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EPA Cites Honolulu Wood Treating for Producing and Selling Mislabeled Pesticide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Honolulu Wood Treating of Kapolei, Oahu, which will pay a $33,750 penalty for producing and selling a mislabeled pesticide on five occasions in 2013 and 2014 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Honolulu Wood TreatmentThe Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducted inspections for EPA at the company’s facility in 2014 and 2015 and referred this case to EPA for follow-up enforcement. During the inspections, the Department found that Clear-Bor F.T., a product used to protect wood from termites and wood decay fungus, did not meet federal label requirements. Specifically, the first aid information and EPA Establishment number were incorrect. The company has since fully corrected the product label.

“Mislabeled pesticides put people at risk,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Every company must ensure its products are properly labeled to protect the health and safety of those who use them.”

EPA requires companies to revise the first aid statements on their pesticide product labels to include medically up-to-date language. The instructions on the non-compliant containers of Clear-Bor F.T. would  have likely interfered with proper medical treatment, as the label instructed the user to “induce vomiting by touching back of throat with finger” in case of ingestion. Current medical first aid instructions no longer recommend inducing vomiting.

The required EPA Establishment number was also found to be incorrect for the product.  This number is used to identify where the product was last produced. It is crucial to maintaining product integrity, as production includes formulating, packaging, labeling and any alteration of the product prior to sale.

For more information about the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act

Hawaii House Passes Bills on Social Media Sharing of Marked Ballots, Firearms Possession and Gender Based Discrimination

The full House today passed three measures relating to: the sharing of digital images of a voter’s marked ballot, possession of firearms by individuals who have misdemeanor convictions of stalking or sexual assault, and discrimination based on gender identity. Capital

HB27 SD1, allows a voter to distribute or share an electronic or digital image of the voter’s own marked ballot via social media or other means. The intent of the measure is to repeal the prohibition against willfully exhibiting one’s own ballot at polling places during an election.  The prohibitions originally related to the operation of polling places, where it was meant to prevent voters from declaring how they voted in order to encourage others to vote in the same way.

The prevalence of electronic mobile devices and social media applications and platforms increases the opportunities for people to display their ballots via social media, which are commonly known as “ballot selfies.”  This measure clarifies that voters may exhibit their own ballots, which includes the dissemination of ballot images electronically or digitally.

HB625 HD1, SD1 prohibits a person from legally owning, possessing, or controlling any firearm or ammunition, if he or she was convicted of misdemeanor stalking or sexual assault.  The Honolulu Police Department, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Domestic Violence Action Center, Center for American Progress, BradyHawaii, IMUAlliance, and others testified in support of this measure.

Supporters noted that actions such as stalking and misdemeanor sexual assault are precursors to more extreme acts of domestic violence and that precautions are necessary to prevent individuals convicted of these offenses from accessing firearms.  Disqualification from firearms ownership for a misdemeanor offense requires a conviction, unlike disqualification for a felony offense which only requires an indictment.

HB2084 HD2, SD1 prohibits all insurers in the state, including health insurers, mutual benefit societies, health maintenance organizations, and health benefits plans under chapter 87A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, from discriminating against any person on the basis of a person’s actual gender identity or perceived gender identity.

The bill was initiated in response to the fact that many health insurance plans and policies include some form of transgender-specific exclusions.  As a result, transgender individuals may be excluded from healthcare coverage based on actual gender identity or perceived gender identity, rather than because of lack of medical necessity of treatment.  In addition, these exclusions may also prevent transgender individuals from obtaining common wellness care treatment.

The three bills, which were amended by the Senate, now go to the Governor for his review along with 13 other bills passed today.

‘Scandal’ and ‘Tremors’ at Big Island Film Festival

In a good way, celebrity guests at Big Island Film Festival may stir up scandal and create tremors over Memorial Day Weekend at the Fairmont Orchid Hawai’i.

Bellamy Young

Bellamy Young

Acclaimed actress and singer Bellamy Young currently stars as “First Lady Mellie Grant” on ABC/Shonda Rhimes’ Peabody Award-winning series, “Scandal,” which Rolling Stone Magazine described as “the most badass first lady in TV history.” Young’s TV credits include CBS’ long-running series “Criminal Minds,” “CSI: Miami,” “Scrubs,” and the long-running NBC soap opera, “Another World.” A talented singer, her debut album Far Away So Close is a collection of contemporary covers influenced by her North Carolina roots.

Michael Gross

Michael Gross

Michael Gross, “Burt Gummer” of the “Tremors” movies will also attend the festival as an honoree. Perhaps most familiar as “Steven Keaton,” Michael J. Fox’s dad on the long-running sitcom “Family Ties,” Gross’ 40-year career spans a remarkable range of characters, including recurring roles on the Drew Cary Show, ER, How I Met Your Mother, USA Network’s Suits, Netflix’s Grace and Frankie, and YTV Canada’s The Stanley Dynamic. Gross stars in the BIFF Official selection “Last Call at Murray’s,” a new, indie film about an unlikely gathering of folks stranded in a snowbound karaoke bar.

Michael Gross and Michael Worth with BIFF Executive Director Leo Sears at last year's fest.

Michael Gross and Michael Worth with BIFF Executive Director Leo Sears at last year’s fest.

BIFF will honor Young and Gross at a special Salute & Reception in their honor on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Audiences will have a chance to participate in an in-depth interview with the star led by Peter Caranicas of Variety magazine, then join in a sunset cocktail reception with elegant pupus in the Wailana Gardens. Salutes & Receptions are open to the public and tickets may be purchased by May 25 at www.bigislandfilmfestival.com.

Now in its eleventh year, Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of independent narrative films and filmmaking, taking place May 26-30. Major sponsors include the Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority/Hawai‘i County CPEP. For complete schedule information and tickets, visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com.

Tribute to Bruddah IZ at Kahilu Theatre

Kahilu Theatre presents two May Day weekend concerts as a tribute to the great Israel Kamakawiwo`ole, featuring Hōkū Zuttermeister and band, as well as Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, and Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani, on Saturday April 30 at 7pm, and Sunday May 1 at 4pm.

Hoku Zuttermeister

Hoku Zuttermeister

Hōkū Zuttermeister’s first album “‘Āina Kūpuna,” won six 2008 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards including Hawaiian Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Hawaiian Language Performance, Most Promising New Artist and Liner Notes. Just released in early April 2016, “Ku’u Pua Sakura,” is Hōkū’s second album release and features many songs that are near and dear to his heart.

Hōkū’s voice is deep and resonating, yet when he switches to the crystal-clear highs of falsetto, to the delight of his listeners, he shows the enormous vocal range that he has worked so hard at perfecting. Hōkū will sing some beloved IZ favorites such as “La Elima,” “Kaleohano,” “Pupu O Ni’ihau,” “Henehene Kou Aka,” “E Ku’u Morning Dew,” and the nahenahe “Kainoa.” He will also showcase new songs from his album, by storied Hawaiian music writers such as Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, Al Makahinu “Pops” Barcarse, and Chad Takatsugi. He will share mele spanning the islands, from “Kaulana Ni’ihau,” to the haunting mele of “‘Ōhelo Beauty,” celebrating Hawai’i island’s natural beauty.

Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett is a much beloved kumu hula, composer, singer and chanter – with over 50 years of living and teaching the legacy of hula and ho`ola. Initially a student of kumu hula Emma de Fries, Kawaikapu then played and danced with Olomana, with Aunty Genoa Keawe, and Palani Vaughn. He was a member of the “E Ho`o Hawaii Kakou” which was instructed and mentored by Hula Master Iolani Luahine. He also studied ‘olelo and chanting under Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole. He has recorded 10 CDs, and his music has been recorded by many of Hawaii’s greatest entertainers – including Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau.

Hula dancers from Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani and their kumu hula Nahoku Gaspang, 2016 Merrie Monarch winners of hula kahiko wahine, will join Hōkū and Kawaikapu for these special May Day weekend concerts. The Theatre encourages concert-goers to make a lei, bring a lei, and give a lei!

The chance encounter of two truant schoolboys (Israel and John Koko) at the beach was the beginning of a band everyone soon would know as the Mãkaha Sons of Ni’ihau. The Makaha Sons and IZ went on to record 21 albums, win many Na Hoku Awards and change Hawaiian music history.

IZ2

In 1993, following a successful run as one of the members of the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau, IZ decided to venture out on his own. He reached out to Jon de Mello of Mountain Apple Company because of his success as a producer of contemporary Hawaiian music giants like the Brothers Cazimero, Brother Noland, Rap Reiplinger and many more. The meeting would set the stage for the rest of Israel’s career – the first release was his remarkable solo CD “Facing Future.”

IZ

That CD focused on Israel’s stunning voice and launched his incredibly   successful solo recording career. “Facing Future,” was followed with the release of another five remarkable recordings, “E Ala E” (1995), “N Dis Life” (1996), “IZ In Concert: The Man and His Music” (1998), ““Alone In IZ World”” (2001) and “Wonderful World” (2007). “Facing Future,” remains the top selling Hawaiian music album in the world.

Tickets are priced $20, $47, $58 and $68, and are available from www.kahilutheatre.org and at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, open from 9am to 1pm Monday through Friday, at 885-6868. The coffee table book IZ – Voice of the People, a collector’s item, is also available for sale, while supplies last, at the Kahilu Theatre box office now.

In Dis Life is presented by special arrangement with the Kamakawiwo`ole family and Mountain Apple Records, and it is sponsored by Marsha and Tom Kerley.

Right Turn Lane Being Installed on Kuauli Road

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works will be installing a right turn lane on Kuauli Road where it intersects the Volcano Highway (makai side) heading towards Keaau.  Work is scheduled between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, April 26th, and is estimated to be completed by Friday, May, 20th, weather and construction conditions permitting.  There will be no roadwork on weekends or holidays.

kuauli

Motorists are advised to expect delays and drive with caution as heavy vehicles and machinery will be in the work zone.  The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.

If there are any questions or concerns, please contact Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

300,000 Urchins Continue to Clean Invasive Alien Seaweed

David Cohen is a proud papa for good reason.  He and his team, working at the Anuenue Fisheries Research Center on Oahu’s Sand Island, have now planted 300,000 Native Hawaiian collector urchins (Tripneustes gratilla) into Kaneohe Bay to control two species of invasive algae.

Sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla)

Sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla)

From the program’s modest beginnings six years ago, when the urchin hatchery at Anuenue first began producing urchins for planting in the Windward Oahu bay, until now; the project is considered a resounding success.  “We did our first release or urchins at Kaneohe in 2011 and recent surveys of the patch reefs there show a significant number of them are free of seaweed,“ Cohen explained.

Urchins are ideally suited for the work they perform.  They are native to Hawaii.  They have relatively few predators, they breed in captivity, and they don’t swim away like fish. While Cohen certainly credits the collector urchins for their part in scouring the bay of invasive algae (Kappaaphycus and Eucheuma), he also points out that it has declined naturally over the past year.  It’s believed this reduction is due to warm ocean conditions associated with El Nino.

Low levels of algae still remains in the bay and it could eventually grow back.  The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is devoting additional resources towards urchin production to take advantage of this period of low algae levels and to try to gain more ground for the fight against invasive seaweed.

The life of a collector urchin destined for Kaneohe Bay begins when DAR teams collect brood animals about once a month.  By the time they reach the hatchery they are usually ready to spawn.  The eggs are fertilized, larvae are free swimming within 24 hours and they are fed a diet of cultured phytoplankton.  After approximately 3-4 weeks they settle down and transform into a sea urchin and then are moved from the “hatchery” stage to the “nursery” stage.  In their nursery tanks they feed on naturally growing biofilms.  When they’re about a quarter inch in size, in addition to eating biofilms, they are also fed cultured seaweed.  Over the course of about five months they grow into the size of a dime and then make the journey by truck and then boat to begin their work munching algae.

The invasive algae was first introduced into the bay in a failed experiment to create a carrageenan (an additive often found in coconut and almond milk) industry in Hawaii. The algae became a nuisance species that quickly spread over the patch reefs of Kaneohe Bay, smothering out the vibrant corals.  Over the years, Cohen and his team have refined their nursery and hatchery protocols.  In 2014, they were able to raise and release 112,000 urchins. “With luck and the constant updating of best practices for our work, in 2016 we hope to exceed that number and quickly reach a half million urchins released,” Cohen concluded.

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Set for Sept. 9

It’s where you can sample the rich flavor of numerous cuts of pasture-raised meat and talk story with the people who are producing our food.

Taste Shank

The 21st Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is Friday, Sept. 9 at Hilton Waikoloa Village. Attendees will enjoy delectable dishes using pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, goat, mutton and wild boar—plus a cornucopia of fresh island fruit, veggies, honey, spices and beverages.

Time is 6-8 p.m. and the annual agricultural showcase will again sprawl both inside and outside at Hilton Waikoloa Village’s conference center. Culinary adventure seekers can taste and enjoy cuts of pasture-raised beef—everything from tongue to tail—expertly prepared by Hawai‘i chefs.  Enjoy familiar cuts like chuck and ground beef, plus the infamous “rocky mountain oysters” or bull testicles.

Local food producers will offer samples and displays at friendly booths. While “grazing,” attendees can enjoy exhibits presenting topics related to local agriculture and food sustainability, including the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s Mealani Research Station—where Taste began!

O‘ahu chefs Kevin Hanney and Jason “J” Schoonover are teaming up to instruct the 2016 edition of Cooking Pasture-Raised Beef 101 at 3 p.m. Chef Hanney is the chef/owner of 12th Ave Grill and Kokohead Café. Chef Schoonover is the executive chef of 12th Ave Grill, the 2015 Hale Aina Award-winning Best Restaurant of the Year. Both chefs regularly include pasture-raised beef on their menus.

Pre-sale tickets for Taste are $45 and $60 at the door. Entry to Cooking 101 with sampling is $10 while a 1 p.m. class geared for culinary students and food service professionals is free.

Tickets go on sale online June 1 at www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.  Purchase them at island-wide locations starting July 1: Kuhio Grille in Hilo, Kamuela Liquors and Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, Kona Wine Market in Kailua-Kona and Kohala Essence Shop at Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

For general event information, phone (808) 322-4892.

Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in this event should contact Gina at 808-322-4892 no later than August 9, 2016.

Hawai‘i residents eager to savor the flavors of the Taste can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $239 + tax per room on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. This Kama‘aina Special also includes two tickets to the Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Guests must show valid Hawai‘i state ID at checkin and must have Hawai‘i address in reservation. Pre- and post-event hotel room prices start at $149 plus tax per room, per night, based on availability. To book an overnight stay at Hilton Waikoloa Village under an exclusive Taste of the Hawaiian Range room package (code TSH), visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/kamaaina, or https://secure3.hilton.com/en_US/hi/reservation/book.htm?hotel=KOAHWHH&spec_plan=TSH&arrivaldate=20151009 or call 1-800-HILTONS.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, plus encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, Hawaii Beef Producers, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, Kamehameha Schools, KTA SuperStores, West Hawaii Today and Pacific Radio Group. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

Waianuenue Avenue Road Improvements Between Carvalho Park and Rainbow Drive in Progress

The County of Hawai’i Department of Public Works Traffic Division will be conducting striping work beginning on Monday, April 25th as part of the road improvements on Waiānuenue Avenue between Carvalho Park and the makai intersection of Rainbow Drive.  The working hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Wainuenue Widening

The Traffic Division also announces that the one-way section of Rainbow Drive will be closed permanently to provide a safer pedestrian/wheelchair route to cross the bridge.    The project also includes the widening of the existing T-intersection for bus and vehicular access to Rainbow Drive.

Motorists are advised to drive with caution as heavy vehicles and machinery will be in the work zone.

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause and thanks the community for their patience and understanding.  If there are any questions or concerns, please call Barett Otani, Information and Education Specialist, at 961-8787.

Hawaii House and Senate Budget Conferees Agree on Funding to Increase Vector Control Staffing – Concern for Dengue and Zika Drives Need

House and Senate conferees on the state budget today agreed to provide $1,270,120 to bolster the state Department of Health Vector Control Branch to focus on controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease.

Mosquito Bite

Hawaii Island’s recent outbreak of dengue fever and the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, which are spread by mosquitoes, have highlighted the continued importance of vector control, and House and Senate conferees want to ensure that the state is prepared to adequately short circuit, monitor and respond to any future outbreaks.

“This funding will help re-establish the vector control branch, which has been reduced over the past few years by furloughs and budget cuts,” said Sylvia Luke, chairperson of the House Finance Committee.  “In making these appropriations, the department will be able to add 20 new positions to monitor populations of vectors such as mosquitoes and rats, and to respond appropriately when a threat arises.”

Before the dengue fever outbreak in October, 2015, the state had 25 vector control positions, but 8 were vacant. With the added 20 new positions, there will be a total of 45 people in vector control when all positions are filled.

“Infectious disease has been and will continue to be one of our key challenges in a world made smaller and more connected with modern day air travel,” said Jill Tokuda, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  “The state’s recent slow response to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island was a wake-up call for all us.  We must be more vigilant in anticipating and responding to such outbreaks spread by mosquitoes and other vectors.”

In addition, the budget items agreed upon today included:

  • $6.9 million for public school transportation services;
  • $5.2 million for utilities for public schools;
  • $2.5 million for new fire trucks, firefighter equipment and fire retardant suits to ensure airport safety;
  • $1.5 million to fund a U.S. geographical survey study on Hawaii streams;
  • $1.4 million for port security and safety boats to reduce impact of natural disasters;
  • $1.25 million for maintenance and replacement of equipment at UH community colleges;
  • $400,000 to support beach restoration and protection projects and studies;
  • $180,000 for hydrologist and project development specialist positions for public land management for the disposition of water rights lease management and oversight; and
  • $162,354 for physician salary increases for better access to medical services for the Department of Public Safety.

The agreements were part of House and Senate conferees continued negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill.  Earlier in the session, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget.

Lawmakers will continue to meet to iron out differences between the two versions through April 29, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.  A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2016budget.aspx

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene on Friday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m. in room 309.

Pour Some Fun at Ka’u Coffee Festival – Lobsterpalooza Planned

The delectable flavors of award-winning Ka‘u coffee is grounds for celebration! The Ka‘u Coffee Festival perks into its eighth season with activities May 13-22, offering many reasons to stay on the south side of the Big Isle. The festival not only showcases Ka‘u’s many award-winning coffees at numerous events, it also offers a host of unique and fun family activities.

coffee fest

“The festival highlights the efforts of our hard-working Ka‘u coffee producers, and also offers unique activities that showcase the heritage District of Ka‘u. Many events are only available during the festival,” says Chris Manfredi, festival organizer.

New to this year’s lineup of java-jumping fun is the Lobsterpalooza—a leisurely Sunday afternoon picnic on the lawn at Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach. On the menu of the May 15th spread is a variety of tantalizing skewered pupus, your choice of Kona Cold Lobster or charbroiled Spencer Steak, raised locally by Kuahiwi Ranch, and served with roasted potatoes, Cajun-style local sweet corn, a mouthwatering Ka‘u Coffee Mocha Torte, lilikoi lemonade, brewed ice tea and plenty of Ka‘u coffee. Beachside entertainment is by the bluesy Larry Dupio Band with special guest Full Tilt Band from 2-6 p.m. Tix for $75 are available online at brownpapertickets.com.

This year’s Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest offers nearly $2,000 in cash prizes as adult and student contestants vie in pupu, entrée and dessert categories 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14 at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. The free event stages entertainment, a chance to meet Miss Ka‘u Coffee, tasty recipe and coffee sampling and a tour of the Ka‘u Coffee Mill and Farm. Contest entry and admission are free. The entry deadline is May 9. Visit www.kaucoffeefestival.com for more details.

The pinnacle of the 10-day lineup is the free Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a on Sat., May 21 that sprawls both inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. Learn the secret to brewing the “perfect cup of coffee” at the Ka‘u Coffee Experience where coffee professionals prepare Ka‘u coffee a variety of ways: hario pour-over, french press, toddy cold-brew, chemex and clever, plus prepared espresso beverages – 9:30 a.m. to noon and again at 1-3 p.m.

Outside, ho‘olaue‘a attendees can talk story with friendly coffee farmers and other local vendors and artisans at tented booths, many with free sampling. Also on tap are “broke da mouth” local food booths serving hot plate lunches, fresh baked goods and ethnic, local-style treats by local community organizations. Enjoy lunch in the outdoor pavilion or grassy lawn while treated to non-stop, local entertainment. Keiki can enjoy outdoor games and train rides.

Find out how coffee is grown, picked and processed during Ka‘u Coffee Farm & Mill Tours. Sign up at the ho‘olaule‘a for the informative $20 tours, complete with shuttle transport, departing 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m.

Enter the Buy Local It Matters promotion by visiting festival sponsors and redeeming purchase receipts and business cards at the ho‘olaule‘a for chances to win exciting prizes.

The festival is supported by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research & Development, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, and numerous local sponsors. Most events are free while others carry a nominal fee. A full schedule of events and Ka‘u activity recommendations follows. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com to learn more.

On Friday, May 13, Pa‘ina & Open House at historic Pahala Plantation House featuring music, hula, food and house tours 5:30-9:30 p.m. Corner of Maile and Pikake in Pahala. Hosted by Pahala Plantation Cottages, Ka‘u Chamber of Commerce, Hawai’i Farmers Union United and The Ka‘u Calendar newspaper. Free, donations accepted for Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund.  www.kaucoffeefest.comwww.pahalaplantationcottages.com. 808-928-9811.

On Saturday, May 14, The free Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest is 11 a.m. at Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Entries made with Ka‘u coffee are accepted in pupu, entree and dessert categories. Free coffee tasting, entertainment and tours. Find contest entry info at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call Lisa at 808-928-0550.

On Saturday, May 14, the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant showcases the crowning of Miss Ka‘u Coffee, Jr. Miss Ka’u Coffee and Miss Ka’u Coffee Peaberry. Contestants compete in talent, speech and evening wear while participating in Miss Popularity, Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic contests.  Winners receive scholarships. Doors open 6 p.m. at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Fee is $10 at the door. Visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

During the week visit Ka‘u coffee farms. Enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae – the southernmost place in the U.S., and the nearby Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which is marking its centennial in 2016 with special activities. Stay in one of the many accommodations in Ka‘u. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations.

On Wednesday and Thursday, May 18 and May 19 explore flume systems of the sugarcane era and development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u Mountain Water System Hike in the Wood Valley rainforest 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Limited to 30, $45 includes lunch.  Visit www.kaucoffeemill.com or phone 808-928-0550.

On Friday, May 20 enjoy Coffee & Cattle Day 10 a.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee farm.  Learn how descendants of Ka‘u’s first coffee farmer integrate coffee with other agriculture.  $25 fee includes an all-you can eat buffet. Visit www.aikaneplantation.com or phone 808-927-2252.

On Friday, May 20 observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau at Ka‘u Star Gazing, 5:30-10 p.m. Enjoy a presentation on the history of Makanau, a summit sunset and the night sky via a guided laser beam tour of the stars. $45 with refreshments and shuttle transportation. Sign up at www.kaucoffeemill.com or call 808-928-0550.

On Saturday, May 21 tantalize your taste buds at the free 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a, with a full day of local music, hula, food booths, local crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, coffee tastings and farm/mill tours headquartered inside and out of the Pahala Community Center. Visit the Ka‘u Coffee Experience, where coffee professionals offer Ka‘u coffee prepared a variety of ways 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m.  Ho‘olaule‘a entry is free; farm tours with shuttle transport are 9:30 and 11 a.m., plus 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m., $20. Call 808-929-9550 or visit www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

On Sunday, May 22 learn about the coffee industry at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. The Coffee College hosts educational seminars by local and journeymen coffee industry experts and a reverse trade mission. Free, donations appreciated. Call 808-929-9550 or www.KauCoffeeFest.com.

Big Island Substance Abuse Council Opening Food Trailer

Tomorrow, the Big Island Substance Abuse Council will proudly unveil their food trailer, Big Island Fusion as part of their Poʻokela Vocational Training Program.   The Food trailer will allow individuals to gain marketable skills and experience in food marketing, sales, business, and food preparation.

Bisac Food TruckBISAC has been providing aspects of vocational training for well over four years and has seen firsthand the positive aspects that training does to help individuals reclaim their lives and become positive citizens in the community. “We can already see the benefits this program has provided to our clients” says, BISAC’s CEO Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita. “Connecting the food trailer to our therapeutic garden provides an array of skills and opportunities for our clients to explore their inner strengths while enhancing their recovery.”

BISAC’s food trailer also brings to life the farm to table initiative. The Big Island Fusion’s culinary and vocational trainer, Willie Leong is currently in recovery and brings both the experience and passion for culinary arts.   “With my years of experience I will bring passion, creativity, and love for the food in every plate that is created” says Willie. “I know how it is being in recovery. The struggle is real. This trailer will allow me to give these individuals the chance for success so that they are ready to return to the real world and work on their recovery.”

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse. They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field.

2nd Annual Hawaii Island Women’s Leadership Summit Announced

The Hawai’i Island Women’s Leadership Forum (HIWLF) announces the 2nd annual Hawai’i Island Women’s Leadership Summit on Friday, August 26, 2016 will return to the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

womans leadership forum“The Hilton was a great fit for our inaugural event last year, which was attended by nearly 300 individuals,” says Farrah-Marie Gomes, Chair of HIWLF.  “We are excited to return for our 2nd annual Summit this summer.”

This year’s Summit theme is “Tools for Excellence – Self, Relationships, Career and Community.”  Attendees will enjoy a keynote speaker, breakout presentations, lunch, vendor expo and a networking pau hana.  Breakout topics will complement the theme and be presented by a wide array of Hawai’i Island entrepreneurs, professionals, leaders and rising stars.

One attendee to last year’s event shared, “The Summit fills a void where there has never been an opportunity for women to discuss issues, improve themselves and learn to network with other women across the island.  These opportunities exist on O’ahu and perhaps other islands, but never on our island.”

For general HIWLF and Summit information, to include sponsorship and volunteering, please contact Farrah-Marie Gomes, Chair of HIWLF at HawaiiIslandWLF@gmail.com.  Follow HIWLF on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hiwlf for future announcements about the Summit.

Lavalicious Fun at Big Island Chocolate Festival Gala

It’s a destination for delicious at the fifth Big Island Chocolate Festival gala 5:30-9 p.m. Sat., May 14 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Indulge in both savory and sweet temptations prepared by top chefs and chocolatiers while watching award-winning Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate Company, sculpt one of the largest volcanoes ever created in fine chocolate.

chocolate fountain

This year’s event theme is “Lavalicious-A Chocolate Salute to the 100th Birthday of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park” and culinary stations will be judged on their depiction of the popular park, plus a host of “best” culinary categories: savory, plated dessert, bon bon, bean-to-bar, Hawaiian cacao and People’s Choice.

More chocolatey fun includes a tasty mole and salad bar, chocolate body painting, live music and dancing, a silent auction, wines, cocktails and handcrafted beer using cacao nibs from Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory.

Headlining the “erupting” entertainment is the Tomi Isobe Blues Band featuring Danny Taylor on drums and vocals. Also serenading guests will be Magic Strings with versatile violinist Ursula Vietze.

In addition to the Hapuna Beach and Guittard, culinary participants to date include the Mauna Kea Resort, Hualalai Resort, Hilton Waikoloa Village, The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, Hilton Hawaiian Village, The Grand Wailea, Amici Ristorante Italiano, Art of the Good Life Catered Events, Huggo’s/On the Rocks, The Fish Hopper, Sweet Eatz, Gypsea Gelato, West Hawai‘i Culinary-Palamanui, Padovani Chocolates, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Madre Chocolate, Valrohna Chocolates, Republica del Cacao, Michel Cluizel Chocolatier and the Cocoa Outlet with its signature, four-foot tall chocolate fountain.

Six, off-island culinary professionals will judge the gala’s delicious offerings. Coming from the Mainland are Alicia Boada, American Culinary Federation approved certification evaluator and Barry Callebaut technician, and Derek Poirier, award-winning Ecole Valrhona pastry chef Western USA.  Judges from Maui include chefs Bruce Troyet of Four Seasons Resort at Wailea, Maui; Elizabeth McDonald of B3 A Beach Bunny Bakery and Ricky DeBoer of The Fairmont, Kea Lani; and Lincoln Carson, formerly of Michael Mina’s restaurants. Leading the Lavalicious booth judging will be Cindy Orlando, superintendent of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.  Prizes will be awarded at the gala, plus winners will be announced for the event’s Friday college culinary competition.

General admission tickets to the gala are $75 presale $100 at the door.

Presented by the Kona Cacao Association (KCA), event proceeds benefit the ACF Kona Kohala Chefs Assn./University of Hawai‘i endowment fund for the culinary program at Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui and programs at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Kealakekua.

Find ticket info, plus details on the event’s May 13-14 agricultural activities and culinary demonstrations, at www.BigIslandChocolateFestival.com. Special room/ticket packages for two start at $396.20 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and can be conveniently booked through the Festival website under “Tickets.” Special room rates can be reserved directly at the hotel at www.HapunaBeachPrinceHotel.com/events or calling 1-888-977-4622 and mentioning “Big Island Chocolate Festival Group Rate.”

The Big Island Chocolate Festival is presented by the Kona Cacao Association, Inc. The mission and goal of KCA is to promote the cacao industry on the Big Island of Hawai‘i by presenting BICF as an educational and outreach opportunity for local cacao farmers, the hospitality industry and cacao enthusiasts. Mahalo to 2016 event sponsors Prova, Michael Cluizel, Republica Del Cacao, Valrohna USA, LUVA Real Estate-Lance Owens, Kona Auto Center, Dolphin Journeys, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union, Amoretti, Barry Callebaut USA, Kokua Roofing, DHX, Cocoa Outlet, Kona Brewing Company, Young’s Market and The Wave 92 FM. For information, visit www.bigislandchocolatefestival.com. @BIChocoFest

Toyota Hawaii Awards Nine Local Student Winners in Toyota’s 2016 Dream Car Art Contest

Toyota Hawaii is announcing the local finalists and People’s Choice Competition winners for the 2016 Toyota Dream Car Art Contest. Among the hundreds of entries received, only nine works of art (three from each age category) were selected to move on to the Toyota MotorCorporation World Contest held in Japan.

Category 2 (Ages 8-11) winners

Category 2 (Ages 8-11) winners

KHON2’s evening news weather anchor Justin Cruz, KITV’s news anchor Yunji de Nies and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Honolulu’s Director of Public Relations Mahealani Richardson emceed the awards ceremony held over the weekend.

“We received hundreds of creative works of art,” said Glenn Inouye, Senior Vice President representing the Toyota Hawaii Dealers. “Family and friends really rallied for their loved ones as well by voting for their favorite entries in the People’s Choice Competition on our Facebook page in February.”

Finalists:

Category 1 (Ages 7 and under):
1st Place WINNER: Aja Middleton, age 6, Punahou School (Hawaii Kai)
2nd Place: Sarah Asato, age 7, Iolani School (Honolulu)
3rd Place: Phoebe Hirashima, age 6, Iolani School (Honolulu)

Category 2 (Ages 8-11):
1st Place WINNER: Ryan Handa, age 9, Kainalu Elementary School (Kailua)
2nd Place: Camille Quindica, age 11, Kapolei Middle School (Kapolei)
3rd Place: Raphael Stark, age 9, Home School (Honolulu)

Entry by Angelica Devers

Entry by Angelica Devers

Category 3 (Ages 12-15):
1st Place WINNER: Angelica Devers, age 13, Kapolei Middle School (Kapolei)
2nd Place: Min Hua Tsou, age 14, Mililani High School (Mililani)

3rd Place: Melia LaFleur, age 14, Kapolei Middle School (Kapolei)

People’s Choice Winners

From February 15 – 28, 2016, Toyota Hawaii’s Facebook friends had the opportunity to view all eligible entries and vote for their favorites in each of the three age categories. The Facebook contest received an overwhelming response of 6,105 votes and 5,791 unique visitors to the contest page.

The following entrants were awarded $100 cash and were automatically entered for final judging in the local competition for receiving the most votes in each category:

  • Category 1 – (Ages 7 and under): Justice Wakamatsu, age 6, Pu’ukukui Elementary School (Maui)
  • Category 2 – (Ages 8-11): Dylan Yanazakiage, age 9, Waikele Elementary School (Waikele)
  • Category 3 – (Ages 12-15): Angelica Devers, age 13, Kapolei Middle School (Kapolei)

This year’s judging panel included Honolulu Museum of Art School Director Vince Hazen; KITV’s Yunji de Nies; KHON2’s Justin Cruz; Hawaii News Now’s Stephanie Lum; Shriners Hospitals for Children – Honolulu’s Director of Public Relations Mahealani Richardson; 94.7 KUMU FM Radio DJ Bryan “Brudduh Bryan” Min; Hawaii Association of Independent Schools Executive Director Robert Landau; APP-AIR Resource Teacher Una Chan; and Toyota Hawaii’s Glenn Inouye.

This international art contest was established in 2004 with the goals of creating an opportunity for children to have fun and to understand the importance of having a dream, while at the same time to encourage them to become interested in cars through drawing their “Dream Cars” using their creative imaginations.

About Toyota Hawaii

Toyota has been Hawaii’s top-selling automotive brand since 1997 with seven dealership locations statewide — Big Island Toyota (Hilo and Kona); Maui Toyota; Servco Toyota Kauai; Servco Toyota Honolulu, ServcoToyota Waipahu, and Servco Toyota Windward. For more information about Toyota Hawaii, visit ToyotaHawaii.com.

North Hawaii Community Hospital Scholarship Opportunities

North Hawaii Community Hospital has several scholarship opportunities available for students in the field of nursing.

North Hawaii Community HospitalThe Peggy Dineen-Orsini Scholarship offers a $2,000 award to a resident of Hawaii County who is enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in a National League of Nursing accredited program in Hawai‘i or on the mainland. Private donors along with the Medical Staff at North Hawaii Community Hospital fund this scholarship in memory of Peggy Dineen-Orsini, who was a Registered Nurse at North Hawaii Community Hospital from 1996 to 2004, remembered for her compassion for her patients, colleagues and friends.

The second scholarship is funded by the North Hawaii Community Hospital Medical Staff and offers two $1,000 scholarships to residents of Hawaii County who are enrolled in or accepted for enrollment in a National League of Nursing accredited program in Hawai‘i or on the mainland.

Applications are available online by visiting www.nhch.com (see Community/Education Scholarships). Completed applications and required documents must be received or postmarked by May 6, 2016. Please mail completed applications and required documents to North Hawaii Community Hospital, Attention: Development Department, 67-1125 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, HI 96743.

For more information, contact the Development Department at North Hawaii Community Hospital at 881-4420.

Investigative Reporter Jim Dooley Slated for Hilo Talk

The Big Island Press Club is delighted to have Jim Dooley, author of Sunny Skies, Shady Characters: Cops, Killers and Corruption in the Aloha State, as our featured lunch speaker April 22. He’ll be signing books available for sale, and we’ll have a couple as door prizes as well.

Sunny Skies

Dooley is a take-no-prisoners kind of journalist. A longtime investigative reporter whose work led to the indictment of former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi on bribery charges, Dooley has focused his career on digging deep into Hawaii organized crime and yakuza, government contracting fraud, Teamsters Union movie driver violence, Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools, police corruption and secret land ownership huis in Hawaii whose members included political, judicial and criminal syndicate figures.

There are major Big Island connections to his latest saga, so you won’t want to miss it!

Event is scheduled for Friday, April 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at restaurant Kenichi, 684 Kilauea Ave. in Hilo, across from the Circuit Courthouse. Tickets are $20 for BIPC members, $25 for nonmembers. Buffet lunch includes chicken katsu, furikake panko salmon, yakisoba, salad, vegetable, beverage.

Register and pay online at http://jimdooley.eventbrite.com

Pay with a credit card or PayPal (small surcharge applies) or send a check to reach BIPC by Wednesday, April 20, to Big Island Press Club, P.O. Box 1920, Hilo, HI 96721.

Island Schools Launch Recycling Drive and Environmental Awareness Campaign – Phone Book Recycling Drive

The Berry Company, LLC, proud publisher of the Hawaiian Telcom Directory, is partnering with schools on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai to launch the #SmallBizBigOutcome recycling drive and environmental awareness campaign. The campaign runs through May 15, and is in conjunction with the 2016 Hawaiian Telcom Directory delivery on the neighbor islands.

Phone books can still be seen scattered through out Hilo.

Phone books can still be seen scattered through out Hilo.

Local schools on each island will compete to collect the most outdated telephone directories, which will keep the directories out of landfills through recycling. For the first time, all participating schools will receive a cash prize for their involvement in the program, and one school will win a grand prize. The grand prize winner will be selected based on book collection totals and efforts to engage and educate students about recycling and protecting the local environment.

“Berry’s recycling drive helps to protect the local environment, but also raises funds for neighbor island schools, and we’re grateful for the support from our local community partners that help bring this campaign to life,” said John Lambert, branch manager of The Berry Company in Hawaii. “We love seeing how students of all ages get involved and learn first-hand the difference recycling can make.”

Hawaiian Telcom Directories are 100-percent recyclable. After the close of the contest, the telephone directories are shipped off-island for recycling. On Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai and Maui the materials are converted into an array of new products, including building insulation, writing and copier papers, newsprint and paper towels. The directories from Molokai are processed at a waste-to-energy facility where they are used to generate a valuable source of renewable energy for Oahu. Recycling and environmental sustainability are important initiatives year round, so residences and businesses throughout Hawaii should check with their local recycling department for more information on recycling programs offered in their area.

Berry is also partnering with local food banks, including Hawaii Foodbank, Hawaii Foodbank – Kauai Branch, The Food Basket and the Maui Foodbank, to host a community food drive. By using the recyclable directory delivery bags, Berry encourages the community to fill the bags with nonperishable food items and donate them to local food banks.

For more information about reusing, repurposing and recycling, visit Berry’s online hub dedicated to spotlighting business and residents working to create positive change, SmallBizBigOutcome.com. There you can also find more information about the recycling drive, drop-off locations and hours, as well as a list of the participating schools and food banks.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor to Display Rare Kate Aircraft

The Nakajima B5N Torpedo Bomber was the pride of the Imperial Japanese Navy and was considered the most effective aircraft of its kind at the beginning of World War II. She caused most of the battleship damage during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941.

Seventy-five years later, the Type 97 Carrier Torpedo Bomber, dubbed the “Kate” by the allies, will return to the exact spot where she made aviation history and be displayed at Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor on Ford Island.

Nakajima B5N Torpedo Bomber

Nakajima B5N Torpedo Bomber

“This aircraft is one of a few known to have survived the war,” said Kenneth DeHoff, executive director of Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. “An estimated 1,149 B5N’s were built, and only bits and pieces survive today, except for this Kate with its intriguing history.

Work has begun on the Kate’s fuselage and wings in the Museum’s Lt. Ted Shealy’s Restoration Shop, located in historic Hangar 79.  “We expect it will take five years to restore the B5N for static display quality” according to DeHoff. “With this year being the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the museum is honored to be able to display the Kate where she made aviation history, sharing a legacy with thousands of visitors worldwide.”

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is located on Historic Ford Island, where the first bombs fell during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visitors to the Museum can see remnants from that day of infamy, including the 158-foot tall, red and white iconic Ford Island Air Field Control Tower, Hangars 37 and 79, and bullet holes that still remain. Through its preservation and restoration of World War II fighter planes and accompanying artifacts in the Museum’s historic hangars, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor shares the story of the vital role aviation played in winning of World War II, and its continuing role in maintaining America’s freedom.

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Its mission is to develop and maintain an internationally recognized aviation museum on Historic Ford Island that educates young and old alike, honors aviators and their support personnel who defended freedom in The Pacific Region, and to preserve Pacific aviation history.

UH Hilo Announces 2016 Dorrance Scholarship Recipients

Ten high school seniors from Hawaiʻi Island who are enrolling this fall at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo have been awarded the Dorrance Scholarship.
UH Hilo Moniker
The 2016 Dorrance Scholarship recipients and their schools are:

  • Lexi Dalmacio, Honoka’a High School
  • Twylah Marie Morelli, Konawaena High School
  • Alec Goodson, Kealakehe High School
  • Jordan Drewer, Hawai’i Academy of Arts and Science
  • Keinan Agonias, Pahoa High School
  • Kaylyn Ells-Hookano, Hilo High School
  • Eva Abraham, Waiakea High School
  • Duke Escobar, Waiakea High School
  • Kahele Joaquin, Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo PCS
  • Yukio Ishii, Kamehameha Schools Hawai’i

The Dorrance Scholarship was established by Bennett and Jacquie Dorrance at the Arizona Community Foundation in June 1999. The innovative, four-year, need-based award provides local students, who are the first in their family to attend college, up to $10,000 a year in direct financial assistance. Recipients will also participate in a custom-designed summer bridge program, international travel, conservation experience, an entrepreneurship program and employment preparation, bringing the total estimated value of each award to more than $90,000.

“Providing educational opportunities for first-generation college students is a core part of UH Hilo’s mission,” said Chancellor Don Straney. “The Dorrance Scholarship has become a model for how to effectively address that need.”

The Dorrance Foundation began offering up to 10 scholarships a year to Hawai’i Island high school graduates attending UH Hilo in 2012. The latest awards bring the total number of recipients to 49.

For more information about the Dorrance Scholarship, visit
www.dorrancescholarship.org or contact Mathew Estrada, program coordinator,
Dorrance Scholarship Programs, at mestrada@azfoundation.org or (808) 339-4500.

Hawaii Legislature to Meet in Special Joint Session to Consider Three Key Appointments

The state House and Senate will meet Friday, April 22, at noon in the House chambers in a special joint session to vote on three key legislative appointments, including the ombudsman, the director of the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and the legislative auditor.  Nominees for those positions include Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi as the director of LRB, Robin Matsunaga as the ombudsman, and Leslie Kondo as legislative auditor.

CapitalRobin Matsunaga has been director of the Office of Ombudsman since 1998 and is up for reappointment to a six-year term.  The ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints from the public about actions by state and county executive-branch agencies.

Prior to his appointment, Matsunaga worked for 12 years in the Legislature, starting as a budget analyst in the House Finance Committee under Rep. Ken Kiyabu, and later as chief of staff for Speaker Souki.

“Robin has provided strong and consistent leadership to the Office of the Ombudsman, ensuring that impartial and independent investigations are conducted whenever complaints are registered to that office,” said Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi.  “We look forward to his continued guidance in matters of concern from the public relating to our state agencies.”

The ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature who investigates complaints about actions of executive branch agencies of the state and county governments.  The office has the power to obtain necessary information for an investigation and to recommend corrective action if a complaint is found to be substantiated.  The ombudsman serves as a neutral, independent intermediary between the public and the state agencies.

Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi has been acting director for LRB since 2010.  She began her career with the bureau as a research attorney, and was appointed as the assistant director for research in 2003 and the first assistant in 2008.  If approved, she will be appointed for a six-year term.

Prior to her appointment, Carter-Yamauchi was in private practice, served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the City and County of Honolulu, and worked as a staff attorney for the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“The LRB has been an outstanding and invaluable resource to not only the Legislature but to the general public as well, and Charlotte has provided strong leadership since becoming acting director,” said House Speaker Joseph M. Souki.  “It is with great confidence that we ask her to continue to lead the LRB in support of the Legislature’s mission.”

The Legislative Reference Bureau is a nonpartisan legislative service agency that provides a wide variety of services to legislators, legislative committees, and in some cases, members of the public.

The LRB was originally founded in 1943 when the Territorial Legislature created it as a department of the University of Hawaii.  Originally, LRB was established to provide research services for the Governor, the Legislature, and the various departments, institutions, and agencies of the territory.  In 1972, the bureau was transferred to the legislative branch and its mission broadened to provide informational services to the general public.

Leslie Kondo is currently executive director and the chief legal counsel of the state Ethics Commission.  Prior to joining the Ethics Commission, he was a commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission and headed the Office of Information Practices from 2003 to 2007.  He is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law and Northwestern University, where he majored in industrial engineering.

“When we began discussing the position of the auditor, we wanted someone who could refocus the auditor’s office beyond financial audits to help the departments become more efficient and performance driven in all facets of their operation,” Kouchi said.

“We strongly believe that Les brings that kind of discipline, integrity and independence to the office,” added Souki.  “His background in industrial engineering will also be an advantage in his new position in helping the departments operate more efficiently—a goal we’ve focused on over the last several years through the budgeting process at the Legislature.”

If approved, Kondo will be appointed to an eight-year term.  Created by the first state constitutional convention in 1950, convention delegates envisioned an auditor who would help eliminate waste and inefficiency in government, provide the Legislature with a check against the powers of the executive branch, and ensure that public funds are expended according to legislative intent.

If approved by the joint session, all three candidates will begin their terms starting May 1, 2016.