Councilwoman Wille on Killed GMO Bill

The council members generally recognized there is a need to restrict any further introduction of the GMOs here on our island offering suggestions to address those concerns. Given the current presence of some genetically modified crops here, the challenge is to move forward in a manner that is pono and  minimize the impact on those adversely affected by any restrictions.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 79 was cumbersome with layers of amendments.  For this reason, I withdrew the bill in order to submit a clean, simpler version.  This “withdrawal” was simply a good procedural move, and should not be interpreted as any less resolve on my part to meaningful legislation.

One suggestion being considered is whether to set up a council ad hoc committee (comprised of up to 4 members of the council) to address related issues and how best to implement and enforce legislation. I submitted this possible format for this ad hoc committee at the August 6th council meeting in Communication.

Home rule issue:  If Hawaii County residents want to limit the spread of GMO crops and plants on this island, we need to have an ordinance in place before the end of the year.  Otherwise, we can expect the biotech companies to seek and easily lobby for passage of legislation prohibiting any county level laws that may interfere with the biotech corporate agendas (During this last legislative session, Monsanto and associates sought to pass SB727 which would have gutted county government).  For this reason any effort to postpone passage of a bill restricting GMOs beyond December 2013 is tantamount to killing the bill.

Thank you.  I do want to thank all who have submitted written or oral testimony. Just this past week I finally received all written testimony to the council for the July 2nd hearing and I have read through almost all of the 1000+ letters in support of Bill 79, and the approximate 100 opposition letters.  Prior to the August 6th hearing we again heard from many, both in support and in opposition and I have also read through this wave of emails as well.

The next GMO hearing on my successor version to Bill 79 is expected to be scheduled in Hilo for September 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

STATE OF EMERGENCY For County of Hawaii – Residents Urged to Be Prepare for #Flossie

Emergency Proclamation

Click to view

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi released the following EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION today for the County of Hawaii:

EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION:

WHEREAS, Chapter 127, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, as amended, and Chapter 128, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, as amended, provide for the establishment of County organizations for disaster relief with a deputy director in charge of each political subdivision; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i has been appointed as the Deputy Director of Civil Defense of the County of Hawai‘i; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 7, Articles 1 and 2 of the Hawai‘i County Code, establishes a Civil Defense Agency within the County of Hawai‘i and prescribes its powers, duties, and responsibilities, and Section 13 23 of the Hawai‘i County Charter empowers the Mayor of the County to declare emergencies; and

WHEREAS, the National Weather Service at 5:00 P.M. on July 27, 2013 issued a Watch for Tropical Storm Flossie Advisory Number 13 advising that Tropical Storm Flossie had entered Hawaiian waters and was located at 770 miles east of Hilo, Hawai‘i as a Tropical Storm with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and higher gusts; and

WHEREAS, the National Weather Service at 11:00 P.M. on July 27, 2013 issued Tropical Storm Advisory Number 14 upgrading its Advisory to a Warning for Hawaii and Maui County and continuing this Warning in Tropical Storm Advisory 16 on July 28, 2013 with maximum sustained wind of 60 mph and higher gusts; and

WHEREAS, a Tropical Storm Warning means that possible tropical storm conditions can occur any time within the next 36 hours; and

WHEREAS, conditions associated with tropical storms include but are not limited to storm surge, high surf, wind and rain may occur; and;

WHEREAS, due to the possibility of property damage and/or bodily injury to residents of Hawai`i Island, and the need for government agencies and representatives from the private sector to mobilize and provide immediate services to our island residents, a Civil Defense state of emergency is authorized pursuant to Chapters 127 and 128, Hawai`i Revised Statutes, as amended, and Chapter 7, Hawai`i County Code.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM P. KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawai‘i, do hereby proclaim and declare that a state of emergency exists on the Hawai‘i Island, effective 1:00 P.M., July 28, 2013, and continuing thereon until further act by this office.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawai‘i to be affixed. Done this 28th day of July 28, 2013 in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

WIILIAM P. KENOI
Mayor
County of Hawai‘i

 

State Honors Hawaii County Outstanding Older American Awardee Shirley Ito

While in Hilo this Friday, July 19, Gov. Neil Abercrombie will honor Older Americans Month Hawaii County (East Hawaii) awardee Shirley Ito in a ceremony held in the Hilo State Building, 2nd Floor.

Older Americans Month

Every year, eight kupuna — one male and one female from each county — are selected as Older American volunteer honorees for the exemplary work they do to aid and support their individual communities.

After proclaiming May as “Older Americans Month” in Hawaii on May 3, the Governor recognized honorees from Honolulu, Betty Goya and John McGuire; Kauai County, Dr. Lucy Miller and William Neil Rapozo, Sr.; and Hawaii County (West Hawaii), Peter Hoffmann, at events on their respective is lands. Honorees from Maui County, Diane Logsdon and Richard Endsley, will be meeting with the Governor in a ceremony on Maui later this month.

Ito, a Hilo resident, was nominated for the award by Hui Okinawa. Ito has volunteered with Hui Okinawa for the past 10 years, serving on its Board of Directors since January 2011. Ito assists in organizing Hui Okinawa’s annual summer five-day Cultural Day Camp for children by helping teachers with crafts and other projects and accompanying the students on field trips.

“It’s folks like Shirley Ito that build the social fabric of a community and make it strong,” stated Hui Okinawa in the nomination letter. “In any organization or club you need members who are willing to actively participate and lead activities if the group is to continue to be a vibrant contributor to community life. That’s Shirley!”

At the youthful age of 74, Ito has receive ed Hui Okinawa’s Hatarachaa Award (2003) and Chibayaa Award (2009) for her dedication and diligent service. In addition to her outstanding dedication to Hui Okinawa, Ito has dedicated her time to volunteer for ARC of Hilo cleanups, serve as chair on the ARC’s Vision and Hearing Programs, and serve as president and regional chair for the Lions Club.

“Older Americans Month celebrations acknowledge the value that older adults continue to bring to our communities by applauding recent achievements of local kupuna and inviting them to share the activities they do to unleash the power of age,” said Wes Lum, director of the Executive Office on Aging.

This year’s Older Americans Month theme – “Unleash the Power of Age” – emphasizes the important role of our kupuna. Seniors across the nation are being recognized as productive, active, and influential members of society.

For more information and to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans, contact the Executive Office on Aging at (808) 586-0100 or local Area Agency on Aging by visiting the Aging and Disability Resource Center at www.hawaiiadrc.org or (808) 643-2372.

 

South Kona Property Owners Receive Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps

Last week the County of Hawai‘i, Department of Public Works sent letters to South Kona property owners with tax map keys 8-4-004, 8-4-006, 8-4-008, 8-4-011, 8-4-012, 8-4-014, and 8-4-015 informing them of the Preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS).

The preliminary FIS analyzed the 10% (10-year), 4% (25-year), 2% (50-year), 1% (100-year), and 0.2% (500-year) chance of flooding events, or Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) boundaries, and the Base Flood Elevations (BFE) in Hōnaunau, Keōkea and a small section of Kiilae.

The County of Hawai‘i will use the results of the study to amend FEMA’s FIS and Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

There are two phases to the study.  Phase 1 is for watercourses 13-20 affecting property owners in the tax map keys mentioned.  Residents along watercourses 1-12 and 21-25 are in phase 2 and will receive notices before the end of summer.

For structures in a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), flood insurance is mandatory for buildings with mortgages back by the federal government.  For structures in Zone X (outside of the SFHA), flood insurance is suggested but is not mandatory.

Preferred Risk

FEMA is offering a “Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension,” a lower cost insurance rate for properties recently mapped into high-risk flood zones on or after October 1, 2008 information here: http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/prp_extension_information.jsp

“Property owners currently paying flood insurance may find their property is no longer in a flood zone.  Others may find they are in a flood zone, “said Warren Lee, director for the Department of Public Works. “If the property is in a flood zone, we highly recommend purchasing flood insurance and taking advantage of the County’s ten percent (10) discount.

Owners who believe their property is not in the Special Flood Hazard Area, (SFHA) may contact Frank DeMarco (961-8042) the County of Hawai‘i Floodplain Manager or Carter Romero (961-8943) at the Department of Public Works Engineers’ division in Hilo, weekdays, from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Maps are also available Engineers’ office in the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

FEMA offers an online tutorial to walk the applicant through the stages to have a property removed from a SFHA. Click http://www.fema.gov/online-tutorials/letter-map-amendment/letter-map-revision-f-tutorial-series-choose-tutorial

 

Applications for Property Tax Exemptions Due July 1

July 1, 2013 is the due date for exemption applications for the Homeowner’s, Homes of Totally Disabled Veterans, Properties of Persons Affected by Hansen’s Disease and Properties of Persons who are Blind, Deaf and/or Totally Disabled programs.

countylogo

If you feel that any of these programs apply to you, applications must be submitted by that July 1, 2013 deadline for the Homeowner Exemption to be effective January 1, 2014 while all the other programs mentioned are effective immediately.

If you are already enrolled in these programs you need not apply again as they renew automatically. However, if your address, personal status or other qualifying circumstance changes you must inform us in 30 days after that change as these are personal exemptions and do not run with the parcel they are applied to.

You may visit our Real Property Tax Offices in Hilo or Kona, or access the website at www.hawaiipropertytax.com to download an application or for further information.

Gov. Abercrombie to Honor Former Councilman Pete Hoffmann and Shirley Ito for “Older Americans Month”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie will be traveling to Kailua-Kona tomorrow, May 28 to honor Older Americans Month Hawaii County awardee Peter Hoffmann in a ceremony and reception at the County Council Chambers in the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Council Pete Hoffman

Former Councilman Pete Hoffmann

Every year, eight kupuna ‒ one male and one female from each county ‒ are selected as Older American volunteer honorees for the exemplary work they do to aid and support their individual communities. The female honoree for Hawaii County, Shirley Ito of Hilo, will be meeting with the Governor at a later date in Hilo in recognition of her volunteer work.

Hoffman, who is from Waikoloa, was nominated for this award by the Waikoloa Senior Center. He organized the local senior center and was the founding and continuing president through mid-2006. He presided over the monthly meetings, drove the van on monthly outings, arranged for speakers, and took charge of most of the activities. He was the sweat equity of the senior center.

At the youthful age of 72, Hoffman has committed his time and energy to numerous other community programs including the School Supply Drive, the Waikoloa Village Association, the Waikoloa Community Development Corporation, and the 21st Century Learning Center out of the Waikoloa Elementary School. Additionally, he serves as cantor at the Puako Ascension Catholic Church where he was named Island Treasure by the Diocese two years ago.

Wes Lum, director of the Executive Office on Aging, and Alan Parker of the Hawaii County Office on Aging will be joining Gov. Abercrombie in the celebration honoring Hoffmann.

“Older Americans Month celebrations acknowledge the value that older adults continue to bring to our communities by applauding recent achievements of local kupuna and inviting them to share the activities they do to unleash the power of age,” said Wes Lum, director of the Executive Office on Aging.

After proclaiming May as “Older Americans Month” in Hawaii on May 3, the Governor recognized honorees from Honolulu, Betty Goya and John McGuire, and Kauai County, Dr. Lucy Miller and William Neil Rapozo, Sr. at events on their respective islands. Honorees from Maui County, Diane Logsdon and Richard Endsley, will be meeting with the Governor in a ceremony on Maui in July.

This year’s Older Americans Month theme –“Unleash the Power of Age” –emphasizes the important role of our kupuna. Seniors across the nation are being recognized as productive, active, and influential members of society.

For more information and to find ongoing opportunities to celebrate and support older Americans, contact the Executive Office on Aging at (808) 586-0100 or local Area Agency on Aging by visiting the Aging and Disability Resource Center at www.hawaiiadrc.orgor (808) 643-2372.

Senator Russell Ruderman: Reversal of Fate – “… I Support Safe Geothermal Development”

Aloha Constituents and Concerned Citizens,

I want to thank everyone who supported my position in objecting to the process used to create and pass House Bill 252. Please know that all the emails and calls that each senator received were crucial to the approval of the important amendment I proposed this morning.  Without your public comments, this may not have happened. I remain concerned that due process, including public comment, was by-passed, yet as the process was going forward regardless, including a major improvement was the best course of action to take.

Rudderman and Geothermal

I object strongly to the process that introduced geothermal permitting procedures into an unrelated bill, HB252, without public notice of the changes or opportunity to testify. While the bill has some desirable provisions, the lack of transparency is difficult to support. The procedures used to by-pass public input are potentially unconstitutional, as is the fact that HB252 now contains two unrelated subjects. It is unfortunate this kind of politics persists in our State legislature.

Earlier in the session we had two bills on this issue, HB106 and HB932.  HB106, which restored County oversight and contested case hearings, was supported by Hawaii County Council, OHA, Puna community groups, and 90% of testifiers.  HB106, which had the support of the majority of the subject matter committees, was deferred, probably in hopes of passing HB932 instead, yet HB932 did not have support in committee. HB932does restore county oversight, but replaced contested case hearings with forced mediation and made changes to the definition of geothermal.  It was opposed by all community groups and individuals, yet supported by Hawaii County Mayor and DLNR.

The last minute language inserted in HB252 is similar to HB932. Inserting this language, from the bill with the least support, thwarts the desires of the impacted community, the Hawaii County Council, and OHA. The voice of the community was ignored by this objectionable procedure. This continues a long-standing trend that has resulted in the problems and controversy we now have over poorly planned geothermal development.

Instead of voting “no,” in what appeared to be a losing battle to kill the bill, I submitted an amendment to improve HB252. My amendment removes the requirement for mediation from this bill. As senator of the only district with geothermal development, I am aware of some of the problems that result from poorly regulated planning. Required mediation processes proved profoundly unsuccessful in 1990. The agreements reached in mediation were violated, and the enforced mediation process is widely reviled by the community. The affected communities deserve the right to contested case hearings, as is the common remedial action in most planning disputes. By removing references to mediation, citizens’ rights are protected, and one of the most objectionable portions of HB252 is corrected.

My community and I support safe geothermal development. We simply desire fair treatment and due process to ensure a safe community. Given that the amendment was approved; I can now support this bill instead of opposing it, since it does provide for the reinstatement of county oversight that was taken away in Act 97.

Again, I want to thank everyone who submitted comments and will continue to remain vigilant when similar tactics are applied to legislation that could negatively affect my district and the State. You provided a voice that was heard loud & clear! No new testimony is needed at this time.

Thank you for your support and involvement!

Mahalo,

Senator Russell E Ruderman

Hawaii State Senate

Public Hearing on Bill No. 292 – Restricting Geothermal Hours

The Hawaii County Council is having a public hearing on Bill No. 292 which would restrict geothermal exploratory and production drilling to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The public will be allowed up to 3-minutes to provide testimony.

Pahoa Neighborhood Facility

The public hearing is on Friday, November 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm in the Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility.  For more information, please call Chairman Yagong at 961-8538.

 

Update on the Hawaii County Elections

VOTER REGISTRATION

104,323 Hawaii County residents are registered to vote in the 2012 General Election. This is the official voter registration count for the 2012 General Election and is not subject to change for this election.

ABSENTEE MAIL BALLOTS

On October 15th 22,200 absentee mail ballots were sent to Hawaii County voters.  As of October 29th, Hawaii County has received 14,584 voted absentee mail ballots.  New requests are processed and absentee mail ballots are sent to Hawaii County voters on a daily basis.

Hawaii County voters are advised that the deadline to submit an application for an absentee mail ballot is October 30, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. Applications for an absentee mail ballot that are received after this date will not be processed for the 2012 General Election.

ABSENTEE/EARLY WALK-IN VOTING

On October 23rd, Hawaii County opened absentee/early walk-in voting precincts in Hilo , Waimea and in Kona.  Absentee/early walk-in voting is open to all registered voters at any early walk-in voting precinct on the island, regardless of district or residency assignment.  Absentee/early walk-in voting will continue until November 3, 2012.

As of October 29th, 4,688 Hawaii County voters have voted absentee/early walk-in voting in Hawaii County .

According to Lehua Iopa, Hawaii County Acting Elections Program Administrator, “Let’s vote Hawaii County !  Hawaii County voters may walk-in and vote early before the November 6th, 2012 General Election in Hawaii County .  Early walk-in voting is happening every day until Saturday, November 3, 2012.  Each location will be open every day from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.  All Hawaii County registered voters can walk-in and vote in any location in Hilo , Kona and Waimea, regardless of district or residency assignment. For more information regarding early walk-in voting, please contact the Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277.”

For more information please contact Lehua Iopa, Acting Elections Program Administrator, Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277 or by electronic mail to eiopa@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Hawaii County Police Increasing DUI Checkpoints This Week in Conjunction With Halloween

Children of all ages look forward to Halloween but police want to keep them safe to enjoy the fun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly four times as many children ages 5-14, are killed while walking on Halloween evening than other times of the year.

Hawaiʻi County police will increase DUI checkpoints and roving patrols this week in conjunction with Halloween. The effort is part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drive sober or get pulled over.”

Sergeant Robert P. Pauole, head of the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Traffic Services Section, pointed out that drugs, alcohol or both have been factors in at least 63 percent of the 35 traffic fatalities we’ve experienced so far this year. He urges all motorists to be extra cautious in the next few days, when a large number of pedestrians may be out for Halloween festivities.

“Be especially careful in residential areas by slowing down and looking for children on roadways, medians and curbs,” Pauole said. “If you plan to drink, please don’t drive. Make arrangements to ride with a designated, sober and licensed driver before you start drinking. If you can’t find one, don’t take a chance—take a taxi.”

Police offer the following additional tips for Halloween safety:

Motorists:

-Drive below the posted speed limit during trick-or-treating hours.
-Watch for keiki darting out from between parked cars.
-Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

Parents:

-Accompany your keiki when they go trick-or-treating or make sure they are supervised by a responsible adult.
-Have your keiki trick-or-treat in a safe location (consider a local mall or community event).
-Make sure keiki are supervised as they cross the street.
-Have keiki get out of cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side.
-Carry flashlights and use reflective tape or stickers on bags and costumes for keiki to see and be seen.
-Avoid masks or costumes that limit a keiki’s vision or movement.
-Check all treats before letting your keiki eat them.

The Police Department wishes everyone a fun and safe Halloween.

What Happened to the Civil Defense Sirens During Last Nights Tsunami Warnings

Well as everyone knows by now we had a big scare again with a Tsunami Warning that happened following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the British Columbia coastline.

I was following the story fairly closely but was pretty concerned because the Civil Defense Sirens were not going off and nothing was being reported on the Civil Defense Page about the possible incoming tsunami.

In fact the only thing the Civil Defense Page did report was the following nearly 5 hours after the first wave was suppose to hit:

“This is a Civil Defense Message for Sunday October 28, 2012 at 4:15 AM

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has cancelled the tsunami advisory for the Island of Hawaii, however small sea level changes and strong or unusual currents may persist for several additional hours.  Beaches will remain closed until further notice.  This will be the final message issued for this event unless conditions change.

This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense”

I first learned about it at 7:15 pm Hawaii time and didn’t even hear the first siren in Pahoa until nearly 9:15 in the evening!

I know that the sirens were going off in Kona earlier as my wife was staying at the Keauhou Resort for a soccer tournament and they got evacuated as soon as the sirens went off over there around 8:30.

I was getting facebook reports from other parts of the island that they weren’t hearing sirens either.

Big Island Video News posted a video of the strange tidal action that was happening shortly after the tsunami hit and you can view that here “Video: Tsunami Brings Strange Tides to Wailoa Boat Harbor“.

Update on the Hawaii County Elections – Absentee Ballots Being Counted

VOTER REGISTRATION

104,323 Hawaii County residents are registered to vote in the 2012 General Election. This is the official voter registration count for the 2012 General Election and is not subject to change for this election.

ABSENTEE MAIL BALLOTS

On October 15th 22,200 absentee mail ballots were sent to Hawaii County voters. Between October 15th and October 24th roughly 460 new requests for absentee mail ballots were received by Hawaii County.  The new requests are processed and absentee mail ballots are sent to Hawaii County voters on a daily basis.

As of October 24th, Hawaii County has received 8,341 voted absentee mail ballots.

ABSENTEE/EARLY WALK-IN VOTING

On October 23rd, Hawaii County opened absentee/early walk-in voting precincts in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona.  Absentee/early walk-in voting is open to all registered voters at any early walk-in voting precinct on the island, regardless of district or residency assignment.  Absentee/early walk-in voting will continue until November 3, 2012.

As of October 24th, 1,703 Hawaii County voters have voted absentee/early walk-in voting in Hawaii County.

According to Lehua Iopa, Hawaii County Acting Elections Program Administrator, “We want to thank all Hawaii County residents who have registered to vote and who are voting in the General Election.  Absentee voting by mail and by early walk-in voting is going smoothly.  We encourage all Hawaii County voters to consider all of their voting choices and to vote by mail, walk-in early voting at any precinct location on the island in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona, or on Election Day, November 6, 2012 at their designated polling place.”

For more information please contact Lehua Iopa, Acting Elections Program Administrator, Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277 or by electronic mail to eiopa@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Hawaii County Elections 2012 Kids Art & Essay Contest Now Open for Submissions

The Hawaii County Elections Division is seeking kids’ art and essays – lots of it!

We hope to encourage students and educators to learn about and get interested in elections.  Art and essays may be turned into legislative branch offices in Hilo , Waimea, Kona and Pahoa.  Essays may also be e-mailed to our offices to jbennett@co.hawaii.hi.us.

The Art contest is for kids ages 8-10.  Design the voting machine of the future!  Artwork should be about the voting machine that can be used to cast votes in the election of the future.   We are looking for drawings, paintings, sculpture, collage, mixed media, all formats are welcome.  An overall winner will be chosen from all of the entries.  Deadline for submission is November 5, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.  Winners will be announced on November 11, 2012.

The Essay contest is for kids ages 11-13.  In 800 words or less, each student should use their imagination and write about what they would accomplish if they were a candidate for the Hawaii County Council and elected to a two-year term to the Hawaii County Council on November 6, 2012 (General Election).  An overall winner will be chosen from all of the entries.  Deadline for submission is November 5, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.  Winners will be announced on November 11, 2012.

All submissions must be submitted with the name and age of the participant and the parent/legal guardian’s name, mailing address, electronic mail address and telephone number.

For more information please contact Judy Bennett, Temporary Elections Clerk, Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277 or by electronic mail to jbennett@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Hawaii County Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study Receives Award

The Hawai’i County Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline study received a 2012 Planning Award from the American Planning Association, Hawai’i Chapter at the recent Hawai’i Congress of Planning Officials annual conference in Honolulu.

The Hawai‘i Island Food Self-Sufficiency Scorecard shows the percentages of locally produced food consumed in 2012, part of the award-winning Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study.

The report was produced for the Department of Research and Development by the University of Hawai’i Geography Department and Jeffrey Melrose of Island Planning.  The award was given in the category of Innovations for Sustaining Places.

The Baseline study was a recommendation of the Hawai’i County Agricultural Development Plan that was adopted in 2010.  It provided a summary of the current state of local food production and import data for Hawai’i County. The baseline study also produced detailed maps of existing agricultural activity on the island as a way to measure current farm activity, and to distinguish the unique circumstances that drive farming in each region around the island.  The report also provided a list of 100 Things to Do to Increase Food Self-Sufficiency on the island.  This list emphasizes the need for everyone, from consumers and government to farmers and retailers to be involved in the process for increasing food self reliance.

The APA Awards Jury selected this study for recognition because “… it provides important baseline data for measuring food production and consumption and agricultural activity as a basis for monitoring food self-sufficiency in Hawai’i County”. The Award Committee found the work innovative, including “the creation of a self-sufficiency scorecard and maps depicting agricultural activity throughout the County.  Information on area specific food production is particularly useful. The development of key metrics related to production and consumption is particularly useful and many of the concepts, tools, and findings are transferable to other communities.  The study provides a good foundation for future action affecting agriculture in Hawai’i.”

Department of Research and Development Director Randy Kurohara said that “the baseline study is an important tool for improving the quality of conversation we have about the future of Hawaii Island’s food self-reliance, and it makes some very useful suggestions about the role that everyone has to play in this process.  Dr. Tim Richards of Kahua Ranch and the Hawai’i Cattlemen’s Association said that the “Baseline Study is a defining piece on agriculture on Hawai’i Island and is the envy of others around the state.”

A link to the Study and many of its maps and graphics is available on the web at HawaiiCounty.gov under the Announcement section.

Elections Official Kawauchi Responds to Missed Election Workshop

The Office of the Hawaii County Clerk has received media inquiries concerning the elections workshops organized by the State Office of Elections. The State Office of Elections workshop schedule is as follows: (1) September 10, 2012 – Kauai; (2) September 27, 2012 – Maui; and (3) October 4, 2012 – Oahu. The media has questions concerning the reason why the Hawaii County Clerk did not attend the September 10, 2012 training on Kauai.

Jamae Kawauchi stated, “I did not attend the September 10, 2012 workshop on Kauai because I had already been scheduled to meet with Hawaii Island precinct officials on September 10, 2012 to discuss the primary election, issues and concerns presented by the primary election, and preparation and planning for the November 6, 2012 general election. The State Office of Elections was notified of the scheduling conflict and that the Deputy County Clerk and the elections division would be attending the workshop on Kauai in my place. I also let them know that I would be attending the trainings to be held on Maui and on Oahu.”

Jamae Kawauchi further stated, “We are grateful for the support that the State Office of Elections and the counties have extended to Hawaii County. I will continue to ask for their support to help me and the elections division staff ensure that Hawaii County has a fair and well-run election.”

“In the meetings with Hawaii County precinct officials, we are connecting with them, and I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know these dedicated, earnest and community-service minded citizens. I am impressed with their commitment to give more than 100% effort in their positions as precinct officials and I look forward to continuing to work with the State Office of Elections, the counties, the precinct officials and the public to ensure a fair and well-run general election.”

When Will Hawaii Save Taxpayer Money and Quit Putting Paid Public Notices in Newspapers?

I’d love to know how much Hawaii County is wasting on public and legal notices printed in the newspapers that are REQUIRED to be be posted in the newspapers.

There is an organization called Legal Notice Online that has been monitoring the policies of different states laws regarding legal and public notices and today they sent out the following.

Simply put… the State and the County could save lots of money by putting these notices online, they could reach a larger audience in a more timely basis, they could save a lot of paper waste, and they could control any changes in the notice if need be at any time?

Competition In The Legal Notice World? We Hope So.

A new non-profit trade group- The Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION) was formed this month, it has been reported. Over 100 of these publishers, according to CJR.org will gather at the Block by Block conference next month in Chicago.

How Does This Effect The World of Legal Notices?

We’ve discussed the emerging influence of the hyperlocal news sites when they’ve made noise in specific public notice legislative battles over the past year. In most instances, though the local publisher has acted on his or own. So far, better organized Press Associations have defeated the online publishers, often with professional lobbyists and legislative arm twisting. As a group, maybe LION will allow these hyperlocal sites to help each other in moving public opinion.

LION has stated neither on their Facebook page nor on their web site that they intend to try to be considered as newspapers of record for the lucrative publishing of legal notices in their local communities. We think it is a worthy endeavor and is consistent with several of their values and strategic goals. More than that, competition in that world would save all taxpayers money.

According to LION’s web site, The Patterson Foundation provided support for the initial organizational effort. Dylan Smith, publisher of the TucsonSentinel.com and former online editor of the Tucson Citizen is the organization’s chairman.

The emergence of this type of organization is a great story for all media. Smith sees this organization as the future and we hope he’s right. From the ashes of the burning of the unwieldy corporate, profit motivated journalistic behemoths rises grass roots journalism organizations that are in touch with their readers and are the watchdogs of their communities. 

To read how other states are addressing this issue Click HERE

Hawaii State Office of Elections Report Regarding the Implementation of the 2012 Primary Election by the Clerk of the County of Hawaii

This is the official Hawaii State Office of Elections Report Regarding the Implementation of the 2012 Primary Election by the Clerk of the County of Hawaii, Jamae Kawauchi:


OFFICE OF ELECTIONS REPORT REGARDING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2012 PRIMARY ELECTION BY THE CLERK OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII

The Office of Elections has received numerous requests to investigate what transpired during the 2012 Primary Election in the County of Hawaii from public officials, candidates, and members of the public. In order to best address those requests, we believed it appropriate to issue the following report for public dissemination.

In order to understand what occurred in the County of Hawaii, it necessary to first reiterate, as we have told people in the past, the different roles and responsibilities of the State and the counties when it comes to elections.

As provided for in the Hawaii State Constitution, my duties include the supervision of state elections. Article IV, Section 3. In regards to county elections those are within the purview of each county. As provided for in the County of Hawaii’s charter, “[t]he council shall appoint the county clerk” and the county clerk shall “[c]onduct all elections held within the county.” Section 3-6(b).

The County of Hawaii, similar to the other counties, provides in its charter that its elections will be held in conjunction with the Primary and General Election. Section 13- 27. As such, the Office of Elections attempts to work in coordination with the county clerks in running our combined elections, while recognizing the autonomy of each county. Article VIII, Section 2 (Local Self-Government; Charter).

In county only elections, the county is responsible for all aspects of an election ranging from voter registration, polling places, absentee voting, operation of the voting system, counting of the ballots and reporting of the results. Similarly in state elections, the State is responsible for all aspects of the elections. HRS §§ 11-182 and 11-183.

In combined state/county elections, the counties are responsible for voter registration and absentee voting. HRS §§ 11-11 and 15-4. Those responsibilities are always the statutory province of the counties. Additionally, the counties are responsible for storage of election materials. The State in combined elections is responsible for operating election day polling places and in operating the voting system including the counting of ballots and reporting of results. There are various other subsidiary responsibilities that the counties and the State split in an equitable manner. HRS § 11- 184.

Having said that, given that the Office of Elections is based on Oahu, the State is authorized under HRS § 11-2 to “delegate responsibilities in state elections within a county to the clerk of that county.” In recognition of the fact that state elections includes not only state contests but county contests, the State and counties split the costs of any overtime in regards to poll worker recruitment and for county election officials who work on election day and at other times, such as the logic and accuracy testing of the voting system. This cooperative relationship between the counties and the State has always


worked to the benefit of the voters. It is our assumption that the county clerks factor this into justifying their personnel descriptions for their civil service positions, staffing allocations, and in requesting budget appropriations from their county councils for elections.

The County of Hawaii has never refused this delegation of responsibility or the compensation from the State and it has always said it was up to the task, even when it terminated its civil service election administrator in an election year. Instead, at all times, the County Clerk has contended that she was up to the task and that there were no problems. The State in reviewing the matter has spoken to the County Clerk several times and corresponded with her about the county’s readiness for the elections. At all times, the County Clerk had said she was prepared.

The Hawaii State Elections Commission dedicated a portion of its May 30, 2012 meeting to discuss with the county clerk whether she was prepared for the 2012 elections, given correspondence it had received from Councilmember Dennis Onishi. The County Clerk insisted that everything was under control. Attached is a copy of the draft minutes from that meeting.

During the meeting, the Elections Commission sought for the County Council to provide additional assurances that the elections would be successful in the County of Hawaii.

Commissioner Orikasa asked Councilman Onishi how the Clerk is selected and Onishi responded that Clerk is appointed by the Council Chair. Commissioner Orikasa then asked what opportunities are available for the Council to get involved with getting assurances that the elections will be successful.
Councilman Onishi responded that he could make a request to the Council Chair that the elections topic be placed on the agenda for the next Council meeting. He also explained that since the election time frame is so short, he wrote to the OE and the Elections Commission to see if he could get the status on the Hawaii County elections.
Commissioner Orikasa then suggested that Councilman Onishi go ahead and try to have the elections topic placed on the agenda. Onishi said that he would ask the Chair to place the topic on the next meetings agenda. Councilman Onishi also stated that his intent for going to the OE and the Elections Commission was to protect the people of Hawaii County and make sure that they have a fair and open election.
***
Chair Marston expressed to Councilman Onishi that that he hopes he will report back to the Council the concerns that the Commission has
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regarding elections. He also wanted to comment that the elections are a cooperative effort that involves all parties and he also encourages County Clerk Kawauchi to get whatever resources necessary to succeed in this election. Councilman Onishi suggested that if available, the Commissioners could attend the next Council meeting. Commissioners Okazaki and Masunaga said that they would be willing to attend the meeting if elections were placed on the agenda. Councilman Onishi also expressed that he is appreciative that this issue was placed on this Commission meeting agenda for discussion.
Elections Commission Meeting Minutes (Draft) at pages 7 and 8.

Ultimately, it is our understanding that the County Council never elected to put the issue on their agenda. As such, we had to continue to legally rely on the representations of its county clerk who by charter “[c]onduct all elections held within the county.” Section 3-6(b). In other words, it is our understanding that no one other than the County Clerk, or perhaps the County Council that appoints her, has legal authority to speak on behalf of the County of Hawaii in regards to election matters.

As we got closer to the Primary Election, the Clerk’s issue regarding communicating in a timely and detailed manner to the Office of Elections and the other county clerks reached a critical point when the County Clerk failed to communicate the circumstances surrounding her closure of her Hilo office on July 23, 2012. We noted to her, in part the following,

We are fielding calls as to what is going in your county, as well as, when your absentee ballots are going to be mailed out. Your closure on July 23, 2012, and your failure to thoroughly communicate to the rest of the election community and the media as to the reasons for the closure, has unnecessarily lead to significant speculation in the public about the integrity of our elections only a few weeks before the August 11, 2012, Primary Election. This is simply unacceptable on the part of a fellow election administrator. The public relies on us to be assured that their elections are safe and secure.
Excerpt of Letter to County Clerk (July 25, 2012).

Ultimately, the County Clerk explained that her “audit” had found some duplicate voter registrations and that possibly a handful of voters may have voted twice. The County Clerk’s lack of familiarity with voter registration and absentee voting records, which are the jurisdiction of the county clerks, apparently lead to her inability to definitively say what she had found.

In debriefing with her and the other county clerks on July 31, 2012, it was our hope that the Clerk of the County of Hawaii had come to the realization that

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she needed to communicate with the Office of Elections and the other county clerks, and that she would benefit from the institutional knowledge and election administration experience of these election administrators.

As we approached the Primary Election, on August 11, 2012, despite the representations by the County Clerk that everything was fine, I felt it important to send one of my veteran section heads to help trouble shoot any problems that might occur, as we had a new counting center manager. Additionally, I requested the Department of the Attorney General to assign a deputy attorney general to the Board of Registration that would be based in the County of Hawaii for the election.

What my staff witnessed was poor planning, implementation, and leadership by the County Clerk. Despite this, the hard working staff and volunteers did their best under the circumstances and were able to get through the election. Essentially, the County Clerk on election day is supposed to be like a field general with a plan of attack, who acts confidently, and has the support of his or her troops. The County Clerk was in no way, shape, or form that type of leader.

For example, the issue regarding the late opening of polls. While irregularities may happen on election day, as we are dealing with hundreds of stipended volunteers, and many moving parts, the County Clerk lacked the ability to definitively articulate the nature of the problem to the Office of Elections or the public. This resulted in the need for the Governor to conduct triage, in the form of an emergency proclamation, extending polling place hours, based on the limited information that she provided the Attorney General.

Specifically, the County Clerk at no specific time had a handle on how many polling places out of the forty in the county opened late. The election proclamation issued by the Governor refers to over half of the polling places in the County of Hawaii had not opened on time. The County Clerk initially reported three precincts had opened late, later on we were told by the Attorney General’s Office that they had been told twenty five by the County Clerk, and then later in the day we were told by the County Clerk that there were at least eleven but that she was still looking into it.

The public’s confidence in our elections was rocked by this election proclamation, which normally is only issued when a natural disaster or emergency occurs. The Governor did not lightly issue this proclamation and under the circumstances, he arguably had no other choice than to protect the rights of the voters, if the County Clerk’s general representations to Attorney General were correct.

Following the election, we waited for the County Clerk to follow up on her representation that she would follow up and get a more definite answer as to

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what the scope of the problem was. We heard nothing on Sunday or Monday from her regarding any further details. A statewide meeting, in Hilo, was scheduled for August 14, 2012 (Tuesday) with all the county clerks to debrief about the Primary Election.

During the meeting, the County Clerk still could not answer the question of how many polls had opened late. Additionally, she had no answers to why there had been problems with delivering supplies in West Hawaii to the polling places on election day. Her answers were essentially that she was still looking into it. In the end, we did not get the responses we expected from a county clerk, who had been entrusted with elections within her county.

Having said that, given that the public is asking and the fact that we needed to know what the scope of the opening of polls problem was, we immediately conducted our own investigation. Specifically, we took custody of the record books for all forty polling places in the County of Hawaii. We also, immediately began calling every precinct chairperson in the County of Hawaii to get answers, with calls being made that evening and the following morning.

The result of that investigation, which was completed the following morning, after reviewing the records books and the notes from the telephone calls, was that a total of thirteen polling places out of forty polling places opened late. However, of those thirteen polling places, four opened between 7:01 a.m. and 7:03 a.m., five opened no later 7:30 a.m., two opened no later than 8:00 a.m., and the final two opened at 8:40 a.m. A copy of the spreadsheet showing the exact opening times for each polling place is attached.

Our review of what transpired in the County of Hawaii focused on two things. First, was the conduct of the 2012 Primary Election defensible under the law? Second, did the conduct of the County Clerk unnecessarily undermine the public’s confidence in our electoral system?

In regards to the first question, our initial review of the matter indicates that the irregularities complained of, while unfortunate, do not rise to the level of changing the election results. Specifically, irregularities must involve sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the irregularities complained of could have caused a difference in the election results. Sufficient evidence requires something more than a “mere fishing expedition undertaken in the hope that in an examination of all the ballots enough might be discovered to change the result.” Brown v. Iaukea, 18 Haw. 131, 133 (1906). Additionally, any challenger would need to show “actual information of mistakes or errors sufficient to change the result.” Funakoshi, 65 Haw. at 316-17 (citing Iaukea, 18 Haw. at 133). Further, a challenge cannot be based on “mere belief or indefinite information.” Akaka, 84 Hawai`i at 388 (citing Kulike v. Fern, 19 Haw. 278, 283 (1909)).

Ultimately, the Hawaii Supreme Court has determined that “[i]n the absence of facts showing that irregularities exceed the reported margin between the candidates,

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the complaint is legally insufficient because, even if its truth were assumed, the result of the election would not be affected.” Akaka, 84 Hawai`i at 388 (internal citations omitted). In the present case, the irregularities complained of do not appear to be legally sufficient to change the election results.

As for the question of whether the conduct of the County Clerk unnecessarily undermined the public’s confidence in our electoral system, the answer is unfortunately yes, for the reasons previously noted. This cannot be allowed to happen again. The County Clerk must rededicate herself to mastering election administration or at the very minimum to surround herself with individuals with expertise in election administration. Additionally, the County Clerk must work on learning to communicate effectively and in a timely manner to other members of the election community and to the public as a whole. We look forward to continuing to work with the Office of the County Clerk, so as to learn from the events of the Primary Election, and to ensure a well administered General Election.

The OFFICIAL TIMES OF THE OPENING OF THE PRECINCTS ON THE BIG ISLAND:


 


Big Island Traffic Fatalities Surpass Totals for All of Last Year

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri has issued a personal plea for all Big Island motorists to drive with extreme caution, as traffic fatalities so far this year have already surpassed the totals for all of last year and approached the totals for all of 2010.

As of August 8, 24 people have died on Hawai‘i County roads this year. That compares with 22 deaths for all of 2011 and 27 deaths for all of 2010.

Police analysis of the traffic fatalities during the past 2 ½ years shows that the following substances have been factors in the following number of fatal crashes:

  • Alcohol – 35 (30 drivers and 5 pedestrians)
  • Prescription drugs – 21 (20 drivers and 1 pedestrian)
  • Marijuana – 17 (16 drivers and 1 pedestrian)
  • Methamphetamine – 6
  • Amphetamine – 4
  • Cocaine -1

In many cases, multiple substances were factors in the same crash. The above figures don’t include impaired passengers who may have contributed to traffic fatalities. In some of the more recent crashes, police have not yet received toxicology results to determine whether dangerous substances contributed to the tragedies, so the substance count could increase.

Other contributing factors in the fatalities were speed (23) and not wearing a seat belt (25) or a motorcycle helmet (13).

The victims in the fatalities ranged from 6 months old to 88 years old. Their deaths caused unspeakable pain to their families and friends.

Police are stepping up DUI enforcement, but it will take a community effort to reduce the traffic death toll. Chief Kubojiri reminds members of the public to arrange for a designated driver if they plan to drink alcohol. He urges motorists to remember when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle that they and their fellow motorists are operating lethal machinery.

“Try to anticipate erratic driving and be mentally prepared for unexpected dangers,” Kubojiri said. “Practice safe, defensive driving and help reduce needless loss of life. Together, all of us can make a difference as we travel our Big Island roadways.”

Five Mountains Hawaii Launches New Underage Drinking Prevention Program

Five Mountains Hawai‘i, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in Waimea, has been contracted by the County of Hawai‘i, to implement a public awareness and coalition building campaign to prevent underage drinking.  The $100,000 contract is part of the Hawai‘i Strategic Prevention Framework-State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG).

“Five Mountains Hawai‘i is grateful for the support of Hawai‘i County and the SPF-SIG program, and we are excited to have the chance to expand this important messaging,” said Five Mountains Hawai‘i Executive Director Robin Mullin.  “Our goal is to change or at least challenge the ‘perceived norms’ that tend to glamorize underage drinking.  Using several broad strategies, we hope to increase awareness, provide information and build capacity of our youth leaders.”

Five Mountains Hawai‘i, its contractors and youth members are building a branded public awareness media campaign with two branches, one for youth, one for parents/caregivers.  Several Hawai‘i Island youth groups are participants in the SPF-SIG program, and were on the creative team which named the campaigns:  “Be Akamai NO Try” for youth and “Models Not Bottles” for adults.

The campaigns launched with two new websites, social media, a communications workshop, and print, online and broadcast advertising, including radio/television commercials created by our youth.  Other elements include a tee-shirt promotion and island-wide information resource centers.  Free town hall meetings and screenings of an original documentary film “Perils and Pearls in Paradise” are scheduled for Kona, July 23, Hilo, July 27 and Waimea August 3.

“The good news is, about 75% of students (grades 6-12) in Hawai‘i County reported that their parents think it’s very wrong to drink,” said Mullin.  “The not-so-good news is that parents were also ranked the highest source of exposure to alcohol for all 6th – 12th graders.” Mullin said the statistics in use were drawn from County of Hawai‘i: Epidemiological Profile of Alcohol Related Behaviors Among Youth, Spring 2007; current revision May 2010, prepared by: SPF-SIG Epidemiological Team.  “We will be working hard to improve that and other statistics, as measures of underage drinking prevention.”

This project is an equal opportunity program funded through the County of Hawai‘I Mayor’s Office, Hawai‘i Department of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Center for Substance Abuse Prevention: Strategic Prevention Framework – State Incentive Grant SPO 13944.

For more information, visit www.FiveMountains.org or  www.ModelsNotBottles.org

County of Hawaii, Hawaii Tourism Authority and Friends of Hawaii Charities Award Needed Funds to Volcano Art Center

Rain showers are nothing new for the Big Island’s Volcano Village, but for one local nonprofit, fresh grant funding has been pouring in along with all the wet weather. Volcano Art Center (VAC) has recently been awarded three new grants to expand their education, outreach and forest restoration programs.

Hawaii County has just approved VAC’s request to create a Hawaii Island Network of Artists (HINA) economic impact report and website, awarding $21,250 to help fund the undertaking. Particularly strong in arts administration, including sales, education and promotion, VAC is already positioned to research, promote, perpetuate and document the expanding community of artists throughout Hawaii County.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) states in their 2008 report, Artists in the Workforce, that the State of Hawaii ranks #3 per capita of the 50 states with fine artists and craftspeople. According to their report, nearly 15 of every 10,000 residents is an artist.

“Given our involvement with this community, we are certain Hawaii Island has far more than 270 visual and fine artists,” reported VAC CEO Tanya Aynessazian. “Our research will provide the County and State with the documentation they need to promote Hawaii as an arts destination, directly benefit local artists and enhance our island economy.”

Hawaii’s state tourism agency, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), awarded VAC with a $35,527 grant to continue the Volcano Rain Forest Restoration and Education project that has been active since 2006. The funding enables VAC to serve as stewards of the Niaulani Rain Forest, a 5.5 acre old-growth native forest in Volcano Village that makes up most of the land on which the organization houses its administrative campus.

Preserving the forest for future generations requires VAC to assume the unending responsibility of controlling about 30 non-native plants. They have smartly involved community volunteers in ongoing restoration efforts and service learning opportunities, and offer free guided tours on Mondays and Saturdays to bring even more awareness to this rare Hawaiian treasure.

VAC will soon be offering a Youth Media Arts program thanks to another grant of $5,000 awarded by Friends of Hawaii Charities. Funds will be used to purchase equipment for an open Media Arts Lab, and to provide classes, courses and workshops in digital photography, storyboarding, storytelling, camera and film basics, and filmmaking. Intended for youth ages 5 to 19, technical aspects of photography and video production will be taught with an emphasis on how media enhances education, awareness and community.

Volcano Art Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created in 1974 whose mission is to promote, develop and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii through the arts and education.