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Police Week Festivities on Hawaii Island

Police Week festivities on Hawaiʻi Island will be held next week (May 14-20).

Police Week is a nationally recognized week of activities in support of police work and in recognition of officers who have died or been disabled in the line of duty. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed every May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week it falls in as National Police Week. In Hawaiʻi County, Police Week activities this year are scheduled from Monday, May 15, to Friday, May 19.

Left to Right: 1: Manuel Cadinha, William “Red” Oili, Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, Kenneth Keliipio, Steve Makuakane-Jarrell

The public is invited to attend formal Police Week ceremonies on Monday, May 15th, 10:00 a.m., at the Hilo police station and Tuesday, May 16th, 10:00 a.m. at the Kona police station. Both ceremonies include pre-ceremony entertainment and a tribute to Hawaiʻi County officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Police will pay tribute to Officer Manuel Cadinha, who gave his life in 1918, Officer William “Red” Oili, who gave his life in 1936, Officer Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, who gave his life in 1990, Officer Kenneth Keliipio, who gave his life in 1997, and Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell, who gave his life in 1999.

During Police Week, station tours for all districts will be offered to the public. Station tours at the Hilo Police station will be on Wednesday, May 17th, with tours being held at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Call Officer Van Reyes at 961-2264, to schedule an

Hawaii Police Department Promotes Four Officers

Chief Paul K. Ferreira has announced upcoming promotions of four employees from the rank of police officer to the rank of sergeant/detective.

Detective Matthew Kaʻaihue, an 18-year veteran of the Hawaiʻi Police Department, will be assigned to the Area II Juvenile Aid Section in Kona. He is currently assigned to Community Policing in South Hilo.

Sergeant Peter Fernandez, an 18-year veteran of the Police Department, will be assigned to the Hāmākua District. He is currently assigned to the Area I Vice Section.

Sergeant Jason Grouns, an 18-year veteran of the Police Department, will be assigned to the Kaʻū District. He is currently working in the Administrative Services Section.

Sergeant Duffy Duldulao, a 16-year veteran of the Police Department, will also be assigned to the Kaʻū District. He is now assigned to the Training Section.

The promotions take effect on May 16.

Hawaii Marks Start of Wildfire Season with a Party, Demonstrations & Education #WildfireReadyHI

Compared to large mainland wildfires, Hawai‘i’s are relatively small. Yet the percentage of land mass burned each year in the islands is equal to or exceeds the acreage burned in many western states.

The importance of land and homeowners to be fire ready is the theme of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events and activities across the country today. At the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area on Hawai‘i Island’s west side, Elizabeth Pickett watched as several non-profit organizations set up booths and exhibits for the first-ever Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Pickett is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), which with DLNR, and two dozen other State and federal government organizations and various non-profits are supporting the second year of a public and media awareness campaign: Wildfire LOOKOUT!

Pickett explained to people who dropped by the HWMO booth, that just because they may never have personally experienced a wildfire close to their home or property, that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted. She explained, “Especially in our island environment the negative impacts of a wildfire in a specific location usually has detrimental impacts many miles away that can persist for years and even decades. You often hear people refer to “mauka to makai,” and that effect pertains to wildfire. Once land is stripped of trees and vegetation it becomes much more prone to erosion and the introduction of invasive species and soot and sediment can wash from mountain forests to the sea where it can choke out life in coral reefs.”

Big Island State Representative Cindy Evans emphasized the need for everyone in Hawai‘i to become aware of these impacts and to do their part to prevent wildland fires. She’s seen first- hand the devastation and destruction, these often fast moving fires cause. Evans said, “Even the loss of one home is one too many when you consider that with a little awareness, people truly can prevent wildland fires.”  In emphasizing personal responsibility, Representative Evans explained that each person needs to be fire smart, which means taking steps around your home and property to eliminate combustible materials that can heighten or accelerate the spread of a fire. Experts say being fire wise also means not idling cars over dry grass or tossing cigarette butts on the ground. In Hawaii virtually all wildland fires are caused by people and historically have burned across highly unique, native forests, sometimes resulting in the destruction of rare native plants and insects.

Chief Eric Moller leads the firefighting and emergency services team at the US Army’s Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA). His two dozen firefighters are responsible for prevention and suppression of fires on more than 450 square miles of federal land, but through mutual aid agreements can and do respond to fires island-wide. During his opening remarks to kick off the Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness, he commented, “The wildfire threat is across islands throughout the Pacific.  What people don’t realize is that when firefighters are called to battle a human-caused wildland fire, response to other structure fires or medical emergencies can be delayed.”  He too reinforced the need for all island residents to become “fire wise.”

Adusalaam Moultaala of Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of the first people to visit booths and take in the displays at the wildfire awareness party.  He’s considering buying a home on the Big Island, maybe even in a forested area like Puna or Ocean View.  He found the fire safe information he received invaluable, and especially how it connected being fire safe with overall environmental health from the mountains to the ocean.  Jennifer Ahier of Kona brought her three keiki to the event and they enjoyed games, displays and a tour of a fire truck.  She said her two youngest don’t yet understand what being fire smart means, but today was definitely a start.

In addition to educational and awareness displays and information, the Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness included food, yoga, dance, and musical performances. Throughout the month of May the HWMO is sponsoring a photo contest featuring wildfire protection-related actions.  You can participate via Instragram or Twitter using the hashtag #WildfireReadyHI or e-mail photos to admin@hawaiiwildfire.org

Endangered ‘Ua‘u Released Successfully

When it comes to successful wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, the old adage “it takes a village” rings true. An endangered ‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel) is back in the wild thanks to the rapid response and partnership of many, including Pulama Lana‘i, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), multiple community members, Kohala Dental Center, Maui Save Our Seabirds, and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center.

All photos courtesy of Hawai‘i Wildlife Center

The ‘Ua‘u was found injured on Lana‘i after a suspected structure collision. The bird was suffering from head trauma, an injury to its left eye, damage to the tip of its beak, and neurological issues. The rescuers coordinated with the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center, the bird was flown to Hawai‘i Island on April 19 and was then brought to the HWC wildlife hospital from the airport by Wheels for Wildlife transport volunteer, Paul McCollam. The extensive list of injuries led HWC to give the bird a guarded prognosis after it was evaluated by HWC Primary Care Veterinarian Dr. Juan Guerra. It was started on an aggressive course of treatment, including antibiotics, eye drops, nutritional support and hydration. HWC staff administered treatment three times a day every day and remained committed to the bird’s recovery.

“This case really highlights the importance of giving downed birds a chance to rehabilitate,” said Samantha Christie, HWC Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager. “This bird would have perished if not for the quick response on Lana‘i and the intensive care provided at HWC.”

The ‘Ua‘u continued its recovery, gaining strength and exhibiting more feisty natural behavior, and on May 1 it was placed on a conditioning pool for the first time. After watching the bird spend multiple days on the pool, HWC wildlife staff determined that the bird’s feathers were able to provide the necessary waterproofing and were encouraged to see the patient exhibiting normal behavior. All signs pointed towards release.

Before the bird was ready to be released, a few last details needed to be addressed. HWC wildlife rehabilitation staff performed a unique procedure using dental epoxy generously provided by Kohala Dental Center to repair the bird’s damaged beak. The day before release, the bird was banded by DOFAW staff with a band that was provided by Maui Save Our Seabirds and flown in the night before. Then she was ready for return to the wild.

Since seabirds naturally fly long distances, HWC was granted permission from USFWS and DOFAW to release the Lana‘i ‘Ua‘u on Hawai‘i Island. The release location, Kawaihae Harbor, was chosen based on the close proximity to the Center. Michael Huber, another HWC volunteer, carefully kayaked the ‘Ua‘u out of the harbor and the bird was released to favorable winds and calm seas. During its initial examination at the HWC wildlife hospital, HWC wildlife staff found a brood patch indicating that the bird was a breeding adult. HWC staff expects the bird to eventually navigate back home to Lana‘i to breed.

The Hawaiian Petrel, or ‘Ua‘u in Hawaiian, is an endangered species that feeds in in the open ocean. This large seabird is strictly pelagic and is only seen on land when nesting. (A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawai‘i. Jim Denny. University of Hawaii Press, 2010.)

New Lava Flow Maps Released

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of April 10 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of May 3 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tube (dashed where uncertain).

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM). (Click to Enlarge)

This small-scale map shows Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field in relation to the southeastern part of the Island of Hawaiʻi. The area of the active flow field as of April 10 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of May 3 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

The blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Kamokuna Lava Delta Collapses Into Ocean

On May 3, Kīlauea Volcano’s Kamokuna lava delta, which had been growing since late March, collapsed.

This image shows the lava delta at 7:50 a.m. HST, a couple of hours before the collapse.

An HVO time-lapse camera captured the sequence of events in five-minute intervals.

Between 9:35 and 9:40 a.m., a large steam plume appeared in the middle of Kamokuna lava delta in the area of large cracks noted in our April 27 image.

Weak fountaining or spattering likely occurred initially, because new tephra is visible in the steaming area, but that activity ended by 9:40 a.m.

Images captured over the next 25 minutes show that the steam plume in the middle of the delta weakened, and the delta surface surrounding the steaming area subsided.

Within five minutes, between 9:55 and 10:00 a.m. HST, nearly the entire delta disappeared, collapsing into the sea.

In this image, captured at 10:05 a.m., the seawater is brown and turbulent. Large blocks of steaming rocks are visible on top of a narrow slice of the remaining delta (center). These rocks were likely washed ashore by a small, localized tsunami generated by the collapse. During the next few hours, small pieces of the remnant delta continued to flake off and disappear into the ocean.

The collapsed area cut back toward the sea cliff, past the largest crack on the delta.

This morning (May 4), the Kamokuna ocean entry was obscured by a thick steam plume at the base of the cliff.

Click images to enlarge

Sparse littoral bursts, occasionally visible through the plume, were the source of the floating, steaming lava fragments that can be seen in the ocean near the entry.

Coast Guard Holding Public Meeting Regarding Changes to Kamokuna Lava Ocean Entry Safety Zone

The Coast Guard will host a public meeting regarding the Notice of Proposed Rule Making for the Kamokuna lava ocean entry safety zone at the East Hawaii County Building at 5 p.m., Monday.

Kamokuna Ocean Entrance

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making is public notice a federal agency intends to create, add, remove or change a rule or regulation. The Coast Guard encourages citizens to participate in the rulemaking process by reviewing the rulemaking docket and providing public comment via the Federal Register. Public comments ensure Coast Guard rules and regulations are in the best interest of all parties. The Coast Guard is holding this public meeting as part of the NPRM process to encourage public input regarding the possible permanence and scope of the safety zone in place at Kamokuna.

To view the NPRM in the Federal Register, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0234 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.”  Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule. The Coast Guard strongly prefers comments to be submitted electronically.  Electronic comments may be submitted via http://www.regulations.gov.  Click the “COMMENT NOW” box on the top right of Docket Folder. Written comments may also be submitted (e.g. postmarked) by the deadline, via mail to Commander (spw), U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, 433 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96850.

The comment period ends at 11:59 p.m. June 2, 2017.

  • WHO: Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Captain of the Port
  • WHAT: Hosts public meeting as part of the Notice of Proposed Rule Making to collect public input on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making process regarding the safety zone
  • WHERE: East Hawaii County Building (Hilo) Aupuni Center Conference Room located at 101 Pauahi Street #7, Hilo, HI, 96720
  • WHEN: 5 p.m., May 8, 2017. Media are asked to arrive no later than 4:30 p.m.

Media interested in attending are asked to RSVP no later than Monday at 12 p.m. by contacting the Coast Guard 14th District public affairs office at 808-341-9849.

Hawaii Firearm Permits and Registrations Increase in 2016

The Department of the Attorney General released its annual report today detailing statewide and county firearm registration statistics for calendar year 2016.

Click to view report

A total of 21,408 personal firearm permit applications were processed statewide during 2016, marking an 8.4% increase from the tally in 2015. Of the applications processed in 2016, 95.7% (20,488) were approved and resulted in issued permits; 2.8% (592) were approved but subsequently voided after the applicants failed to return for their permits within the specified time period; and 1.5% (328) were denied due to one or more disqualifying factors.

The 20,488 permits issued statewide in 2016 cover a total of 53,400 firearms registered during the year, resulting in a 14.1% increase from the tally of firearms registered throughout 2015. About half (26,616, or 49.8%) of the firearms registered during 2016 were imported from out-of-state, with the remainder accounted for by transfers of firearms that were previously registered in Hawaii.

Firearm registration activity increased dramatically over the course of the 17 years for which these data have been systematically compiled and reported. Statewide from 2000 through 2016, the annual number of statewide permit applications processed climbed 341.1%, the annual number of firearms registered soared 392.2%, and the annual number of firearms imported surged 368.2%. For 2016, Kauai County reported record high tallies for all three categories.

It is a misdemeanor in the State of Hawaii to provide falsified information on firearm permit applications, unless the falsified information pertains to criminal or mental health histories, in which case it is a felony offense. In 2016, falsified criminal or mental health information or both were provided in 60.1% (197) of the 328 denial cases; falsified information pertaining to anything other than criminal or mental health histories was provided in 1.5% (5) of the cases; and no falsified information was provided in 38.4% (126) of the cases.

Persons with documented mental health histories; those who within one year of their applications were medical marijuana patients; and those with documented alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment histories were, respectively, the top three types of applicants whose permit applications were denied in 2016.

Firearm Registrations in Hawaii, 2016 provides a range of additional statistics and analyses focused on firearm permits/licenses, registrations, and denials in the State of Hawaii and its four counties. The full report can be downloaded from the Department of the Attorney General’s Research and Statistics Branch web site at http://ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/rs.

Frozen Fish Product Voluntarily Recalled Due to Positive Test Results for Hepatitis A

Tropic Fish Hawaii (TFH), a wholesale food distributor and subsidiary of CMU and Associates (CMU) on the Big Island, announced they identified and voluntarily recalled a shipment of frozen imported cubed tuna from Indonesia from distribution due to testing positive with the Hepatitis A virus. The company has notified all customers who may have received fish from the shipment and has removed all potentially affected products from public sale.

TFH, through CMU, regularly tests products for the Hepatitis A virus for one if its customers, Times Supermarkets, which implemented a testing requirement for all of its vendors following the Hepatitis A outbreak last year. Late yesterday, upon learning that a sample of the supply tested positive, the company contacted the businesses potentially affected and immediately began voluntarily recalling the product. The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) was notified and TFH is ensuring all proper procedures are being followed under the direction of the DOH.

“Our normal procedure is to receive the test results prior to distribution, but unfortunately that did not happen with this particular shipment,” said Shawn Tanoue, president of Tropic Fish Hawaii. “We have corrected our procedures to ensure this will not happen again. I want to personally apologize to our customers and the public. We are a local company and pride ourselves in our work and in providing the highest-quality products.”

The recalled product was distributed to the following restaurants and retailers, which are all located on Oahu, between April 27 and May 1:

  • ABC Stores #38 (205 Lewers Street)
  • Aloha Sushi Nimit
  • G.P. Hawaiian Food Catering
  • Maili Sunset Bar & Grill
  • Shima’s Market
  • Times Aiea
  • Times Kailua
  • Times Kaneohe
  • Times Kunia
  • Times Liliha
  • Times Mililani
  • Times Waipahu

5/3/17 UPDATE:

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has been notified by Tropic Hawaii, LLC, the distributor for the imported frozen raw ahi, that Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz Hwy. received, but did not use any of the product to serve or sell food.

“We apologize for our mistake identifying Aloha Sushi as a food establishment that used the imported ahi recalled by our company yesterday,” said Shawn Tanoue, President of Tropic Fish Hawaii, LLC. “The information we reported to the Department of Health was incorrect and Aloha Sushi did not serve or sell our product that tested positive for hepatitis A.”

At an on-site inspection late yesterday of the ABC store at 205 Lewers St., a DOH inspector was informed by the store and confirmed the recalled product was received and not sold.

The press release issued by DOH identified Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz Hwy. and the ABC store at 205 Lewers St. as food establishments that used the recalled product to prepare food sold to customers. This information was provided by distributor Tropic Hawaii to DOH as part of state reporting requirements for food safety

Big Island Police Kill Man Wielding Crossbow

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Saturday (April 29), in Papaʻaloa.

At about 3:35 p.m., police were investigating a disturbance at a residence when they encountered a man wielding a loaded crossbow. One officer fired several shots, resulting in the death of the man.

The man’s name is being withheld pending positive identification.

As is standard practice in any officer-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Police ask that anyone with any information about this incident cal l the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Lieutenant Miles Chong at 961-2252, or via email at miles.chong@hawaiicounty.gov. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Kamokuna Ocean Entry Slowly Building New Lava Delta

The episode 61g Kamokuna ocean entry has been slowly building a new lava delta for a little over a month now.

Click to enlarge

Two large cracks parallel to the coast are visible on the delta (center), with the distal portion slumping slightly seaward—suggesting further instability. Thursday, the ocean entry activity, most of which was located along the western side of the delta and obscured by the thick plume, was producing occasional weak littoral explosions.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on NSA Ending Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) announcement to end its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that may include mentions of a foreign intelligence target. The announcement marks a break in years of NSA policy to collect email, texts, and other Internet communication that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance.

“For years, Americans have been kept in the dark about our government’s unconstitutional collection of their personal communications and data in the name of national security. This change in NSA policy is an important step in the right direction. In order to ensure we do not backtrack on this progress, I will be introducing legislation to permanently codify this policy change to permanently ban this privacy-invading collection.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital

East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for April – Thomas Chun-Ming

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized South Hilo Patrol Officer Thomas Chun-Ming on Thursday (April 27) as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for April.
On March 27, 2017, Officer Chun-Ming was patrolling the Honomū area following a recent increase in property crimes when he received information about a suspicious vehicle in the garage of a vacant home. Upon further investigation, Officer Chun-Ming arrested a male and female for Criminal Trespass in the first degree. The male suspect received additional charges of Promoting a Dangerous Drug and Drug Paraphernalia.

Later that same evening, while supplementing another shift, Officer Chun-Ming observed a pickup truck without a safety inspection sticker on the rear bumper. As he followed the t ruck onto a side-street in Pepeʻekeo he observed the vehicle to stop suddenly and two males immediately exit from the driver and passenger sides. As he ordered them back into the vehicle and then made further contact with the driver he detected the odor of burnt marijuana and observed drug paraphernalia inside the truck. At this time Officer Chun-Ming arrested the driver for Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the third degree and Driving without a License. The passenger was arrested for a no bail warrant and Promoting a Detrimental Drug in the third degree and the truck was recovered as evidence. The Hawaiʻi Police Department’s VICE section was assigned to continue the investigation and recovered 1.5 grams of methamphetamine and “meth pipe” after serving a narcotics search warrant on the truck. The two males were given additional charges, three counts of Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the third degree and three counts of Drug Paraphernalia.

On March 28, 2017, Officer Chun-Ming spotted a vehicle which had recently been reported stolen to be traveling in the opposite direction of him on Highway 19. After losing sight of the vehicle he continued to make diligent checks of the area and the vehicle was located along a muddy, unpaved road. As Officer Chun-Ming approached, two males immediately fled from the vehicle on foot. After a short foot pursuit, Officer Chun-Ming was able to apprehend one of the males until back-up officers arrived. With the assistance of the Hawaiʻi Police Departments tracking dog, the second suspect was located hiding in the brush and was subsequently also arrested. Both men were arrested for Theft in the second degree and one of them was also arrested for Promotion of a Detrimental Drug.

Chun-Ming was nominated for the award by Sergeant BJ Duarte who stated that he “demonstrates on a daily basis, his attention to detail, superb investigative skills, his dedication to duty and his proactive approach to police wor k.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Chun-Ming is eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Attack on Net Neutrality

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke out strongly against the FCC’s recent announcement of plans to unravel net neutrality:

“Yesterday, the new Trump-appointed FCC Chair announced his mission to undermine the net neutrality rules we fought so hard to put in place. In 2015, over 4 million people submitted comments, calling on the FCC to keep the internet open and fair.

“However, the FCC’s new Chairman, who used to work as counsel for Verizon, wants to turn the internet into a system of pay-to-play fast lanes for big money and those who can afford it, leaving everyone else behind in the slow lane.

“This hands the levers of access over to big ISPs at the expense of students, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent content creators, and millions more.

“In today’s digital age, maintaining open and equal internet access is essential to breaking down barriers in education, media, expanding access to jobs and employment, driving innovation in healthcare, and so much more.

“We must stand strong in opposition to the FCC’s attack on fairness, equality, and net neutrality.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has strongly supported net neutrality, and has cosponsored legislation to prohibit multi-tiered pricing agreements between ISPs and content providers.

PACOM Commander Confirms North Korea’s Threat to Hawaii

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), confirmed the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi and detailed potential vulnerabilities that exist within current U.S. missile defense capabilities that could put Hawaiʻi at risk.

Admiral Harry Harris

Asked by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi specifically, Admiral Harris stated, “Kim Jong-un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawai’i today…Our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaiʻi today, but it can be overwhelmed. If Kim Jong-un or someone else launched ballistic missiles—ICBMs—against the United States, we would have to make the decision on which ones to take out or not.”

Following the hearing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Hawaiʻi is home to the largest concentration of U.S. military strategic assets for well over 3,000 miles, making it a prime target for North Korea’s aggression. As I travelled across Hawai’i during my recent state-wide town hall tour, I heard from my constituents on every island their concern about the threat posed by North Korea’s increased nuclear and ballistic missile activity and capabilities that place Hawaiʻi squarely within North Korea’s crosshairs. It is the people of Hawaiʻi and our way of life that are at risk if North Korea’s missiles turn towards our shores. Admiral Harris’ testimony today affirmed the seriousness of this threat, and highlighted the need to strengthen our current missile defense infrastructure to ensure the defense of Hawai’i. I’m continuing this urgent push to strengthen the protection of Hawaiʻi against the threat that exists today, and the complex threat we know will emerge in the future. I urge my colleagues to take this threat seriously and provide the resources and tools necessary to defend Hawaiʻi against this threat.”

Background: Missile defense has been one of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s top priorities throughout her time in Congress. Last year, she passed two amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—one to provide funding to begin the process of bringing an MRDR to Hawaiʻi, and the other to require the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to brief Congress on their short-term plan to enhance missile defense capabilities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific—and also questioned then SECDEF Carter and Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the need to increase Hawaiʻi’s missile defense. She has had ongoing conversations and meetings with the Missile Defense Agency Director, Vice Admiral James Syring, to discuss possible options for the defense of Hawaiʻi, to deal with short term and long term needs. This includes quickly deployable options that are available to further strengthen the existing defensive assets within the state.

Kohala Officer of the Quarter: Tyler Prokopec

The Hawaiʻi Island Safety and Security Professionals Association has recognized Officer Tyler Prokopec as the “Kohala Officer of the Quarter” for the first quarter of 2017. A ceremony was held on Friday (April 21), at the Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.

Pictured from left to right: Captain Randall Ishii, Mayor Harry Kim, Officer Tyler Prokopec, Bill King of Securitas, and Wesley Taketa of Royal Kona Resort

Officer Prokopec was honored for his actions while off-duty which resulted in the arrest of a disorderly male at the Waikoloa Queen’s Market Place in February.

On February 15, 2017, at 9:30 p.m., Officer Prokopec, who was off-duty, was driving along Waikoloa Beach Drive when he observed a security guard and a civilian struggling to detain a disorderly male near the Queen’s Market Place. The disorderly male, upon being alerted that Prokopec was a police officer, immediately jumped up and ran to the roadway in an attempt to flee. The male then attempted stopping a moving vehicle before jumping onto the hood of a pickup truck and then shattered it’s windshield by kicking it. Officer Prokopec was then able to remove the suspect from the truck and safely place him under arrest. It was later learned that the suspect had caused damages to two other vehicles in the area.

Sergeant Erich Jackson commented in his nomination papers that “without Officer Prokopec’s immediate and decisive intervention, the suspect may have harmed himself further or committed more crimes. Officer Prokopec exemplified the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s core values of Professionalism, Integrity and Community Satisfaction and is deserving of this award.”

The Hawaiʻi Island Safety and Security Professionals Association is an organization of hotel and airport security managers and visitor industry professionals. Its “Kohala Officer of the Quarter” program is an opportunity to recognize outstanding officers from the North Kohala and South Kohala Districts.

Hawaii Tourism Authority Statement: Rat Lungworm Disease is Very Rare and Easily Preventable in Hawaii

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement to reassure Hawaii’s tourism industry and visitors planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands that rat lungworm disease is very rare and easily preventable.

“Some national media attention has been devoted recently to rat lungworm disease in Hawaii, raising concerns among visitors and groups planning trips to the Hawaiian Islands. It is important that people not overreact and gather reliable information before making any assumptions.

“On the recommendation of the Hawaii State Department of Health, residents and visitors of Hawaii can be assured there is nothing to fear about getting infected as long as they use smart common sense when washing, preparing and storing food.

“The key facts that everyone needs to remember about rat lungworm disease is that it is very rare, it is very uncommon for people to get infected, and the disease is easily preventable by properly washing and storing all food, especially produce, before eating.

“To the visitors already in the Hawaiian Islands or planning a trip here in the coming months, there is no need to be overly concerned. Please patronize our restaurants and enjoy the delicious island cuisine and fresh produce that helps to make Hawaii such a beloved travel experience.

“I would strongly recommend anyone wanting trusted information about rat lungworm disease to visit the Department of Health website (health.hawaii.gov) and learn the facts.

“Hawaii, which has 1.4 million residents and welcomed more than 8.9 million visitors in 2016, typically has between one to 11 cases of rat lungworm disease reported annually, according to the Department of Health.

“Thus far in 2017, 11 people have been infected with the disease, nine residents and two visitors. While the cause of two cases is still being investigated, the Department of Health reports that the remaining nine cases could have been prevented with better hygiene and by properly washing, preparing and storing food.

“We hope knowing this information helps allay concerns about travel to the Hawaiian Islands, which continues to be the cleanest, healthiest, safest and most welcoming destination in the world.”

Big Island Residents Catch Rat Lungworm – Residents Consumed Drink Tainted by Slug

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed two new cases of individuals with rat lungworm illness on Hawaii Island. In addition, four related cases are considered highly probable based on clinical indications, a common discrete exposure, and symptoms consistent with the illness. All six cases are adults who were hospitalized and their illnesses reported to the department over the past weekend.

The adults became infected with the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis at a home in Keaau on Hawaii Island a few weeks after drinking homemade kava which they had left out in uncovered buckets after preparing the drink at the home. The kava was poured into a large bowl and after consuming most of the contents, the individuals noticed a slug at the bottom of the bowl. The department’s investigation determined the source of the infections was likely the homemade kava tainted by slugs.

“The department is continuing to monitor this serious illness spread to individuals by infected slugs and snails,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “Cases like this recent cluster are especially concerning because they can be prevented with basic precautions such as storing food in covered containers and properly inspecting and washing food before eating. These healthy habits can protect against food contamination and prevent serious illnesses.”

With the addition of the two illnesses confirmed today, there have been a total of 11 confirmed cases of rat lungworm infection this year in the state.

Earlier this year, four Maui resident cases, two non-resident cases who were visitors to Maui, and three Hawaii Island resident cases were confirmed. The two cases confirmed today were Hawaii Island residents and of the four probable cases, three were Hawaii Island residents and one was a resident of Maui who traveled to Hawaii Island.

The Hawaii Department of Health advises everyone to carefully store, inspect and wash produce, especially leafy greens. Always store food in covered containers, wash all produce thoroughly and supervise young children playing outdoors to prevent them from putting snails or slugs into their mouths. Controlling snail, slug, and rat populations is one of the most important steps in fighting the spread of rat lungworm disease. Take precautions to control slugs, snails, and rats around properties, and especially around home gardens. Farmers as well as food handlers and processors should increase diligence in controlling slugs, snails, and rats on the farm.

The Department of Health’s Food Safety Program continues to inspect and educate food establishments statewide on safe food handling and preparation to prevent contamination and food borne illness. Food establishments statewide are reminded to use only approved and licensed sources and carefully inspect and wash all produce during food preparation.

The most common symptoms of angiostrongyliasis or rat lungworm include severe headache and neck stiffness, but symptoms may vary widely among cases. Seek medical attention for headache, fever, stiff neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin or extremities. The most serious cases experience neurological problems, pain and severe disability. Healthcare providers should monitor and support patients’ symptoms, and report any persons they suspect may be infected. More information on the signs and symptoms of rat lungworm infection are at: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2015/07/angio-fact-sheet-20150716.pdf

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Hilo Town Hall Draws Largest Crowd Yet on Statewide Tour With More Than 600 East Hawaii Residents

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) was in Hilo last night to host her fifth Town Hall in a series of seven statewide. More than 600 East Hawaiʻi residents attended the meeting at Waiakea High School—the largest crowd yet on the congresswoman’s Town Hall Tour across the islands. Many brought homemade signs showing their support for peace over escalating wars abroad. They expressed deep concern over the threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Hawaii’s preparedness, and also Trump’s recent illegal attack in Syria.

Residents asked Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard a variety of questions from healthcare to decriminalizing marijuana to criminal justice reform, and many other issues that affect the people of Hawaiʻi. She was thanked for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, for cosponsoring “Medicare for All” legislation, and for her work to honor Filipino World War II Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The next stops on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour are below. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at least one day prior to the meeting date at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

  • Kauaʻi – Tonight, Wednesday, April 19th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM, Kauaʻi Veterans Center, 3215 Kapule Hwy, Līhuʻe, HI 96766
  • Maui – Thursday, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

West Hawaii Forum – Hawaii Island’s Wastewater: Problems, Plans, Clean Water?

Hawaii’s coastline is threatened by land-based pollutants, including sewage, which affect water quality, coastal habitats. Recent beach closures in both Hilo and Kona due to water contamination illustrate the scope of water pollution problems facing Hawai’i County.

Join us this Thursday, April 20th, for the West Hawai’i Forum on Wastewater and learn about Hawai’i Island’s options and share your concerns about a growing water pollution problem with ramifications for the Community’s overall growth management and sustainability goals.

  • DATE: April 20th (Thursday)
  • TIME: 6 PM – 8 PM
  • WHERE: West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Chambers

Doors will open at 5:30 pm. This program is free and open to the public. Special thanks and acknowledgements to Scout Troop 79 and Robert Leopoldino of McDonalds for their event support.

The Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant in Kona processes 1.7 million gallons daily of so-called graywater — this beginning point is not the final destination of treated sewage and graywater effluent which sweeps in Hawaii’s pristine marine environment.

Wastewater outlets impact water quality in Hawaii Island’s coastal waters and have consequences for critical habitat areas and marine species. These impacts also extend to the island’s local economy, including; tourism, coastal recreation, fisheries, and property values.

Learn about Hawai’i Island’s options in addressing a water pollution problem with ramifications for the Community’s overall growth management and sustainability goals.

West Hawaii Forum Presenters:

  • William Kucharski – Director, Department of Environmental Management, Hawai’i County
  • Rick Gaffney – President, Rick Gaffney & Associates
  • Karen Eoff – Councilperson, Hawai’i County Council, District 8
  • Maile David – Councilperson, Hawai’i County Council, District 6

Moderator:  Jamie Borromeo Akau Community Enterprises

Join the discussion online at http://www.westhawaiiforum.org/event/wastewater‐treatment/