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Coast Guard Seeks Public’s Assistance With Investigation in Honolulu

The Coast Guard and other local law enforcement are seeking the public’s assistance to identify a man observed discharging a weapon at an intersection in Waikiki in July of 2018. 

The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) is working jointly with the Honolulu Police Department and others in the case. They are releasing these images to generate new leads in the case. 

On July 30, 2018, the man was observed driving a white Toyota Camry and reportedly fired a gun at another vehicle while at the intersection of Kaiolu St. and Ala Wai Blvd. around 6:30 p.m. 

Witnesses, including a Coast Guard member, described the man as a 20 to 30-year-old white male with sandy colored hair and noticeable acne or acne scars on his face. He was reportedly thin and wearing spike style gauge earrings in both ears. 

The vehicle was reported as a white Toyota Camry, 2015 to 2017 model year, with tinted windows, alloy wheels and a Hawaii license plate. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the CGIS Resident Agent Office in Honolulu at 808-306-3543. Callers may remain anonymous if they choose. Officials are offering up to $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man described. 

2017 Hilo World Peace Festival Set for October 21

The 8th Annual Hilo World Peace Festival will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 21 at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo.

Festivities are free and open to the public.  This is a partnership event coordinated by Soka Gakkai International USA, the International Committee of Artists for Peace, Destination Hilo and the County of Hawaii. The Festival celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the creation of a peaceful world. The festival features performances, food and beverages, as well as opportunities to experience cultural expressions of dance, music and art.

The Hilo World Peace Festival was created to promote the spirit of Aloha; the universal language of love; which encourages acts “to honor and revere our elders; to love, nurture, and protect our children; and to respect the harmony of our families; thus creating a healthy community and island lifestyle.”

The entertainment line-up includes Lopaka, Hula by the Hilo SGI Group, Randy Skaggs, Lori Lei Shirakawa, contemporary music by Vaughn Valentino and To’a Here Tahitian Revue. The 2017 Hilo World Peace Festival is a true partnership event where community organizations, private enterprise, and government work together toward a common goal.

More information can be obtained by calling the County of Hawaii, Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.

Hawaii Among 18 States on Brief to Protect LGBTQ Workers From Employment Discrimination

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by 18 attorneys general, arguing that employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Click to read brief

The attorneys general argue that their states have strong interests in protecting their citizens against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The lack of nationwide recognition that Title VII bars such discrimination blocks the full protection of LGBTQ workers – particularly given divisions between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which takes the position that Title VII protects workers from sexual orientation) and the federal Department of Justice (which has taken the opposite position).

“Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. This is why the State of Hawaii is one of 18 states standing up for the civil rights of workers in Hawaii and across America,” said Governor David Ige.

Attorney General Chin said, “It is unacceptable in the year 2017 that someone could face employment discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. Period.”

The brief was filed earlier this week, on National Coming Out Day. In addition to Attorney General Chin, it was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

“Employment discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers not only deprives them of important economic opportunities—it also stigmatizes their most intimate relationships and thus ‘diminish[es] their person-hood,’” the attorneys general write. “Title VII plays a crucial complementary role by covering individuals not subject to the State’s laws—for instance, federal employees or residents who work in another State—and by making available both the federal courts and a federal enforcer, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), to police invidious discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

The case, Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital, involves Jameka Evans, a security guard at a Savannah hospital who was harassed at work and forced out of her job because she is a lesbian. Evans’ petition seeks a nationwide ruling that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates Title VII.

A copy of the brief is attached.

Response to Grounded Vessel Off Honolulu Continues

Responders continue work, Friday, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf.

Responders continue work, Oct. 12, 2017, to remove potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu, prior to the onset of larger swells and surf. The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides after removing about two thirds of the the fuel aboard. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Barbers Point/Released)

“We are working diligently with the salvage team and our partners to ensure a safe and deliberate response,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “The safety of the public and the environment remain our top priority. We have removed about two-thirds of the fuel aboard significantly reducing the pollution threat. Due to the tides and incoming weather we have transitioned to the towing evolution to take advantage of our best window for removal of the vessel prior to the arrival of stronger winds, surf and swells this weekend.”

The salvage team are surveying and rigging the vessel for tow to take advantage of favorable tides.

Roughly 3,000 gallons of fuel was removed by the salvage team before operations were suspended Thursday. Approximately 1,500 gallons remain.

Further assessment by the salvage team Thursday revealed the initial amount of fuel aboard to be 4,500 total gallons of diesel, less than previously reported. No pollution has been sighted in the water or on shore.

A safety zone remains in effect around the vessel extending out 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

Partners in the effort include personnel in several divisions of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party, commercial salvors and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel are 11 mph with waves of up to 3 feet with a long south southwest swell. Rain showers are possible. These conditions are expected to degrade through the weekend. Weather for Oahu is forecast as 25 mph winds with wind waves to 6 feet, but the vessel is somewhat sheltered from the wind by Diamond Head as it’s on the south shore of Oahu.

The Pacific Paradise is a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports that the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

MANA WAHINE Coming to UH Hilo Performing Arts Center

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performing Arts Center (PAC) presents the Okareka Dance Company of New Zealand‘s all-female production MANA WAHINE, on Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m.

Their performance combines dance, theatre and film to tell the true life story of Te Aokapurangi, a young maiden from Rotorua. Captured in battle by a tribe from the far north, she returns many years later to single-handedly save her people from slaughter, as well as experiences within their own lives.

“MANA WAHINE is a vision of strength that empowers women around the world, and above all, a rich fusion of choreography, music, tikanga, Maori and performance practices, video projections, lighting and performance design . . . enriched and enlivened by the dancing of five powerhouse performers,” wrote Raewyn Whyte of Theatreview Magazine in New Zealand.

Tickets are reserved seating and priced at $25 General, $20 Discount and $12 UH Hilo/Hawaiʻi CC students (with a valid student ID) and children, up to age 17, pre-sale, and $30, $25 and $17 at the door. Tickets are available by calling the UH Hilo Box Office at 932-7490, Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., or ordering online at artscenter.uhh.hawaii.edu.

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Assistance Identifying Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s assistance in providing information regarding the identification of a suspect involved in a theft of a lawnmower that occurred from a retail establishment in Keaʻau.

Police ask anyone with information on this individual to call Officer Bryson Pilor at the Pahoa Police Station number (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation Announces $1 Million for New Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in Hawaiʻi

Today, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will award $1,015,000 in federal funding to the Feed the Hunger Foundation to establish a new Revolving Loan Fund that will provide loans to new and expanding small businesses in Hawaiʻi.

The funding is expected to create and retain 120 jobs in Hawaiʻi and help to expand Hawaiʻi’s agricultural job market, contribute to the development of a growing, self-sufficient food system throughout the state, and increase access to locally sourced, healthy food.

“Investing in our local agriculture industry, along with expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, is crucial to improving the health and wellbeing of people all across Hawaiʻi and decreasing our reliance on costly food imports. This funding will bring jobs and investment to our local farmers and small business owners working towards a more sustainable, food-secure Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“This funding will strengthen our local food system and help small businesses,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “By boosting technical assistance and lending, we can help businesses expand so they can hire more people and further develop local economies.”

“Our small businesses and local farms understand the unique challenges Hawai‘i faces in providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally grown food,” said Senator Mazie Hirono. “By investing in Hawaii’s agriculture workforce, today’s grant funding will help get more locally sourced, healthy food into our underserved communities and strengthen our food system.”

“Investing in the growth and sustainability of Hawaii’s agriculture is vital. Once established, this Revolving Loan Fund will leverage private dollars to support Hawaii’s small businesses and communities to grow our agricultural industry.  Congratulations to the Feed the Hunger Foundation on this substantial award and mahalo for your contributions to Hawaii’s food security and economy,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“We’re thrilled this grant will support the creation and retention of 120 jobs, and generate $4 million in private investment,” said Patti Chang, President and CEO of Feed The Hunger Foundation. “We are delighted to be part of a movement in Hawaiʻi building food security, and are honored to have provided more than $1.6 million in small loans ranging from $3,000 to $200,000 to Hawaiʻi businesses such as Waimanalo Co-op Market, Naked Cow Dairy, Paradise Meadows, and to farmers in the Waimea Homestead Association. We are grateful for the tireless work of Gail Fujita and the entire EDA Team, along with our partners, the hardworking local farmers and entrepreneurs.”

Background: Based in Honolulu and San Francisco, Feed the Hunger Foundation works to build communities, connect entrepreneurs to support resources, and provide technical assistance to help food businesses thrive. This EDA award supports Feed the Hunger Foundation’s business lending programs by complementing an existing EDA-funded Revolving Loan Fund. The investment will have an immediate and long-term impact on Hawaiʻi through enhanced access to credit capital and technical assistance for new and expanding small businesses, and increased small business job creation and diversification.

Flood Advisory Issued for Parts of the Big Island

This is a flood advisory information update for Friday October 13 at 9 AM.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for Hawaii Island, including the areas of Waikoloa, Puako, Kawaihae, Kohala, Waimea, and Waipi’o Valley.

Police report all roads are open at this time, but advise that driving conditions are poor because of occasionally heavy downpours.

Remember, if lightning does threaten your area, the safest place to be is indoors.

Should power outages occur, be on the alert for non-operable traffic signals. Please treat flashing traffic lights as a four-way stop.

Again, the National Weather Service reports unstable weather conditions for all of Hawaii Island to continue through today and into tonight.

Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami Joins Office of the Governor

Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Director Ford Fuchigami will join the Office of the Governor as the Administrative Director, beginning Nov. 1, 2017.

Ford Fuchigami

His role will include coordinating essential business and discussions between the state and various industries, serving as the lead liaison between the governor’s office, state departments and their directors, and administering management improvement programs. Fuchigami will also work with Chief of Staff Mike McCartney and serve as a key contributing member of the governor’s leadership team

“Ford has repeatedly proven his incredible ability to generate innovative ideas, implement plans and see them through to successful completion,” said Gov. David Ige. “His ability to negotiate the successful Kapalama Container Terminal project and accommodate an additional major player into Hawai‘i’s shipping industry is just one recent example of his impressive leadership skills.”

“Ford has been able to successfully manage a wide range of situations – whether it’s negotiating with billion dollar companies or listening to the concerns of our citizens. He will bring to the governor’s office his strengths and keen ability to enhance efficiencies throughout our state,” Gov. Ige said.

“In my years with HDOT, we have achieved many impactful accomplishments across all divisions. The department’s success has been in large part because of the collaboration and support from various individuals and organizations,” said Fuchigami. “I look forward to working with all departments and helping to improve the governmental process.”

Fuchigami joined HDOT in January 2011. He has focused on maximizing existing infrastructure while prioritizing sustainability and making the state more energy efficient. He previously served as an executive in the hospitality industry.

Gov. Ige has appointed HDOT Deputy Director Jade Butay as interim HDOT director, leading 15 airports, 10 commercial harbors, 2,500 lane miles of highway and HDOT’s 2,600 dedicated employees.

Jade Butay

Butay’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

BIOGRAPHIES:

Puna Kai Shopping Center Breaks Ground

Today, ground was broken for the new Puna Kai Shopping Center that will be located in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

About 100 community members along with dignitaries from the county and the mayor’s office were in attendance.
Pi’ilani Ka’awaloa gave the opening pule (prayer) and blessing of the land while elected officials and company representatives did the actual groundbreaking.

Situated on 9.93 acres, and featuring more than 83,110 SF of retail, office, dining, and entertainment space, Puna Kai will become the community’s premiere shopping center.

Conveniently located at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road & Kahakai Boulevard in the town of Pahoa, on the Big Island of Hawaii.Puna Kai will be grocery anchored by 35,000 SF Malama Market (Malama Market name will be changed). Leasing opportunities are now  being offered from 1,000 SF to 5,540 SF.

Puna Kai, will provide a distinctive blend of daily services, specialty shops, entertainment, and eateries.
The building architecture will reflect the old Hawaii ambiance and charm, inspiring Puna Kai to be the gathering place in Pahoa that has something for everyone.

Hospice of Hilo to Offer Presentation for Professionals

Hospice of Hilo will be offering a free presentation for community professionals serving those whose lives are affected by loss  “Grief Touches Everyone.” Participants will meet at Hospice of Hilo’s Community Room located at 1011 Waiānuenue Ave in Hilo, on Wednesday, October 25, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Facilitated by Hospice of Hilo bereavement counselors, participants will learn about common responses to loss, and how grief can affect adults and children emotionally, cognitively, physically, socially and spiritually. An overview of the organization’s free community Bereavement Services will also be provided.

The workshop is highly recommended for teachers, counselors, case managers, social workers, and caregivers.“ This well organized and informative workshop is a good introduction to grief and the resources that can help,” said a past participant.

To register or for further information contact: Anjali Kala at 961-7306 or email anjalik@hospiceofhilo.org. Please RSVP no later than October 24th.

UH Hilo Interns Join Scientists on Marine Research Expedition

Two interns from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Marine Option Program (MOP) have recently returned from a 25-day expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where they took part in the 2017 Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (RAMP) cruise conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

School of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) and a NMFS PIFSC CRED diver conducting fish counts at Swains Island, American Samoa, as part of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific RAMP). NOAA photo by Ben Ruttenburg of NMFS SEFSC.

UH Hilo’s Roseanna (Rosie) Lee and Keelee Martin were joined by UH Mānoa MOP intern Colton Johnson aboard the Research Vessel Hi’ialakai on the journey to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM), where they worked alongside regular NOAA divers as full members of survey crews, conducting Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs) of reef fish, corals and non-coral invertebrates. Their work was guided by NOAA scientists and researchers from Papahānaumokuākea, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research and UH Hilo.

The survey crews visited Lehua, French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll and Kure Atoll within Papahānaumokuākea to conduct their various activities. The results of their research will help scientists gain a better understanding of the health of coral reef ecosystems throughout the archipelago.

Martin worked on the benthic (sea floor) team that counted, measured and assessed the health of the coral reefs, which are home to over 7,000 marine species. She said the experience made her a better diver, scientist and team player.

“This was a humbling and gratifying opportunity that allowed me to work in an area few people will ever see alongside acclaimed scientists mentoring me the whole way through,” Martin said.

Lee was assigned to the fish survey team, whose work included identifying, counting, and sizing fish for set intervals of time and taking photographs of their habitat. She is now a far more confident researcher and scientific diver.

“The kind of experience you get by jumping into the field and actually getting to do the same work as the established scientists you are working with is a learning experience you can’t get any other way,” Lee said.

Their work drew praise from the scientific leads on their respective teams, who both predicted amazing futures for the interns. REA fish team head Jason Leonard said Lee and Johnson “both performed at very high levels of professionalism and overcame obstacles.” Benthic team leader Stephen Matadobra said of Martin “her excitement and enthusiasm to be in the Monument and collect data gave the team a positive mood every morning.”

Martin, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, a minor in English and a MOP certificate, wants to become a science writer. Lee, a senior, seeking a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and a MOP certificate, is still considering her career path.

The UH Hilo internships are made possible through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the NOAA PMNM Division and are available to MOP students who complete the two-week field SCUBA diving course QUEST (Quantitative Underwater Ecological Surveying Techniques). The agreement provides funding to hire up to four students each year to work on the RAMP cruises. Lisa Parr, Instructor of Marine Science, MOP Site Coordinator at UH Hilo, and Principal Investigator on the MOA says the research opportunities the program provides to work with established scientists on important research prepares the students well for careers in marine science.

“Our partnership with NOAA provides an invaluable opportunity for our students, who consistently receive outstanding reviews for their performance on the cruises, and we’re extremely proud of how well they represent UH Hilo, the Marine Option Program, and QUEST,” Parr said.

Additional information on the RAMP cruises is available at
https://www.pifsc.noaa.gov/cred/pacific_ramp.php. For more information on the UH Hilo internships with NOAA email lparr@hawaii.edu.

Responders Work to Remove Fuel, Vessel Grounded Off Honolulu

Responders are working to lighter all potential pollutants from the 79-foot fishing vessel Pacific Paradise currently aground off Honolulu.“The safety of the public is our primary concern as we work with our state partners and responsible party to address the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and captain of the port. “I want to thank our state and federal partners who worked with us to affect a safe rescue of the crew and continue to work with us on the response. The Coast Guard is also investigating the cause of the grounding.”

An incident management team has been established. The Coast Guard is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response, the responsible party and commercial salvors to mitigate the potential pollution threat and salvage the vessel. The salvage team is stabilizing the vessel with anchors and will attempt to lighter the vessel fully before dark Wednesday with the intent to remove it from the reef during the next optimum high tide, currently forecast for late morning Thursday.

Approximately 8,000 gallons of diesel, 55 gallons of lube and hydraulic oils and four marine batteries are reported aboard.

A safety zone has been established and is being patrolled by Coast Guard crews. The vessel is about 1,000 feet offshore of Kaimana Beach. The zone extends 500 yards in all directions from position 21-15.69N 157-49.49W. The public is asked to remain clear of the safety zone to prevent injury or impact to operations.

The Coast Guard is working with NOAA’s marine mammal protection division, sanctuaries division, Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Fisheries and DLNR to minimize impact to any marine mammals. DLNR’s divisions of Aquatic Resources, Boating and Ocean Recreation and the HEER and DOH are assisting in evaluating and minimizing risks to aquatic resources from the grounding and salvage operations and potential fuel spills. No marine mammals have been impacted. Coast Guard survey crews will walk to the beaches as an additional impact assessment tool.

Coast Guard response and Honolulu Fire Department crews rescued the master and 19 fishermen from the vessel late Tuesday night following reports the vessel grounded off Diamond Head near Kaimana Beach. The crew was released to Customs and Border Protection personnel for further action.
The Pacific Paradise a U.S.-flagged vessel and part of the Hawaii longline fleet homeported in Honolulu. The vessel’s last port of call was American Samoa and they were en route to the commercial port of Honolulu. No injuries or pollution are reported. Weather at the time of the incident was not a factor.

Two-Month Repair Work on Akaka Falls State Park Trail Gets Underway

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks has begun repair work to the 0.4-mile loop trail at Akaka Falls State Park, necessitated due to accidental damage caused by earlier removal of invasive albizia trees in February this year.  Site Engineering was selected as contractor and cost estimate is $297,400. Work is expected to be completed in December.

Akaka Falls (DLNR Photo)

Initial repair work began last week on the longer trail section that is to the right of the loop trail starting point that was closed after the damage. Workers are removing and repairing damaged concrete walkways and steps, and replacing railings

From October 16 – 20 the park will be completely closed for work on the shorter, left side of the trail to the Akaka Falls lookout.  Hopefully this will be the only time the park will need to be closed. If additional closure is needed, an announcement will be posted on the Division of State Parks website and in local news media.

Aside from the closure dates of October 16-20, access to the Akaka Falls lookout area may be interrupted along the shorter, open walkway path, due to equipment and/or material transport to the damaged areas.

The park offers a pleasant family walk through lush tropical vegetation to scenic vista points overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. It requires some physical exertion and will take about 1/2 hour for the full loop.

The paved route, which includes multiple steps in places (not wheelchair accessible), makes an easy to follow loop offering stunning viewpoints of the two waterfalls. To view ‘Akaka Falls only, take the path to the left (south) from the first junction. The waterfall view is just a short walk down the path. For more information see http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/hawaii/akaka-falls-loop-trail/

Hawai‘i Telehealth Summit Moves State Toward Increasing Access to Healthcare Using Innovative Technology

More than 150 healthcare and information technology professionals from throughout the state will gather for the Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit this week to explore ways to improve access to care for Hawaiʻi residents through telehealth technology.

The two-day Hawaiʻi Telehealth Summit, co-sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, will be held at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Dole Cannery Ballrooms on Oct. 12 and 13.

“Today, we have technology capable of improving access to healthcare services for Hawai‘i residents who are homebound or living in rural areas, including the neighbor islands where there is a shortage of specialists,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health. “The Department of Health has adopted telehealth for adolescent psychiatric counseling and has piloted teledentistry for West Hawai‘i residents, but as a state, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

The event will feature exhibits and hands-on demonstrations of the latest telehealth technologies, equipment, and services.

On the first day, summit attendees will hear a keynote address, “Telepresence Skills: How to build and maintain authentic and effective provider-patient relationships when practicing telemedicine,” by Dr. David Roth of Mind and Body Works.  The second day of the summit will feature keynote addresses from Gov. David Ige and Congressman Brian Schatz. The event will culminate in facilitated discussions to establish a statewide telehealth strategic plan.

Hawai‘i has adopted new payment models to keep pace with advances in telehealth technology. In July 2016, Gov. Ige signed a law that allows healthcare providers to receive the same reimbursements for patient care, whether it is through a telehealth consultation or a face-to-face office visit. These types of changes are expected to further accelerate telehealth’s popularity in Hawai‘i.

“It is exciting that the telehealth law paves the way for tremendous opportunity for providers and communities in Hawaiʻi, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Denise Konan, the dean of the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences. “The university is fully supportive of the summit and committed to bringing people together to keep the momentum going.”

Currently, about 15 percent of Hawaiʻi physicians use electronic communications to deliver health care, according to the Hawaiʻi Physician Workforce Assessment Project’s 2017 report to the state legislature.

“Telehealth is changing the way providers interact with patients,” Dr. Pressler said. “Telehealth is particularly convenient for our island state, where many segments of our population face challenges in accessing quality healthcare due to geographical constraints. Telehealth can be a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care and provides greater access to healthcare.”

For example, the state’s physician shortage often forces neighbor islands residents to fly to Oʻahu for treatment. These patients — or government programs such as Medicaid — must absorb the added cost of travel and patients must endure long wait times. With telehealth, medical specialists on Oʻahu can treat patients at smaller, neighbor island hospitals that lack such specialists.

Pressler added, “We look forward to working with our partners in the community to develop a strategic plan for telehealth and ultimately improve the way we deliver healthcare for Hawaiʻi’s people.”

For additional information on the summit, call the DOH Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development at (808) 586-4188.

Hawai‘i Ranks Third in Nation in U.S. News’ Best States for Aging Ranking

The State of Hawai‘i ranks third in the country when it comes to states that are best at serving their older population. U.S. News and World Report based its rankings on the cost of care, nursing home quality, primary care and life expectancy.The publication says that Hawai‘i’s residents have the longest life expectancy in the U.S., with its 65-and-older population expected to live 20 years longer than in other states. U.S. News has also found that Hawai‘i has the best nursing home quality in the country.

“It’s part of our culture in Hawai‘i to respect and honor our kupuna or elders. Our programs reflect these values and aim to keep our older population active and contributing members of society,” said Gov. David Ige.

Colorado ranked first, with one of the healthiest and most physically active older populations in the country. Maine is second, where a fifth of the population consists of residents 65 and older, a higher percentage than in any other state.

Rounding out the top 10 are: Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida.

In 2016, Americans 65 and older accounted for 15.2 percent of the total population, an increase of 2.8 percent from 2000. Not only are baby boomers aging, but advances in medicine and technology are resulting in a longer life expectancy.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that one in five Americans will be 65 years and older by 2030.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Congress to Support the POWER Act During Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor urging Congress to support survivors of domestic violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and cosponsor the POWER Act (H.R. 1762).

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Domestic violence often hides behind closed doors and drawn curtains, but the problem is very staggering. In my home state of Hawai‘i, 575 domestic violence survivors reach out to local organizations seeking help every single day. Their stories are heartbreaking and too often, even if they are temporarily removed from their abusive environment, they often return to that abuser.

“Survivors can seek legal protection from their abusers, but they aren’t likely to do so – or to be successful – unless they have a lawyer. Just 32% of victims successfully obtain a restraining order without legal representation. I call on my colleagues to support the POWER Act, which requires every state’s U.S. attorney to promote and expand pro-bono legal services, specifically for domestic violence survivors.

“We all need to be more conscious of this problem because it’s happening in our communities. As we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let us have the courage to confront the pervasiveness of this crime and take action to help provide survivors with the safety and security that they need.”

Background:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, including supporting Maui’s Women Helping Women, passing Talia’s Law, praising the Hawai‘i Text-to-911 program, and more.

The Congresswoman is an original cosponsor of H.R. 1762, the POWER Act, which would help connect domestic violence survivors with legal representation. For more information on the economic benefits of providing legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence, view the Institute for Policy Integrity Report, Supporting Survivors, here.

1% Transient Accommodations Tax Increase Takes Effect January 1, 2018

Please be advised that, effective January 1, 2018, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) applied to lodging accommodations in the State of Hawaii will be increased by 1%, raising the TAT from its current rate of 9.25% to 10.25%. This increase is scheduled to stay in effect until December 31, 2030.

The TAT increase is being put into effect to help pay for Honolulu’s rapid transit system that is currently under construction. The light metro rail system will extend 20 miles from Kapolei in Leeward Oahu to Ala Moana Center in Honolulu with 21 stations along the way, including the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, the State of Hawaii’s main port of entry for air transportation.

Following is a summary of State taxes that will be applied by lodging properties statewide when the 1% TAT increase takes effect on January 1, 2018:

Oahu
4.712%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.962%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Maui County / Island of Hawaii / Kauai
4.166%: General Excise Tax
10.25%: Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT)
14.416%: TOTAL Lodging Taxes

Click here to see the notice issued by the Hawaii State Department of Taxation providing detailed information about the changes in State law that applies to the 1% TAT increase.

Any questions regarding the implementation of the 1% TAT increase should be directed to the Hawaii State Department of Taxation via email at Tax.Rules.Office@hawaii.gov or by calling 808-587-1530.

Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association Anniversary Celebration Set For Oct. 28-29

Since 1997, the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) has worked to promote Hawaiian culture, values and traditions in the visitor industry and beyond through consultation and workforce education, and to provide opportunities for the Hawaiian community to shape the future of tourism. Now in its 20th year, join NaHHA in celebrating two decades of service to Hawai‘i with two events in Waikīkī, October 28 and 29.

On Saturday, October 28 from 5 – 9 p.m., the community is invited to a free ‘Aha Mele: an evening of Hawaiian music at the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Royal Grove in the heart of Waikīkī. Presented by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority in partnership with Hawaiian 105 KINE and NaHHA, this event will feature the Sons of Waikīkī, Hālau ‘O Kaululaua‘e, The Pandanus Club featuring Waikīkī legends Danny Kaleikini and Marlene Sai, and Amy Hānaiali‘i.

On the evening of Sunday, October 29, NaHHA celebrates two decades of service with an Anniversary Gala at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The gala will feature cuisine from the chefs at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, a silent auction, mo‘olelo (stories) from people involved with NaHHA and the visitor industry over the years, and a performance by Amy Hānaiali‘i sure to wow the crowd.

The gala will celebrate the vision and contributions of NaHHA’s founders, the late George Kanahele, Ph.D, and the late Senator Kenneth Brown. NaHHA will also honor the memebrs of its founding Board of Directors: Muriel Anderson, Peter Apo, Cy Bridges, Doug Chang, John DeFries, Albert Kanahele, Noelani Mahoe, Jace McQuivey, and Lori Sablas.

“This celebration will honor the rich history of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association and the many hands who have ensured our success in the years to come. We hope you can join us in celebrating the contributions and vision of our founders, and the mission we work toward every day,” said Pohai Ryan, Executive Director of NaHHA.

Individual seats and tables are available for the gala. To reserve your seat at the gala, visit nahha20gala.eventbrite.com or call NaHHA at (808) 628-6374. Individual seats and tables are available.

About the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA)

In designating 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the United Nations General Assembly noted “the importance of international tourism in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world.” Twenty years ago, George Hu‘eu Sanford Kanahele, Ph.D. and Senator Kenneth Francis Kamu‘ookalani Brown had reached similar conclusions as those being expressed today by the United Nations.

Inspired by a shared vision of Hawai‘i where Hawaiian culture and the visitor industry can strengthen and enrich one another, Kanahele and Brown co-founded the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association to shape the future of Hawai‘i tourism by utilizing Hawaiian cultural values as the foundation for business development and leadership. Intuitively, they knew that Hawai‘i’s rare gift to the world is the Aloha Spirit and by sharing this gift, the world would become a better place and the spiritual essence of Hawai‘i’s people would be recognized and respected globally.

Today, NaHHA fulfills the vision of its founders by delivering Hawaiian cultural training and consultation to the visitor industry workforce, as well as businesses and organizations that support the visitor industry. Learn more about NaHHA’s offerings at NaHHA.com.

Statement by Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expenditures

The State of Hawai‘i has responded to Sen. Ron Johnson’s request for information on Hawai‘i’s Medicaid expenditures for the Medicaid expansion. (Letter attached).

I am setting the record straight. Hawai‘i’s overall Medicaid costs per capita are at or below the national average. We have among the lowest rates in the nation. I am proud of our program and its effectiveness in providing our residents with quality health care they can afford.

Let me be clear. This is not about politics or data. This is about people, their lives and our responsibility to ensure that they receive quality health care.

We must stop wasting our time and energy on politics and blame. I ask our public servants to reach across the aisle and talk to each other so that we can resolve this issue.

For Hawai‘i, it is clear. We have a model Medicaid program and we will continue to be one of the nation’s leaders in quality health care.

Letter to Senator Ron Johnson