Criminal Pretrial Task Force Public Meeting Announcement

The Criminal Pretrial Task Force will be holding a public meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. on Friday, October 13, at Aliiolani Hale, 417 South King Street, room 101 on the first floor.

The purpose of the meeting is to gather input from individuals and interested organizations about criminal pretrial practices and procedures.

“We want to ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to provide feedback to the task force,” said Judge Rom A. Trader, chair of the task force. “For example, we want to know if the current pretrial system is working. What needs to be done to improve it? What features would a highly-functioning and fair pretrial system have?

“We also welcome thoughts or suggestions relating to criminal pretrial reform for the task force’s consideration as it develops recommendations to the Legislature,” Judge Trader added.

House Concurrent Resolution No. 134, HD1 was adopted by the 2017 Legislature and requested the Judiciary to convene a task force to examine and, as needed, recommend legislation and revisions to criminal pretrial practices and procedures to increase public safety while maximizing pretrial release of those who do not pose a danger or a flight risk. The task force is also charged with identifying and defining best practices and metrics to measure the relative effectiveness of the criminal pretrial system, and establish ongoing procedures to take such measurements at appropriate time intervals.

Members of the task force represent a broad cross section of agencies who participate in the criminal justice system in different ways.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, comments may be sent to  HCR134.Jud@courts.hawaii.gov by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Include your name, contact information, and affiliation.

Anyone needing auxiliary aids or services to participate in this meeting (i.e., ASL, foreign language interpreter or wheelchair accessibility) should contact the Judiciary Legislative Coordinating Office at 539-4893 at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.

Legislation Helps Provide More Body-Worn Cameras to Local Law Enforcement Agencies

Last week, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) introduced the Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (Police CAMERA) Act of 2017.  This legislation would create a pilot grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights.

“We can’t restore trust between our communities and law enforcement without transparency and accountability. Body cameras alone won’t repair that relationship, but they have proven to be effective and can do a great deal to keep both police officers and community members safe and accountable,” said Senator Schatz

“Body cameras will benefit the brave men and women who serve in our police force and the people they protect,” said Senator Paul. “The use of body cameras helps officers collect and preserve evidence to solve crimes, while also decreasing the number of complaints against police. The Police CAMERA Act will help state and local police departments access this new tool, while ensuring that the privacy rights of every civilian are respected.”

“Justice is supposed to be blind, but it is not supposed to be blind to the facts. Police body cameras can help provide evidence and restore some much-needed trust between police and the communities they serve,” said Congressman Cohen. “The cameras could show the officer’s actions for what they were, proving both lawful and unlawful activity. The vast majority of police are well meaning, dedicated public servants, and we depend upon them to keep us safe from criminals. But the fact remains some officers go beyond the law in a callous disregard for due process.  Their actions damage the public trust that is essential for good police to be able to serve and protect our communities. Police body cameras, alone, will not solve this problem, but they are an important step in the right direction. I would like to thank Senators Schatz and Paul for their leadership on this issue and for partnering with me on this legislation.”

The Police CAMERA Act of 2017 would establish a pilot grant program using existing funding to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies with the purchasing or leasing of body-worn cameras. It would also authorize an impact-study after two years. The study would assess the impact body-worn cameras have on reducing the use of excessive force by police, its effects on officer safety and public safety, and procedures to protect the privacy of individuals who are recorded.

“The resulting benefits of the body-worn cameras after almost two years of usage have greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Darryl D. Perry, Chief of Police of the Kauai Police Department. “Not only have our officers embraced this technology wholeheartedly, but our community has commended KPD for being open and transparent.”

Original cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

Click to read full release

Letter to Alan Oshima, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Electric Company (“HECO”), Regarding HEI New Subsidiary Pacific Current

Dear Mr. Oshima:

The Commission received a press release issued by Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (“HEI”), dated September 20, 2017, stating that HEI has established a new subsidiary, Pacific Current, which has agreed to purchase the Hamakua Energy Partners (“HEP”) power plant on Hawaii Island, “for an undisclosed price.” The HEP power plant provides energy and capacity services to Hawaii Electric Light Co., Inc. (“HELCO”) under a power purchase agreement which is in effect and expires in 2030.

Under Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”) Section 269-19.S(a), “affiliated interests” of public utilities include “every corporation ten per cent or more of whose voting securities is owned by any person owning ten percent of more of the voting securities of a public utility.” Under HRS Section 269-19.S(b), “contracts and agreements between [a] regulated entity and its affiliates must be shown by clear and convincing evidence to be in furtherance of the interests of the public.”

To assist the Public Utilities Commission’s determination whether the power purchase agreement between HELCO and its affiliate Pacific Current is in furtherance of the interests of the public, please respond to the following:

  1. Please discuss in detail all measures HELCO has instituted to identify and prevent potential preferential treatment of its affiliate’s interests in the HEP power plant, in the following areas:
    a) operational decisions about unit commitment and dispatch;
    b) interconnection of new generation resources, including both utilityscale and distributed sources;
    c) solicitation and procurement of new generation resources from nonaffiliate independent power producers (“IPPs”);
    d) negotiation of future power purchase agreements with nonaffiliate IPPs;
    e) re-negotiation of existing power purchase agreements with nonaffiliate IPPs;
    f) re-negotiation of the HEP power purchase agreement with an affiliate IPP;
    g) development and implementation of new programs to invest in “nonwires alternatives” to generation, such as energy storage and distributed energy resources; and
    h) development and implementation of new programs to expand customer choice, such as community-based renewable energy (CBRE), demand responset and “smart export” options.
  2. Please discuss in detail measures HELCO has instituted to prevent disclosure of confidential information to its affiliate and its affiliate’s owners.
  3. Please discuss in detail the code of conduct between representatives from HELCO and Pacific Current that ensures any contracts or agreements between these entities are in furtherance of the interests of the public.
  4. Please discuss in detail any additional measures HELCO has taken to ensure that the agreement between HELCO and Pacific Current is in furtherance of the interests of the public.
  5. Is HELCO or another Hawaiian Electric regulated utility currently in discussions or negotiations with Pacific Current for any new contracts or agreements? If so, please describe the nature of the contract or agreement under discussion or negotiation and any measures to prevent conflicts of interest with potential competitive procurement of similar services, equipment, or supplies from non-affiliated entities.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Randy Iwase, Public Utilities Commission Chair

Commentary – Were Pahoa High and Intermediate Lunch Times Shortened Because of a Fight?

Yesterday, KHON2 News ran a news story about Pahoa’s lunches being shortened.

…Changes to the lunch program at a Hawaii island school prompted parents to reach out to us, saying their kids are being rushed to eat.

Their kids go to Pahoa High and Intermediate School, which recently started a pilot lunch program.
High school students eat during the normal 30-minute lunch break, but intermediate school students eat during recess, which is just 15 minutes long…

I received the following message on Wednesday indicating that this change in policy may have stemmed from a fight on campus… but didn’t discuss it further with the person sending me the information until tonight:

Aloha Damon, I wanted to bring something to your attention that maybe you could do some investigative reporting. Apparently Pahoa High and Intermediate administration has decided to have Intermediate student only eat lunch during first recess which is 15 minutes while the high school eats during regular lunch which is 30 minutes. When I complained to the principal she stated it was due to decreasing tardys to class during lunch time. An insider told me they did it because of a fight that occurred between a Intermediate kid and a high schooler.

When discussing this with friends on Facebook, one person posted a picture from the Pahoa Cafeteria:

My kids say they don’t even bother eating when this is what they are serving at Pahoa. ~VW

“This was what they call Baja fish taco SMH. This was on Wednesday when we went to school for student of the month luncheon I was In Shock when he came to the table with this…Home lunches from now on!!!” said Valerie Walsh.

Got Baja Fish Taco? I don’t know if I could swallow this in 15 minutes… less yet an hour!!!

Hawaii Governor Proclaims October ‘Cyber Security Awareness Month’

As part of Gov. David Y. Ige proclaiming October 2017 “Cyber Security Awareness Month,” the Hawaii Department of Defense Office of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Hawaii State Public Library System and local nonprofit Cyber Hui, will be offering cyber safety public awareness sessions led by cyber professionals throughout the month.

On Oct. 4, 2017, the following gathered in the governor’s office to support local Cyber Security Awareness Month efforts: (from left) Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara, Deputy Adjutant General, Hawaii Department of Defense; Marya Zoller, Acting Director, Hawaii State Library; Dennis Gibson, Chairman, CyberHawaii; Todd Nacapuy, Chief Information Officer, Office of Enterprise Technology Services; Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian, Hawaii State Public Library System; Reynold Hioki, State Cybersecurity Coordinator, Hawaii Department of Defense; Rachelle Mansilungan, Acting President, Collegiate Cybersecurity Student Clubs; and Roland Yee, representative of Hawaii Cybersecurity Professional Associations. (Courtesy of the Office of the Governor, State of Hawaii)

“Cyber security and safety is a shared responsibility in which each of us has a critical role,” Gov. Ige said. “Awareness of computer and online best practices will improve the overall security of Hawaii’s information, infrastructure and economy.”

The community-focused sessions will be held at local public libraries, shopping centers, and other locations statewide. Presentations will provide basic cyber best practices, also known as cyber hygiene. The range of topics will include malware protection, passwords, wifi usage, online shopping and banking, scams, safe email habits, phishing, data backup, and social media. Most sessions are scheduled to run approximately one hour and include an informal question and answer portion.

The schedule of sessions is available at the state Office of Homeland Security’s newly launched Cyber Awareness website (ohs.hawaii.gov/cyber), which will also offer additional information to assist in awareness and understanding of cyber issues faced by the local community. The website will provide cyber safety tips, information resources, information on other events and announcements, awareness training/education, community engagements and other cyber-related areas.

“It’s very exciting to see our community actively engaging the many cyber safety challenges we are confronted with today,” said Maj. Gen. Logan. “From this summer’s student CyberStart program to our planned Cyber Security Awareness Month safety sessions, Hawaii is becoming a safer place to be connected.”

State Librarian Stacey Aldrich added: “Educating our community about cyber security issues and how to protect themselves in our technology-driven world is vital. The Hawaii Public Library System is happy to be a part of this important learning opportunity.”

State Commits to Strengthening Cyber Defense, Workforce

Gov. Ige proclaimed Cyber Security Awareness Month in Hawaii on Oct. 4 in recognition of the state’s role in identifying, protecting its citizens from, and responding to cyber threats that may have significant impact to individual and collective security and privacy.

In July 2017, Hawaii joined a multi-state cybersecurity compact signed by thirty-eight governors to enhance state cybersecurity and develop the cyber workforce; the “Compact to Improve State Cybersecurity” is part of the National Governors Association’s “Meet the Threat: States Confront the Cyber Challenge” initiative and makes recommendations to better secure states’ cyber infrastructure by building cybersecurity governance, preparing and defending the state from cybersecurity events, and growing the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

“The State of Hawaii has already taken proactive steps toward the compact’s goals, including establishing a state chief information security officer, reclassifying IT security positions to align with modern industry best practices, offering cyber internship opportunities, and implementing a state workforce awareness program,” said state Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy, who leads the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, the agency responsible for securing state government information resources and infrastructure.

Cyber Security Awareness Month in Hawaii coincides with the national observance, recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov/cyber), the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (www.cisecurity.org/ms-isac), and industry partners which collectively encourage all citizens to learn about cybersecurity to put that knowledge into practice in their homes, schools, workplaces, and businesses. The Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign serves as the national cybersecurity public awareness campaign, implemented through a coalition of private companies, nonprofit and government organizations, as well as academic institutions working together to increase the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online.

Coast Guard, Ocean Safety, Hawai’i County Fire to Ensure Safety for Ironman Racers

The Coast Guard, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, Hawai’i County Fire and up to 60 event emergency responders on surfboards will establish a response zone around the swim course to manage the spectators, boating traffic, and safety of all race participants for the 2017 Ironman World Championship practice and official race in the vicinity of Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawai’i Oct. 7 and 14.

“This joint effort ensures the safety of more than 2,300 participants conducting a 2.4 mile swim,” said Lt. j.g. Brian Waters, of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu’s enforcement division. “A strong Coast Guard and joint presence is not unusual for the Ironman. Responders will be in place Saturday for the training swim and Oct. 14 for the official race to effectively manage the increased traffic.”

Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island

The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349), two response boats from the Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu, and an MH-65 Dolphin crew from Air Station Barbers Point are involved in addition to the HCF rescue boat, OSLS jet skis and lifeguards and event emergency responders.

The swim race will begin at 6:25 a.m. on both the ho’ala training swim and official race days. Mariners in the area should maintain heightened awareness of swimmers, surfers and paddle boarders. Overloaded vessels, boaters operating negligently, and flotillas operating in the vicinity the official swim course, starting ashore at Palani Road and extending 2.4 miles offshore, will be contacted and returned to shore.

Coast Guard crews will provide a law enforcement presence in the area throughout the week and conduct recreational boating safety outreach.

For more information contact the 14th District Public Affairs Office at 808-535-3230.

Hawaii County Department of Public Works Request for Support Letters for Kea’au – Pahoa Road TIGER Grant Application

Aloha Big Island ‘Ohana!

Please assist the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, Hawaii District with a support letter for their Pahoa Road Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Application. I have attached DPW’s letter of support for your reference.

As support for the project is very important to the effort, we ask that you respond with a formal letter stating your support for the project. We ask that you respond by Thursday, October 12, 2017. Support letters can be emailed to: donald.l.smith@hawaii.gov

Please contact Donald Smith if you have any questions at (808)933-8866.

Mahalo,
Barett Otani, Hawaii County Department of Public Works

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls On Administration & Congress to Pass Aid Package for Puerto Rico Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor calling on the Trump administration & Congress to pass an aid package for Puerto Rico now in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard demanded that the administration immediately send all available resources to help with recovery efforts.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Right now 3.5 million Americans, our fellow citizens, are facing a humanitarian crisis. In Puerto Rico, the majority of people still lack basic electricity, clean drinking water and medicine — the basic necessities just to stay alive. What to speak of the basic resources they need to begin the great task of rebuilding their lives and their communities. It has been days since the hurricane passed over Puerto Rico, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

“The people of Puerto Rico are literally crying out for help. There are far too many, especially those in rural communities, who still have not been reached by those bringing aid. As a representative from the island state of Hawaii, I can only imagine their frustration and desperation. I urge the administration to dedicate all available resources for recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and work with Congress to pass an emergency aid package to ensure that those delivering aid have what they need to help the people of Puerto Rico and save lives.”

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $361K in Funding for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Efforts

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Children with Special Health Needs Branch has been awarded $361,956 in cooperative agreement funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the Hawaii Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HI-CLPPP).

The federal funding will support the state’s efforts to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for Hawaii children under the age of six. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health; increase the risks for damage to the brain and nervous system; slow growth and development; and result in learning, behavioral, hearing and speech problems. Young children are at the highest risk for lead exposure because they engage in more hand-to-mouth activity, and a child’s developing nervous system is more susceptible to the effects of lead.

“Early screening and testing to identify and prevent lead exposure in young children helps ensure the healthy development of our keiki,” said Dr. Patricia Heu, chief of the DOH Children with Special Health Needs Branch. “This new funding will improve our processes to identify lead-exposed children and link their families with services to find and remove the source of lead. This will help to protect that child and other children in the family from further exposure.”

According to DOH data from 2011 to 2015, nearly 60,000 children under the age of six in Hawaii were tested for lead. Of those tested, 1,700 children (about 3 percent) had elevated blood lead levels.

“Recent research shows that there is no safe blood lead level in children.” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, Health Resources Administration deputy director. “Keeping our keiki safe from lead hazards and lead poisoning requires collaborative efforts between our state programs, healthcare professionals, and our community. The department is committed to working with these groups to promote the healthy development of young children and to support their future success in school and life.”

The cooperative agreement funding will enable DOH to address the complex problem of childhood lead poisoning using a collaborative approach with state and community partners. The department’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office, Indoor and Radiological Health Branch/Lead-Based Paint Program, and Public Health Nursing Branch are working together with the Children with Special Health Needs Branch to implement the HI-CLPPP program.

HI-CLPPP’s purpose is to reduce lead exposure and lead poisoning for children under the age of six through strengthening blood lead level testing, surveillance, prevention, and processes to identify lead-exposed children and link them to services. Strategies and activities under the new grant will include:

  • Updating guidelines for blood lead testing.
  • Implementing a new lead database as a public health management tool.
  • Education and outreach to communities and providers.
  • Coordinating with other agencies, partners and stakeholders serving children to ensure that a comprehensive system of identification, referral, services and follow-up is in place for lead-exposed children.

Sources of lead exposure for children may include lead in paint or paint dust in houses built before 1978 when lead-based paint in housing was banned. Children may also be exposed to lead by family members who work with or have hobbies that involve contact with lead such as auto repair, welding, construction and home renovation. Other sources of lead may include fishing sinkers, jewelry, toys, glazed pottery and folk medicine made in foreign countries.

Being aware of the sources of lead and taking precautions can help protect young children from the serious effects of lead poisoning. Families can ask their doctor to test their child for lead, even if the child seems healthy. Families living in homes built before 1978 should keep children’s play areas free of paint chips and dust and take extra precaution when doing home renovation to prevent the spread of lead dust. Family members who work with lead are advised to keep work clothes and shoes away from children.

More information can be found at the department’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention website at http://health.hawaii.gov/cshcn/leadpp/.

Hawaii Department of Health Awarded $3.5 Million to Support Families Through Home Visiting Program

The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $3,510,137 in federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support the state’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. The funds will provide voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.

“Home visiting services help to ensure our keiki and their families have a healthier start,” said Matthew Shim, DOH Family Health Services Division Chief. “This federal funding will allow the state to continue to provide this important service to expecting mothers and families during a critical time in their child’s development.”

The MIECHV Program serves about 850 Hawaii families each year with more than 10,000 home visits conducted statewide annually. Families are screened for eligibility in birthing hospitals, or families may contact MIECHV contracted providers online at www.yourohana.org to determine their eligibility. Services assist mothers through pregnancy and post-delivery, providing support to mothers learning to breastfeed and care for their baby’s health and early development through no-cost home visiting educational supports. Parents receive counseling to acquire knowledge and understanding of child development milestones and positive parenting techniques. Assistance is also offered to help families to set goals for the future, continue their education, and find employment and child care solutions.

During federal fiscal year 2016, 93.9 percent of pregnant women enrolled in the program accessed prenatal care before the end of their second trimester. Prenatal care is essential for ensuring the safe birth of a healthy baby. Pregnant women enrolled in the program also reported breastfeeding their infants for an average of 24.6 weeks or for the first 6 months of life as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the families enrolled in the program received counseling on the results of the child’s developmental screenings, and parents spent more time in adult education programs to move toward economic self-sufficiency by furthering their education.

“The MIECHV Program helps parents and caregivers connect with services and resources and improve the skills they need to support their families’ well-being and provide the best opportunities for their children,” said HRSA Associate Administrator for Maternal and Child Health Michael Lu, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. “In these voluntary programs, trained nurses, social workers, early childhood educators, or other trained professionals meet regularly with expectant parents or families with young children in their homes, building strong, positive relationships with families who want and need support.”

Administered by HRSA, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through FY 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing HHS’ clinical priorities such as the opioid crisis, serious mental illness, and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

For more information on HRSA’s Home Visiting Program, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting.

For a list of all state and county awardees, visit https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/home-visiting/fy17-home-visiting-awards.

President Trump to Visit Asia and HAWAII

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii from November 3-14, 2017. The President will participate in a series of bilateral, multilateral, and cultural engagements—including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit—demonstrating his continued commitment to the alliances and partnerships of the United States in the region.

The Trump International Hotel in Waikiki

President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security. He will also emphasize the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America’s trade partners. The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

NOAA Awards Nearly $200,000 to Protect Hawaii’s Marine Mammals

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today announced that Hawaii conservation programs will receive nearly $200,000 in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funding for the recovery and treatment of stranded marine animals.

“We were all captivated by the birth of Kaimana the monk seal on the shores of Waikiki this summer. But, marine mammals are threatened by climate change, development, and pollution,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding will help two Hawaii organizations with a history in marine mammal protection to conduct research on marine mammal mortality and rehabilitate and release monk seals.”

This year’s John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance grant was awarded to The University of Hawaii (UH) and The Marine Mammal Center for their work to support conservation research. As part of the grant funding, UH will receive $100,000 to investigate causes of mortality in Pacific Island marine mammals.

“Whales and dolphins are sentinels of ocean health, and like a canary in a coal mine are one of our first indicators of change to Hawaii’s marine ecosystem,” said Dr. Kristi West, standing director for the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “As the only entity in the state that conducts cause of death investigations for stranded dolphins and whales, we rely heavily on the Prescott grant to determine what threatens the survival of 20 different species of dolphins and whales that call Hawaii home.”
In addition, The Marine Mammal Center will receive $98,951 to support its Hawaiian Monk Seal Rehabilitation Program.

“Public-private partnerships are essential for the successful conservation of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal,” said Dr. Jeff Boehm, Executive Director of The Marine Mammal Center, which operates Ke Kai Ola in Kailua Kona, a dedicated hospital for monk seals. “The critical funds from this award allow us to continue to rehabilitate vulnerable seals, understand health trends in the population, and enhance community involvement in recovery efforts.”

Senator Hirono continues to advocate for the protection of federal funding for NOAA. Earlier this year Senator Hirono and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led a bipartisan letter to the Trump administration urging reconsideration of proposed cuts to NOAA’s budget that would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal currently threatens to zero out funding for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program and other important NOAA programs.

Officer of the Month for August: Marcos Santos

Officer Marcos Santos, a (13-year police veteran), has been named as the Aloha Exchange Club’s August 2017 Officer of the Month.

Officer Santos is being saluted based on his actions and assistance with a potential suicide case. He was assigned to conduct checks in the Hakalau area on a report that a suicidal male party was heading to that area. Dispatch provided the parties name, physical description, and vehicle description.

Officer Santos responded and observed the male party near the center of the Honoliʻi Bridge and carefully approached the man. The individual was highly agitated and indicated he planned to harm himself. Officer Santos continued to talk with the man for nearly one hour maintaining a calm voice and assuring him that the officers were there to help him. He was able to gain the male parties trust leading to the man stepping off the bridge and walking with Officer Santos to a safe place. Due to Officer Santos actions, the man is alive today.

Officer Santos demonstrated his commitment to the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Core Values of Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, and Community Satisfaction.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes for FAA Extension and Immediate Hurricane Relief for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R.3823, legislation that temporarily reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration, provides tax relief to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, extends critical health care provisions, and modernizes aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Emergency tax relief for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands comes after Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined colleagues in delivering a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to immediately mobilize additional Department of Defense (DOD) resources for Puerto Rican and U.S. Virgin Island recovery efforts.

“While this bill failed to extend key healthcare and education programs that will be expiring soon, it included critical measures that will ensure the FAA reauthorization is extended, stabilizes the National Flood Insurance Program, extends programs for Teaching Health Centers, strengthens Medicare, and protects diabetes treatment programs for Native Americans.

“Most critically, this bill provides tax relief to Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who saw their lives and livelihoods upended by Hurricane Maria, as well as those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Congress and the Administration must take further action to ensure those impacted get the relief and assistance they so desperately need,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Click to read full letter

Hawaii County Police “Officer of the Year” – Officer Marco Segobia

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee named Officer Marco Segobia as the “Officer of the Year” at its award ceremony in Kona yesterday, (September 27). Officer Segobia was selected out of a group of eleven former Officers of the Month.

Officer Marco Segobia

In speaking to the officers, families, and friends attending the awards luncheon, Chief Paul K. Ferreira praised the work of the officers considered for the “Officer of the Year” award and congratulated them all on their unique contributions to the department and community. The Chief added, “all of you are prime examples of fulfilling the Mission of our department to work cooperatively with the community to enforce the laws, preserve peace, and provide a safe environment.”

Officer Segobia was involved in an investigation starting at the lowest level, and through his work and perseverance, he was able to work his way up to the highest possible level of a major drug trafficking organization. Officers recovered a significant amount of narcotics and apprehended those responsible for importing and distributing the drugs.

Officer Segobia is committed to keeping drugs out of the community. He is motivated, proactive, possess a high energy level, and is a pleasure to work with according to his fellow officers. He has a passion for vice work and is a prime example of a quality vice officer.

Mayor Kim to Declare October “Stop the Ant” Month in Hawaii County

This Friday, September 29th, Mayor Harry Kim will sign a proclamation declaring the month of October “Stop the Ant Month” for Hawaii County.

The Big Island will be joining with the rest of the state in an effort to raise awareness about the threat of little fire ants in Hawaii. The tiny pest, first detected in Puna in 1999, has been confirmed in every district on Hawaii Island and populations have been found on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Little fire ants are considered a threat not just because of their painful sting, but also due to their impacts on agriculture and threat to food security. Little fire ants are associated with plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and have driven farmers in other Pacific islands to abandon their farms. They are also associated with cloudiness and blinding in the eyes of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and horses.

On the Big Island, residents have been very active in working to reduce LFA populations and mitigate the threat. In the last two years alone, over 2,000 Hawaii islanders have attended training on LFA control provided by BIISC or the Hawaii Ant Lab. More than two dozen neighborhoods are currently working on a year-long plan to eradicate the ants from localized areas.

Stop the Ant month is an effort to urge all residents of the state of Hawaii to survey their property for little fire ants. Because the ants are tiny (less than 1/16th of an inch) they are difficult to see. Ants can be present for six months ore more before they reach noticeable levels, and many people mistakenly believe the ants are not present because they have not yet been stung.

To remain fire ant-free, Big Island residents should survey for fire ants using peanut butter and chopsticks 4 times a year. Infestations can be controlled, but require regular and consistent effort.

More information can be found at StopTheAnt.org.

U.S. Senate Passes APEC Business Travel Card Program

The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed S. 504, a bill introduced by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to make permanent the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card Program, which grants Americans and citizens from APEC nations access to fast-track processing lanes at Daniel K. Inouye Honolulu International Airport and airports across the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

When APEC visited Hawaii I received a media pass from Washington D.C.  and got to attend the events with the world leaders.

Over 200 Hawaii residents are active holders of the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC), which saves 43 minutes on average in airport wait times. Without the passage of the bill, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot issue cards to U.S. citizens after September 30, 2018.

“The APEC Business Travel Card has helped hundreds of Hawaii residents travel and conduct business with ease across a region critical to our local economy and jobs,” said Senator Hirono. “By permanently extending this successful program, the Senate today has affirmed the importance of travel to our economy and our country’s engagement with the nations of the Asia-Pacific.”

“With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, it’s critical that we continue to make it more efficient for American businesses to reach overseas markets,” said Senator Daines.

S. 504, the APEC Business Travel Cards Act of 2017, is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, U.S. Council for International Business, National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Travel Association, Global Business Travel Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S.-China Business Council, U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China, and the National Center for APEC.

The bill was also cosponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the business travel card initiative by APEC, a multilateral forum that includes the U.S., Japan, China and 18 other Pacific Rim economies.

At the 2011 APEC summit in Honolulu, President Obama signed the original bill authorizing the U.S. Government to issue ABTCs to U.S. citizens. Senator Hirono was a cosponsor of the bill as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In November 2016, Senator Hirono urged President Obama to extend the card’s validity from three to five years to be consistent with other APEC nations. On December 13, 2016, CBP began issuing 5-year ABTCs.

S. 504 must now be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be sent to the President for his signature.

South Point Fire Update

This is a fire information update for Monday September 25, 2017 at 2 pm.
Hawaii Fire Department reports the brushfire located in the area of Ka’alu’alu near South Point, in Ka’u is approximately 80% contained. No structures or communities are threatened at this time.

Due to this fire, the following advisories are issued:

  • There are no roadway closures at this time. Area motorists should be on the lookout for emergency vehicles.
  • Smoke from the fire may affect visibility for driving and air quality for Waiohinu area including Green Sands, Mark Twain Estates, and Discovery Harbor.
  • The public is requested to stay out of the active fire area.
  • This update is also available at http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/
  • Closures may occur without notice.

Annual National Emergency Alert System TEST – September 27, 2017

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be conducting the 2017 Annual National Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test on September 27, 2017, at 8:20 AM HST.

The test message will clearly state that the alert is only a test of the EAS system. 

All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.
The purpose of this test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the Emergency Alert System.

It will use the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which allows broadcast stations to receive test audio from the internet-based Common Alerting Protocol-Based (CAP-Based) and then measures how effective these alerts are sent and received.

If conditions on the day of the test require the rescheduling of the test, a secondary test date is scheduled for October 4, 2017.