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Governor Ige Releases Intent to Veto List

Gov. David Ige notified legislative leaders and key lawmakers that nine bills are on the Intent to Veto list. The Hawai‘i State Constitution requires the governor to give notice to the Legislature by today’s deadline.

Governor Ige Profile

On July 12, any measure that has not been signed or vetoed by Gov. Ige will become law with or without his signature.

Intent to Veto List:

HB1370 HD1 SD2 CD1          RELATING TO DIVORCE

This measure authorizes the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to make direct payments to a divorced spouse of an ERS member or retired ERS member upon order of the court.

Rationale: The ERS must modify its information technology systems before direct payments can be made. It will need state resources to do so. The ERS trustfund cannot be used to pay for ITS work.

HB1739 HD2 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT

This measure prohibits employers from accessing and/or obtaining employees’ social media accounts and passwords via coercion or other means.

Rationale: In reviewing testimony on this measure, it remains unclear if this practice is occuring in workplaces at a level that requires state intervention at this time.

Also, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was not provided with any additional financial resources to undertake enforcement. DLIR will need both time and resources to establish an enforcement mechanism.

HB1747 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLES

This measure authorizes police officers to request towing of motor vehicles if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

Rationale: Current enforcement does not allow drivers to operate their vehicles anyway, once they’ve been arrested or cited for DUI.

Also, there are other motor vehicle violations where police should be authorized to request towing. We suggest that this bill be expanded to include the other violations for consistency across the state.

HB1850 HD1 SD3 CD1          RELATING TO TAXATION

The intent of this measure is to allow transient accommodations brokers to register as tax collection agents with the state. This would allow companies such as Airbnb to collect and remit general excise and transient accommodations taxes on behalf of the hosts and visitors who use their services.

Rationale: We believe there could be unintended consequences of this proposed measure. Vacation rentals fall under the city’s jurisdiction. In order for this bill to work as intended, counties must more actively enforce their own laws on vacation rentals before they claim additional tax revenues.

HB2016 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

This measure requires the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) to transfer contributions by retirees and beneficiaries to the Hawai‘i Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) for health insurance payments.

Rationale: While we understand the practical reasons for this bill, the ERS would be required to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which protects health insurance information.  Additionally, the ERS would need sufficient time and resources to make modifications to information technology sytems to process such payments.

HB2277 HD1 SD1 CD1          RELATING TO THE KING KAMEHAMEHA CELEBRATION COMMISSION

The intent of this measure is to clarify the membership and mission of the King  Kamehameha Celebration Commission (KKCC).

Rationale: Unfortunately, the amendments proposed in this measure create an ambiguity in the law on how the commission will make decisions.

The specific number of commission members was deleted from the bill.  Consequently, the commission will not be able to determine a quorum for the purpose of conducting business.

SB2077 SD1 HD2 CD2           RELATING TO SEPARATION BENEFITS (Maui Region hospitals transition)

This measure offers benefits to Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation employees facing position abolishment, reduction-in-force or workforce restructuring.

Rationale: This measure is still undergoing fiscal, legal, and policy review at this time.

SB2542 SD2 HD1 CD1       RELATING TO REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE

This measure establishes a full funding policy and budgetary procedures for routine repair and maintenance of state-owned buildings, including judiciary-owned facilities.

Rationale: This measure is still undergoing fiscal, legal, and policy review at this time.

SB3102 SD1 HD1 CD1           RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND TOURISM

This measure mandates that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourist (DBEDT) develop —  and state agencies enter into – inter-agency agreements with the department rather than memoranda of agreements (MOAs) or memoranda of understanding (MOUs).  This measure also establishes a state grant program to fund business development  for qualified businesses.

Rationale: It is not clear from the testimony why state agency inter-departmental agreements are more efficient or effective in directing resource allocation.

Big Island Police Conducting “Active Shooter” Presentation in Na’alehu

The Hawaiʻi Police Department will make an “active shooter” presentation in Nāʻālehu on Wednesday, July 6.

Active Shooter

The presentation will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Nāʻālehu Community Center.

It is designed to help individuals increase their survivability should they encounter an active shooter or other type of active violent incident.

Police will provide information on previous incidents of mass violence, recent events, best practices for those caught in such situations, law enforcement’s response, and how to work together as a community toward prevention. They will also provide additional resources for participants so they can continue their education on this topic, followed by a question-and answer segment.

Hawaii Department of Health Release Names, Scores and Rankings of ALL Applicants for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today released the scores and ranking of the applicants for Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses.

Honolulu Applicants

Click to enlarge

The list of applicants and their respective scores and ranking are posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/latest-updates-and-news/.

Hawaii Applicants

Click to enlarge

A total of 66 applications for eight dispensary licenses were reviewed, evaluated, and scored (based on 13 merit criteria) by four members of a selection panel. Each application could receive a maximum of 520 points (10 points maximum could be awarded for each merit criterion by each of four individual panelists).

Kauai Applicants

Click to enlarge

All applicants were required to submit documentation to prove compliance with the statutory and administrative requirements for both individual applicants and applying entities.

Maui Applicants

Click to enlarge

“To meet the ambitious and expedited time schedule for the selection process and given the large number of applications to review, the vetting process was conducted concurrently with the scoring of the applications,” said Keith Ridley, Chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance.

While all applications were scored, 12 applicants who did not submit the requisite documentation or whose documentation did not establish compliance with the requirements were not ranked in the final compilation of scores.

Non Applicants

Unselected applicants

DOH notified all unselected applicants by certified mail this week prior to the posting of the applicants’ scores. To help ensure the medical marijuana dispensary program can be available for patients, DOH has been working on other requirements for the programs implementation.

The department is continuing work with Bio Track THC to establish the web-based seed-to-sale computer tracking system for dispensaries.

The DOH State Laboratories Division has established a certification process for medical marijuana testing facilities and applications are available at http://health.hawaii.gov/statelab/.

“It’s an exciting time, launching this new industry in Hawaii,” said Margaret Leong, supervisor of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Program. “So far, the licensing staff have met in person with seven of the licensees and the discussions have been really productive and beneficial to all of us. The licensees have generously shared their knowledge of the industry gained through the application process, and we’ve been able to provide more specific guidance to ensure that their facilities conduct operations in compliance with all state requirements to be able to open their dispensaries in a timely manner.”

Additional information about the medical marijuana dispensary program and the registry program is available at health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana.

Hawaii Senator Calls for Ban on Sunscreen with Oxybenzone

Compound found in sunscreen and personal care products blamed for damaging coral reefs

Some sunscreens known to have Oxybenzone

Some sunscreens known to have Oxybenzone

As the 13th annual Coral Reef Symposium comes to end in Waikīkī, State Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19 – ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has announced he will introduce legislation for Hawai‘i to ban sunscreen with oxybenzone beginning in 2018.

“A ban is the right thing to do in order to protect our fragile marine eco-system,” said Sen. Espero. “Since our ocean environment is key to our tourism industry and our economic lifeline, banning a chemical substance that harms our coral and other marine animals should be a top priority next year in the state legislature.”

Speakers and scientists at the Symposium shared the dangers of oxybenzone on our coral reef and other marine life. Scientists said testing has revealed high levels of oxybenzone in Hawai‘i waters. Oxybenzone is found in personal care products and is a component of many sunscreen lotions.  It has been found to kill coral and negatively affect other Marine organisms.

“At the very least, a serious discussion should be had on the value and need of oxybenzone in sunscreen and other products,” Sen. Espero noted.

Hawaii Senate Confirms Judges for District Court and District Family Court

The Hawai‘i State Senate today unanimously confirmed M. Kanani Laubach to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit and James S. Kawashima to the District Court of the First Circuit.

Judges confirmed

Kanani Laubach is a Partner at Laubach & Frenz, AAL, LLLC in Hilo, where she focuses her legal practice on criminal cases heard in District, Family, and Circuit Courts and family law cases involving temporary restraining orders. Prior to entering private practice, Laubach served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Hawai‘i. She also previously served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu.

In addition to her legal experience, Laubach previously worked as a family therapist for Felix assigned families and a visitation specialist with Parents and Children Together where she taught parenting skills and child development.  Laubach attained her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Chaminade University. She earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 2003.

Laubach will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Melvin H. Fujino to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.

“Ms. Laubach’s legal experience in the government and private sectors makes her a well-rounded practitioner with substantial trial experience. Her background in psychology, her extensive courtroom experience, and her many years of interaction with the community through her personal and family experiences will no doubt provide her with the special insight and temperament necessary for the often challenging cases brought in family court,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “Her reputation for being a person of integrity who treats everyone equally and fairly and has the ability to relate to and is respectful toward everyone makes her an exceptional appointment to the court system.”

Since 2010, James S. Kawashima has received appointments as a per diem judge with the District Court of the First Circuit.  He maintained a private legal practice specializing in labor and employment law, state and federal criminal defense, trust and probate litigation, commercial litigation and personal injury, although he has devoted himself to his per diem judicial appointments over the last four years. Earlier in his career, Kawashima served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the Special Prosecution Unit of the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.  He went on to serve as a Deputy Attorney General in the Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  He also worked at private law firms in both Hawai‘i and California, handling litigation in construction, bankruptcy, employment cases, and insurance defense.

Kawashima graduated from Princeton University and received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Southern California Law Center. He was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 1992.

“Along with the experience he’s gained and judgment displayed during his periodic duties as a per diem judge, Mr. Kawashima brings experience and skills to the bench in areas other than the usual legal research, writing and reasoning expected,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.

The term of office for both judgeships is for six years.

Hawaii Becomes First State in Nation to Enroll Firearms Owners in Centralized Information System

Gov. David Ige signed SB 2954 (ACT 108) which authorizes county police departments in Hawai‘i to enroll firearms applicants and individuals registering their firearms, in a criminal record monitoring service.

“This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawai‘i residents and visitors to our islands. This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families,” said Gov. David Ige.

“This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawai‘i residents and visitors to our islands. This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families,” said Gov. David Ige.

The system, also known as the “Rap Back” system, is a service of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that provides continuous criminal record monitoring for authorized government agencies such as law enforcement agencies. The service notifies the agencies when a firearm owner is arrested for a criminal offense anywhere in the country. This will allow county police departments in Hawai‘i to evaluate whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms. The law also authorizes the Hawai‘i Criminal Justice Data Center to access firearm registration data.

“This is about our community’s safety and responsible gun ownership. This system will better enable our law enforcement agencies to ensure the security of all Hawai‘i residents and visitors to our islands. This bill has undergone a rigorous legal review process by our Attorney General’s office and we have determined that it is our responsibility to approve this measure for the sake of our children and families,” said Gov. David Ige.

Gov. Ige also signed HB 625 (ACT 109) and HB 2632 (ACT 110) Relating to Firearms.

HB 625 specifies that harassment by stalking and sexual assault are among the offenses that disqualify a person from owning, possessing or controlling any firearm or ammunition.

HB 2632 requires firearms owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to the Chief of Police if they have been disqualified from owning a firearm and ammunition for the following reasons: Diagnosis of significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or emergency or involuntary hospitalization to a psychiatric facility. This measure authorizes the Chief of Police to seize firearms and ammunition if a disqualified firearms owner fails to surrender the items after receiving written notice.

Department of Agriculture Considering Rule Changes Regarding Quarantine Restrictions on Ohia and Soil

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is currently considering proposed changes to the Administrative Rules regarding Chapter 4-72, Hawaii Administrative Rules, by adding a new section: §4-72-13 Quarantine restrictions on ohia and soil from rapid ohia death infested areas.

To view the proposed rule changes, click here.

ohia death

Public hearings regarding this rule change will be scheduled in the near future.

For information on this rule change, contact the Plant Quarantine Branch at (808) 832-0566.

Hawaii Representative Asks Attorney General to Investigate School Air Conditioning Bids

Contractors bids so high that project delayed and students to suffer

As summer heats up and public schools prepare to begin Aug. 1, plans to spend $100 million to cool off 1,000 classrooms have been delayed due to the outrageously high bids from contractors to install air conditioning.

Rep. Matthew LoPresti

Rep. Matthew LoPresti

Rep. Matthew LoPresti has asked the Attorney General to investigate if there is a conspiracy to defraud taxpayers by artificially inflating bids for profit at the expense of school children – who will suffer through yet another unbearably hot summer in stifling classrooms.

“We cannot just wait for another round of bids and hope they are reasonable,” said Rep. Matthew LoPresti. “Classrooms in my district and across the state will soon be too hot for students to learn and teachers to teach. We must find a way to get this project moving forward.

“At the same time, the bids for the work came in so high that it is possible contractors who know the state is hard pressed to get this work done conspired to submit bids much higher than reasonable to make unreasonable profits.”

This past session the Legislature approved more than $100 million to add air conditioning to 1,000 classrooms by the end of the year and Gov. David Ige has been working with the state Department of Education and private companies to get the work done.

The DOE now says the project must be either delayed due to the high bids or far fewer classrooms then expected will be cooled.  As an example, the DOE said the bid for one photovoltaic-powered air conditioning project with an estimated cost of $20,000 came in more than $100,000.

LoPresti said there have also been complaints from contractors that the bid specifications for a $20,000 project were up to 100 pages long and that makes submitting a bid expensive and complicated.

“I would like the DOE to take a look at the bidding process and simplify the documents if possible,” he said. “We need to get to the bottom of why these bids are so high. Whatever the reason, we need to fix it.”

The cool schools project now is being pushed back with bidding reopened with the new fiscal year which begins July 1, 2016.

“If contractors are gouging the state at a time of great need in our schools and the students have to suffer because of this, the Attorney General must find them and prosecute to the full extent of the law,” LoPresti said. “The public deserves answers as to why bids are coming in suspiciously high and we cannot just sit by and accept this.”

As part of his “Cool Schools 4 Ewa” initiative, LoPresti is reaching out to the public to create a hui of professional volunteers willing and able to contribute to the heat abatement effort by donating their time and labor to help the DOE cool classrooms at realistic and reasonable costs.

LoPresti urges those able to install PV or PV AC systems to contact his office so he can help organize and facilitate those willing to step up and help our keiki to move beyond those who would rather profiteer from their suffering.

Vandals Damage One Of Hawaii‘s Most Important Cultural Site

Kaniakapupu, in the forest above Honolulu, in the Nuuanu district, is central to the story of modern Hawai‘i.  Not only was it the summer palace of King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama, it was the first government building built in western style with mortar and plaster.  Completed in 1845, Kaniakapupu was the “scene of entertainment of foreign celebrities and the feasting of chiefs and commoners.  The greatest was a luau attended by 10,000 celebrating Hawaiian Restoration Day in 1847,” (from a plaque erected on-site by the Commission on Historical Sites). Earlier it was the site of a notable heiau for Hawaiian royalty.

Kaniakapupu-Vandalism

Recently vandals etched a series of crosses on at least three of the inside walls of the crumbling structure.  For more than 15 years, volunteers from Aha Hui Malama O Kaniakapupu have worked tirelessly to protect and preserve this historically and culturally significant place.  During a recent trip to the site, the vice-chairman of the group, Baron Ching, pleaded, “Leave it alone. Don’t scratch it, don’t do anything to it, come with respect.  Criminy sakes, I don’t know where you’re coming from, but this is not a graffiti palette to do your thing.  This is important to a lot of people.  This is important to the Hawaiian nation, yea.  It’s just utter disrespect, utter disrespect.  How does it make me feel?  It makes me feel awful.”

On the day Ching visited the site with Ryan Peralta of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, a family spread a blanket over the top of a stone structure just outside the walls of Kaniakapupu and prepared for a photo shoot.  Even this seemingly innocuous activity is viewed as culturally disrespectful. Ching added, “Come with respect. There is history going back to the beginning of time in this area. Modern Hawai‘i was forged in this place…inside these walls every single monarch, every single high chief or chiefess were inside these walls…and it’s entirely inappropriate to put graffiti on the walls, to move the stones around. It’s entirely inappropriate to be climbing around this place.”

A DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officer also checked out the site and the vandalism.  Unfortunately unless vandals are actually caught in the act of desecrating the sacred site, it’s difficult to identify them and subsequently cite them.

Within the past month, vandals also etched marks on the walls underneath the newly restored fence surrounding Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.  Reflecting on this kind of activity, DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “It’s hard to understand how anyone thinks it is okay or pono to draw or etch graffiti on any of Hawai‘i’s historical or cultural treasures.  They need to understand that their actions not only potentially destroy the cultural integrity of these sites and structures, but also show tremendous disrespect toward our host culture and to the countless volunteers and staff who work hard to preserve these places for future generations.”

Ching concluded, “It’s not the first time they’ve carved all kinds of stuff in there.  They’re carving happy faces, all kinds of stupid stuff.  This plaster is 180 years old; was put here by the hands of the kapuna. It was the first government building built by the government of Hawai‘i. When you vandalize it or damage it in anyway, there’s no way we can repair that.”

Social media sites have potentially exacerbated vandalism by failing to point out that Kaniakapupu is closed to visitation and no one should be in the area. Anyone who witnesses or has knowledge of vandalism to any historical or cultural site in Hawai‘i is encouraged to call the statewide DOCARE Hotline at 643-DLNR.

Kaniakapupu Vandalism Video News Release, June 23, 2016 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Hawaii Companies Cited for HI-5 Violations – Costco Fined Nearly $16,000

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is reminding all beverage distributors in the state of reporting requirements for HI-5 beverage containers. Failure to properly meet reporting deadlines or improper reporting can result in penalty fines of up to $10,000 per violation per day. The next upcoming HI-5 beverage container reporting deadline is July 15, 2016.

HI-5Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-105 requires beverage distributors to submit semi-annual distributor reports and payments to DOH no later than the 15th calendar day of the month following the end of the semi-annual payment period. DOH conducts regular inspections of beverage distributors and certified redemption centers to ensure compliance with Hawaii laws.

“The department issued notices to nine companies for violations during the last reporting period,” said Darren Park, manager of the Deposit Beverage Container Program. “Distributors and recyclers are reminded to comply with all upcoming deadlines and requirements to avoid penalty fees or suspension of certification.”

The department’s Deposit Beverage Container Program issued Notices of Violation and Order (NOVO) against nine companies in the past year for failure to submit payments and reports required of beverage distributors by the State’s Deposit Beverage Container law. All of the companies were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of July 1 to Dec. 31, 2015 and each company was fined an administrative penalty fee of $400 for failure to comply with deposit container requirements. Each company was provided the opportunity to request a hearing to contest the alleged facts and penalty.

The companies cited were:

  • BEM, Inc. dba Kona Kombucha located at 32-2032 Old Mamalahoa Highway in Papaaloa on Hawaii Island;
  • Celestial Natural Foods, Inc. located at 66-443 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa on Oahu;
  • Gauranga Live LLC located at 200 Kanoelehua Ave. in Hilo on Hawaii Island
  • Genesis Today located at 6800 Burleson Road in Austin, Texas;
  • Instapressed located at 856 Ilaniwai St. in Honolulu on Oahu;
  • Jeonju Makeolli USA Company located at P.O. Box 1313 in Honolulu on Oahu;
  • Kauai Natural Waters LLC located at 5694 Ohelo Road in Kapaa on Kauai;
  • Nalo Juice LLC located at 402 Opihikao Place in Honolulu on Oahu, and
  • Pacific Hi-Tak, Inc. located at P.O. Box 701 in Honolulu on Oahu.

DOH also cited a number of companies in 2015 and 2014 for other violations of the Deposit Beverage Container Law.

Costco Wholesale Corporation located at 525 Alakawa Street in Honolulu on Oahu was cited for failing to properly label deposit beverage containers for Kirkland brand water during compliance inspections in 2015 on Oct. 9 and Nov. 10. Costco paid a penalty of $15,998.

Garden Isle Disposal, Inc. located in Lihue on Kauai was cited for multiple violations within the period of March 18, 2014 to June 27, 2015 that included failing to inspect deposit containers for redemption labels, failing to pay only on eligible containers, and failing to inspect deposit containers for contamination. Garden Isle Disposal (GID) was fined an administrative penalty fee of $12,000. A settlement reached between DOH and GID through a consent order requires GID to pay $3,000 and submit a corrective action plan to avoid future violations. GID will forfeit the $9,000 in suspended penalty fees if there are additional Deposit Beverage Container Law violation(s) within one year of the consent order.

Wow Wow Lemonade, LLC located in Kahului on Maui was cited for late payments and reports that were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 2015. The company paid a penalty fee of $400.

Kale’s Natural Foods located in Honolulu on Oahu was cited and fined a penalty fee of $400 for failure to submit their semi-annual report for Jan. 1 to June 30, 2014.

FRS located in Chantilly, VA was cited for late payments and reports that were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 2014 and paid a penalty fee of $400.

Kukuiula Store located in Koloa on Kauai was cited for late payments and reports that were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of Jan. 1 to June 30, 2014 and paid a penalty fee of $440.

HaHa Hawaiian Organics, Inc. located in Honolulu on Oahu was cited and paid a penalty fee of $400 for late payments and reports that were delinquent for the semi-annual reporting period of July 1 to Dec. 31, 2014. The company was cited again and fined a penalty of $400 for non-payments and delinquent reporting for Jan. 1 to June 30, 2015. DOH withdrew the penalty after the dissolution of the company.

DOH issued a total of 17 Notices of Violations and Orders for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to deposit beverage container distributors for failing to submit their reports and payments and to certified redemption centers for various redemption violations. Despite the DOH’s compliance assistance attempts, these companies continued demonstrating non-compliance with the deposit beverage container program.

Big Island Police Searching for Parties Responsible for Dumping Abandoned & Derelict Vehicles

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking the public for help in identifying individuals or businesses who are responsible for the dumping of abandoned and derelict vehicles.
Abandoned
Since January 1, approximately 280 abandoned or derelict vehicles have been reported in the Kona District alone, compared with 106 reported during the same period in 2015.

“Be on the lookout for private or business vehicles that may be dumping vehicles on the sides of our roadways,” said Sergeant Roylen Valera of the Kona Community Policing Section. Dumping a vehicle is a criminal offense punishable by up to a $1,000 fine. Additionally, offenders could face a criminal littering charge, which is a petty misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $1,000 and community service.

“We would like to remind vehicle owners to complete the necessary paperwork if they dispose or transfer their vehicle to another person or entity, to ensure that they will not be liable for the vehicle if it is found abandoned on the side of the road,” Sergeant Valera said. If the paperwork is not completed, you will be responsible for any fines or towing charges. Our goal is to preserve the beauty of Hawaiʻi Island. ”

Police ask anyone who knows the identity of those who dump abandoned or derelict vehicles to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Sergeant Roylen Valera at 326-4646, extension 259.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide 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. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Highway 11 Wreck Claims 32-Year-Old Pahoa Woman

A 32-year-old Pāhoa woman died Friday (June 17) from injuries she received after being involved in a two-vehicle crash on Route 11 at the 21-mile marker in Glenwood.

The victim was identified as Crystal M. Mercado-Lopez of a Pāhoa address.

A crowdfunding site has been set up to offset her funeral costs.  Click on picture to read more.

A crowdfunding site has been set up to help offset the “Celebration of Life” costs. Click on picture to read more.

Responding to a 5 p.m. call, Puna Patrol officers determined that Mercado-Lopez was operating a 2001 Plymouth four-door sedan and traveling south on Route 11 when she crossed the centerline and sideswiped a 1997 Ford pickup truck traveling north and being operated by a 48-year-old Mountain View man, who was not injured in the crash.

Fire Rescue personnel took Mercado-Lopez and her passenger, an 8-month-old girl, to Hilo Medical Center.

Mercado-Lopez was pronounced dead at 5:56 p.m.

The child was not injured.

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

Both drivers were wearing their seat belts and the child was in a child restraint seat.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police are looking for a female witness who talked to a fire fighter at the scene.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Officer Erhard Autrata at 961-8118.

This is the 11th traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with 12 at this time last year.

Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation in Hawaii

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a fifth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until August of this year. The supplemental proclamation provides an additional 60 days in which to continue the state’s cross-sector collaboration and coordinated efforts with the counties.

Click to read proclamation

Click to read proclamation

“The state has taken strides forward in creating a truly client-centered system among federal, state, county and community organizations,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige. “We are seeing unprecedented alignment of services and a commitment to the common goal of connecting people to permanent, stable housing as quickly as possible.” Morishige made the statement from the Maui Landlord Summit, where he outlined progress in the state’s unified response to homelessness:

Section 8 Landlords Recruited

The Maui Landlord Summit is the fourth in a series of state-supported events aimed at increasing government-assisted housing inventory. It serves to introduce potential landlords to homeless service providers and government agencies providing landlord support. The summit dispels misperceptions about Section 8 and the Housing First program, and is a collaborative effort between the State of Hawai‘i, County of Maui and Maui’s nonprofit service providers.

100 Homeless Families to be Housed

The Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) board has approved emergency rules to establish a special rental subsidy program, which will make available approximately $600,000 to quickly move at least 100 homeless families statewide into housing. HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said, “With partnership with local nonprofits, this program is specifically focused on homeless families, where we expect to have an immediate, noticeable and lasting impact across generations.”

Scott Morishige underscored the importance of the developments: “These are two examples of community partnerships the state is forging to effectively and quickly address homelessness.  We are looking at new and creative ways for the community to pool funds, leverage resources, and work in alignment across all sectors to house and stabilize people experiencing homelessness.”

Over the past week, representatives from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and the National Governors Association have been in Hawai‘i as the Governor’s office has convened cross-sector meetings with stakeholders from every county and every sector.

Hawaii Bowhunter Education Certification Now Available Online

In order to expand Bowhunter Education certification options in Hawaii, the Hawaii Hunter Education Program within the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, will begin offering Hawaii residents an online Bowhunter Education course, beginning on July 1, 2016.

Hawaii will be available July 1, 2016.

Hawaii will be available July 1, 2016.

This course is approved by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) and meets the requirements to purchase a bowhunting license where required. In addition, it does not require completion of a field day.

Although Hawaii does not require a Bowhunter Education certification to bowhunt, many states are increasingly requiring this additional certification to purchase a bowhunting license.

Currently, the Hawaii Hunter Education Program offers a three-day in-person Bowhunter Education course with field day once a year. Over the past three years, classes have been held on Maui, Oahu, and Hawaii Island.

The Hawaii Hunter Education Program will also continue to schedule one three day in-person bowhunter course per year for those individuals wishing to attend an in-person course.  Please visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/huntered/classes/ for a list of our current classes.

This online course is offered through the NBEF approved Bowhunter-ed.com. The cost for this online course is $30, which is assessed directly from Bowhunter-ed.com after completion of the online course. Students must have completed Basic Hunter Education prior to completing the online Bowhunter Education course.  In addition, students must be at least 10 years old to take this course. This online course is limited to Hawaii residents.

After passing and paying for this course, students will be able to immediately print their Temporary Bowhunter Education Certificate, which is valid to purchase a bowhunting license (where required) so long as it is purchased within the expiration date Students will be mailed their permanent Hawaii Bowhunter Education Certificate from the Hawaii Hunter Education Program within 3-4 weeks. If you complete the online Bowhunter Education course but do not meet the requirements above, you will not be issued a Bowhunter Education certificate from the Hawaii Hunter Education Program.

To take the online Bowhunter Education course after July 1, 2016, simply go to: https://www.bowhunter-ed.com/#select-your-state. Select “Hawaii,” register, and begin the course. The online course includes chapter quizzes and a final exam. For more information, please call the Hawaii Hunter Education Program at: 808-587-0200.

Another Victim Comes Forward Against Lava Shack Manager

Recently a lot of negative attention has been bestowed upon the Lava Shack in Pahoa following an incident where the owner, Christopher Mohrlang (CJ), assaulted a one-legged homeless man.

Chris Mohrlang

On March 24th of this year I received the following personal message from 50-year-old Dan Vargas:

Hi Damon, I came across your article covering Lava Lounge in Pahoa. I had an altercation at the First Hawaiian Bank ATM with the manager and his buddy. Do you have any idea how to contact the owner who I believe is on another Island. Your help will be appreciated (Pahoa PD Chavez pending charges) Mahalo Dan Vargas (925) ***-****

Well this recent incident with the homeless man getting assaulted had Vargas sending me the following private message yesterday:

I’m sorry I didn’t press charges against CJ and the other guy who assaulted me at the First Hawaiian Bank ATM in March after leaving Lava Shack. I went to the police station that night with my cab driver who helped me fend off CJ and his buddy. My eye was scratched, shirt ripped and pushed over railing onto the sidewalk, defended myself until my cabbie arrived. CJ is a punk and the police have the video of him assaulting me. I am new to town and didn’t want to pursue charges but I wish I did. Apparently CJ has a history of violence.

I asked Vargas if I could publish this on my site and he replied:

Sure, I’m 50 years old and fended off two 30 year-old drunk-high-on-meth guys that night. CJ was on meth in a rage and kept coming at me. Pahoa PD have First Hawaiian Bank video so if it helps establish John’s case I’ll show up and testify.

Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Providing Options for Marine Resource Violations

Hawai‘i Governor David Ige today signed Senate Bill 2453 authorizing alternative sentencing for aquatic violations.

Ige Bill

The new law provides clear legal authority to judges, allowing them to more effectively tailor sentences when aquatics statutes are violated.  The bill covers most regulations under the jurisdiction of the DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources, including most fisheries violations. Judges will still be able to impose jail time or fine defendants.  Now they’ll also be able to sentence offenders to an educational course or resource-specific community service work.

Alternative sentencing authority was one of the key priorities of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Environmental Court Working Group, which made recommendations prior to the establishment of Hawaii’s Environmental Court in 2015. The Court is the first of its type in the nation. It provides a dedicated forum for resource violations, with presiding judges who are specially trained in the nuances of resource law and the cumulative effect of seemingly innocuous resource violations.

“From the DLNR perspective, we’re thrilled that Governor Ige signed this bill into law,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair. “It provides us with an opportunity to educate and rehabilitate resource law violators, and in doing so, encourage pono approaches to extractive use of Hawaii’s natural resources.”  Under the State’s regulatory scheme, boaters and hunters must take an educational course before obtaining licenses. Because Hawaii doesn’t require a recreational fishing license, there is no such requirement for fishers.

“Senate Bill 2453 gives judges the opportunity to reduce recidivism among resource offenders,” said Judge Barbara Richardson, one of the bill’s key supporters. “When we fine someone, we teach them that their individual act was prohibited by law. By requiring them to complete an educational course, that person has the opportunity to learn why their conduct was illegal, in addition to learning about other resource laws of which they should be aware, as well as the sustainable management principles that are a common thread between Hawaiian traditions and the resource laws we have today.”

The bill also creates an opportunity for violators to restore the resources they’ve harmed, as it provides for resource-specific community service opportunities when cases are heard in Hawaii’s Environmental Court. “It’s very simple,” Chair Case noted, “If a person is convicted for poaching ‘ama‘ama (mullet) out of season, we want them to work restoring a fish pond, cleaning the beaches, or engaging in some other activity that gives back to the resource. DLNR’s educational course will be an adapted version of its Makai Watch curriculum, which is currently used to train community groups on aquatic resource laws and how to identify violations.”

The educational curriculum is already available online, and contains cultural references that illustrate the importance of marine resources in pre-contact Hawaii.

Man Collapses in Police Custody – Wife Responds

A man who was wanted for questioning in a robbery case is in critical condition after collapsing while in police custody.

At 1:15 p.m. Tuesday (June 14), 38-year-old Clarence Hatori of Pāhoa turned himself in at the Hilo police station, where he was charged with two counts of contempt of court and arrested on suspicion of robbery. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance on the contempt charges and while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the robbery investigation.

At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, (June 15), Hatori collapsed while alone in his cell. Fire Department rescue personnel responded and took him to Hilo Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition.

Due to his medical condition, he was released from police custody in connection with the robbery case. That investigation is continuing.

Because the critical medical event occurred while Hatori was in police custody, the Criminal Investigations Division and the Office of Professional Standards are investigating.

EDITORS NOTE: The following was posted on his Facebook page:

Clarence Hatori Facebook picture posted by his wife.

Clarence Hatori Facebook picture posted by his wife.

To all you social media this is his wife speaking!! You tell me after all that we post why we never go turn himself in sooner because we investing cops that brutally killed his brother and by proof he was innocent to that alleged robbery! Now suddenly found in the cell block unresponsive on life support! You idiots who all talking mad shit about how you feel about him thinking it was a drug deal my man was trying to change his life around, what if I told you he saved 2 lives in this process if you can figure that out! He turned himself in and look what suddenly happens!! He asked for prayers he is a good man with a bad past! People n the system needs to change maybe open your eyes! And for those of you know an addict that does drugs from a age of 12 can’t suddenly quit there body depends on it at a certain point!! Regardless now maybe you can explain why n wtf, n how this has suddenly happened!!! Yet i was here since 12 no answers!! To my honey I love you so much your a strong man with a good heart I’ll be by your side always!

Backpack Drive for Children Who Cannot Afford Them

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is proud to participate again in a backpack drive for children who cannot afford to buy them. As in previous years, all police stations around the island will double as drop-off points for persons interested in helping children in need. Backpacks may be dropped off between now and August 30.

Backpack1

Backpacks have been identified as the most requested non-food item for charities in Hawaiʻi. The donated backpacks will be distributed to children at women’s shelters, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities around the Big Island.

This is the eighth consecutive year the Police Department has worked in partnership with HOPE Services Hawaiʻi (formerly known as the Office of Social Ministry).

Hope Services Hawaiʻi provides a continuum of homeless and transitional programs from outreach to emergency shelters, including permanent supportive housing placements.

Big Island Realtor Sanctioned for Assaulting Flight Attendant With Half Can of Soda

Big Island Realtor Kristin R. Sharp has been sanctioned by the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) for actions that she was involved in on a flight that happened on September 24, 2015.

Kristin Sharp Facebook profile

Kristin Sharp Facebook profile

According to the DCCA, Sharp failed to adhere to a law in a manner that the licensing authority deems the holder of the license to be an unfit or improper person to hold the license in violation of HRS § 436B-19(12).

On November 13, 2015, Sharp pleaded guilty and was convicted of one misdemeanor count of assault in United States v. Sharp, Criminal No. CR11-00773-001.  The conviction arose from an incident which took place on September 24, 2015 on Allegiant Airlines when Sharp knowingly and intentionally assaulted a flight attendant by striking him in the back with a half-filled can of soda.

Her sanction – $2,500 fine, report Settlement Agreement to Respondent’s broker, comply with terms of November 13, 2015 Judgment, notify Commission of any violations of the terms of the Settlement Agreement in writing within 5 days of the violation.

Sharp’s Facebook account says she is a Realtor with Century 21 All Islands Fine Homes & Estates

Candlelight Vigil Held in Hilo for Victims of Orlando Mass Shooting

Members of East Hawaii’s LGBT community and allies gathered in downtown Hilo tonight for a candlelight vigil at Mo’oheau Bandstand & Park 6pm to honor the victims of Orlando’s shooting at Pulse gay bar. 50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack. Though the motives for the attack are unknown, violence against LGBT people is not a rare occurrence.

Hilo for Orlando

Travis Rogers, the organizer of the Hilo vigil, said he “heard the news and just had to do something”. Travis shared a personal story of  homophobic violence so others may feel safe to do the same. Though Hawaii’s LGBT residents come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, most have these kind of stories.

Above all, Travis shared his hope for people standing up against hatred and making communities safe for all. “I feel for those who’ve lost their lives” Travis said. “This homophobic violence must end”

Individuals or organizations who want to help make Big Island a safe and friendly place for LGBT residents can support Hawaii Island Pride. The annual Pride parade is being planned for July 9th from 12-4 in downtown Hilo and volunteers are needed to join planning meetings every Tuesday at 6pm at the Church of the Holy Apostles at 1407 Kapiolani St.