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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Seek Witnesses to Fatal Car Crash

National Park Service rangers are seeking witnesses to a fatal single-vehicle accident that occurred on Highway 11 near mile marker 30 and the Pi‘i Mauna Drive intersection in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Thursday night.

volcano car crashAt approximately 9:38 p.m., a female driver traveling south on Highway 11 crashed into a cluster of large ‘ōhi‘a trees and was ejected from the vehicle, a 1992 Honda sedan. Park rangers and County of Hawai‘i rescue personnel determined the victim did not survive, and her body was transported to Hilo Medical Center.

The identification of the victim is unknown, and an investigation is underway.

Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to call Park Dispatch at (808) 985-6170.


Presentation – Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii

The Zonta Club of Hilo is hosting a presentation by Kathy Xian, Executive Director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, on understanding the dynamics of human trafficking in Hawaii on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at the Hilo Women’s Club located at 7 Lele Street from 5:30 – 7:30.

The free, public presentation is part of the Zonta Says NO 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence—an international campaign that aims to inspire action and end violence against women and girls around the world.

16 Days of Activism kicked off on Nov. 25 (International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women) and ends on Dec. 10 (Human Rights Day).

  • WHO: Kathryn Xian, Executive Director of The Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS)
  • WHAT: “Understanding the Dynamics of Human Trafficking in Hawaii” Presentation

kathy xian

NOTE: Presentation is free and open to the public. Zonta Club of Hilo president, Tonya Ozone, and Zonta Says NO Hilo campaign chair, Ashley Kierkiewicz, will be present and available for remarks.

In addition, Zonta Hilo has teamed up with local businesses to host shoe displays geared towards increasing awareness of gender-based violence. Each display includes a pair of shoes, “Who will be next?” poster, domestic violence survivor quote and resource cards. To date, 12 businesses have agreed to host a display for the duration of the 16 Days of Activism. A limited number of displays are left; interested individuals should contact Ashley Kierkiewicz at (808) 989-4004 or by emailing alk@hastingsandpleadwell.com.

DCCA Consumer Alert: Starwood Data Breach – Hawaii Hotels Affected

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is encouraging consumers who may have dined or shopped at any of the 54 locations identified by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. to protect themselves from potential credit card fraud.

Starwood made a list of the affected hotels, along with other information, available at www.starwoodhotels.com/paymentcardsecuritynotice. Affected Hawaii locations include: Moana Surfrider; Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa; Sheraton Waikiki; The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas; The Westin Maui Resort & Spa; and, The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas.

Click to view letter from Starwood President

Click to view letter from Starwood President

“We strongly encourage anyone who has used a credit or debit card to purchase food, drinks, or souvenirs at a Starwood property to check the list of hotels and identified dates of the data breaches,” said DCCA Director Catherine Awakuni Colόn. “According to Starwood, the information compromised could be used to make fraudulent charges on credit and debit cards. Everyone should make it a habit to check your monthly statements and annual credit report.”

DCCA has information on how to protect yourself following a security breach at http://cca.hawaii.gov/identity-theft-information/. This website includes links to sample forms and letters for victims of identity theft to help with the recovery process.

DCCA also partnered with the Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Health to offer guidance on how to avoid fraud and common scams in the Hawaii’s Fraud Prevention & Resource Guide available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/sec/files/2015/10/Fraud-Guide-2.pdf. Tips from the guide on how to protect yourself from credit card fraud include:

  • Keep a record of your account numbers, expiration dates, and phone number and address of the card issuer in a secure place.
  • Save receipts to compare with billing statements. Destroy them when no longer needed.
  • Open bills promptly and reconcile accounts monthly. Report questionable charges immediately and preferably in writing to the card company.

If you think your credit or debit card information may have been compromised in the Starwood data breach call Starwood at 1-855-270-9179 Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST.

Web-based Software to Track Inventory and Sales at Medical Marijuana Dispensaries – Request for Proposals Issued

The Hawaii State Department of Health will deploy a web-based system that will provide 24/7 access to real-time data on medical marijuana inventory, sales, and other tracking information required of dispensary licensees statewide, according to Keith Ridley, Chief of the Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

Medical Marijuana

The Office of Health Care Assurance performs all state licensing activities on healthcare facilities, agencies and organizations in Hawaii, and is tasked with implementing Act 241, which was signed into law by Gov. David Ige in July 2015 and became section 329D, HRS. Under the new program, a dispensary licensee may begin dispensing medical marijuana and manufactured marijuana products to qualifying patients or primary caregivers no earlier than July 15, 2016, with the department’s approval.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued on Nov. 19, 2015. The notice of award of contract for the computer software tracking system is expected to be made by Dec. 23, 2015.

“This is another major step forward to implement the medical marijuana program to ensure access for Hawaii patients and caregivers,” Ridley said. “After researching various options, the department determined a web-based software system would be the most effective and user-friendly way for licensees and state officials to collect and report seed-to-sale tracking information to ensure public safety and patient safety, and licensees will be required to utilize a tracking system. We are also exploring how other entities such as law enforcement officers or laboratories can also securely access the information.”

Detailed Inventory, Disposal, and Sales Information

The system will be used to track products from seed to sale or disposal, and will collect detailed inventory and sales information such as:

  • The total amount of marijuana at each dispensary, in the form of seeds or plants, including all plants that are derived from cuttings or cloning, until the marijuana, marijuana plants, or manufactured marijuana products are sold or destroyed;
  • The total amount of manufactured marijuana product inventory, including the equivalent physical weight of marijuana that is used to manufacture marijuana products or purchased by a qualifying patient and primary caregiver from all retail dispensing locations in any 15-day day period;
  • The amount of unused plant material produced by each plant at harvest; and
  • The transport of marijuana and manufactured marijuana products between production centers and retail dispensing locations, including tracking identification issued by the tracking system, the identity of the person transporting the marijuana or manufactured marijuana products, and how the products are transported.


Under the new law, a total of eight licenses may be awarded. Three licenses may be issued for the City and County of Honolulu, two dispensary licenses each for the County of Hawaii and the County of Maui, and one dispensary license for the County of Kauai.

Each dispensary licensee will be allowed to operate up to two production centers and two retail stations for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensaries statewide. Each production center may have up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

The Request for Proposals is available online at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana under Dispensary Updates.

Chief Justice Recktenwald Honored with Peacemaker Award

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald was honored by the Kuikahi Mediation Center, in partnership with the Hawaii County Bar Association (HCBA), at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015, in Hilo.

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of Ku'ikahi Mediation Center, presented Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald with the 'Peacemaker Award' at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015.

Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of Ku’ikahi Mediation Center, presented Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald with the ‘Peacemaker Award’ at an Annual Recognition Dinner on Sunday, November 15, 2015.

“This year Kuikahi is giving our ‘Peacemaker Award’ to the Chief Justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court.  Chief Justice Recktenwald is nationally recognized for his leadership and commitment to increasing access to justice,” said Judge Andrew Wilson, Kuikahi’s board president. “He has been a strong supporter of alternative dispute resolution and has forwarded our efforts in the courts with programs such as the Hilo Self-Help Center and the Foreclosure Mediation Program.”

Under the Chief Justice’s leadership, Self-Help Centers were established in six locations statewide, including in Hilo and Kona.  More than 3,860 individuals, who otherwise could not have afforded legal representation, have been assisted on the Big Island, alone.  Statewide, the volunteer attorneys at the Self-Help Centers have assisted more than 10,000 people.

“More than half of our clients are at or below the poverty level,” said Julie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Kuikahi Mediation Center.  “The Hawaii State Judiciary has made tremendous strides in increasing its access to justice for all by increasing its services both in the courts and online.  We applaud Chief Justice Recktenwald for his vision and continued efforts.”

In addition, mediation services are available at the Hawaii State Judiciary’s district, circuit and appellate courts.  Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, Ronald Ibarra said: “The Chief Justice has always recognized the value of conflict resolution and conciliation methods and has supported programs, such as our Third Circuit Foreclosure Mediation Program, Family Court’s Ohana Conference, and our Court Annexed Arbitration Program.”

The Chief Justice has also helped expand services such as the Hawaii Appellate Pro Bono Pilot Project, a divorce mediation program on Kauai, and a paternity mediation pilot project on Oahu.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition from the Kuikahi Mediation Center and the HCBA,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald.   “It is because of our community partners like the Kuikahi Mediation Center that we are able to expand programs that encourage litigants to use mediation, so that they can attempt to resolve their conflicts on their own terms and at less cost.  We are grateful for this partnership and their continued support.”

HCBA also recognized Attorney Addison M. Bowman, who is a Professor of Law Emeritus at the UH William S. Richardson School of Law and an appellate mediator for the Hawaii Supreme Court, for his many years of service.

UHSU Commentary – Hawaii Community College Student Wants Answers on Student Funding

United Hawai’i Student Union (UHSU) member Asia Olsen sent the following email to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Hawaii Community College Jason Cifra.

Asia Olsen

Asia Olsen Facebook picture

He is required by state law to respond within 10 business days. UHSU will keep you posted on his response.

See you at the #MillionStudentMarch this Thursday 10-4pm Library Lanai.
Facebook event here

Aloha Jason Cifra,

Per the Freedom of Information Act and the Sunshine Law I would like to request answers and / or corresponding documentation to the following:

Currently what are the names all of the individual Chartered Student Organizations (CSOs) of HawCC?

Please provide me with all of the individual CSOs of HawCC’s constitutions, charters and/ or bylaws.

Please provide me with all of the budgets for the past five years of all of HawCC’s CSOs.

How much money was collected in student fees this fiscal year?

Please provide the amount of student fees collected over the individual past 5 fiscal years.

What paid positions are paid for out of HawCC’s CSOs budgets?

Please provide the names of the individuals whose positions are funded by HawCC student fees.

Please provide the job descriptions of all positions paid for by HawCC student fees.

Please provide the names of the individuals and their job descriptions of all positions paid for by HawCC student fees over the past 5 fiscal years.

Please provide the names and job descriptions of all employees in the student affairs department at HawCC.

Please provide me with any and all documentation, guidelines, rules, policies and/or regulations of pertaining to the allocation of student fees.

Does the Student Life Center receive funding from student fees?

Please provide the current fiscal year budget for the Student Life Center.

Please provide the budgets and receipts of the Student Life Center over the past 5 fiscal years.

Who is currently in charge of the Student Life Center?

Who is the designated representative by the board of regents at HawCC who may withdraw funds on behalf of Chartered Student Organizations in reference to: §304A-2257 University of Hawaii student activities revolving fund?

Mahalo for your cooperation,

Asia Olsen
Hawaii Community College student
United Hawaii Student Union member

TMT Site Preparations Beginning

While workers associated with the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island begin maintenance and repair activities, hunting and other recreational activities and research also continue on the mountain.

Suzanne Case, Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources said, “Mauna Kea is very much a multiple-use area for a wide array of cultural, recreational and research activities. Our goal is to ensure that people on the mountain conduct themselves responsibly and with respect for other users. As local workers prepare to begin work at the TMT site, we want to remind people of other simultaneous activities that may be occurring on the mountain.”

TMT laser

November 16-17, 2015 and again December 14-15, 2015 the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybirds, as well as staff hunting and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, sheep, mouflon and mouflon/sheep hybrids.  These activities will occur within critical palila habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K) and the Ka’ohe Game Management Area (Unit G). Aerial shooting is required by federal court order to improve and maintain critical habitat for the palila, a bird endemic to Hawaii.  Please see this link for the news release announcing these animal control activities: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/blog/2015/09/28/nr15-149/

Also the 2015-2016 game bird hunting season began on November 7, 2015 and continues through Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016 on private and public lands.  This includes multiple game management units, forest reserves and other public lands on Mauna Kea.  For specific information on game bird hunting rules and specific hunting areas please refer to this news release: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dofaw/announcements/nr15-160f/.

Case added, “We want everyone conducting customary and traditional practices, enjoying recreational activities, or exercising their free speech rights on Mauna Kea to understand that they are sharing the mountain with many others and we want an atmosphere where kama’aina and visitors can all enjoy their activities, safely.

Hawaii State Senators Confirm Three Judicial Nominees in Special Session

In unanimous floor votes, members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed District Court judge Shirley M. Kawamura to the First Circuit Court and District Family Court judge Melvin H. Fujino to the Third Circuit. The full Senate also confirmed James C. McWhinnie to the District Court of the First Circuit.

“Each of these nominees came to us with high marks for their qualifications and character and strong testimony in support of their appointments,” said Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5 -Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului), chair of the Judiciary and Labor Committee. “The experience and integrity they each bring to the bench will be a benefit to our judicial system.”

Kawamura has served as a presiding District Court judge on O‘ahu since being appointed in May 2012.  She is a former commercial and insurance defense litigator at Kawashima Lorusso, LLP and previously worked as a senior felony trial deputy at the Office of the Public Defender. Kawamura is a 1994 graduate of Brown University and 1997 graduate of the Stanford Law School. Kawamura will serve for a term of ten years.

 L-R Dr. Howard Fujino, Leonora Fujino, Kelly Kitaoka, Judge Melvin Fujino.

L-R Dr. Howard Fujino, Leonora Fujino, Kelly Kitaoka, Judge Melvin Fujino.

Fujino has served as a presiding judge with the District Family Court of the Third Circuit since 2008. Since April 2015, he has been assigned to sit as a temporary Circuit Court Judge in Kona. Prior to his appointment to the District Family Court Bench, Fujino worked as Deputy Attorney General where he was a team leader responsible for the Statewide Wiretap Review Unit and Asset Forfeiture program. Fujino was also a District Prosecuting Attorney for Hawai‘i County. Fujino is a 1981 graduate of the University of Washington and 1985 graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law. Fujino will serve for a term of 10 years.

James McWhinnie has been the Director and Attorney with Damon Key Long Kupchak Hastert specializing in civil litigation. Since being first appointed in 1998 by Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon, McWhinnie has continued to serve on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court’s Special Committee on Judicial Performance. McWhinnie has served on the Hawai’i State Bar Association (HSBA) Fee Dispute Committee, been a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and co-founded the HSBA’s Lawyer Kokua Program, which was developed to assist new members of the Hawai`i Bar. McWhinnie is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and has an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i, College of Business Administration.  He is a 1983 graduate of DePaul University College of Law.  McWhinnie will serve for a term of six years.


Governor David Ige transmitted the appointments of Kawamoto and Fujino to the Senate on October 21, 2015.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald transmitted the appointment of McWhinnie to the Senate on October 22, 2015.

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i, the Senate had thirty days to consent to the appointments, or reject them.

Lily Kahumoku Speaks Out About Coach June Jones Allegations

In 2008 there was a rumor floating around that Coach June Jones had impregnated UH Volleyball player Lily Kahumoku.

Lily and her family

Lily and her family

The rumor floated around long enough that I finally asked readers on my website on whether they believed it was true or not and amazingly 75.1% of the folks that replied… believed the rumor to be true.

Lily Poll

A few years after Lily graduated from the University of Hawaii, I received the following email from her:


Hello Damon,

My name is Lily, it used to be Kahumoku, but now it’s Olteanu. I’ve seen your site. I commend you for your passion and the work that you’re doing. I also have blog and I know how much work it is to maintain.

The reason I’m writing to you is, I would like you to remove your survey about regarding June Jones impregnating me. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will, the rumors and lies spread about this affair are ridiculous. It never happened, but  do to the timing of my sabbatical, June Jones accident and Dr Joel Fischer, I understand how the creation of this false narrative came to life. And it’s tragic, that people truly believe it happened.

I never let these rumors get to me, because I knew it was bullshit. Unfortunately, due to rather recent events in my life, I’ve become a bit more fragile and sensitive to this topic, specifically because I am reproductively challenged and am still mourning the loss of my children, my suns, Keali’ikauila Cristian and Kahekili Alexandru Olteanu. They passed away on December 9, 2010, in Tours, France. The law France prohibited their incubation and neonatal assistance and they both died shortly after the birth. 

Well, I didn’t about this survey until recently when my husband googled my name and saw it. He was very disturbed. It simply isn’t fair that my family has suffers over something like this. I know life’s not fair, and that you’re work is to provide news and information to the people of Hawaii. However, I think you’re a reasonable person and I would like to ask you, as a courtesy, to please remove the article/survey regarding this nonsense.

I made a tribute site for my children at: www.lilyolteanu.com, there is a section called Mommy’s journal, you can go to the archives to see all of my entries. It’s not perfect, it’s full of errors and it’s sloppy places. But it’s real, it’s from my heart and has been my savior.

Anyway, I hope this message finds you well.

Mahalo for your cooperation and time.

Lily Olteanu

Now with June Jones applying for his former position with the University of Hawaii after Norm Chow has been released… I felt it was time to clear the air with this alleged rumor and Lily does too as she sent this to me yesterday after I asked her if I could post her side of the story:


Hello Damon,

I really appreciate your message and for that I have no problem with you sharing my email. For years, these rumors have hurt my family and loved ones. On countless occasions I thought about “clearing the air” on my own forum in one of my blogs. But I never did, it’s a Catch 22. If I say it never happened, which it didn’t (I don’t even know Coach Jones personally), there will be crazies out there who will still think whatever they want.

When I sent you the email I was a emotional wreck. In the last four years, I lost two more little boys, twins again, Kainoa and Kekoa, they lived for 6 and 10 days before passing away due to complications with their prematurity. I also had a life-threatening ectopic scar pregnancy in which I did two rounds of chemotherapy in Romania and England, because it was too dangerous to remove the fetus.

However, after this hellacious journey to and through motherhood I am proud to say my son Lucian is almost one year-old. The journey to get him almost got the most of me, but he was/is definitely worth it. HAPPY ENDINGS DO EXIST. Mahalo again for the notice. Here are a few pictures.

Lily and babyAloha,


Big Island Police Complete Investigation Into 2013 Hilo Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police detectives have completed their investigation into a 2013 murder in Hilo.
HPDBadgeIn response to a 5:19 a.m. call on January 7, 2013, South Hilo patrol officers found 38-year-old Lloyd Rubio of Hilo with a stab wound at a home on the 1400 block of Kaumana Drive. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he died at 7:11 a.m.

That evening, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section arrested 37-year-old Cherie Sueko Moskwa of Hilo on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Two days later, after conferring with Hawaiʻi County prosecutors, detectives released Moskwa from police custody pending further investigation.

Additional follow-ups and analysis were recently completed. The case has been routed to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for review.

Half a Million Dollars of Public Pension Money Paid to Dead People in Hawaii

In a shocking example of outmoded systems leading to government waste, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has learned that $538,519.25 of public pension money was paid to dead people in Hawaii between 2010 and 2015.

Click to view full list

Click to view full list

According to the state’s own records, at least 134 deceased persons received over-payments from the Employee Retirement System, with some over-payments in excess of $50,000.  So far, reimbursements are pending.

Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute, said, “Our report shows that we are taking money from the living to pay for the dead.  Shining a light on wasteful spending is in the best interest of public pension members and Hawaii’s taxpayers.”

The Grassroot Institute obtained the information through an open records request to the Employee Retirement system.  The report, which can be found on OpenHawaii.org, showed that in 2013, $207,656 was overpaid to the deceased beneficiaries; and in 2014, the number was $138,221.  However, the real number is likely to be much higher, as the Employee Retirement System acknowledges that it hasn’t yet caught all of the errors.

Dr. Akina said, “It may be difficult for the State of Hawaii to know if a member of the pension fund has passed away, especially if the individual has left the state, or moved to another country.  Hawaii’s taxpayers continue to pay this enormous cost as we close the gap on the public pension unfunded liability crisis.”

Hawaii’s unfunded pension liability is $8.5 billion, which puts taxpayers on the hook for $21,272 per household.

Wesley Machida, State Finance Director responded in a written statement to the Grassroot Institute, “The half a million dollars of pension overpayments are due entirely to the untimely reporting of a retirant’s or beneficiary’s passing.  Within the past year, the State of Hawai‘i Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) has improved its efforts to identify overpaid pensions by working with the Department of Health, State of Hawai‘i.  A national company is also used to identify retirees and beneficiaries who are deceased.  The ERS also reviews daily obituaries and receives communications from family members and friends.  While there could be others not reported, the likelihood of these occurrences are minimized with the increased efforts of the ERS.”

Wesley Machida continued, “It can be difficult to identify pensioners or beneficiaries who passed away when there are no surviving family members and /or if the retirant or beneficiary lives out of state or out of the country.  In addition, family members and friends may not report the passing for several months, following the discovery of retirement documents while closing out the decedent’s estate.”

Wesley Machida concluded, “The ERS currently pays out more than $1.1 billion per year in pension benefits to more than 44,000 retirees and beneficiaries.”

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii will continue to research public pension abuse, and publish transparency data on OpenHawaii.org as this story unfolds.  Hawaii’s citizens should also keep in mind that record-keeping in this area wouldn’t be such an issue if government employees were enrolled in 401(k)-style retirement plans rather than the antiquated defined-benefit plans provided to government workers currently.

$54 Million in Settlements to Benefit Hawaii Purchasers/Lessees of New Motor Vehicles and Purchasers of Certain Replacement Parts

Settlements totaling approximately $54.1 million have been reached with two Defendants.  The lawsuits allege that they fixed the price of certain motor vehicle components, causing millions of consumers and businesses from around the country to overpay for new or leased automobiles and replacement parts, such as air flow meters, alternators, ATF warmers, electronic throttle bodies, fuel injection systems, ignition coils, inverters, motor generators, radiators, starters, and valve timing control devices.

Consumers and businesses in Hawaii may be included in the Class if, from 2000 to 2015, they:

  1. Bought or leased an eligible new vehicle in the U.S. (not for resale), or
  2. Indirectly paid for an eligible motor vehicle replacement part. (Indirectly means they bought the replacement part from someone other than the manufacturer of the part.)

Eligible new motor vehicles are automobiles, light trucks, vans, mini-vans, and sport utility vehicles.


The Settlements provide monetary relief for consumers in the District of Columbia and 30 states – Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The Settlements also provide non-monetary relief, including cooperation, and an agreement by the Defendants not to engage in certain conduct for a period of 24 months.

The litigation is continuing against the remaining Non-Settling Defendants.  All funds received in this case will be distributed at the conclusion of the lawsuits or as ordered by the Court.  Notice about the claims process will be provided at a later date, and consumers and businesses should register to receive notice about the claims process or future settlements at www.AutoPartsClass.com.

Important Information and Dates:

  • Eligible consumers or businesses that want to sue the Settling Defendants regarding a particular component part must exclude themselves from that Settlement Class by March 28, 2016.
  • Eligible consumers or businesses can object to one or more of the Settlements by March 28, 2016.
  • The Court will hold a hearing on May 4, 2016, to consider whether to approve the Settlements and approve Class Counsel’s request that up to $2 million be set aside for future litigation costs and expenses.  Class Counsel will also request at the hearing, or at a later date, attorneys’ fees of up to one-third of the Settlements’ funds, plus reimbursement of costs and expenses.

For more detailed information about the Settlements and a full list of Settling Defendants and time periods:

  • Visit: www.AutoPartsClass.com
  • Call: 1-877-940-5043
  • Write to: Auto Parts Settlements, P.O. Box 10163, Dublin, OH 43017-3163

Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions Offers Guidance on Banking and Marijuana

The Commissioner of Financial Institutions, Iris Ikeda, presented considerations for banks and other financial institutions when dealing with marijuana related businesses at the Hawaii State Bar Association Convention on Oct. 23, 2015.

Click to view files

Click to view files

“The approval for licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries presents an upcoming challenge for banks,” said Commissioner Ikeda. “Before authorized dispensaries begin doing business, which could be as early as July 2016, banks and other financial institutions dealing with these businesses should take into account regulatory risks posed by the Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act.”

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions (DFI), which regulates state-chartered and state-licensed financial institutions, is in communication with Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) regulators on the implementation of Hawaii’s law for medical marijuana.

Outreach to financial institutions with guidance on opening accounts for marijuana related businesses has been conducted by DFI. DFI also hosts a collection of guidance from various federal agencies called “Banking and Marijuana” on its website http://cca.hawaii.gov/dfi/.

Green Rush, Gold Standard: A Conversation About Hawai‘i’s Cannabis Frontier

State Senator Will Espero  will be a panelist for a discussion about the potential benefits from Hawai‘i’s cannabis business, including solutions, economic activity and career opportunities. The dialogue will also cover how residents can participate in the new industry.

Medical MarijuanaThe panel discussion, moderated by ThinkTech Hawai‘i’s Jay Fidell, will be held on Wednesday, October 21, 2015 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Moot Court Room, 2015 Dole Street.  Other panelists include Mitzi Vaughn, member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and on the founding board of the National Cannabis Bar Association, Tyler Anthony, Attorney and Former Regulator with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, Dr. Marc Kruger, Honolulu Pulmonologist, and Jari Sugano, Family Caregiver.

The public is invited to attend.

Big Island Manta Ray Viewing Subject of Proposed New Rules

The popularity of manta ray viewing sites at Makako Bay (Garden Eel Cove) along the coastline fronting the Sheraton Keauhou Bay on the Big Island’s Kona coast has captured media, state and federal attention.  These manta ray viewing opportunities are unique worldwide and tours are conducted in two specific areas where mantas tend to congregate at night to feed on plankton.

manta Ray

In recent years it has come to the attention of the DLNR that commercial manta ray night snorkeling and diving at these two popular sites has expanded considerably and the activity is in need of regulation in order to preserve the resource and prevent the dangers posed by overcrowding.  The DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) is actively engaged in responsibly investigating the tour operations taking place and working to further regulate manta tour activities for safety and for the environment.

Three years ago the U.S. Coast Guard worked with commercial dive tour operators to draft voluntary safety standards to which the operators currently adhere.  In early 2014, DLNR began facilitating tour operator working groups to develop a consensus on the aspects of manta ray viewing operations in greatest need of attention. This includes assessing whether additional moorings could be installed to mitigate anchor damage, and limiting the number of operators allowed to conduct manta night dives and snorkeling.

This year in preparation for developing new administrative rules for the manta viewing sites, DLNR commissioned a third-party safety assessment of operations. That report identified a number of potential hazards to people such as live boating, multiple boats tying to a single mooring and insufficient lighting for divers and snorkelers in the water.  It also noted that operators strive to carry out safe boating practices and there have been no recorded incidents to date.  Collectively, commercial operators are open to making changes that will improve the user experience and safety without sacrificing the quality of the resources they’re utilizing.

DOBOR administrator Ed Underwood said, “We’re working closely with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), commercial tour operators, the staff of the Sheraton Keauhou Bay and other stakeholders to draft administrative rules to mitigate safety and environmental hazards and decrease the potential risk for a boating accident. DOBOR anticipates releasing a draft rule for public comment by early 2016.”


Manta Ray Rules Proposal-Media Clips 10-19-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Senator Recommends Charter Amendments on Police Commission

State Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19 – ʻEwa, Ocean Pointe, ʻEwa by Gentry, Iroquois Point) testified on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 before the City and County of Honolulu’s Charter Commission at Honolulu Hale asking the commissioners to consider two charter amendments to be voted on by the public next year.

Honolulu Police Commission

The first amendment would give the Police Commission the power and authority to punish and penalize police officers for police misconduct or bad behavior. Currently, the Police Commission can sustain a complaint against an officer, but only the Police Department has the authority to discipline an officer.

If the department disagrees with the Police Commission findings, it can choose to disregard the Police Commission decision. The Charter does state that the Commission cannot interfere in the administrative affairs of the department.

This was the case regarding John Helms III and his friend who were hiking and were assaulted by police officers due to being misidentified by the police. Following a lawsuit, the C & C did give the hikers a settlement, and it is our understanding the police officers involved were not punished.

The second amendment would allow the mayor to terminate the employment of the police chief with the majority support of the Police Commission. Currently, the Police Commission hires and fires the police chief. As the Mayor is the head of the county government and can fire other department heads, he should be able to do the same with the police and fire chiefs with the support of the hiring authority.

“These two charter amendments will strengthen civilian oversight of our police department,” said Sen. Espero. “If passed, they will also help to rebuild public trust and confidence in the police department, which has been plagued by an increasing number of police-involved crimes and negative stories over the past few years.”

Officials to Brief Legislators on Progress of Medical Marijuana Dispensary System

Officials to Brief Joint Committees on Progress of Medical Marijuana Dispensary System

Medical MarijuanaThe purpose of this informational briefing is to discuss the process and progress on the implementation of Act 241, relating to medical marijuana, and to discuss best practices and identify areas of further policy development related to medical marijuana dispensaries.

Part I of this briefing will include an update from the State Department of Health on the medical marijuana registry program and the Department’s efforts to implement Act 241.  Invitees from the Department of Health are as follows:

  • Virginia Pressler, M.D., Director, Department of Health
  • Danette Wong Tomiyasu, Deputy Director, Health Resources Administration and/or a Designated representatives of the Hawaii Department of Health.

Part II of this briefing will feature presentations from the following individuals who have extensive experience with the development of legislation, rules and regulations, and public policy related to the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of medical marijuana to qualified patients in other states:

  • Graham Boyd, Esq., Former Fellow, Third Way
  • Robert Morgan, Esq., Former Statewide Project Coordinator, Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program; & Special Counsel, Much Shelist, P.C.
  • Tyler Anthony, Esq., Former Legal Counsel, Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program; & Attorney, Harris Moure
  • Mitzi Vaughn, Esq., Founding Board Member, National Cannabis Bar Association; & Managing Attorney, Greenbridge Corporate Counsel

WHO:             House Committee on Health Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health

WHAT:          Informational Briefing

WHEN:          Thursday, October 22, 2015 – 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:       Conference Room 329, State Capitol

Men in High Heels Raise Awareness of Sexual Assault In Hawaii Island’s Fifth Annual “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes”

YWCA Hawaii Island hosts the fifth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 a.m.  In East Hawaii, the one-mile march begins at the YWCA Ululani Street campus. In West Hawaii, the march will be at the Kona International Market. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, a call to end sexual assault, rape and gender violence in the community.

Mayor Kenoi and his shoes that he wore in 2012

Mayor Kenoi and his shoes that he wore in 2012

Mayor Billy Kenoi and radio personality Darrin “DC” Carlson will lead the march from Hilo. The Sex Assault Response team, including Captain Chad Basque from the Hawaii Police Department (HPD) will lead the Kona march. Also joining the march and leading the HPD team is Deputy Chief Paul Ferreira.

All proceeds from the event directly benefit the YWCA Hawaii Island Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) program, the only 24-hour, 7-days a week rape crisis center for the island. SASS services are free and include crisis counseling, therapy for assault victims and their families, forensic evidence collection and violence prevention education for schools and the community.

“We know that nationally, one of four women and one of six men are sexually assaulted by the time they are 18. That’s unacceptable,” said Kathleen McGilvray, CEO of YWCA Hawaii Island. “On our island, about 50 percent of our SASS clients are 18 and under. ‘Walk a Mile’ is a chance to see what is like to literally walk in women’s shoes. Every dollar raised by walkers helps survivors address and move through the trauma of sexual assault.”

The event is sponsored by KTA Super Stores, The Gas Company, Hemic, National Fire Protection, Kinetic Learning, Atlas Insurance and First Hawaiian Bank.

March participants are asked to report to the kick-off sites by 7:30 a.m. to register, select their shoes and warm up for the walk. All participants must complete an entry form and submit a $10 fee. The community is invited to participate in the event and help raise funds to meet the $25,000 goal. For more information, call the YWCA Hawaii Island office at 935-7141 x111 or email events@ywcahawaiiisland.org.

UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) Senator Removed From Office – Complaints Filed

UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) Senator Amber Shouse was officially removed from her seat as senator last Monday, October 5, 2015.

Amber Shouse defends herself in front of the Student Government.

Amber Shouse defends herself in front of the Student Government.

Shouse was removed for allegedly violating UHHSA’s constitution by communicating with administrators without the student body president’s permission.

The first thirty minutes of the meeting were public and can be seen here.

The recording shows the senate majority voting to close the meeting despite Shouse’s requests to keep it open. UHHSA members also insisted no recording devices be present. Shouse said that she wanted to record the meeting for her own personal records, and UHHSA members insisted she could not.

The basis for removal was an email that Shouse had sent Chancellor Donald Straney and Dean of Students Kelly Oaks describing how she had been harassed by certain UHHSA members and university officials. It was because of this email that Shouse was accused of violating Section C. of the constitution for “representing UHHSA in an official dealing with the University Administration without the president’s appointment.”

“Amber was one of the 3 out of the current 12 senators who was ran opposed in the 2015 election and was legitimately elected by the student’s majority vote. She was popular for bringing a non-status quo perspective to the table,” said UH Hilo student and former UHHSA senator Jennifer Ruggles. “In fact, the current UHHSA president, Laz Sye lost to her in the election,” she said.

Sye was later appointed to President by other senators who also ran unopposed.

Campus Center Director and State of Hawaii employee Ellen Kusano was alleged to have sent out an email to the UHHSA senate defaming Shouse. Shouse says may have lead to her harassment and removal.

“It seems unethical that a student senator can be harassed and then removed for reporting the harassment,” said Shouse. “My removal was unwarranted. I am disappointed by the actions of the UHHSA senators but I am appalled by the actions of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano who’s defamatory email I believe led to my unjustified removal and harassment,” she said.

Shouse reported that the vote was 8 in favor of her removal, 2 opposed, with one abstention, (Shouse was required to abstain). UHHSA Treasurer Melinda Alles called for a secret ballot vote on the removal, and the majority supported the idea. Senators Briki Cajandig and Ryan Stack publicly opposed the removal. UH Hilo Student Association members Lazareth Sye, Alison Pham, Jessica Penaranda, Melinda Alles, Abraham Jose, Kawehi Kanoho-Kalahiki, Daniel Woods, David Khan, and Nick Nguyen supported Shouse’s removal.

Current UHHSA Senator Briki Cajandig said, “Amber is an amazing colleague of mine. She’s always worked hard to represent our students here at UHH. Her intentions have always been pure; she took her position seriously and serving students to the best of her ability was a main priority. It is very disappointing that such a passionate and caring leader has been removed from the Senate.”

Shouse is filing complaints with the university.

Hawaii County Charges Skateboarders Extra to Use Pahoa-Pohoiki-Hilo Route

Does anyone know why the county charges skateboarders an extra dollar to use the buses that run the Pahoa-Pohoiki-Hilo route but NOT ON ANY OTHER ROUTES?

hele on pahoa bus
I’m not quite sure why I can bring a briefcase on the bus… but skateboarders can’t bring boards on the bus?
Skateboard pahoa