert P. Pauole, head of the Traffic Services Section, said impaired driving has been responsible for 11 of the 29 fatalities so far this year.

“Always remember to have a designated, sober and licensed driver before you start drinking,”Sgt. Pauole said. “If you can’t find one, don’t take a chance—call Uber or take a taxi.”

Sgt. Pauole also urges motorists to wear seat belts during every trip to prevent injury or death in the event of an accident.

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year, which means it has the potential for more crashes.

Buckling up provides the best defense against injury or death in a crash, Pauole said. “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that risk of fatal injury goes down by 45 percent for front-seat occupants of passenger cars who wear seat belts and by 60 percent for light-truck occupants who wear them,” he said. “Survive your Thanksgiving drive. Buckle up and drive sober.”

Beware of Scam Artist Posing as BBB Employee

A scam artist has been reported posing as a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Hawaiʻi.

The BBB received a scam report on Oct. 26 and 27 from a woman who received a call from a person claiming to be a BBB employee offering her the opportunity to lower her credit card interest rate.

BBB’s do not offer lower interest rates. This is a new twist on the common “lower your interest rate” scam.

The woman who received these calls reported that the calls came from a local number, (808) 971-4179.

Upon answering the call, the woman heard a prerecorded message that stated the call was from the BBB and prompted her to press a number.

After she did this, a man on the phone introduced himself as a BBB employee. After giving the woman some information on BBB, he asked the woman to supply him with all of her credit card information to get her a lower interest rate.

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips to avoid falling victim to this sort of scam:

  • Don’t give out your credit card information. Once a scammer has your data, they can charge your credit card for their own purchases or sell the information to other scammers.
  • Don’t share other personal financial or sensitive information like your bank account or Social Security numbers. Scam artists often ask for this information during an unsolicited sales pitch, and then use it to commit other frauds against you.
  • Be skeptical of any unsolicited sales calls that are prerecorded, especially if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. You shouldn’t get recorded sales pitches unless you have specifically agreed to accept such calls, with a few exceptions.

If you receive a call such as this, be sure not to give out any personal information and report the incident immediately. Scams such as this can be reported using the BBB Scam Tracker.

Consumers can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

Governor Ige Appoints Three First Circuit Court (Island of O‘ahu) Judges

Gov. David Ige today announced three appointments to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu) as follows:

Rowena A. Somerville – 50, Attorney, Hearings Officer, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy left when former Circuit Judge Derrick H. M. Chan was elevated to the position of Associate Judge for the Intermediate Court of Appeals in April 2017.

Somerville has been an attorney in Hawaiʻi for over twenty years, dedicating her entire legal career to public service. She is currently an Administrative Hearings Officer at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and has presided over one hundred special education due process hearings. She previously served as a Deputy Attorney General in the Land and Transportation Division and as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. She began her career as a law clerk at the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission and followed that by a clerkship at the District Court of the First Circuit.

Somerville earned her law degree from the University of Hawaiʻi, William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1996.

“I am deeply honored and humbled that Gov. Ige has nominated me to serve as a First Circuit Court judge. It has been a privilege to serve the community for over twenty years as an attorney, and I am looking forward to the confirmation process,” said Somerville.

Matthew J. Viola – 55, Judge, District/Family Court of the First Circuit, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy created by the vacancy left by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Dexter D. Del Rosario in December 2016.

Judge Viola is currently the lead judge of the domestic (divorce) division of the Family Court, First Circuit Court of the State of Hawaiʻi. Since his appointment as a family court judge in August 2010, he has served as the presiding judge of the Juvenile Drug Court of the First Circuit. Prior to his appointment as a family court judge, he was in private practice, primarily handling employment law and general civil litigation cases. While working as a sole practitioner, he served as a part-time family court per diem judge since 2002 and as a contract attorney for the City and County of Honolulu Ethics Commission since 2003. From 1995 to 2002, he was an attorney with Simons, Wilson & Viola.

Viola attended Williams College, where he received his B.A. degree, magna cum laude. After attending Stanford Law School, where he graduated with distinction in 1991, he worked as an associate attorney with a San Francisco law firm for two years before moving to Hawaiʻi and clerking for Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Paula Nakayama from 1993 to 1995.

“I am honored and humbled by Gov. Ige’s nomination. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the people of the State of Hawaiʻi,” said Viola.

Paul B. K. Wong – 49, Judge, District Court of the First Circuit, is appointed to the First Circuit Court (Island of Oʻahu), to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Karl K. Sakamoto in December 2016.

Judge Wong was appointed to the District Court of the First Circuit on May 29, 2012. Prior to his appointment, he was a Partner with the law firm of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon, LLP, and a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu.

Wong is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Boston College Law School.

“I am deeply grateful to Gov. Ige, and his administration for the privilege and trust to serve as a Circuit Court Judge. I look forward to discussing my qualifications with the Senate, and if confirmed, will commit all my energies and skills to be deserving of the honor,” said Wong.

“All three of these appointees understand that legal issues have a real and lasting impact on our people and in our communities. They are thoughtful, innovative and deeply committed to equitable problem solving. I know they will exercise patience and dedicate the time needed to assure fair administration of justice,” said Gov. Ige.

The process used to select these appointees is the same process used in prior selections and will be used whenever Gov. Ige makes judicial appointments. Gov. Ige personally interviewed each candidate, received input from retired Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy, who reviewed the qualifications of the nominees and solicited feedback on each from the law community, and reviewed testimony submitted by the public. The Senate confirmation also allows opportunities for the general public to weigh in.

All three appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

Former Charter School Principal Charged with Theft

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that Laara Allbrett was charged yesterday by way of felony information with four counts of Theft in the Second Degree, a class C felony punishable by up to five years jail and/or a $10,000 fine.

Allbrett, 64, is the former principal of the Halau Lokahi public charter school, a Native Hawaiian-focused charter school whose recurring financial difficulties led to the revocation of its charter by the State Public Charter School Commission on March 30, 2015.

The felony information alleges that Allbrett committed theft by deception during her tenure as the principal of Halau Lokahi. A felony information is merely an allegation of criminal wrongdoing against Allbrett, and she is presumed innocent until found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt by a judge or jury.

A copy of the charging document is attached.

Click to read full document

Aid for Tenants, Landlords Program Expands to Kauai

Following the success of a program that helps landlords to get paid and keep tenants from being evicted on Oahu and in Maui County, Steps to Avoid Eviction is now available on Kauai.

The STAE program guides homeowners and tenants to resolve disputes without going to court. Its goals are to teach renters how to avoid evictions and to ensure that landlords can consistently collect rental income that is due.

Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong

“When landlord-tenant cases enter the judicial system, it is often too late to amicably resolve their issues,” said Fifth Circuit District Court Judge Michael Soong. “We hope that by providing advance information and available resources, all parties may address their problems before someone files a lawsuit.”

The potential impact for Kauai is strong. A recent U.S. Census Bureau study indicated that 25 percent of the island’s 30,238 total housing units are occupied by renters. Furthermore, the population of 71,735 residents is growing an average of three people daily, the bureau reported.

“I want to thank the participating agencies, and attorneys Craig De Costa, Michelle Premeaux, Patrick Childs, and Linda Vass for assisting with the program and brochure,” Soong added.

The agencies providing strong support for STAE are Kauai Self Help Center; Legal Aid Society; Kauai Economic Opportunity Mediation Services; County of Kauai Housing Agency; Mental Health Kokua; Catholic Charities; Women in Need; Family Life Center Kauai; and The Salvation Army.

“I deeply appreciate the hard work of the attorneys, agencies, and businesses in bringing this important early intervention program to the Garden Island, and thank Judge Soong for his leadership,” said Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald.

The STAE brochure is available through numerous Kauai agencies, including those listed above, and online. A copy of the brochure is attached.

Program information: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/special_projects/stae
Kauai brochure: http://www.courts.state.hi.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Kauai_STAE_brochure_FINAL.pdf

33 State Attorneys General Urge Congress to Evaluate ‘Bump Stocks’

Expressing extreme concern about the role “bump stocks” played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Attorney General Doug Chin yesterday joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.

Click to read letter

The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm’s stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.

It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with “bump stocks” to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machineguns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.

Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and “machineguns” have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act’s effective date.

According to the letter, bump stocks can “mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands.” The attorneys general also state that Congress “should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws” when considering any news laws.

Joining the letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is attached.

Inmate Indicted for Assault of Adult Corrections Office at Women’s Correctional Facility

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that inmate Alex Parks was charged today with assault in the second degree and harassment against adult corrections officers at the Women’s Community Correctional Center.

Click to read

Assault in the second degree is a class C felony and carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. Harassment is a petty-misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

Alex Parks is presumed innocent unless and until she is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of the charging document is attached.

Woman Found Dead in Volcano Caldera

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Parks reports that a woman was found dead in the Kīlauea caldera on Sunday, Oct. 29.

A USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory webcam captured this image of spattering on Kīlauea Volcano’s summit lava lake on Sept. 6, 2017. In concert with summit inflation, the lake level had risen to 54 ft below the vent rim, bringing it into view from the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. When inflation switched to deflation the next day, the lava lake level dropped about 49 ft. PC: USGS

Park rangers recovered the body of a 63-year-old Kea‘au woman Sunday morning from Kīlauea caldera below Steaming Bluff.

At approximately 10 a.m., the park received a report about a female resident missing since Friday. Family traced her phone to the park, and park rangers located her vehicle at the Steam Vents parking area. Rangers began to search for her by ground and air. At around 11:30 a.m., the woman’s body was located by personnel aboard a County of Hawai‘i helicopter about 250 feet below the caldera rim, and removed.

According to Chief Ranger John Broward, the woman appears to have died after falling from the edge beyond Crater Rim Trail. The area where she fell is not currently erupting. Rangers stated it appeared that she left the trail and went around several barriers to access the edge.

Her name is being withheld pending notification of family. An investigation is underway.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance in Identifying Pahoa Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect from a theft that occurred in Pāhoa on (October 2).

Have you seen this man?

The male suspect is shown in the photo wearing a black ball cap, black T-shirt, and jeans.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Terrance Scanlan at the Pāhoa Police Department number (808) 965-2716 or the departments non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 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 does not record phone calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Joins Multistate Court Brief Opposing Ban on Transgender Individuals in the Military

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief opposing the Trump Administration’s plans to ban open military service by transgender individuals.

Click to read brief

The amicus brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that banning transgender individuals serving in the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense, and harmful to the transgender community at large. The case, Doe v. Trump, was brought by GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The attorneys general argue in their brief that transgender individuals volunteer to serve in the armed forces at approximately twice the rate of adults in the general population, and that approximately 150,000 veterans, active-duty service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserves identify as transgender.

In the brief, the attorney generals state that since adopting open service policies, “there is no evidence that it has disrupted military readiness, operational effectiveness, or morale. To the contrary, anecdotal accounts indicate that the positive impacts of inclusion were beginning to manifest, as capable and well-qualified individuals who were already serving finally were able to do so authentically.”

Additionally, the attorneys general strongly support the rights of transgender people to live with dignity, to be free from discrimination, and to participate fully and equally in all aspects of civic life, and argue that these interests are all best served by allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and joined by Attorney General Chin for Hawaii, other states joining in today’s brief include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

A copy of the amicus brief is attached.

Big Island Police Searching for 18-Year-Old Puna Man Wanted in Burglary Investigation

Hawaiʻi Island police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating an 18-year-old Puna man wanted in connection with a burglary investigation.

Donald Kepner

Sought is Donald Kepner, described as Caucasian, 5-feet-10-inches, 150 pounds, blue eyes and blonde hair. Kepner is known to frequent the Puna area.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective William Brown at (808) 961-8883 or William.brown@hawaiicounty.gov

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for Man Wanted for Sexual Assault and Outstanding Warrants

UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 30-year-old Jesse Coley who was wanted on outstanding warrants. He arrested this afternoon, (October 16), and taken into custody.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for 30-year-old Jesse Coley of Kapaau who is wanted for sexual assault and outstanding warrants.

Jesse Coley

He is described as Caucasian, 5-feet-8-inches, 180 pounds with blue eyes and dark hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Departments non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 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.

Puna Man Charged in Stabbing Incident

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 32-year-old Puna man in connection with a stabbing in Puna.

At 12:26 a.m., on (October 12), officers responded to a residence in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision to a report of a man who had been stabbed by another man who shared the same home.

The victim, a 34-year-old Puna man, sustained stab wounds to his neck and was taken by medics to the Hilo Medical Center in serious but stable condition. He was later flown via air ambulance to the Queen’s Medical Center on Oʻahu for additional treatment and has since been upgraded to good condition.

Michael Potee

At 12:40 a.m., the suspect, Michael Potee, was arrested at the scene and taken to the Hilo cellblock while detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section continued the investigation.

Friday evening, (October 13), Potee was charged with second-degree assault. He was released from police custody at 9:10 p.m., after posting $2000 bail and is scheduled to appear in District Court on (November 16).

Anyone who may have knowledge about the incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Scott Amaral of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2384 or Scott.Amaral@hawaiicounty.gov.

Saddle Road Fatality

A 49-year old Hilo man died following a 2 vehicle crash Saturday morning (October 14), in the district of Hāmākua.

His name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his family.

Responding to a 7:21 a.m. call, police determined that a 2001 Dodge Caravan was traveling westbound on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road), near the 38-mile marker when he was overtaking vehicles and struck a 2015 Honda Fit that was traveling eastbound.

The man who died was taken to the North Hawaii Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:42 a.m.

The driver of the Honda, a 36-year old female of Mountain View, was also transported to the North Hawaii Community Hospital for her injuries and was listed in critical condition.

Police believe that speed was a factor and the man was not wearing a seatbelt. The female was wearing a seatbelt.

Police do not believe that drugs or alcohol were factors in this crash.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Casey Cabral at (808) 961-2329. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300.

This is the 27th traffic fatality this year compared with 23 at this time last year.

Ali’i Drive in Kona Shuts Down for the Weekend – Ironman is Here

HPD Police Traffic Advisory:
Ali’i Drive by Likana Lane to King Kamehameha Hotel, Kailua, Kona, from 8:00am today until Sunday 10-15-17 at 2:00 pm.

Former Mayor Kenoi Represents “Peaman” – Fine Dismissed

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) at its regularly scheduled meeting today reviewed a proposed administrative enforcement action against Kona resident Sean Pagett for organizing unpermitted fitness swimming events in Kailua Bay.

The Board voted to dismiss the fine upon receiving assurances from Pagett’s counsel, former Hawaii mayor William Kenoi, that Pagett will apply for a DOBOR permit, including obtaining required insurance coverage, for all future marine events he plans. The Board also voted to confirm that DOBOR rules do authorize the boating division, acting in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard, to require and issue permits for marine events, including swim races.

DOBOR Administrator Ed Underwood said, “Our shared goal is safety for all. Kona is known for its land and ocean fitness events which draw hundreds of participants of all ages. We know they are popular and we support this activity. However, any event which places people onto land or in ocean areas where there is potential conflict with vehicles or vessels needs to be responsibly coordinated with appropriate agencies to be sure no one gets hurt or worse.”

The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) brought the proposed enforcement action which recommended the issuance of fines totaling $10,000 to Pagett for two violations of the permit requirement rule.

According to Underwood, “Mr. Pagett was aware that a permit was needed to hold these events but continued to hold them without a permit. Both DOBOR staff and our Deputy Attorneys General reached out to him, through his attorney, and offered that there would not be any enforcement action, as long as he agreed to obtain permits for future events. He declined our previous offer. We tried to work with him but had no choice but to bring an enforcement action to ensure he follows the law same as everyone and same as for all other marine events. We look forward to working with him on the permitting process.”

“Permits help DOBOR, the U.S. Coast Guard and ocean safety agencies to keep track of people and boats in the water, prevent potential conflicts and hazards to life and indemnify the state if there should be an accident. Unless there are consequences for violating state statutes and administrative rules, people do not have an incentive to abide by our rules and directions which are necessary for public safety,” Underwood added.

DOBOR officials said that Sean Pagett (also known as “Peaman”) formerly obtained permits but stopped when the insurance requirement changed. He has staged 350 events over the years that have included running, bicycling, swimming, or a combination of each in which there are 70-120 participants per event. Events involving swimming have typically been staged from, or around the Kailua-Kona pier, and swim portions of events take place within the adjacent designated Ocean Recreation Management Area (ORMA). The swim zone is marked by lines and buoys, to keep swimmers out of restricted areas around the pier used by boats.

In late 2016, DOBOR staff and DLNR Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officers advised Pagett that a Nov. 27, 2016 swim-run race event was held without a marine event permit, using the swim zone at Kailua Pier, an administrative rule violation. The same morning a cruise ship moored offshore was ferrying 2000 passengers into the pier by tender, posing a potential safety hazard.

On December 12, 2016, officials met with Pagett and his attorney to discuss his events and ways to comply with permitting requirements. Pagett claimed the rule did not apply to his events since no fee was charged, participants did not have to register, and no prizes were awarded. He claimed participants were “a group of friends who gather to do timed events.” He was warned that continuing to hold events without a permit would be a violation of state rules and subject to citation and fines.

Then on December 25, 2016, Pagett held the “Peaman Birthday Bonanza” which involved a ½ mile swim and 3.9 mile run/walk race. He did not apply for a marine event permit from DOBOR, and no permit was issued to him. He was cited by DOCARE officers.

Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance Identifying Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information regarding the identification of a suspect involved in a theft of a lawnmower that occurred from a retail establishment in Keaʻau.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Bryson Pilor at the Pahoa Police Station number (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Support the POWER Act During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor urging Congress to support survivors of domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and cosponsor the POWER Act (H.R. 1762).

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Domestic violence often hides behind closed doors and drawn curtains, but the problem is very staggering. In my home state of Hawai‘i, 575 domestic violence survivors reach out to local organizations seeking help every single day. Their stories are heartbreaking and too often, even if they are temporarily removed from their abusive environment, they often return to that abuser.

“Survivors can seek legal protection from their abusers, but they aren’t likely to do so – or to be successful – unless they have a lawyer. Just 32% of victims successfully obtain a restraining order without legal representation. I call on my colleagues to support the POWER Act, which requires every state’s U.S. attorney to promote and expand pro-bono legal services, specifically for domestic violence survivors.

“We all need to be more conscious of this problem because it’s happening in our communities. As we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us have the courage to confront the pervasiveness of this crime and take action to help provide survivors with the safety and security that they need.”

Background:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, including supporting Maui’s Women Helping Women, passing Talia’s Law, praising the Hawai‘i Text-to-911 program, and more.

The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1762, the POWER Act, which would help connect domestic violence survivors with legal representation. For more information on the economic benefits of providing legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence, view the Institute for Policy Integrity Report, Supporting Survivors, here.