Flags Ordered to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former Legislator Lisa Naito

In observance of the memory of former state Representative Lisa Naito, Governor Neil Abercrombie today ordered that all U.S. and Hawai’i flags at all State offices and agencies as well as the Hawai’i National Guard are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sunset on Friday, September 30, 2011.

“When Lisa entered a room, she made it brighter. She was always encouraging, and she had a deep sense of aloha for everyone,” Governor Abercrombie said.  “Lisa was the epitome of the public servant. Her empathy for the trials and tribulations of those she served set a standard.”

Naito, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was a newspaper correspondent in Paris and jazz singer with a band called the New Yorkers before arriving in Hawai’i in 1964 aboard a yacht that was sailing around the world. She was elected state representative of the Kaimuki-Kapahulu district in 1974 and re-elected in 1976. She later worked as a state social worker and was involved with several community organizations, including the Hawai’i Death with Dignity Society.

Admiral Willard Discusses the “Asia-Pacific U.S. Military Overview”

Admiral Robert Willard, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command discusses the “Asia-Pacific U.S. Military Overview” at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, D.C. on September 27, 2011.

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

Admiral Willard speaks to the media at the 2009 Cheif of Defense Conference

I remember when I was invited to meed Admiral Willard last year I was so nervous that I forgot to even ask him any questions!

At the Chief of Defense Conference held at a secret location on Oahu in 2009

With the upcoming 2011 APEC Conference… I’m sure the security is going to be even more tight then it was at this conference.

Video: When Donkeys Fly… The Kona Waikoloa Nightingales and Update From Mainland Ranch

After a year of planning and hard work, 119 Waikoloa Nightingales, wild Donkeys, were rounded up and taken to Kona Airport.

There they were put into special crates, 6 donkeys per crate, and flown to LAX then transported to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.

Here are some youtube clips I have come across of the removal process:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/aRCQzhdW2O4]

Fast forward on this next one to the :20 second mark for the beginning of it:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Ys9ozVNeyFc]

Keith Dane wrote a thanks you letter to the folks of the Big Island that included the following thoughts on the transfer:

Dear Waikoloa Donkey Project supporter,

I wanted to provide you with an update on the great news from Hawaii – and California – about the success of our donkey rescue and rehoming project thus far.  To date, nearly 400 donkeys have been removed from harm, spared from the threat of starvation or lethal eradication – with over half placed in loving homes in Hawaii, and 119 transported to California, where Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue will care for them while they await adoption or transfer to permanent sanctuary, at Eagle Eye Sanctuary in Northern CA and HSUS’s Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in TX…

…In less than two days, on August 27th and 28th, 165 donkeys in total were processed, including 98 castrated jacks and 67 jennies.  They were treated for parasites, checked for health concerns, and those bound for CA were microchipped and had blood drawn for Coggins tests (a requirement for entry into the state).  The clinic went extremely smoothly, with a well-prepared team in place including over two dozen local volunteers and the vet/tech team from CA, which was happy to have had the opportunity to help with the project.

Following a couple weeks’ rest/recovery period, a total of 119 donkeys (77 jacks and 42 jennies) were transported to CA last weekend, on September 16th.  A massive caravan of trucks and trailers carted them safely to Kona International Airport (where they were loaded by groups of 6 into large animal crates for boarding onto the aircraft) and were met –  following an uneventful flight – at LAX by a similar caravan orchestrated by Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue.  The entire group is settling into their new surroundings, where they’ll await adoption to good forever homes, or transfer to sanctuary…

More here: Mahalo Letter from Keith Dane, HSUS

For more information on the Kona Waikoloa Nightingales, check out Anika Glass’s Blog: Malama Waikoloa Nightingales.

Hawai’i Supreme Court Today Rejects HSTA’s Contention that Hawai’i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) is Not Appropriately Handling the Case

The Hawai’i Supreme Court today rejected the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s contention that the Hawai’i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) is not appropriately handling the case. The Supreme Court noted that the relief requested by HSTA, a petition for a writ of mandamus, is not appropriate in these circumstances.

Last week, the Hawai’i State Ethics Commission dismissed the HSTA’s complaint claiming that the State had improperly communicated with the HLRB.

Earlier this month, the HLRB also dismissed one of HSTA’s motions. In its ruling, the HLRB noted that the actions of HSTA amounted to “an egregious and reckless disregard for the truth” and “appear intended to mislead the board.”

Governor Neil Abercrombie today released the following statement:

“We respect and support teachers and their contributions. The tactics of the Hawai’i State Teachers Association and its attorneys are being rejected across the board by the legal system in every venue. These theatrics serve no public purpose and they undermine the fact that our students are in schools learning and our teachers are in classrooms teaching. We never received any proposed alternatives from HSTA after its board refused to submit our tentative agreement to the membership. It is time to move on.”

Councilman Pete Hoffman on the Demise of Impact Fees

Councilman Pete Hoffman

On 21 September, in a surprising reversal of its Planning Committee recommendation two weeks previous, the County Council voted five to four to defeat the long-anticipated Impact Fee legislation.

Despite the obvious need (expressed by almost everyone even remotely involved on this issue) to revamp the current ineffective ‘fair-share’ system, despite the benefit of continuous support (free of charge by the way) from the experts originally contracted by the County to study an Impact Fee, despite a further three page listing of suggested recommendations from the County’s Planning Director received only on 19 September, despite growing public approval for an Impact Fee proposal, and despite repeated explanations countering the numerous misunderstandings of some opponents, the Council terminated Bill 304 at First Reading.

Disappointment is the prevailing sentiment that characterizes this vote.  I’m disappointed that as a Council we are unable to address adequately the difficult issues that have plagued us repeatedly over the years.  I’m not necessarily convinced that my proposal is the best, but I do know that impact fees work, they have been adopted by literally thousands of communities that faced the same infrastructure shortfalls as Hawaii County does now, and development has not stopped in any of those communities.  If Council members don’t like my idea, then what other alternatives do they suggest?  State law has allowed us to adopt impact fees for the past 18 years.  How long must residents wait?  If not now, when will we be courageous enough to create an effective system to address these shortfalls??

Another irony of the situation is that the Council on many occasions has called for administration recommendations regarding impact fees, urging a partnership to resolve this issue.  I recognize that the detailed listing of recommendations received on two occasions recently from the Planning Department did not necessarily represent administration approval of this impact fee proposal, but it would seem to reflect a willingness to work with Council and to discuss a controversial topic.  I would have anticipated that the Council would be willing to advance that discussion rather than cut it short.

Impact Fees, if adopted, would not suddenly make the County healthy.  It would, however, permit the County to employ a funding mechanism which has proven successful in communities nationwide.  Failure to pass this legislation either dooms County residents to continued shortfalls in essential facilities or insures that higher taxes will be the only remedy available to correct those deficiencies.  Those taxes affect all residents; rich, poor, and everyone in-between, not just those that cause the increased impact.

Simply put, the defeat of the Impact Fee legislation translates into higher taxes for all or inadequate infrastructure.  Disappointing to say the least.  Our residents deserve better.

A final comment:  In the aftermath of this vote, I fear the perception will linger that the Council remains more concerned about potential election results than resolving key issues.  Ask yourselves:  when will the Council take the lead and make the tough decisions?? I believe we missed a great opportunity on 21 September.

Pete Hoffman  

Hawaii State Health Department Receives Federal Funds to Strengthen Emergency Preparedness

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) has been awarded $5,260,290 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) program. Award funding supports efforts to strengthen DOH public health emergency preparedness, including increased capacity in the areas of laboratory testing, disease surveillance and investigation, enhanced infrastructure, public information and warning, community preparedness, and other capabilities.

“Whether it’s preparing for natural disasters or disease outbreaks, the DOH is always working on protecting the public’s health and safety,” noted Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “An investment in emergency preparedness is an investment in the well-being of the people of Hawaiʻi. This federal award will help us do even more to be ready for challenges that might face us.”

The PHEP program supports state, local, and territorial health departments in achieving public health preparedness capabilities to ensure safer and more resilient communities. PHEP also carries out development and training and exercises to test plan effectiveness within DOH as well as with external organizations and agencies.

Utilizing an all-hazards approach, DOH PHEP planning and training cover a wide range of preparedness measures including food safety defense, rapid detection, identification of and response to threat agents and toxins, bioterrorism preparedness, robust interoperable communications, effective emergency public notification and alerts, and the ability to quickly and securely receive and dispense critical medication and supplies to the entire state population.

“Our preparedness efforts have made a great deal of progress over the years,” said Dr. Sarah Park, DOH State Epidemiologist and PHEP director. “However, we recognize that constant improvement is required because the roles and responsibilities of public health continue to evolve and increase, even as funding and resources fluctuate yearly.”

The PHEP program recently released a 10-Year Summary Report outlining accomplishments, goals, and challenges in public health emergency preparedness in Hawaii over the past decade.

The report is available online at http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/10yrSummaryReportFINAL2a.pdf.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the DOH encourages everyone to do their part to be ready for emergencies: “Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.”

For more information on the DOH PHEP program, go to http://hawaii.gov/health/BT/index.html. For more on the CDC PHEP cooperative agreement, see http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/coopagreement.htm.

Pahoa Gets Legitimate Bus Stop Courtesy of the Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset

With much cooperation from the local councilman (Fred Blas), the mayor (Billy Kenoi), the Department of Public Works, the county mass transit coordinator and the county engineers… the Rotary Club of Pahoa sunset has successfully installed a first class bus stop shelter on Old Pahoa Village Road adjacent to the Woodlands Center (near the new Pahoa Longs).

The new Pahoa Bus Stop located in front of Pahoa Auto Parts courtesy of the Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset

We expect to be able to install another on the high school end of town. The property for the shelter was graciously ceded by the Pahoa Auto Parts store owners.  This is the pilot of our project we are working on a plan to install shelters of our own conforming design on Leilani Ave

Alan Lakritz
Rotary Club of Pahoa Sunset