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Solar Photovoltaic Installations in Hawaii Continued to Grow in 2013

Solar photovoltaic installations in Hawai‘i continued growing at a strong pace in 2013. A total of 17,609 solar installations with more than 129 megawatts capacity were added to the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company grids in 2013. This is 39 percent more than was added in 2012.

The total of solar photovoltaic systems interconnected on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids as of Dec. 31, 2013 is 40,159 with a total capacity of 300 MW. Of those installations, 96 percent take advantage of net energy metering, a program that began in 2001 to encourage the adoption of rooftop solar. With net energy metering, customers with rooftop solar receive full retail credit for electricity they generate and send to the utility grid. They use that credit to offset the electricity they take from the grid when solar power does not meet their needs at night or on cloudy days.

More than 70 percent of rooftop systems are on Oahu.  With 29,558 PV systems and 221 MW as of Dec. 31, 2013, 10 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers now have rooftop solar, a higher percentage than any mainland utility. On Hawaii Island, 7 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. And 8 percent of Maui Electric customers have rooftop solar.

This unprecedented rapid growth in rooftop solar in Hawai‘i has resulted in some neighborhood circuits reaching extremely high levels of photovoltaic systems. An increasing number of distribution level circuits have rooftop PV capacity exceeding 100 percent of the daytime minimum load, the trigger for interconnection studies and possible implementation of safety measures or upgrades before new PV systems on that circuit can be interconnected to the grid. This condition slowed the pace of rooftop solar growth in the last quarter of last year.

“Our first priority is the safety and reliability of service to all our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “At the same time, we remain committed to a strong, sustainable solar industry in Hawaii. We continue to approve new solar systems for interconnection daily. And we are working to find ways to add more solar power, including on circuits that already have large amounts of PV installed.”

Solar installations and capacity by utility as of December 31, 2013

  Solar Installations Capacity in MW
Hawaiian Electric 29, 558 221
Maui Electric 5, 246 41
Hawaii Electric Light 5,355 38
TOTAL 40,159 300

Cumulative solar growth in Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories, 2005-2013 (Data subject to change)

Wanted – Dogs Killing Albatrosses

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is asking for the public‘s help in identifying the owner(s) of two dogs recently seen attacking ground-nesting Laysan albatrosses in Moloa’a, Kauai.

Have seen these dogs in the Moloa`a area …

Have seen these dogs in the Moloa`a area …

They were photographed and the image is posted on fliers that are being distributed in the community, starting Friday.

Since December, a string of albatross killings has been reported at two coastal properties on the northeast shores of Kauai.  A total of 17 birds were found mauled to death at Moloaa by dogs this season.

Moloaa Bay Albatross Kill Flier

The total number of albatross killed on Kauai this season is 26 birds. The other deaths (9 birds) are from another property nearby.

Any person with who recognizes the dogs or knows who the dogs’ owners are, is asked to  please call the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 274-3521 or 274-3433.  After hours, weekends and holidays, please call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Hotline at 1-808-453-6780.

Please help protect Kauai’s seabirds by keeping your pet dogs on leash or kenneled. Stay on walking paths and observe seabird nesting signs.

Falko Property Moli Massacre

Falko Property Moli Massacre

Senator Introduces Bill to Protect Retirement Benefits from Taxation

State Senator David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2982, a measure that purposes a constitutional amendment to exclude certain retirement benefits from income taxation. If passed, the question posed to voters and printed on ballots would be as follows: “Shall retirement benefits be excluded from state income taxation if the beneficiaries’ contributions were subject to state income taxation?” sb2982

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen how pensions have become the target of tax increases and means of increasing revenue,” Ige said. “This measure would assure that future legislatures do not consider taxing pensions, and help to protect the retiree’s in our communities and those living on a fixed income.”

Senator Introduces Bill to Lengthen School Year for All Public Schools

State Senator David Ige (16th senatorial district) has introduced SB 2922, a bill that would lengthen the school year for all public schools in the state beginning with the 2015 school year calendar.

sb2922

If passed, the bill would lengthen the current school year from 180 instructional days to 190 instructional days. The bill also discontinues the requirements for the minimum number of student instructional hours effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

“The legislature is committed to improving our public education system and investing in our youth,” Ige said. “It is my hope that a focus on increasing the number of instructional days will provide more flexibility on the school level than the current law allows. I believe that lengthening the instructional days will assist to increase the performance of students in the classroom.”

If passed, the bill shall take effect on July 14, 2014.

Waterfalling Estate to Host UH-Hilo Tennis Exhibition

It’s a sporting venue like no other.  On February 8, athletes from the UH-Hilo Tennis team will put their skills to the test in exhibition matches held on a cliff-side court overlooking thundering waterfalls and panoramic ocean vistas.

Waterfalling Estate Tennis Court

Hosted at the 8-acre Waterfalling Estate in Ninole, the expo serves as a benefit fundraiser for the Richard and Ruth Matsuura Vulcan Tennis Endowed Scholarship.  The scholarship was named after the late state senator and his wife, a local pediatrician, in appreciation for their generous contributions to athletics and education on Hawai`i Island.

Waterfalling Estate
Senator Matsuura was a key figure in Hawai`i politics during the 1980s and 1990s, helping to promote geothermal energy in Puna, and the Natural Energy Lab in West Hawai`i. Though the senator passed away in 1997, Dr. Ruth Matsuura and her children have continued to play an active role in the Hilo community.
Richard and Ruth Matsumura

Richard and Ruth Matsuura

 The Matsuuras were key donors in the construction of the Haili Tennis Courts located at Hilo Intermediate School, and according to UH-Hilo tennis coach Karl Sloss, were “instrumental” in supporting the university’s tennis program in recent years.
“This endowment will help us work toward a fully-funded future for Vulcan Tennis,” said Sloss, who is also a volunteer member of Hui Kako`o Kenika, a nonprofit organization that promotes tennis on the Big Island.
The event, which runs from 3 pm to 6 pm, will feature a “best of five” world team tennis competition, along with light pupus, and live music by Lito Arkangel.
Waterfalling Estate Piano Room
Tickets are $25, and can be purchased in advance from the UH athletics ticket office or at the door. For more information, contact Karl Sloss at (842)-922-7221 or at ksloss@hawaii.edu.

Hualalai Academy Soliciting Donors to Calm “Perfect Storm” – Operation to Suspend May 30th

The Head of School at Hualalai Academy is soliciting potential donors to help Hualalai’s current financial situation.  Here is a copy of the letter being sent to potential donors:

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Aloha,

Thank you for your willingness to look at the current financial status of Hualalai Academy, a K-8 independent school, serving the children of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

Over the past several years, the school has faced declining enrollment due to decreased discretionary spending for working families and the impact of new charter schools and online academies.  Although the Hualalai Academy Experience is clearly the program of choice, many families have had to make the tough decision and settle for a no-tuition educational option for their children.

This “perfect storm” of circumstances has led to our board making the tough decision to suspend operation effective May 30, 2014.  This decision was the result of multiple banks and lenders choosing not to refinance us based on our limited cash flow via student tuitions.

Specifically, the school has the following debt:

Mortgage and lines of credit with First Hawaiian Bank                                $1,600,000

Bridge loan with friend of HA                                                                             200,000

Anticipated Bridge loan with friends of HA                                                       500,000

Debt as of June 1, 2014                                                                                  $2,300,000

The anticipated bridge loans are currently being pursued so that we may be able to pay our faculty and complete the school year for the sake of the students.

Should we receive a “miracle” and find a way to eliminate past debt, we have the “team” ready to spring into action and keep Hualalai Academy open and poised to improve our financial position and grow the Hualalai Academy Experience.

As I write, we are fighting the clock. Students are applying to other quality independent schools and teachers will be receiving job offers as their reputation as outstanding teachers precedes them. So, time is of the essence.

In closing, I am the new kid on the block as I arrived on July 1, 2013 to help the school grow into the finest independent school in Hawaii.  Instead, I have been watching a slow death.  However, we are still breathing and your support would allow us to come back to life and once again thrive and serve.

Thank you for taking the time to consider helping Hualalai Academy.

Sincerely,

John R. Colson

Head of School

Hualalai Academy

The contact information for donations is John Colson 808-326-9866 jcolson@hualalai.org

Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act – New Bill Promotes Safer Roads and Communities

Senator Will Espero, Chair of Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced that he is introducing the Safe and Responsible Driver’s Act, which would allow access to driver’s licenses for individuals who cannot show proof of authorized presence or who may be undocumented residents.

Sample Driving License

“This bill will improve public safety for drivers, pedestrians, residents of and visitors to Hawaii, by helping ensure that eligible drivers pass a driving test and obtain proof of insurance before driving their vehicles in Hawaii,” said Espero. The bill details how applicants can prove identity and Hawaii residency.

Currently, the paperwork requirements mean that many people cannot apply for a driver’s license. “Immigrants cannot apply for the driver’s license they need to take their children to school, go to work, church, or carry out other daily activities,” said Reverend Stan Bain, retired United Methodist pastor.

Unlicensed, uninsured drivers cause damage claims that other policy holders must cover. If these drivers can get licensed and insured, the cost of covering accidents involving uninsured motorists will decline, and everyone will pay lower insurance rates. Since New Mexico began issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants in 2003, its rate of uninsured motorists fell from 33 percent to 9 percent.

Another benefit of the bill is that it fosters community trust with law enforcement. Driver’s licenses help law enforcement officers perform their jobs more safely, effectively and efficiently. They enable law enforcement officers to identify the drivers they stop, and check the driver’s traffic and criminal record.  In addition, licenses will assist first responders and health care providers in determining the identity of the person they are assisting.

Nationwide state legislatures are creating and moving legislation to ensure roadway safety for all. These policies are being adopted to decrease the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers and increase public safety. Eleven states, in addition to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to increase access to driver’s licenses.

Queen’s and North Hawaii Community Hospital Mark New Relationship with Internal Hawaiian Ceremony

The Queen’s Health Systems (Queen’s), corporate parent of The Queen’s Medical Center (QMC), and North Hawaii Community Hospital held a special internal ceremony this week to mark their new formal affiliation relationship, which took effect on January 15, 2014.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

More than 50 NHCH staff gathered for a special internal Hawaiian ceremony to mark the new affiliation relationship between The Queen’s Healthy Systems and NHCH on Tuesday, January 21st at noon.

The special internal Hawaiian ceremony held on Tuesday, January 21stat NHCH and led by Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon, a Hawaii Island Cultural Practitioner, was attended by more than 50 hospital staff, including several of Queen’s Administration. “The purpose of this ceremony is to formally acknowledge and welcome the joining of one house with the other,” says Auntie ‘Ulu Garmon. “We ask for growth, longevity, preservation and that there be a reciprocation and an exchange of mana or life force in this new relationship,” said Garmon.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

NHCH staff participated in the ceremony by consuming food that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

During the ceremony Diane Paloma from Queen’s Native Hawaiian Health Program presented NHCH’s outgoing board chairman Bob Momsen with a “ho`okupu”, or a gift of symbolic significance. “By offering this ho`okupu with items representing our founders Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, we symbolically welcome NHCH into The Queen’s Health System’s `ohana,” said Paloma. Attendees participated in a Native Hawaiian ceremony by consuming foods that represent different elements of a successful partnership.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

(left to right) NHCH President Ken Graham, NHCH outgoing Board Chairman Bob Momsen and Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Healthy Systems at this week’s historic event.

To close the ceremony, Momsen returned the ho`okupu to The Queen’s Health Systems President and Board Chairman, Art Ushijima. This symbolic gesture represents the mutual acceptance and embracing of the new relationship between the two organizations. Ushijima marked the exchange by adding, “This is a great occasion for Queen’s. We look forward to becoming a part of your community and extending the Queen’s mission in North Hawaii.” The Queen’s Health Systems mission is “to fulfill the intent of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV to provide in perpetuity quality healthcare services to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii.”

On December 16, 2013, Queen’s announced it had officially entered into an affiliation agreement with NHCH. In the agreement, NHCH became a corporate entity under Queen’s, similar to The Queen’s Medical Center and Molokai General Hospital. QMC has had a clinical affiliation with NHCH since 2005.

Commentary – “The Coupe Family Single-Handedly Held Up the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass for 11 Years”

The acquisition the of right of way for highway projects is an ongoing issue for the State and County of Hawaii it seems.  Two projects come to mind; the second phase of the Mamalahoa Highway bypass and the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Inouye Highway Photo by Aaron Stene

Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Coupe family single-handedly held up the Mamalahoa  Highway bypass for 11 years. They fought the condemnation of  1,500 feet of their property all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the Coupe’s petition, which ended their battle and paved the way for the county to acquire the necessary right of way for this much-needed highway.

I’m deeply concerned the final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is facing the same fate. Three holdout landowners (Marvin Arruda, Richard Alderson and Rick Towill) refuse to convey part of their lands for this 5.7 mile highway. These parcels are located on the Puna side of the Puainako Street Extension and Country Club Drive.

I’ve tried to ask the Land Transportation Division of the State Attorney General’s office where things stand with the right of way acquisition for this phase, but they refuse to acknowledge my e-mails and hide behind attorney-client privilege.  The Hawaii Department of Transportation response to my inquiries isn’t much better.

The final east side phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway is currently unfunded.  I firmly believe its important to finalize the right of way acquisition, so this phase is shovel ready when funding is available.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan Receives National Award

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is honored to be selected for the 2014 National Planning Excellence Award for Transportation Planning by the American Planning Association.  HDOT’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan was chosen as part of the best planning efforts that create communities of lasting value.

Click to learn more

Click to learn more

Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan prioritizes pedestrian safety, mobility, and accessibility, and is the first in the nation to have a statewide pedestrian focus.  In conjunction with other efforts, the pedestrian master plan focuses on infrastructure improvements that may help lower pedestrian fatalities while enhancing connectivity.

“The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox is a key component of the plan and includes guidelines and best practices for the planning, design, operation and maintenance of pedestrian facilities,” said DOT Director Glenn M. Okimoto.  “The Toolbox offers a one-stop resource for pedestrian improvements that planners and designers will use as they move forward on HDOT’s many highway projects.”

For more information on Hawaii’s Statewide Pedestrian Master Plan go to the HDOT website at hidot.hawaii.gov.

To view all of the APA 2014 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit www.planning.org/awards/2014. APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

DLNR Invites Public Input On Survey Of Hawaii’s Outdoor Recreation Trends, Needs, Priority

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of State Parks (State Parks) in partnership with PBR HAWAII, is inviting the public to participate in a survey designed to assess Hawai‘i’s outdoor recreation trends, needs and priorities.

DLNR

The survey is one component of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). This plan is updated every five years to provide guidance for our Hawaii’s recreational future and to remain eligible to receive funds for outdoor recreation projects through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal grants program administered by the National Park Service (NPS). Public participation in the survey will help State Parks and NPS select projects to receive federal funding that best meets Hawaii’s recreational needs and help resolve any recreational conflicts.

“In the 2008 plan, the public identified multi-use paths for walking, jogging, and bicycling as one of Hawaii’s recreational priorities. In response to this demand, we look forward submitting a grant to support the construction of the new Hilo Bayfront trail in 2014. It is with the public’s input that we are able to support projects that best meet the community’s recreational needs,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

The survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HISCORP2014 and is open now through Feb. 28, 2014. Public meetings will be held over the next several months to give the public the opportunity to directly express their recreation needs and concerns. Meeting announcements will be also be made through news media outlets and via the DLNR Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Land and Water Conservation Fund grants provide a match for state and county funds to acquire new land for outdoor recreation and develop or renovate recreational facilities. Since 1967, the State of Hawaii and the four counties have received more than $38 million in LWCF grants for acquisition and development of outdoor recreation lands and facilities.

In recent years, LWCF grants have been awarded to the County of Hawaii to install new playground equipment at Panaewa Zoo in Hilo, the City and County of Honolulu to replace the ball field lights at Ala Wai Community Park, the County of Maui to construct a new skate park within the Lahaina Recreation Center, and State Parks for renovation of park cabins, pavilions, and comfort stations at Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on Hawaii island.

Senator Introduces Anti-Child Pornography Bill “Alicia’s Law”

Senator Will Espero, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, today announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2595, also known as “Alicia’s Law,” a measure that would provide a dedicated revenue stream for Hawaii’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

Senator Will Espero, Chair of the Public Safety Intergovernmental Affairs Committee; Alicia Kozakiewicz, for whom the law is named, abducted at age 13 by an Internet predator; Alison Arngrim, celebrity advocate, best known for her portrayal of Nellie Oleson on the NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie.”

The initiative is named after Alicia Kozakiewicz, who was abducted by an Internet predator, held hostage and tortured in her Virginia basement at the age of 13.

“I’m here today because the ICAC Task Forces were there,” said Kozakiewicz. “I was the needle in the haystack. I received the miracle. Because of that, I feel a moral obligation to help save as many other children who are subjected to abuse.”

There are thousands of ICAC leads in the state of Hawaii trafficking in sadistic images and videos of children being raped and tortured.  Nationally, 50% to 70% of these cases lead detectives to rescuing children from sexual abuse. The FBI reports that “the scope of the problem is worse than anticipated and growing exponentially.”

“The Hawaii ICAC task force is doing the best job they can with the limited resources of a Federal grant,” said Sen. Espero. “However, they are only able to investigate one to two cases per month.  With thousands of children needing protection this is unacceptable, and Hawaii needs a permanent revenue stream to fund the ICAC task force.”

“We know that most internet predators are also hands-on offenders and we know that child sexual abuse is a stealth crime,” said Grier Weeks, Executive Director of The National Association to Protect Children. “We can’t let children languish in abusive situations if we have the ability to provide law enforcement with a tool that allows for the immediate rescue of that child.”

SB2595

“This bill, should it become law, will help to keep our keiki safe,” added Sen. Espero. “Internet-based social media applications have become popular and easily accessible over the years especially amongst youth. These technologies and other internet sites can leave minors exposed to a litany of abuses and exploitations. It is imperative that we provide the necessary tools and resources to fight this growing epidemic.”

2014 Auto Body Hawaii Senior & High School Teacher Essay Contest

Auto Body Hawaii is announcing their 3rd annual Essay Contest for Seniors & High School Teachers. Auto Body Hawaii will provide West Hawaii’s graduating High School Seniors the opportunity to showcase their writing skills for the chance to win $500.

Auto Body Hawaii

Auto Body Hawaii will also award $500, as well as a gift certificate for a Super Wash Detailing Service; to the winning High School teacher. Teachers often choose to spend their own money to buy additional supplies for classes need; Auto Body Hawaii would like to help.

Here is 2014’s essay theme:

“If you had the opportunity to recommend a new subject that is not currently being offered in your school’s curriculum, what would you recommend & why would it be beneficial for students to learn”!

Contest deadline is April 30th 2014. For a list of invited participating schools & contest rules please visit: www.autobodyhawaii.com!

Call Tiffiny Taylor, 329-2544; essay@autobodyhawaii.com for more information.

 

Big Island Rep. Onishi Calls for Stronger Protections For Hawaii’s Farmers and Ranchers

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act.

HB2506

Hawaii’s right-to-farm law is designed to protect and preserve agricultural operations by allowing farmers, who meet all legal requirements and use accepted farming management practices, protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.

The law also documents the importance of farming to the local community and State of Hawaii and puts non-farming rural residents on notice that generally accepted agricultural practices are reasonable activities to expect in farming areas.

“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.

“But if we are interested in sustainability and moving Hawaii toward greater self-reliance, we will have to strike a better balance between our rural and urban needs. This measure is designed to do just that by protecting our local farmers and ranchers. They have a right to farm in the best way they see fit, as long as they follow legal and accepted agricultural practices, whether we’re talking about ranchers, poultry, hog, vegetable, flower and plant farmers.”

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bill at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2506&year=2014

Hawaii Representative Introduces Legislation for the Cultivation and Exportation of Marijuana

In the interest of economic development, Representative Rida Cabanilla (Ewa Villages, Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Ocean Pointe, West Loch) has introduced HB2124 that asks the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism in consultation with the Department of Agriculture to convene a working group to develop an action plan to legalize cultivation of marijuana in Hawaii for sale and export to foreign jurisdictions where usage is lawful.

HB1224

All commercial activities from the production and export of marijuana and marijuana-related products will be taxed and revenues would be utilized for public education, health care and human services programs.

“Commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana is a bold approach toward generating revenue while capitalizing on Hawaii’s inherent strengths.  Hawaii’s rich soil, coupled with its temperate climate, provide ideal conditions for year-round farming and cultivation. Hawaii is well situated to provide an abundant supply of quality marijuana to fill a growing international demand,” said Cabanilla.

Sex Abuse Victims in Utah Seek justice from Maui Land & Pine, Mormon Church, and Others

Honolulu attorneys Charles McKay and Randall Rosenberg of Rosenberg & McKay filed a complaint in Second Circuit Court on Maui yesterday afternoon against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P), Youth Development Enterprises, Inc. (YDE) and Brian R. Pickett, who currently resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  The Plaintiffs are two Utah men, Kyle Spray (42) and Jake Huggard (41), who now live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.  Also consulting on the case are Idaho and Seattle Attorneys Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon and Weeks, P.A., and Mark Leemon of Leemon + Royer.

Kyle Spray

Kyle Spray

Jacob Huggard

Jacob Huggard

The lawsuit alleges the LDS (Mormon) Church and ML&P recruited boys in the 1970s and 80s from Mormon communities in Utah and Southeastern Idaho to pick pineapples at camps in Maui, where the Plaintiffs were sexually molested.  The camps closed in the early 1990s.

“There were hundreds of boys over more than a decade cycled through these camps,” explained attorney Randall Rosenberg, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.  “Hundreds were exposed to the alleged sexual predator in our case.  We do not know how many others may have been molested, but our experience is that child sexual predators with access to kids have multiple victims.”

Maui Land and Pineapple

“We are asking for anyone with knowledge about sexual abuse at these camps to come forward,” added attorney Charles McKay, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.

LDS men in their twenties, who qualified for supervisory positions after completing their two-year missions from the LDS Church, ran the camps.   When recruiting boys, the suit alleges the LDS Church represented to parents that the camps were a safe training ground for boys to become Mormon missionaries.

According to the suit, Defendant Brian R. Pickett, a Camp Coordinator, molested the Plaintiffs as boys while overseeing up to 200 boys at one camp from 1986 to 1988.  ML&P promoted Picket in 1988 to Vice President of Operations over both camps, exposing him to more than 400 boys employed at the camps. The alleged sexual abuse took place at the ML&P barracks while Picket was Camp Coordinator. Abuse of one boy allegedly continued at Pickett’s Maui upcountry home.  In addition to being the boys’ boss, Pickett was their spiritual leader.  Pickett was the Branch President, similar to a Mormon Bishop, who presided over the boys’ religious training.  According to the suit, Pickett baptized one 15-year-old victim who had been recruited as a non-Mormon, then sexually molested the boy.

“We believe Brian R. Pickett used his position over our clients as their supervisor and religious leader to gain access to the boys and manipulate them,” said attorney Craig Vernon, Esq., of James, Vernon and Weeks.  “The [Mormon] Church marketed this as a safe, wholesome and exciting adventure; fly to Hawai’i and pick pineapples.  That was extremely attractive to Mormon boys in Utah and Idaho in the 70s and 80s.”

[youtube=http://youtu.be/TvhaAvWdnSU]

“Thanks to a new Hawai’i law, abuse survivors as far away as Utah and Idaho now have access to justice for harm they suffered as boys in Hawai’i,” explained attorney Mark Leemon, Esq., of Leemon + Royer.   “We share our clients’ concern that other boys who may have been abused at these camps in the 70s and 80s only have until April of this year under the new law to file their claims.”

The two-year window statute in Hawaii allows child sexual abuse survivors to come forward and file suit until April 2014, regardless of when the abuse took place.

Equitable relief

Like similar suits Rosenberg and McKay filed against the Catholic Church, they and their team seek more than money for their clients.  “Our clients seek equitable relief for the protection of children, in addition to acknowledgement and restitution for the harm to them,” explains Rosenberg.   “We ask the LDS Church to take concrete steps to prevent future abuse and for the healing of victims.”  The relief sought demands the Church:

  • Change its corporate policies regarding reporting of suspected child sexual abuse. According to the suit, current policies instruct members and leaders to contact the Church instead of police or child protective services when they suspect child sexual abuse.
  • Reject current policies that state Church leaders should avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases involving abuse (Handbook 1, State Presidents and Bishops 2010, Section 17.3.2.)
  • Institute regulations that:

o   All alleged sex abusers will be immediately removed from exposure to children.

o   Members and leaders must report suspected abuse to the police and child protective services.

o   Leaders and members shall cooperate with civil and criminal authorities in cases involving sexual abuse, including testifying.

  • Publicly list abusers names on the LDS homepage of all its web sites to alert people of danger, including on the list Brian R. Pickett as a credibly accused pedophile with his last known address.
  • Identify all leaders and members who have been credibly accused of sexual molestation of a child in Hawaii.
  • Never support any laws that would shield child sexual abusers.
  • Establish age appropriate sex abuse training and educations for children ages 3 – 18 years old. This will include a “safe haven” for children to report abuse to any of three people in each Ward (a collection of individual churches).
  • Adopt a whistleblower policy so those reporting abuse will not have any retaliatory action taken against them.
  • Publish through its President an annual written statement that there exists no undisclosed knowledge that any leader has sexually abused any person in Hawaii.
  • Send a letter of apology to Plaintiffs.

“Equitable relief ensures there is concrete action for the prevention of future abuse and for the healing of victims,” explained McKay. “Given the number of young boys under Pickett’s supervision in the 1980s, there could be many more boys who experienced this abuse in Hawaii and now live in shame and silence in Idaho and Utah.”

Sen. Solomon Thanks Supreme Court For Hawaii Island’s Right to Equal Representation

State Sen. Malama Solomon today issued a public “Mahalo” on behalf of all Hawai’i Island residents to both the U.S. Supreme Court and the legal team working “to protect Hawaiʻi Island’s right to equal representation as guaranteed by both the U.S. and State of Hawaiʻi Constitutions.”

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Malama Solomon

Sen. Solomon’s message of gratitude comes as more than two years of intense litigation concluded Tuesday, January 21, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court formally resolved a case she and several Hawai’i Island residents had taken to the State Supreme Court challenging the 2011 State Reapportionment Commission’s initial plan based on the 2010 Census to count out-of-state military members and their families stationed in the islands and out-of-state students when re-drawing legislative districts.

Sen. Solomon and her legal team – working with the State Attorney General – challenged the plan on the basis that it denied Hawai’i Island residents equitable representation which they believed required adding a 4th State Senate seat for Hawaiʻi Island because of the nearly 25% increase in resident population on the island between 2000 and 2010.  During this same period of time, the island of Oahu had experienced only an 8% growth.

The addition of a 4th Senate seat to Hawaiʻi Island meant Oahu would lose a Senator.

It became a very complicated case but the heart of the issue was inequitable representation for Hawaiʻi Island residents in the first reapportionment plan.  The State Supreme Court agreed with Sen. Solomonʻs challenge and the plan was revised, adding a 4th Senate seat for Hawaiʻi Island in the 2012 elections.

In the meantime, however, opponents to the decision filed a judicial challenge to the U.S. Federal District Court (Kostick v. Nago (Case No. 13-456).  A three-judge U.S. Federal Court upheld the Hawaii Supreme Court decision.  The opposition had an automatic right to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. and did so.

“The battle is over; let us move forward working together for all the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Sen. Solomon, who added her acknowledgement of the legal team that served to protect the rights of Hawaiʻi Island residents, including Stan Roehrig of Hilo, Robert Kim of Kona and Peter Esser of Honolulu, and also State Attorney General David M. Louie and Deputy Attorney General Charleen M. Aina.

Sen. Solomon also thanked Public Utilities Commission Chair Hermina M. Morita, a former State Representative, for providing testimony for the Supreme Court docket related to her experience representing a “canoe district” – a now illegal practice of combining residents from more than one island into a representative districts of approximately the same population size.  Such districts were banned in recent years by the State legislature because they “seriously undermine equitable representation for all residents of the district,” said Sen. Solomon.  Both Hermina Morita and Sen. Solomon represented “canoe districts” before the Legislature banned this practice.

Fulbright Visiting Scholar to Speak at UH Hilo

UH Hilo Moniker

Dr. Sethuraman Paramasivan, a Fulbright Visiting Scholar from India, presents a public lecture on Functional Foods – Development, Marketing and Consumption in India at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on Tuesday, January 28, 6:30 – 9 p.m. in University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100.

Paramasivan is senior scientist at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Trivandrum, India and current Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. His specialty is the psychology of eating and his work focuses on how psychological and health factors influence the choice and consumption of foods.

Paramasivan’s visit is underwritten by the Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF), which allows Fulbright Visiting Scholars who are currently in the United States to travel to other higher education institutions across the country. The event is also sponsored locally by the UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM).

For more information, contact CAFNRM at 932-7691.

Big Island Police Searching for Kona Man Missing Since Thanksgiving

UPDATE 3/13/2014: The human remains found in South Kohala on Monday have been identified through dental records as 37-year-old Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder of Kailua-Kona

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 37-year-old Kailua-Kona man, who was reported missing.

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder

Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder was last contacted on Thanksgiving Day, 2013.

He is described as 5-foot-10, 150 pounds with green eyes and short brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Officer Eric Uehana Sr. at 889-6540.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Earth & Ocean Festival Coming Up

The Earth & Ocean Festival is designed to showcase and emphasize the unique treasures of Hawaii Island through active participation in educational booths and activities on coral reef, ocean stewardship and conservation practices in Hawaii.

Earth and Ocean FestivalTraditional Hawaiian cultural practices will be shared, environmental programs will be presented in the Surf & Turf Theater and educational tours will be offered throughout the day. Tours include the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary; Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii; Historical Footsteps Along the Kona Coast; and Makaeo Walking Path. (Note: tours require online registration.) Presentations include “Climate Reality,” “The Manta Ray,” “Aloha in the Huna Way,” The DLNR Watershed Initiative,” and “Tsunami Talk.”

Enjoy locally made and sourced food. Entertainment throughout the day with hula, music and The Hiccup Circus.  A special Hawaiian music concert will close the Festival, starting at 3 pm. Funding provided by HTA and the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development.

Bring the whole family to the festival on Saturday, April 12th from 10:00am to 4pm at Makaeo Pavilion, Old Kona Airport. Free to the public. For a complete listing of activities and presentations or for more information, call 808.329.1758, email info@kona-kohala.com, or visit www.kona-kohala.com.

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 the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce at 808.329.1758 as soon as possible, but no later than March 28, 2014.