737 House Bills Continue Through Legislative Process

Measures relating to medical marijuana dispensaries, health, transparency in government, the state’s fiscal obligations, public hospitals and affordable housing

capital

One month into the session, 737 bills, a little more than half the 1,515 bills originally introduced by representatives for the 2015 Legislature, are still being considered.  The measures include bills relating to medical marijuana dispensaries, health care, transparency in government, the state’s public hospitals, affordable housing and the state’s fiscal obligations, including the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund.

Today, Feb. 20, is the deadline for House bills to reach the final committee to which they’ve been referred.

Among the bills that continue to move through the legislative process in the House include measures that: create medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers, require the Office of Elections to implement elections by mail, appropriate funds for the Kupuna Care Program and an Aging and Disabilities Resource Center, require the UH Board of Regents to study the feasibility of selling or leasing the building housing the Cancer Center.

In addition, other House bills still alive include those that: address invasive species, increase the tax credit for low-income household renters, make permanent the counties’ authority to establish a surcharge on state tax, limit compelled disclosure of sources or unpublished information by journalists (Shield Law), and enable the Hawaii Health Connector to offer large group coverage.

All House measures that have passed the first lateral deadline can be viewed at http://1.usa.gov/1w7aLUy.

Applicants Wanted for Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions

The Judicial Council is seeking applicants to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Hawai`i State Ethics Commission created by a term expiring on June 30, 2015. The council is also seeking nominees to fill two upcoming vacancies on the Campaign Spending Commission.
JudiciaryMembers of both commissions serve on a voluntary basis. Travel expenses incurred by neighbor island commissioners to attend meetings on O`ahu will be reimbursed.

Applicants must be U. S. citizens, residents of the State of Hawai`i and may not hold any other public office.

The Ethics Commission addresses ethical issues involving legislators, registered lobbyists, and state employees (with the exception of judges, who are governed by the Commission on Judicial Conduct). The five commission members are responsible for investigating complaints, providing advisory opinions, and enforcing decisions issued by the Commission. The Hawai`i State Constitution prohibits members of the Ethics Commission “from taking an active part in political management or political campaigns.”

The primary duty of the five members of the Campaign Spending Commission is to supervise campaign contributions and expenditures. Commissioners may not participate in political campaigns or contribute to candidates or political committees.

The Governor will select the commissioners from a list of nominees submitted by the Judicial Council.

Interested persons should submit an application along with a resume and three letters of recommendation (attesting to the applicant’s character and integrity) postmarked by March 13, 2015. to: Judicial Council, Hawai`i Supreme Court, 417 S. King Street, Second Floor, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96813-2902.

Applications are available on the Hawai`i State Judiciary website or by calling the Judicial Council at 539-4702.

Hawaii Chief Justice Delivers State of the Judiciary Address

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald delivered the State of the Judiciary address today at a joint session of the State Senate and House.

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald

The mission of the Judiciary is to deliver justice for all.  We do that in many different ways, both in the courtroom and in the community. We ensure that people are treated fairly, whatever their background. We uphold the rights and protections of the constitution, even when doing so may be unpopular.  We provide a place where people can peacefully resolve their disputes, as well as opportunities for them to move forward from the circumstances that brought them before the courts,” said CJ Recktenwald.

One key focus of the State of the Judiciary address was “Access to Justice,” and the Judiciary’s efforts to provide equal justice to all.  CJ Recktenwald thanked the Access to Justice Commission for achieving “amazing results with extremely limited resources,” and the many attorneys who volunteer their time towards this mission.

He highlighted the opening of self-help centers in courthouses across the state.  Since the first center opened in 2011, more than 7,600 people have been assisted, at almost no cost to the public.  The Judiciary is also using technology to expand its reach and accessibility. In partnership with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and the Hawaii State Public Library System, interactive software to help litigants fill out court forms, is now available on the Judiciary’s website and libraries statewide.

Additional Judiciary initiatives highlighted in the address include:

  • Expansion of the Veterans Treatment Court to the Big Island
  • First Circuit Family Court’s Zero-to-Three Court, which is designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers whose parents are suspected of abuse or neglect
  • Permanency Court, which focuses on the needs of kids who are “aging out” of the foster care system
  • Courts in the Community Outreach Program, which gives high school students the opportunity to go beyond textbooks and experience an actual Supreme Court oral argument.

CJ Recktenwald also discussed several new initiatives, including: a HOPE Pretrial Pilot Project, designed to apply the same HOPE strategies to defendants who have been charged with crimes and released on conditions prior to their trials; the Girls Court program, which will be expanding to Kauai next month; and confirmed plans for an environmental court to be implemented as scheduled by July 1, 2015.

CJ Recktenwald also addressed the challenges of the future.  One of the challenges he discussed was the need to improve infrastructure and to provide a new courthouse to meet the needs of the growing West Hawaii community.

“Currently in West Hawai‘i, court proceedings are being held in three different locations, in buildings that were not designed as courthouses, which in turn has led to severe security, logistical, and operational problems,” described CJ Recktenwald.  “To address these concerns, we have proposed building a centralized courthouse in Kona,” he added.

The Judiciary launched a new website this week dedicated to the Kona Judiciary Complex Project.  This website displays the preliminary design plans, provides project updates, and welcomes feedback from the public.

CJ Recktenwald concluded the address by thanking the more than 1,800 justices, judges, and judiciary staff “who put their hearts and souls” into making equal justice for all a reality each and every day.  He also thanked all the volunteers and partners in the community and other branches of government who work side-by-side with the Judiciary towards fulfilling the mission of providing justice for all in Hawaii.

Hawaii House Representative Submits Letters of Resignation

Representative Mele Carroll delivered today letters to Governor Ige and House Speaker Souki announcing that on February 1, 2015, with the support of her family and friends, she is resigning from representing the 13th District in the Hawaii State House Representatives.

Rep. Mele Carroll has announced she will retire from her Hawaii House of Representative seat.

Rep. Mele Carroll has announced she will retire from her Hawaii House of Representative seat.

After consulting with doctors, contemplating her situation, and confirming with her husband and family, Rep. Carroll decided to resign due to her health.  Complications from her previous cancer treatments have arisen in the recent months that now affect her quality of life and which may affect her ability to do her job.  The time has come for her to address her health and spend quality time with her loved ones and closest friends.

“While it is with deep sadness that I accept the resignation of Rep. Carroll from the State House, I fully understand and support her priorities regarding her health,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.  “I speak for every member of the House in wishing her well and in expressing our gratitude for all that she has done for the people of her district, the Legislature and the State of Hawaii.

“Rep. Carroll has worked hard to call attention to the needs and wishes of the people of Maui, and I’ve personally witnessed how much she has sacrificed and seen how passionate she is about her role as their representative.”

In 2005 Representative Mele Carroll started her Legislative career when she received a phone call from then Governor Linda Lingle in the first week of February to represent the 13th District in the State House of Representatives.  At the time she was working as the chief legislative liaison for Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and humbly accepted the call to serve her community by representing them at the state level.

Representative Carroll was re-elected on November 4, 2014 to begin her sixth term representing the 13th House district.   The 13th District is a “canoe” district that includes East Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokini.

“Making the decision to step down has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It is a heartbreaking reality that I have to face,” Carroll said.  “Serving in the State House of Representatives has been a truly rewarding experience.  I am thankful that the people of the 13th District have trusted in me to represent them as their elected legislator.  Every day that I came to work was a blessing and something I never took for granted.  I cannot say enough about the dedication of people I have met in my journey through the State Capitol, they and my fellow legislators have become my family.

“I want to thank Speaker Souki for his support and understanding as I made this difficult decision, as well as Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say for his support during his tenure and while I served as the Chair of the House Hawaiian Legislative Caucus.  Both Speakers showed me their compassion and understanding as I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments during my service in the State House.  I will never forget the sensitivity and compassion they bestowed upon me.  They made my fight a little easier.   My colleagues have been a tremendous support throughout my tenure at the Capitol and I am confident the people of Hawaii will continue to be served honorably by our state legislators,” Carroll said.

Carroll served as the Chair of the House Committee on Human Services and as a member for the Committees on Health and Housing.  During her tenure, she also served as the chair of the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus, and a member of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, Keiki Caucus, Kupuna Caucus, as well as the Historical Preservation Caucus.

Prior to her appointment in 2005 by Gov. Linda Lingle, Carroll served as the executive assistant and the chief legislative liaison to County of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and was responsible for representing Maui at the Legislature by providing oral and written testimony, researching and drafting bills as well as providing community updates through public forums and meetings.

As the Mayor’s chief legislative liaison, she was also responsible for writing a federal grant proposal to the U. S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for $2 million that contributed to the purchase of Muolea Point (73 acres) in Hana and worked with the community to develop a management plan to preserve Muolea Point which was known as King David Kalakaua’s summer home for the alii.

Carroll was a key leader and instrumental in helping secure funding for the new emergency medical helicopter service for Maui County. She did this by working with a bi-partisan coalition of community leaders.  The Maui representative also served as chief of staff to State Senator J. Kalani English for two years, in addition to serving four years as his chief of staff at the Maui County Council.  She was appointed and served on the state’s Cable Television Advisory Committee and the state’s Na Ala Hele Trails Council.

Carroll’s community service includes serving on the following boards of non-profit organizations:  past president of the Waikikena Foundation;  past president of the Maui AIDS Foundation; past vice president for the Friends of Maui County Health Organization; past board director of the `Aha Ali`i Kapuaiwa O Kamehameha V Royal Order of Kamehameha II; past board director for the Maui Adult Day Care Center; member of the Aloha Festivals Maui Steering Committee; past board director of the Na Po’e Kokua; and Paia Youth & Cultural Center.  She also served as the head coach of the Lahainaluna High School’s girls varsity basketball team.

“Again, thank you for this honor,” Rep. Carroll said in closing. “This has been an extremely rewarding experience that I will never forget.”

According to state law, Governor Ige has 60 calendar days from the date of the vacancy to name a replacement for Representative Carroll’s House seat from a list of three names submitted by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

Talk Story Meetings With Puna’s Councilmen Next Week

Community talk story meetings with Council-members Danny Paleka (5th District) and Greggor Ilagan (4th District) will happen at different locations throughout the Puna District next week.
Talk Story

Come and meet your local Councilmen beginning on Monday, January 12th at the Mountain View Elementary School Gym and ending Friday, January 18th at the Neighborhood Place of Puna (Keaau Location see above).

West Hawaii Community Forum to be Held Next Week

The next Community Forum sponsored by Community Enterprises will be held on Thursday, January 15, at 6:00 pm at the Old Kona Airport Park, Maka’eo Pavilion.
West Hawaii Community Forums

This month’s forum will feature briefings by four West Hawaii State Legislators: Senate District 3 Senator Josh Green, District 7 Representative Cindy Evans, District 6 Representative Nicole Lowen and District 5 Representative Richard Creagan. The legislators will discuss their Committee assignments, their priorities for legislation affecting the State and West Hawaii in particular. State Senator Lorraine Inouye is unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. The evening program will also feature a brief update of County Council business by a West Hawaii County Councilperson.

A panel discussion will follow the individual presentations and the audience will have the opportunity to present questions to the Legislators. Sherry Bracken will serve as moderator for the evening program.

This forum is being held just a few days before the opening of the Legislative session and will be a good opportunity to discuss topics that are of concern to West Hawaii and to inform our Legislators about State issues that you think should be a priority this legislative session. Health care, education (all levels), infrastructure (highways, harbors, etc.), agriculture, truth in labeling, tourism, and the state budget are topics that are expected to be addressed.

The doors will open at 5:30 pm and pupus and beverages will be served. The program is free and open to the public. For more information please call John Buckstead at 326-9779 or email jbuckstead@hawaii.rr.com.

Community Enterprises Inc. is a private non-profit organization with a 501c (3) designation from the IRS. Its mission is to bring educational resources to the residents of West Hawaii so they can better participate in the public policy issues that affect their lives and their communities. Visit us at our website www.konatownmeeting.org.

Hawaii Republican Party Chair Pissed at Resignation of Rep. to Become Democrat

Pat Saiki, State Chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, released the following statement after the recent announcement that Representative Aaron Johanson was resigning from the Republican Party to become a Democrat.

Pat Saiki

“For Representative Johanson to sacrifice his principles for political ambition is disgraceful. He must be a disappointment to the 3,968 residents who entrusted him with their votes less than two months ago.

“A person, especially a politician, is only as good as his word. When the person breaks that word, he can never be trusted.

“It is no secret that running as a Democrat in Hawaii makes life much easier for any politician. However, it takes courage to stand up to the political machine that has dominated island politics since statehood. Representative Johanson now becomes part of that political machine, and he’ll have to fall in line.

“The Republican Party of Hawaii is alive and well, and we’ll continue engaging in heated, passionate debate about ideas and solutions to our State’s most pressing problems.

“Though Representative Johanson has decided to join in support of ‘business as usual’ with the Majority Party, I and tens of thousands of other Hawaii Republicans intend to remain the loyal opposition and keep fighting for a better future for our State.”

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