Coast Guardsman Convicted of Lewd Act on Minor

A Coast Guardsman was convicted of committing a lewd act on a minor and other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice during a general court-martial at the United States District Court – District of Hawaii Thursday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Shane E. Reese was found guilty of Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for committing a lewd act on a minor on the Island of Oahu between January and May 2013.

Reese was also found guilty of Article 134 for threats to the victim, Article 107 for making false official statements during the course of the investigation, and Article 112a for wrongful possession, distribution and use of marijuana.

He was sentenced to five years confinement in a military brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reduction to paygrade E-1, the military’s lowest enlisted grade.

While awaiting court-martial, Reese served at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point as an aviation maintenance technician and was assigned to the unit at the time of the offenses.

According the the Coast Guard Facebook page:

Petty Officer 1st Class Shane E. Reese was found guilty of Article 120b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for committing a lewd act on a minor on the Island of Oahu between January and May 2013.
Reese was also found guilty of Article 134 for threats to the victim, Article 107 for making false official statements during the course of the investigation, and Article 112a for wrongful possession, distribution and use of marijuana.

He was sentenced to five years confinement in a military brig, a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a reduction to paygrade E-1, the military’s lowest enlisted grade.
While awaiting court-martial, Reese served at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point as an aviation maintenance technician and was assigned to the unit at the time of the offenses.

Lava Flow Bypasses the Pahoa Transfer Station For Now

The June 27 Lava Flow has moved past the Pahoa Transfer Station and is now moving down slope towards Pahoa Village Road.

“This map uses a satellite image acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The area of the flow on October 25, 2014, at 5:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on October 26 at 12:30 PM is shown in red. The dotted blue lines show steepest-descent paths in the area, calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM).”

Civil Defense Update on Eruption and Lava Flow

This is a civil defense message.

Civildefense

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Wednesday September 10th at 8:15 AM.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving in a north/northeast direction.  There is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  Due to a light inversion this morning smoke conditions in the area were moderate.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

The surface flow has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday.  The surface flow is moving slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .6 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north/northeast direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

Mayor Kenoi Statement on FEMA Denial of Funds for Iselle Victims

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for individual assistance:

“We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.”

Video – Hurricane Iselle Damage & Recovery in Puna, Hawaii

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Iselle devastated Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014.

Fragile invasive albizia trees shattered, downing utility lines and blocking major roads.

Falling Branches

The storm surge at Kapoho flooded and demolished homes. The community immediately started to pitch in with food, water, and ice. The government efficiently organized resources, and cleared roads and beach parks and HELCO is working overtime to get electricity back to folks systematically.

Much mahalos to everyone for your aloha spirit during this challenging time. Imua!

Medical Marijuana Policy Advocates Announce Series of August Events on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (co-founders of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii) have announced three free, public events on medical marijuana policy in August.

Medical Marijuana Meetings

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested by 8/20, walk ins welcome, space permitting. RSVP for any event to: office@acluhawaii.org or call (808) 522-5906. Neighbor Islands call toll free, 1-877-544-5906. All venues ADA-accessible, request special accommodation by 8/18.

  • Oahu, Saturday, 8/23/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” featuring Robert Jacob, Mayor of Sebastopol, CA and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a non-profit healing center and cannabis dispensary, and James Anthony, a former Oakland City prosecutor, now a full time attorney specialized in medical cannabis dispensary land use law. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Blaisdell Center Maui Room (second floor), 777 Ward Avenue.
  • Hilo, Sunday, 8/24/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” repeats. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani Street.
  • Kona, Friday, 8/29/14: “Medical Marijuana TalkStory”. A free form conversation among patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates conducted by staff of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. 2pm to 4pm at the Royal Kona Resort, in the Resolution Room. 75-5852 Ali‘i Drive.

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

Civil Defense Update for Hurricane Iselle

This is a civil defense message.

This is a Hurricane Warning information update for Wednesday August 6th at 12:00 Noon.

Hurriane Iselle

The National Weather Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for  the Island of Hawaii remains in effect.  A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions can be expected within the next 36 hours.  The hurricane conditions will include high surf and surge along all coastal areas, heavy rains and possible thunder showers that may present with flood conditions, and sustained storm force winds of over 75 mph and higher gusts.  Residents and visitors are advised to take precautions and to prepare for hazardous conditions.  Boat owners are advised to check moorings and to secure all vessels.  All preparation activities should be completed before tonight.  Hurricane Iselle continues to be monitored and is currently located approximately 625 miles east southeast of Hilo and moving west northwest at 16 miles per hour.  Although hurricane Iselle had previously shown signs of weakening current assessment show the system is maintaining hurricane force conditions.  Hurricane Iselle will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be broadcasted as information is made available.  All schools are open today however the following schools will be closing at 2:00 PM today and the after school programs and activities at these schools will be suspended:

  • Laupahoehoe School
  • Kohala HS & Elem.
  • Kealakehe HS
  • Konawaena HS
  • Hilo HS
  • Waiakea HS
  • Keaau HS
  • Pahoa HS & Int
  • Honokaa HS & Int
  • Kau HS
  • Waikoloa Elem

The department of Education reports that all Hawaii Island Schools will be closed tomorrow Thursday August 7th.

In addition, all beach parks will be closed effective tonight and remain closed until conditions improve and it is safe to reopen.

Updated information for the Big Island, Maui county and the surrounding coastal waters.

Situation overview

Iselle is expected to bring heavy rains, high surf and damaging winds. Hurricane conditions are expected on the Big Island of Hawaii on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are expected to spread to Maui county Thursday night and possibly to Oahu on Friday. Swells generated by Iselle are expected to reach the main Hawaiian islands today, possibly becoming damaging along some coastlines starting late tonight or Thursday. High surf is expected to reach the islands ahead of the heavy rains and strong winds. The high surf may bring coastal flooding, particularly when combined with afternoon astronomical high tides.

While there is still some uncertainty in the exact track and strength of Iselle, the Big Island and Maui are expected to be impacted first. The rest of the state remains at Risk to experience the impacts of Iselle.

Hawaii State Closing Areas in Preparation of Hurricane Iselle

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is advising the public to follow instructions of State Civil Defense and County Civil Defense agencies to prepare for the possibility of heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, power outages, large surf and coastal surge with the arrival of tropical storm system Iselle as early as Thursday on the Big Island.

Iselle

Both Iselle, and Julio in its wake, are evolving storm systems whose track and intensity may be affected by various weather factors. However, people should heed National Weather Service reports and be ready in event of emergency situations.

DLNR is asking for the public’s cooperation with this announcement of area closures as the storms approach. Additional closures may follow as the storms approach. People are advised to avoid forested and coastal areas due to potential for rising streams, flash flooding, falling trees or high surf.

Areas closing on Wednesday August 6:
Hawaii – By 6 p.m., Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will close all of its managed lands, including forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural area reserves, Na Ala Hele hiking trails, game management areas, including Keanakolu cabins, Ainapo hiking trail, Muliwai trail and Waimanu valley campground until further notice. DOFAW has suspended issuing camping permits.

Maui County – By 6 p.m., Maui DOFAW will close all of its managed lands, including forest reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, natural area reserves, Na Ala Hele hiking trails, game management areas (including Lanai GMA); this closure also affects Polipoli State Park (persons with camping permits are being notified).

Oahu – DOFAW has closed the Peacock Flats camping area to hiking and camping, and the Manoa Falls trail.

Kauai – By 6 p.m. DOFAW camping areas, including Waimea Canyon, Alakai Wilderness, Sugi Grove and Kawaikoi will be closed. As of Wednesday morning, Division of State Parks will close Napali Coast State Wilderness Park and the Kalalau trail will be closed to entering hikers. Trail closed signs will be posted at the Kalalau trailhead. State Parks will send a helicopter out on Wednesday to warn campers at Kalalau beach to evacuate or shelter in place.

Division of State Parks is suspending issuance of any new park camping permits statewide that would begin before Tuesday August 12th. This directive may be modified island by island as the track of the storms and their effects become known.

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) does not plan to close any state small boat harbors but is advising boaters to monitor VHF radio for Coast Guard information on port closures and other safety advisories.

Hurricane #Iselle School Closures and Emergency Shelters Being Set Up

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is scheduling closures at designated public schools in advance of storms Iselle and Julio.

DOE ReleaseOn Thursday, Aug. 7, all public schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) will be closed. All other public schools will remain open and continue their regular school schedule and afterschool activities.

School closures are being made according to the storms’ paths and in preparation of designated emergency shelter sites.

“The force of these storms remain uncertain, however, we do not want to wait until last minute to close our schools,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Additionally, many of our schools are designated emergency shelters and it is necessary to prepare these facilities as the storms approach.”

State and County Civil Defense officials expect Iselle to impact Hawaii Island and Maui County (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) on Thursday. Julio is forecasted to impact the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday.

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 6: The following Hawaii County public schools, which are designated emergency shelters, will close at 2 p.m. This means all afterschool activities for students and staff are canceled at these schools, as well as any scheduled public meetings:

  • Laupahoehoe
  • Kohala High & Elementary
  • Kealakehe High (pet friendly)
  • Konawaena High (pet friendly)
  • Hilo High (pet friendly)
  • Waiakea High (pet friendly)
  • Keaau High (pet friendly)
  • Pahoa High & Intermediate (pet friendly)
  • Honokaa High & Intermediate (pet friendly)
  • Kau High (pet friendly)
  • Waikoloa Elementary

THURSDAY, AUG. 7: All public schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) will be closed.

FRIDAY, AUG. 8: The schools in Hawaii and Maui Counties that are designated emergency shelters will remain closed on Friday. The Hawaii County schools are listed above, Maui County designated shelters are:

  • Baldwin High
  • Lokelani Intermediate
  • Kekaulike High
  • Hana High & Elementary
  • Molokai High
  • Kilohana Elementary

In Hawaii County, three complex areas serve more than 23,000 students: Hilo-Laupahoehoe-Waiakea (7,864), Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena (10,167), Kau-Keaau-Pahoa (5,414). There are more than 21,000 students in Maui County on three islands. Statewide, the DOE serves about 185,000 students at 289 public schools and charter schools.

DOE officials continue to meet with State Civil Defense and are closely monitoring the storms’ patterns. Information regarding public schools and afterschool activities will be announced as needed.

For updated information, follow the DOE on Twitter at @HIDOE808.

Hawaii Missed Opportunities to Improve Drinking Water Infrastructure

Millions of dollars in federal funds intended for drinking water projects in Hawaii and four other states have sat unspent, according to a federal report.

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA's OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren't compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states.  Click to view report

The report, issued July 16, follows one in 2011 in which the EPA’s OIG said the DWSRF program was not doing enough to find water systems that weren’t compliant with regulations and could benefit from the program. The EPA provides the DWSRF funds to the states. Click to view report

The Office of Inspector General for the Environmental Protection Agency said it found that five states reviewed — Missouri, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico — have $231 million in unspent balances above the goal level in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans for cities, towns and local water districts to make drinking water infrastructure improvements.

We found that the EPA and the five states we reviewed took many actions to reduce DWSRF unliquidated balances, but those actions have not reduced DWSRF unliquidated balances to the goal of below 13 percent of the cumulative federal capitalization grants awarded.

For the period we examined the five states reviewed — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Missouri and New Mexico — executed small numbers of loans each year and did not maximize the use of all DWSRF resources, including capitalization grant awards. State programs reviewed were not adequately projecting the DWSRF resources that would be available in the future to enable the states to anticipate the amount of projects needed to be ready for loan execution in a given year.

As a result, $231 million of capitalization grant funds remained idle, loans were not issued, and communities were not able to implement needed drinking water improvements.

We also noted that states’ project lists included in the capitalization grant application —called fundable lists —did not reflect projects that would be funded in the current year and overestimated the number of projects that will receive funding.

Less than one-third of the projects on the fundable lists we reviewed resulted in executed DWSRF loans during the current grant year.

We found that, generally, these states did not have a consistent “ready-to-proceed” definition.

When projects are not ready to proceed, expected environmental benefits are delayed.

Because states use the fundable lists to justify their annual capitalization grants, the fundable lists should communicate to the EPA and the public the projects that will be funded with taxpayer money.

Recommendations and Planned Corrective Actions

  • We recommend that the Assistant Administrator for Water require states with unliquidated obligations that exceed the Office of Water’s 13-percent-cutoff goal to project future cash flows to ensure funds are expended as efficiently as possible.
  • We also recommend that the Assistant Administrator develop guidance for states on what projects are to be included on the fundable lists and require regions, when reviewing capitalization grant applications, to ensure states are complying with the guidance.

The EPA agreed to take sufficient corrective actions on most of the recommendations.  The EPA still needs to take steps to ensure states have adopted the EPA’s guidance on the definition of “ready to proceed.

Hawaii’s Waitlist Trend Increased; Hospital Stays Shorter but Still Longer than Average

Statewide, between 6.9 and 7.8 percent of hospital admissions were waitlisted —that is, remaining in the hospital after the need for acute care ceases—over a five year period (2006-2011), according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Click to read report

Click to read report

Waitlist patients are those needing treatment after hospital discharge, but not at the severity level that requires inpatient care.  These patients often continue to stay in a hospital because there are limited available community placement options that meet the patient’s needs.

For Hawaii’s neighbor islands, however, the waitlist patterns are significantly different. On Maui, the rate ranged between 12 and 16 percent, whereas on Kauai, the rates varied between 8 and 10.5 percent. Except for 2007 and 2009 (7.7 and 9.2 percent, respectively), Hawaii Island’s rate was similar to the Oahu rate of 6 to 7 percent.

While there were more waitlisted patients statewide in 2011 than in 2006, they experienced shorter hospital stays, according to the HHIC analysis.  Compared to 2006 data, HHIC found that the 2011 average length of stay (ALOS) for waitlisted patients decreased 25 percent, from 21.7 to 16.5 days, across all counties except Maui, which increased 12 percent, from 16.8 to 18.8 days.

However, the ALOS for waitlist patients is still more than the average non-waitlisted patient—nearly four times longer. HHIC found that the risk of a patient being waitlisted increased with age and increased significantly with each decade of life.

Neighbor island hospitals experienced a higher cost and volume of waitlist patients than Oahu with chronic-related disease conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative nervous system disorders and diabetes.

Bed availability does not appear to be a problem as there was an 11 percent increase in the number of long-term care beds statewide between 2006 and 2011. Appropriately matching the health needs of a waitlisted patient with a sufficiently staffed bed is likely an issue.

The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentally illness in managing their other medical conditions.

“Our analyses make clear that the waitlist problem exists statewide but that has very special dimensions on each island,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Efforts by health plans, hospitals and other providers and community agencies need to take into account this variation as they work together to solve this vexing problem.”

About the Data
Findings are based on data collected from all hospitals across the state, except Tripler Army Medical Center.  The report was prepared based on funding provided by Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser-Permanente, AlohaCare, Ohana Healthcare and United Healthcare, in an attempt to provide a clear description of Hawaii’s waitlist population and estimate the financial impact on Hawaii’s hospitals.

About HHIC/Health Knuggets
Established in 1994, HHIC maintains one of the largest comprehensive health care databases in the state, comprised of local and national inpatient, emergency department, ambulatory care, financial data and other data. The research and data compiled are analyzed and disseminated statewide and are used to help shape healthcare policy and educate decision makers, health care providers and industry experts. Through HHIC Knowledge Nuggets, the organization seeks to inform the public about important healthcare topics. For more information, visit www.hhic.org.

Meet Lava – Hawaii’s Tweeting Two-Colored-Faced Cat

Ok… well every once in a while I come across something pretty strange.  Tonight I think I out did myself.  Meet “Lava” the Tweeting Two-Colored-Face Cat from Honolulu, Hawaii:

Lava's Twitter "Profile" picture

Lava’s Twitter “Profile” picture

Lava tweets about everything a normal cat would… things like the thing she tweeted today:
Lava Tweet 1Lava bills herself as a “Hot Hawaiian Adventure Cat” and seems to live quite the lifestyle:
Lava Tweet 2The owner of the cat said that she named her “Lava” because she looked like lava pouring.  You can check out her entire series of tweets here @ohmylava.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

Her first tweets were on Valentines day.

She is only followed by 54 folks at this time… but I expect her to soon beat out Justin Bieber for followers… LOL!

Report Shows Access Learning Pilot Enhances Teaching and Student Learning

A first-year report on the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Access Learning pilot presented to the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) today shows the initiative is helping to reduce burden on teachers, increase student engagement and responsibility, and improve parents’ support of public schools.

Click to view the report

Click to view the report

Last year, the DOE unveiled Access Learning, a pilot project to study the impact of technology and digital curricular resources on teaching and learning, at eight schools. This initiative takes advantage of ongoing Department efforts such as new technology for learning while addressing challenges facing our public schools. Access Learning does not focus on the device, rather on how technology can be a tool to support teachers’ efforts to personalize instruction and engage students.

Monanalua Middle School Principal Lisa Nagamine told the BOE, “Access Learning has enhanced the collaborative learning environment of our school.”

Moanalua Middle is one of the eight Access Learning schools that has incorporated technology for learning at all levels within its campus, not just the student level.

“The dedication and commitment by the school leaders, staff, and students allowed us to see the full potential of this initiative and its impact on student learning,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We appreciate their input and based on the positive results, hope to increase access to digital learning in all schools in the near future.”

Information and data collected from the eight Access Learning schools from October 2013 through April 2014 revealed:

  • Teachers use computers in a wide variety of ways to improve job performance and teaching – and that usage has increased since an initial survey was done last fall.
  • Teachers believe access to technology will benefit English language learners and special education students.
  • Students reported having positive experiences with the program. More than 90 percent of students surveyed say laptops make schoolwork more interesting and better prepare them for the future.
  • Students reported computers help them to be more organized and finish work more quickly and with better quality. Access to technology also made assignments a lot more fun by creating blogs, slideshows, movie trailers, and usage of other media.
  • Laptops allowed for better peer collaboration during project work and completing homework.
  • Parents believe computers help students gain a better insight into the happenings of the classroom and learn essential skills to compete globally.

“The 1-to-1 laptop program has improved education opportunities for students,” noted one parent. “The school has finally caught up with private schools.”

“I have seen increased student engagement in classwork because their computer allows them to have a ‘voice’ at the same time as everyone else. Less students are distracted or off task. (This) has allowed students to work more collaboratively in and out of the classroom setting,” one teacher reported.

The 2013 Legislature appropriated $8.2 million to the DOE for the pilot, which funded computers for teachers and students, technical support, professional development, and also helped offset curriculum and implementation expenses. In addition to Moanalua Middle, Access Learning pilot schools include Keaau Elementary and Pahoa Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, and Nanakuli Intermediate and High.

Pilot schools received devices for every student and teacher equipped with Hawaii Common Core-aligned digital curriculum for English Language Arts. The DOE partnered with county police departments to safeguard the computers, all of which are equipped with advanced security tracking software. As a result, the schools reported a combined theft and loss rate of only six computers (less than 1 percent).

Due to funding requirements, the Department was given a very short window to implement the initiative and the report noted those challenges. Teachers expressed frustration with limited time for professional development sessions. View the full report here.

During the past legislative session, DOE requested funding for ongoing Access Learning technical assistance and professional development. The budget request was denied; however, DOE officials worked with and received approval from the BOE to expend funding to continue technical assistance for the pilot schools through FY15. The funding request to the BOE will provide customized professional development for schools, overall and school specific program evaluation for formative purposes, and support for project management. For more information about the program, see the DOE’s Access Learning page.

Hawaii’s State Debt Now Represents 92% of the Average Taxpayer’s Income

Hawaii’s mounting state debt now represents $41,300 per taxpayer, the second highest in the country. This, according to Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab, which calculates the Per Taxpayer Burden (the debt remaining after all assets are tapped) for all 50 states.

income

According to Truth in Accounting, the five states with the highest Per Taxpayer Burden are Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut, Kentucky, and New Jersey. With the average income in Hawaii at approximately $44,767, the Per Taxpayer Burden represents approximately 92% of the average income.

The continued growth of the state’s debt has caused some to ponder the viability of current spending practices and state benefits.

“Hawaii’s Taxpayer Burden is one of the 5 highest across the 50 states, and has increased every year since 2009.  Most of Hawaii’s debt is unfunded retiree pension and healthcare benefits, left for tomorrow’s taxpayers who may not receive services today’s taxpayers should have fully paid for,” stated Donna Rook, President of StateDataLab.org.

“It is time to face some hard truths when it comes to government spending,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Hawaii’s unfunded liabilities threaten to sink our future. We cannot pass such a burden on to the next generation, but must make the hard decisions that will ensure the fiscal health of our state for decades to come. I urge our state’s policymakers to put aside partisanship and embrace a ‘best practices’ plan of action that reduces our state debt.”

Big Island Police Conducting DUI Checkpoints This Weekend

With the approach of the long Fourth of July weekend and the continuation of graduation parties, Hawaiʻi Island police will be on alert to help prevent tragedy on our roads.

HPDBadgeOfficers will conduct DUI checkpoints and roving patrols beginning Thursday, July 3, and continuing through Sunday, July 6. The effort is part of a national and statewide campaign called “Drunk Driving: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

Driving under the influence of alcohol presents a potential danger to every motorist, passenger and pedestrian the driver encounters. Already this year, Hawaiʻi Island police have made more than 600 DUI arrests, and seven people have died in traffic fatalities.

The Hawaiʻi Police Department wishes everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend.

Department of Education Reminds Parents About Kindergarten Requirements

With public school slated to start in a month on August 1, the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is reminding parents about the new kindergarten requirements.

DOE ReleaseStarting this school year, children must be 5 years old on or before July 31 to enter kindergarten. Also, kindergarten is now mandatory in the State of Hawaii. Children who meet the age eligibility requirements for kindergarten may enroll in school anytime.

Parents of children born on or after August 1, 2009 have several options such as pre-school at a private provider or pre-kindergarten classes at select schools. Earlier this year, the State’s Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL) announced 21 pre-kindergarten classrooms will be available at 18 schools statewide for children born on or between August 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010, and who are eligible for free- and reduced-price meals. Priority will be given to children born in 2009 to enroll in these pre-kindergarten classes. More information on the EOEL’s pre-kindergarten classes can be found at http://earlylearning.hawaii.gov/doe-eoel-prekindergarten-program/.

Parents whose children attended kindergarten outside of Hawaii, or at a private school in the 2013-14 school year can discuss enrollment options with their home school. Despite the many possible placement scenarios, the final decision for a child’s placement will be based on the principal’s discussions among the appropriate teaching staff and parents.

“We encourage parents to be aware of the changes and take appropriate action for their children,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Kindergarten is a critical time in ensuring children have a solid academic foundation.”

For more information about enrolling in kindergarten in the State of Hawaii, please visit our website at HawaiiPublicSchools.org, and enter “kindergarten” in the white search box on the home page. Parents can also search under “enrolling in school” to be sure they have the necessary documents to enroll their child, including birth certificate, tuberculosis clearance, a completed student health record, and proof of current address.

Proportion of People Living In Poverty in Hawaii Declines

One in four U.S. residents live in “poverty areas,” according to American Community Survey data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 2008 to 2012, up from less than one in five in 2000. These areas of concentrated poverty refer to any census tract with a poverty rate of 20 percent of more. The number of people living in poverty areas increased from 49.5 million (18.0 percent) in 2000 to 77.4 million (25.7 percent) in 2008-2012. The 2012 American Community Survey five-year estimates show a U.S. poverty rate of 14.9 percent.

Click to read full report

Click to read full report

While for most areas the percent of people living in poverty areas increased, some parts of the country moved in the opposite direction of the nation’s 7.6 percentage points increase. In Louisiana (-3.6 percentage points), West Virginia (-2.3), Alaska (-0.4), Hawaii (-1.0) and the District of Columbia (-6.7), the proportion of people living in poverty areas declined over the period. On the other hand, Arkansas (15.7 percentage points), North Carolina (17.9), Oregon (16.0) and Tennessee (16.0) had among the largest percentage point increases in the proportion of people living in poverty areas.

By state, according to the 2008-2012 figures, the percentage of people living in a poverty area ranged from 6.8 percent in New Hampshire to 48.5 percent in Mississippi.

Page 3 of report

Page 3 of report

The report, Changes in Areas with Concentrated Poverty: 2000 to 2010, uses data from the 2000 Census and the American Community Survey to analyze changes in the spatial distribution and socio-economic characteristics of people living in such areas. More than half of people living in poverty lived in a poverty area, and about 30 percent of people living in poverty areas had incomes below the poverty level.

“Researchers have found that living in poor neighborhoods adds burdens to low-income families, such as poor housing conditions and fewer job opportunities,” said the report’s author, Alemayehu Bishaw of the Census Bureau’s Poverty Statistics Branch. “Many federal and local government agencies use the Census Bureau’s definition of poverty areas to provide much-needed resources to communities with a large concentration of people in poverty.”

Other highlights:

  • In the 2008-2012 period, in 14 states and the District of Columbia, 30 percent or more of the population lived in poverty areas. In 2000, this was true of four states and the District of Columbia.
  • Of the people living in poverty areas in the 2008-2012 period, 51.1 percent lived in central cities of metro areas, 28.6 percent in suburbs and 20.4 percent outside metro areas. (In the report, the term “suburbs” refers to areas that are inside metropolitan statistical areas but outside the central or principal cities.)
  • Many of the counties with 80 percent or more of the population living in poverty areas were clustered in and around American Indian reservations (in New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota and North Dakota) or in the Mississippi delta region (which includes portions of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas).
  • About 38 percent of all families headed by a female householder with no husband present lived in a poverty area, the largest proportion among all family types.
  • Blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and those in the “some other race” category were the race groups most likely to live in poverty areas, at 50.4 percent, 47.8 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. Whites, however, experienced the largest percentage point increase in the proportion living in poverty areas over the 2000 to 2008-2012 period. The percent of whites living in poverty areas increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2008-2012.
  • Employed people saw a larger increase in the percentage of people living in poverty areas than the unemployed over this period — 8.0 percentage points versus 3.4 percentage points.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.

Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation’s people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to “adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community,” and over the decades allow America “an opportunity of marking the progress of the society.”

“ROAST & ROOTS” – Mark Yamanaka and Raiatea Helm to Perform at Festival of Hawai‘i Flavors

Capping off a festive celebration of Hawaii’s most ‘ono foods and coffees, Grammy nominee and twice Female Vocalist of the Year, Raiatea Helm is the icing on the cake. The first-ever “Roast & Roots” food event on Saturday, July 19, 2014, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay’s Convention Center, serves up a family-friendly festival with arts and food booths, cooking demos, competitions and all-day entertainment, wrapped up with an intimate concert in the afternoon.

Roast & Roots

Hosted by Hawai‘i Coffee Association (HCA) in alignment with their 19th annual conference, Roast & Roots is a collaborative project between HCA, Kamehameha Schools and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. Events of the day include a “Buy Local” MarketPlace, Coffee Corridor, exciting People’s Choice Cupping Contest, a “mystery box” demo by Chef Sam Choy, and an exciting Chef-Student Culinary Competition. Abundant entertainment throughout the day includes music by Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner Mark Yamanaka, Kaleo Perry and Dennis Garcia, leading up to Raiatea Helm in concert at 2 p.m.

Mark Yamanaka

Mark Yamanaka at the 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

Known for her soaring lyrics and intricate musicianship, Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm is winner of eight Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation fellowship in music. Beginning her musical career in high school, Helm has captured hearts in Hawai‘i and across the continent and the Pacific, playing to packed houses in Tahiti, Japan and China. Adding her Hawaiian musical flavor to the event seasons it with everything Hawai‘i Island loves: great food, music and family fun.

In the hours leading up to Helm’s performance, families and friends will have numerous opportunities to taste and purchase local food products and peruse the works of Island artisans, including those in the Kona Coffee community in the Coffee Corridor. Additionally, food booths presented by the host hotel and participating chefs and restaurants offer a delicious sampling of dishes from regional ingredients on land and sea.

Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm

Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm

Highlighting the Culinary Competition, Roast & Roots pairs up six local chefs with six culinary students from Hawaiʻi Community College at the University of Hawai‘i Center, West Hawaiʻi and Konawaena, Kealakehe and Waiakea High Schools. Teams will use local Hawai‘i Island proteins such as grassfed beef from Hawaii Beef Producers, local pork from Kulana Foods and farm-raised lamb from Waiakea Uka Ranch and a fresh bounty of local Hawai‘i Island produce, to put their best plates forward.

Emcee for the culinary portion, Chef Sam Choy will share his mana‘o with the audience, and has offered to do a “live mystery box” demo, where he will prepare a dish on the spot, using ingredients that are secret to him until the box is opened onstage. Chef Scott Hiraishi will serve as the Lead Judge and Co-chair for the event. Student and chef pairings will be announced early in July.

Mayor Kenoi talks with Sam Choy outside the Sam Choy Poke Contest.

Mayor Kenoi talks with Sam Choy outside the Sam Choy Poke Contest.

Part of the Hawai‘i Coffee Association’s three-day annual conference, Roast & Roots invites the general public to experience some of HCA’s exciting and educational activities, as well as the expertise of Hawaii’s statewide coffee industry growers, processors, roasters, wholesalers and retailers. The annual conference includes workshops and seminars covering coffee cupping packaging, certification, legislative and industry updates, including reports from UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC).

Admission at the door is $5 per person, free for anyone under 17—includes Culinary Demonstration, Marketplace and Raiatea Helm Concert. No advance ticket sales. For more information, please contact Event Coordinator Tracey Apoliona, mkc01@hawaii.rr.com, (808) 960-3094 or visit www.Facebook.com/RoastandRoots.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force Formed

The Public Policy Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa is convening the Medical Marijuana Dispensary System Task Force to develop recommendations for the establishment of a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana to provide safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualified patients.

Medical Marijuana

The first meeting was held today, Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM in Conference Room 325 of the State Capitol Building.

The task force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2015.

For more information, please contact:

Susan M. Chandler, Public Policy Center · 956-4237

Representative Della Au Belatti, House Health Committee Chair · 586-9425

Peter Whiticar, Department of Health · 733-8443