Hawaii Lawmaker Calls In National Baby Safe Haven Cavalry

Vice Speaker John Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, Lower Kalihi) announced today that he has contacted the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign to promote the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

baby safe

Vice Speaker Mizuno has reached out and secured the assistance of the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign, based in Boston, Massachusetts, for support of  a major youth driven, technologically enhanced campaign to inform half a million people in Hawaii of the State’s Baby Safe Haven Law.

According to Mizuno, “I contacted Jean and Mike Morrisey, the Directors of the Baby Safe Haven national campaign. We have an excellent relationship and they helped us pass our Baby Safe Haven law back in 2007. In the wake of a newborn baby found dead in a Waikiki hotel, could we have saved the life of that innocent newborn and kept the Mom from prosecution?”

The Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend campaign concurred with Vice Speaker Mizuno on an ambitious, coordinated campaign lead by their over a dozen professional young spokespeople is what it will take to get our message to radio stations of all genres, news stations, and newspapers from high school publications to the major daily press.  With heightened awareness of the Hawaii Baby Safe Haven Law the message will carry over to the tourism sector, as well military families and incoming students. “Our goal is to inform a half a million people in the State of Hawaii, within weeks, of the Baby Safe Haven Law” said Mizuno. “We don’t want to have another baby abandoned again.”

In 2007, Rep. Mizuno’s first year in office, he introduced HB1830 (passed into law as Act 7), to save the lives of newborn babies from abandonment and ultimately death. Act 7 provides immunity from prosecution for leaving an unharmed newborn baby at certain baby safe havens, such as a hospital, fire station, police station, or with emergency medical services personnel (EMS), within 72 hours of birth.  The measure also provides immunity from liability for personnel at the safe havens receiving a newborn baby.

Vice Speaker John Mizuno has received the personal video messages of several of the nation’s top Baby Safe Haven spokespeople/advocates who have made hundreds of media appearances in several regions across the country. The following are links to videos by Viennie V and Despina Drougas in response to the recent tragedy at a Waikiki hotel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEhIupI9sVg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LZiZZ0IYyU

Mizuno provided the following statement, “Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety of every single citizen and person in Hawaii and it is absolutely crucial for our government to do everything in its power to save and preserve their lives.  This law is targeted at saving our newborn babies, the most vulnerable and innocent among us.” Mizuno added “Abandoned babies are a worldwide issue, and I am grateful for all the support we received in Hawaii from baby safe haven advocates from across the country. I am especially grateful for the Baby Safe Haven Friend to Friend national awareness campaign’s assistance, as well as his youthful and talented team of spokespersons who have been so willing to donate their time and talent to save the lives of newborn babies, and help their peers to make proper decisions in a time of crisis.”

Hawai’i County Inaugural Ceremonies Set For Dec. 1

The Inaugural Ceremonies will be held for the newly elected members of the Hawai‘i County Council on Monday, December 1, 2014, at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo at 12 noon. The public is invited to attend.

2014 inauguration invite

Sherry Bracken of Hawai‘i Public Radio will serve as Master of Ceremonies. The Honorable Judge Ronald Ibarra will administer the Oath of Office to the newly elected council members, and the Honorable Mayor Billy Kenoi will serve as keynote speaker.

The Office of the County Clerk extends a warm welcome to the public to attend this special event.

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force Announces Updated Report on Policies and Procdures

UDATE: The meeting will not be open for public testimony.

The Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has announced the release of a newly updated report on the policies and procedures for access, distribution, security, and other relevant issues related to the medical use of marijuana in Hawaii. The report was produced by the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and updates findings released in an earlier report first published in August 2009.

Medical Marijuana

In 2000, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law enabling the use of medical marijuana by qualified individuals. However, the law did not provide these individuals with a legal method of obtaining marijuana—making it illegal for patients and caregivers to get medical marijuana for legitimate use.

This year the Legislature passed HCR48, establishing under the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Public Policy Center, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force to develop recommendations to establish a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana.

The updated LRB report highlights glaring uncertainties within Hawaii’s medical marijuana program in regards to the access and transportation of medical marijuana. The program currently only allows qualifying patients to use medical marijuana, but does not provide them with any method to obtain it other than for them to grow a limited amount on their own. However, the sale of marijuana—including seeds for cultivation—remains illegal under state law.  As a result qualifying patients who suffer from cancer or other debilitating diseases are unable to legally acquire medical marijuana to find relief and improve the quality of their lives.

Additionally, it is uncertain whether or to what extent a qualifying patient or caregiver may transport medical marijuana anywhere outside the home on the same island, or island to island, without violating state drug enforcement laws.

“It has been over a decade since Hawaii took the historic step of legalizing medical marijuana to better the lives our residents. But as we have learned throughout the years and once again validated by the report, issues still exist with the program that need to be addressed,” said House Health Chair Della Au Belatti. “The task force is working towards improving our medical cannabis system with the goal of facilitating access for patients through a legal dispensary system or other means.”

The Dispensary System Task Force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation to the 2015 Legislature.

On Tuesday, September 9, from 9:00 – 11:00 am at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 325, the Dispensary Task Force will be briefed by the Legislative Reference Bureau on its 2014 report.

Public hearings on Hawaii Island and Oahu have been scheduled by the Task Force to obtain public testimony on issues and concerns regarding dispensaries in Hawaii and any input on the updated Legislative Reference Bureau report.  These public hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Hawaii Island (Hilo): Wednesday, September 10th at 5:00 pm. Aupuni Center.
  • Oahu: Wednesday, September 24th at 5:00 pm. Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium.

The updated report and more information on the Dispensary Task Force is available online at http://www.publicpolicycenter.hawaii.edu/projects-programs/hcr48.html

Candidate Accused of Fraud States Surf Shop Has Living Quarters

The following was posted by Hawaii County Council Candidate Tiffany Edwards Hunt regarding allegations of voter fraud that have been posted in the Hawaii Tribune Herald and other places such as Puna Web in a few different forums.

I can’t imagine living in a surf shop when you have two other places to live… but if this is your excuse that you want to publish publicly to attempt to avoid prosecution then so be it.

Lately, there have been press reports calling into question my voter registration history and suggesting that I might be guilty of some sort of voter crime. It is becoming increasingly obvious that these reports and the source(s) of them are politically motivated.

I am a resident of Puna Council District 5, and have been for over 90 days before the primary election. Under the Hawaii County Charter, any voter and candidate for office must be a resident of the district for at least ninety (90) days before the primary election.

I am currently registered to vote in Puna Council District 5, residing with my husband at our family home in Hawaiian Acres.

In 2012 I was registered to vote in what is now Puna Council District 4, and listed my residence at my husband’s Pahoa home and surf shop, which has a living quarters.

Shortly after the 2012 election I was nominated to serve on the Windward Planning Commission. After being nominated to the commission for District 4, I learned that I should be registered in District 5 in Mountain View. I declined the nomination and updated my voter registration residency address for the next election.

I welcome any legitimate investigation regarding this issue.

After I learned of a potential pending investigation by police, I immediately contacted the responsible officer but I have not yet received a response.

I am properly registered as a voter and candidate in District 5.  I look forward to serving the people of this Puna district, if elected.

Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Hawaii Supreme Court Dismisses Three Primary Election Lawsuits

Attorney General David M. Louie announced yesterday that the Hawaii Supreme Court dismissed three separate challenges to the primary election that was held on August 9, 2014 and August 15, 2014.

Elections 2014

“The Hawaii Supreme Court reached the right result in all three challenges to Hawaii’s primary election,” said Attorney General Louie. “These decisions bring closure and finality to our primary election. The candidates and Hawaii’s voters can now look forward to the general election knowing that the results of the primary election are sound and not subject to any further challenge.”

In Lathers, et al v. Abercrombie, et al, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued among other things that the actions of the State and County of Hawaii defendants following Hurricane/Tropical Storm Iselle infringed upon the plaintiffs’ right to vote. The ACLU asked the court to re-open the primary election to people who claimed to have been unable to vote. The Hawaii Supreme Court concluded that it does not have the power or authority under the Hawaii Constitution or by Hawaii Revised Statutes to grant the relief the ACLU sought on behalf of the plaintiffs and dismissed the complaint.

In Waikiki v. Nago, the plaintiff, one of seven candidates in the Maui County Mayoral race, who received a total of 818 votes, contested the results of the election, and sought an order compelling a re-count or re-vote. In dismissing the complaint, the Hawaii Supreme Court concluded that the plaintiff “can prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief” because he failed to present any “actual information of mistakes or errors sufficient to change the results of the election.”

In Cermelj, et al v. Nago, et al, the plaintiffs filed an “Election Contest Complaint”. The court dismissed the complaint concluding that plaintiffs could not bring an election contest because such challenges may only be brought by a candidate, political party or “thirty voters of any election district.”

Hawaii Earns Top Ranking in National Report on Progress in Open Data

One of 6 States to Receive a Perfect Score from Center for Data Innovation

The State of Hawaii is ranked among the top states for progress in open data in a new report (http://www.datainnovation.org/2014/08/state-open-data-policies-and-portals/) published this week by the Center for Data Innovation, the leading think tank studying the intersection of data, technology and public policy.

Click for more information.

Click for more information.

“This national recognition shows that collaborative and determined efforts on the part of this administration and the Legislature, together with our private sector partners and the public, have made great strides since launching our state’s business and information transformation in 2011,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We have developed a strong open government program that is rapidly improving transparency and accountability of state government.”

Hawaii was one of six states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma and Utah) to receive a perfect score in the Center for Data Innovation’s report, which evaluated states based on the contents of their open data policies and open data portals. Points are awarded for the presence of an open data policy, quality of open data policy, presence of an open data portal, and quality of an open data portal.

“Open data that does not compromise security or privacy is becoming more readily available to the public through data.hawaii.gov, recognizing that it belongs to the people of Hawaii,” said the Governor’s Chief Advisor on Technology and Cybersecurity, Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, who launched Hawaii’s Open Data Portal as Hawaii’s first chief information officer. “This award demonstrates that Hawaii can set a new national standard of excellence for open government.

“I’d like to acknowledge our dedicated state personnel at the Offices of Information Management Technology (OIMT) and Information Practices, as well as our partners at the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Open Data, and Socrata. We all need to support State CIO Keone Kali and his OIMT team as they continue to enhance the standard of excellence for the State of Hawaii.”

Hawaii’s Business & Information Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan and initiatives have received national recognition for innovation winning 20 national awards including being the only state recipient for the Fed 100 Award in 2013 and Government innovator of the Year in 2014. For more information on the plan, visit OIMT’s website at oimt.hawaii.gov.

The Center for Data Innovation is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. For more information about the center, visit datainnovation.org.

Senator Schatz to Rejoin Team in Puna to Assist with Iselle Recovery Efforts

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced he will rejoin his team, who have remained on the ground in Puna, on Tuesday to assist with the recovery efforts, specifically focusing on federal funds, the mitigation of albizia trees, and disaster recovery.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele hep unload ice in Nanawale.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele help unload ice in Nanawale.

Schatz will meet with state and county officials and continue his collaboration with community members from Puna.

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

“I said on Friday night that my commitment to Puna’s recovery extends beyond any election or any election results, and I meant it,” Senator Schatz said. “This is going to take time and effort, and it won’t be easy, but I will continue to do everything that I can to be helpful.”

Senator Russell Ruderman on Friday’s Historic Vote – Endorses Schatz

Senator Russell Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman

Aloha Puna voters,

I hope you are all safe and recovering from Iselle. Hopefully most of you have electricity, and the rest will have it soon!

The voting issues caused by the storm are complex and frustrating. I am doing all I can to draw attention to the need for Puna voters impacted by the storm to have a fair opportunity to vote. For those assigned to a Pahoa voting place who were unable to vote, the issue remains unresolved.

For those assigned to HPP or Keonopoko, you will vote this Friday at Keonopoko, 7 am – 6 pm.

Both HPP voters and Keonopoko voters will vote at Keonopoko!

I am writing to encourage you to vote on Friday if this includes you. Due to the delayed voting, you will be the deciding votes in at least 3 races:

U.S. Senate
State Rep. Dist. 4
County Council Dist. 4

I urge you to vote for Brian Schatz for U. S. Senate.

Brian has been helpful in our crisis. More importantly he has reached out to me long before this election, before Puna become the momentary center of attention.

Brian has an excellent understanding of Puna’s real needs, including our need for transportation improvements, medical and emergency services, communications and connectivity, and more. Brian will be taking the lead in seeking funds for albizzia control as a long term, disaster preparedness issue.

Brian is approachable, honest, sincere, humble, and cares about people.

Above all, for me, Brian is a true environmentalist. He has shown concern for global warming, getting off oil, and invasive species, among other. Such concern is exactly what we need in Washington.

So please vote on Friday if you are in this group, and vote for Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate.

Mahalo,

Russell Ruderman, Hawai‘i State Senator

Senator Ruderman on “Dismissive Attitude Displayed By Election Officials” in Puna District Following Hurricane Iselle

I wish to express my concern for the people of Puna and my dismay at the seemingly dismissive attitude displayed by election officials concerning the primary elections in the Puna District.

Senator Russell Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman

Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Iselle on Friday, August 8, election officials made the decision to close two polling stations in the Puna district: Keonepoko Elementary School and at the Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center. The decision was logical at the time, given that major roads to these polling stations were inaccessible due to fallen trees and electrical poles.

Unfortunately, however, there appear to be systemic, troubling failures in how this and subsequent decisions were carried out.  Residents who were able to reach these two polling stations despite the hazards were turned away and told that ballots would be mailed to them. This was initially a good plan, and allowed for the voters to address their immediate needs due to Hurricane Iselle. In the aftermath, election officials changed their minds and decided, without consideration of conditions on the ground (many residents are still without power, water, or internet) to instead require walk-in voting this Friday, August 15.  I am greatly concerned that the Election Office’s plan to mail notices and post signs on the sides of highways will not suffice due to number of residents that are still trapped and without communications.

I personally tried to contact Mr. Scott Nago, Chief Elections Officer, and to notify the offices of the actual candidates numerous times during the weekend to get some kind of update on what was happening on the ground, in the district. My calls went unanswered until late Monday when Mr. Nago contacted me AFTER a decision had already been made. Even during our conversation, Mr. Nago still failed to notify me of that decision.  This is extremely troubling and unfortunate.

Furthermore, many residents were assigned polling stations that remained opened; however, they could not reach them. These residents are not being offered an alternative means at all to cast a ballot. This is unacceptable, especially in light an analysis of Election Day precinct turnout showing an 11.5 percent turnout at Keaau High School, a 12 percent turnout at Pahoa Community Center and a 12.3 percent turnout at Pahoa High and Intermediate School. Mountain View Elementary School had a 14.3 percent turnout and an overall statewide turnout of 41.4% according to data compiled by the state Office of Elections clearly illustrates that turnout was badly affected.

These low numbers are in sharp contrast to the much higher turnout in the previous two elections, and indicate to me that many people who would normally have voted, could not because of the storm. These are my constituents, whom I know to be astute, active, and vocal when it comes to the political process. They are now being effectively disenfranchised by the unwillingness of election officials to take them into account. This is one more example of the unfairness of someone in Honolulu making a decision that unnecessarily punishes the people on a neighbor island without knowing, or seemingly caring, what the real conditions are on the ground.

Hawaii Law requires that the voting process to be complete 21 days after the primary election. My question is, why was a decision so hastily made to designate Friday the 15th as the day for elections for the two affected areas, when so many residents along Red Road, in Pohoiki, and other areas of Puna are still trapped by fallen trees? Not only is it is physically impossible for these voters to get to a polling station (and there is no plan to extend voting for hundreds of people in this situation), but the majority of these voters aren’t even aware that the decision has been made to reschedule the election in the first place.

The Governor, under Hawaii Revised Statutes 128-9(60 (6) Election hours, has the authority to adjust the hours for voting to take into consideration the needs of the citizens during such emergencies.

Hawaii Revised Statutes 128-9(60 (6) Election hours. To adjust the working hours of the voters during the national emergency and other emergency conditions, and for the purpose to suspend those provisions of section 11-131 which fix the hours for voting, and fix other hours by stating the same in the election proclamation or notice, as the case may be.

It is imperative that allowances be made to address the concerns and rights of eligible voters to be allowed to participate in our elections process. We still have the time and resources necessary to make amends and avoid the inevitable lawsuits that will be forthcoming should the decision to hold the voting on Friday stand. It is incumbent on officials to take the necessary actions to guarantee that all are afforded their Constitutional rights under law to that participation.

Sincerely,

Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Hawaii State Senate – 2nd District

Postponed Elections to Be Held Friday at Keonepoko Elementary

Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, in consultation with the State Attorney General, Department of Defense and the Office of the County Clerk, announced today that an election will be held on Friday, August 15th at Keonepoko Elementary School for the two polling places whose election was postponed due to Hurricane Iselle.

Elections 2014

Only voters who are assigned to Hawaiian Paradise Community Center (04-01) and Keoneopoko Elementary School (04-02), who did not previously vote by absentee mail ballot or at an early vote site will be allowed to vote.

Polling place hours will be from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Voters in line at 6:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Final results of the 2014 Primary Election will be released the same evening at www.hawaii.gov/elections.

Two Puna Polling Places CLOSED, Not Relocated!

Two Puna polling places, Keonopoko & HPP (Paradise Park) without electricity will not receive voters today!!! Voters assigned to those places will be mailed a ballot in next couple weeks, to be mailed back in. These poll results will not be final until then.

This info is verified by Stewart Maeda, Hawaii County Clerk.

Even worse news: Many residents along Red Road and in Pohoiki are trapped by fallen trees. They cannot get to their polling station in Pahoa. At this time there is no plan to extend voting for hundreds of people in this situation. I will be urging the State Elections officer, Scott Nago, to find a solution for these constituents. I hope others will do so as well.

Senator Russell Ruderman (via Facebook)

Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission Launches New Data Visualization Application

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission launched a new data visualization application on its website, which will permit anyone to see how noncandidate committees which includes Super PACs are raising and spending money on 2014 state and county races.

In partnership with the State of Hawaii’s Office of Information Management & Technology (OIMT), Information & Communication Services Division (ICSD), and Socrata, the Commission unveiled its newest tool today on its website.

Access the Noncandidate Committee Data Visualization App

This new application will permit you to view charts of a noncandidate committee’s campaign spending data for a particular election period.  Similar to the candidate committee application which was released in November 2013, this app will permit you to view pie charts, a geo-map and a bar chart from data derived from the noncandidate committees’ reports which are filed electronically with the Commission from the last 6 years.  Highlights of the new app include:

  • Percentage of how contributions are funded (by individuals, candidate committees, noncandidate committees, vendor/business)
  • Percentage of contributions received from in-state versus out-of-state including geo-maps
  • Percentage of contributions by states as well as zip codes
  • Fundraising activity
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by office
  • Contributions to candidates categorized by party
  • Percentage of expenditures by category
  • Percentage of expenditures versus independent expenditures
  • Percentage of in-state versus out-of-state expenditures

campaign

This application was conceived to provide greater transparency and accountability in government and enable the public to follow the money of noncandidate committees’ participation in the elections in Hawaii.  “We hope this app will increase interest and voter engagement as we enter the primary election on August 9th and move towards the general election on November 4th,” said the Commission’s Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao.

For more information, contact:

Executive Director Kristin Izumi-Nitao
Associate Director Anthony Baldomero
Campaign Spending Commission
Phone:  (808) 586-0285

Following the Money in Local Politics? There’s an Site/App for That!

Hi Damon,

I’m working with Common Cause Hawaii (along with an organization I co-founded called Hawaii Open Data) to spread the word about new tools designed to help Hawaii residents get a better view of how local government works. With the Primary Election looming next week, it’s the perfect time to try them out.

I wanted to encourage you to consider covering these web apps, which all work with publicly available data from the Campaign Spending Commission, but offer different ways to make sense of it. As the data is statewide, there’s also an additional opportunity to gain insight into candidates and campaigns on Hawaii Island specifically.

Here’s a list of the free apps, each of which was created by a local developer (or team of coders) that participated in the Civic*Celerator, a tech competition that challenged geeks to build something to encourage greater participation in civic life and greater transparency in government: http://civic.celerator.org/apps/

Though we’re not talking fun and games like Angry Birds here, I hope the value of these apps to the community is clear. :)

Examples? Perhaps the most compelling web app, visually, is the Hawaii Campaign Spending Data tool by Jason Axelson. Beautiful yet intuitive graphic representations of campaign spending by office (governor, Hawaii county council, OHA, etc.), candidate, party, category… just click around for a minute or two, and some interesting patterns will emerge: http://viz.hawaiicampaignspending.com/

spending data

Spending data 2Or here’s an app by Royce Jones that includes both candidate filing information and campaign spending information, and links it to an easily-navigated map of the islands: http://civic-celerator.maps.arcgis.com/home/

Spending data 3

You can figure out which voting precinct you’re in, who’s running, who’s donating to their campaigns, and even see online exactly what your ballot will look like.

Spending data 4

These only scratch the surface of these free tools, created for everyday people by (slightly geekier) every day people. While there’s been volumes and volumes of data available for years, now a growing corps of “civic hackers” are building ways to make sense of it all.

Not only do I think these web apps would make for a great “tech for good” story, but I think bloggers like you could actually use them to generate a number of other interesting stories. Which candidate spent the most on food on Hawaii Island? Which political party, besides the Democrats, is fielding the most candidates for public office statewide? The possibilities, once you begin to explore the data in new ways, are endless.

Please let me know if you’d like to speak to someone about these tools. I can help connect you with some of the organizers of the Civic*Celerator for the big picture, or help set up a walk through from one of the developers for an in-depth tour of any of the apps. Just reply to this email and I’ll get the ball rolling. Otherwise, feel free to try them out, review them or post a tour, whatever you think will help demonstrate the value of campaign spending data and these volunteer-built apps.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Burt Lum, Hawaii Open Data

Holy Crap… Drama at the District 5 Forum

A forum was held at Pahoa High School and fireworks happened.  I’ll just let the two videos speak for themselves (video by Big Island Video News).

Candidate Hampton:
[youtube=http://youtu.be/vyxFF_s08s4]
Candidate Edwards Hunt:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/UkCE18980rY]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rona Fukumoto

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

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

Land Use Commission

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

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Elders Headline Pillars of Peace Hawaii Events

Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i to host peace leaders Gro Harlem Brundtland, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Tutu in a series of community events.

Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i, an initiative of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, will host three preeminent global leaders from The Elders from August 29-31. While in Honolulu, they will engage in a series of exchanges with the people of Hawai‘i on peace, compassion, and ethical leadership. The Pillars of Peace Hawaii program was established in part to inspire our community to cultivate empathy, mindfulness and justice in our daily lives and better understand the roles of diversity and culture in the practice of peace.

Elders

The Elders include former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland; renowned lawyer, pro-democracy campaigner and Pakistani women’s movement leader Hina Jilani; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate, veteran anti-apartheid activist and peace campaigner.

This is the first time that representatives of The Elders will engage Hawai‘i. The community will have the unique opportunity to listen to this world-renowned group of leaders in a public forum entitled “A Just and Inclusive Global Community,” on Sunday, August 31, 4:00 p.m. at the Hawai‘i Convention Center’s Lili‘u Theater. Tickets for the public presentation will be available for purchase at http://pillarsofpeacehawaii.org/schedule-tickets-the-elders on August 1st. Student tickets are $12 and general public tickets are $20; both include validated parking at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

There will also be an opportunity for selected Hawai‘i students to attend a special Student Leaders Program, “Leaders Make the Future: the Wisdom of Elders and Youngers.” The student leaders will be chosen to attend by their schools’ administrators or teachers. Other areas of discussion during the Elders’ visit to Hawai‘i include climate change and ethical leadership.

“We are honored to have such an esteemed group of leaders come to Hawai‘i to share their global experiences and perspectives on peace issues,” said Kelvin H. Taketa, President and CEO of Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “Their visit will enable us, in turn, to share our approach to peace, influenced by the spirit of aloha and our community that merges numerous cultural influences.”

The Elders is an independent group of global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007; they use their collective wisdom, experience, and influence to support peace building, address major causes of human suffering, and promote the shared interests of humanity.

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, currently chairs The Elders. Archbishop Tutu served for six years as Chair and remains an Honorary Elder. Using its members’ collective experiences and insights, the group promotes universal human rights and peace. For more information on The Elders, please visit http://www.theelders.org/.

The Elders’ visit is part of “Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i: Building Peace on a Foundation of Aloha,” an initiative of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation launched in 2012. The program’s events aim to spark conversations about the roles of compassion, diversity, and culture in the practice of peace. Highlighting Hawai‘i’s culture and its spirit of aloha, the program also positions Hawai‘i as a leading voice for peace. Pillars of Peace Hawai‘i is funded by the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation and other partners. For more information on this initiative, please visit http://pillarsofpeacehawaii.org/.

About Hawai‘i Community Foundation

The Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF), with 98 years of community service, is the leading philanthropic institution in the state. The Foundation is a steward of over 650 funds, including more than 190 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2013, $43 million in grants and contracts were distributed by HCF statewide, including $4 million in scholarships. The HCF also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector. For more information on HCF, please visit http://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/.

House Tourism Chair to Introduce Legislation Banning Aerial Advertising

Representative Tom Brower (Waikiki, Ala Moana) announced plans to introduce legislation banning aerial advertisement in the state of Hawaii. The proposed legislation will seek to clarify the ambiguities and jurisdiction of aerial advertising written in federal, state, and city law. The measure will specifically make it illegal for a pilot to fly a plane out of a state airport for the purpose of towing a banner for advertisement.
Aerial Banner
“I have had discussions with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state officials to identify what we can do. Due to the ambiguities of city, state and federal law, there is a need for legislation to add more clarity. Right now, we have federal and state laws that need further explanation,” said Brower. “Our skies are under federal and local jurisdiction, but state airport officials issue contracts and agreements with pilots and businesses. While the FAA has indicated that plane operators need to abide by state law and county ordinance, the contract signed by the particular pilot in question did not specifically allow or deny the operation of a tow banner business.”

The plane operator, Aerial Banners North (ABN), has received a federal waiver to conduct banner towing operations nationwide, but state and city officials have strongly asserted that aerial advertisement is illegal under local law. ABN has argued that the waiver allowing them to operate across the nation, and in Hawaii, supersedes any state or county prohibitions.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration clarified that the waiver granted to Aerial Banners North which authorizes the company to conduct banner towing operations nationwide, “does not waive any state law or local ordinance. Should the proposed operations conflict with any state law or local ordinance, or require permission of local authorities or property owners, it is the operator’s responsibility to resolve the matter.”

“I care about the threat of aerial banners flying over Hawaii’s tourist destinations, ruining the natural beauty, interfering with outdoor recreation and enjoyment of residents and tourists. Most importantly, if we don’t act, this will set a bad precedent, opening the flood gates for more aerial advertising in Hawaii’s skies,” added Brower, Chair of the House Tourism Committee.

United Public Workers Endorses Paleka Jr. for Hawaii County Council District 5

The United Public Workers, AFSCME Local 646 has endorsed Daniel Paleka Jr. for the Hawaii County Council District 5 Race.
UPW Endorsement of Paleka

I asked Mr. Paleka Jr. how he felt about the endorsement and he said:

I am deeply honored to be endorsed by HGEA, UPW, ILWU and Hawaii Operating Engineers. I believe we share the same values and commitment to our working families and the endorsements are a reflection of that fact. I am aware that my fellow candidates did seek endorsement from these organizations which is very humbling to me considering the competition that was also vying for they’re support. Although I do anticipate further endorsements by other sectors of our community it is with the utmost sincerity that I send a Mahalo Nui Loa to our Union Ohanas.