Video: Congresswoman Hirono Defends U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

From the Office of Mazie Hirono

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) took to the House floor in opposition to H.R. 22250 and H.R. 2681, bills that target the Clean Air Act by weakening the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Officer Aron Tomota Recognized as “Officer of the Month”

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Aron Tomota as “Officer of the Month” for October in a luncheon ceremony on Wednesday (October 5) at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.

Officer Aron Tomota

Officer Aron Tomota

Tomota’s peers in Kona Patrol’s “C” Watch nominated him for being a model officer who epitomizes the Police Department’s core value of Teamwork.

Sergeant Grad Elarionoff said in nomination papers that Officer Tomota consistently helps his fellow officers with their investigations without complaining or boasting.

“I can not place a value on the work Officer Tomota does. It is not something that can be measured statistically,” Elarionoff wrote. “I can, however, attest that Officer Tomota is of great value as an officer to Kona “C” Watch, the Kona District and, more importantly, to our community.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Tomota is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.” The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaiʻi.

Hawaii Clear the Smoke Photo Project

Clear the Smoke is inviting local shutterbugs and photography fanatics to use their creativity to capture the effects of tobacco in Hawaii for the Clear the Smoke Photo Project.

From October 10, 2011 to December 10, 2011, photographers of all skill levels can submit their images which address the following topics:

  • How has tobacco use affected Hawaii or your community?
  • How has tobacco affected your family or friends?
  • How has tobacco affected you personally?

Thirty photos will be chosen by a selection panel and professionally displayed in a photography exhibit at The ARTS at Marks Garage in downtown Honolulu. The ARTS at Marks Garage has donated cash prizes that will be awarded to the top three highest scoring photos: first place – $300; second place – $150; third place – $50. The deadline to submit entries is December 10, 2011.

An opening reception will be hosted for the unveiling of the exhibit on Slow Art Friday, January 20, 2012. This exhibit will also become a traveling exhibit to be featured at different venues throughout Hawaii.

The ARTS at Marks Garage is a collaborative gallery, performance and office space for businesses and non-profit organizations aiming to transform downtown Honolulu with the power of the arts. Located in Chinatown and the Honolulu Arts and Cultural District, the gallery is visited by thousands of art enthusiasts each month.

“The Clear the Smoke Photo Project is our way of engaging everyone – smokers, non-smokers and former smokers – to help bring to life, through the lens of photography, how tobacco use affects us, our family friends, and the islands,” said Julian D. Lipsher, Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Manager of the Hawaii State Department of Health. “Almost everyone knows someone who smokes or has been affected by tobacco somehow. We hope this event will bring into focus how our community is affected, and put a human face on this issue.”

Starting on October 10, 2011, photographers can submit their images to the Clear the Smoke Photo Project by following the instructions on

Clear the Smoke is also on Twitter and Facebook at

Over a Hundred Residents Return to Renovated Homes at State’s Largest Public Housing Project

Governor tours KPT renovations made possible by public-private partnership

Governor Neil Abercrombie and State Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Patricia McManaman today visited residents returning to their newly-renovated apartments at the Towers at Kuhio Park, formerly known as Kuhio Park Terrace. The two-year renovation project began on May 19, 2011.

The $135 million project to renovate Hawai’i’s largest public housing project, originally built in 1963, is the first public-private partnership between the Hawai’i Public Housing Authority (HPHA) and a private developer to transform public housing. The Michaels Development Company and local development partner, The Vitus Group, expect to complete the renovation of the two high-rise towers by December 2013.  Renovations to Tower A is half-way done and residents have or are in the process of moving into 144 out of its 270 units.
“With our private partners, we are moving quickly to renovate public housing units that have been vacant and rehabilitate occupied units in desperate need of repair,” said Governor Abercrombie. “We are investing in the people of Hawai’i by ensuring that families have safe and dignified housing as they move toward self-sufficiency.”
Each of the two high-rise towers at the Kuhio Park property, which together include 555 units, is expected to be renovated in 12 months.  During renovations, residents moved into an “on-site hotel” at Tower B. Renovations include econfigured ground floors, the creation of new space for resident activities, social services, management offices and enlarged laundry facilities.
“Safe and dignified housing is essential for all of Hawai’i’s people, regardless of their economic status,” said DHS Director McManaman. “We are partnering with the private sector to expand the state’s stock of workforce housing and provide a comprehensive array of social services to rebuild the state’s safety net.”
In November 2010, HPHA agreed to sell to KPT Towers, 1 LLC—a partnership between Michaels Development, Vitus Development, and tax credit investors AEGON USA Realty Advisors—the two high-rise towers and low-rise apartments that make up the 748-unit Kuhio Park Terrace project in Kalihi.   HPHA also leased the underlying land to KPT Towers, 1 LLC, for 65 years.  In exchange for the sale of the structures, the private development team will renovate, manage, and maintain the units.
Monika Mordasini, Vice President of Development for The Michaels Development Company, said, “Once restored, The Towers at Kuhio Park will serve as an attractive, affordable housing resource for future generations and will be a source of pride for the community.”
Funding for The Towers at Kuhio Park includes a combination of:
  • $66 million in tax-exempt bonds issued by the State of Hawai’i
  • $47 million from AEGON USA Realty Advisors through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity program, which generates private capital investment to support the development and the rehabilitation of affordable rental housing
  • $50.4 million in loans from HPHA to fund major system renovations and for the acquisition of the improvements
  • $32.35 million in construction and permanent financing from Citibank
  • $181,134 in a tax credit fee rebate from HHFDC
Towers at Kuhio Park is a state housing project that rents  to low-income tenants at or below 60% of the Area Median Income for 30 years—pursuant to a Regulatory Agreement entered into with HHFDC. Of the 555 units, 347 units are designated as public housing units, 150 units are Project Based Section 8, and the remaining 58 units have rents set at 40% of the area median income. The property is also subject to affordability restrictions for a 40-year period pursuant to a Regulatory Agreement with HPHA, as well as the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants and Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment Contract which provide Public Housing and Project Based Section 8 rental subsidy.
The State of Hawai’i has a comprehensive strategy for expanding available workforce housing which includes: repairing and building public housing units such as the Towers and Kuhio Park; below-market rentals such as Hale Wai Vista II that opened in Wai’anae last week; and affordable homeownership opportunities such as the Holomua development in Honolulu that will break ground tomorrow, October 6, 2011.  The state and private sector are coordinating to nurture vibrant, affordable communities across the islands.

Hawaii Island Prescription Drug Collection Event

Do you have any unused or expired medication sitting around that you are unsure of how to dispose of properly? If so, then please see the information below to find out when and how you can get rid of your unused prescription and over the counter drugs:

Hawaii Island Prescription Drug Collection EventEvent Date: October 29, 2011 – 10:00am – 2:00pm
Location: Hilo –    National Guard Aviation Facility,  1095 Kekūanāo‘a St. (a.k.a. Airport Access Road)
Kona –   TBA

DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets. The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety.

This one-day effort is intended to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse.

The program is anonymous.

Prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications, i.e. tablets and capsules accepted.

Intra-venous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted.

Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

For more information, please visit the National Take-Back Initiative website or the State of Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General.

Latest True Blood Cast Member Kristina Anapau to Present Workshop at UH Hilo Sunday

The Big Island Film office and the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Department have teamed up to bring local girl Kristina Anapau home for a one-day acting workshop covering the business of film and television.

The workshop will be held this Sunday, October 9th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at UH Hilo.

Kristina Anapau Workshop

Anapau’s most recent role on television was the character of “Maurella” in the HBO series True Blood and when I asked her if she would be returning to the role next season she stated, “The creators of the show like to keep what is to come a secret and I honor that completely.”

Anapau did send me a few still shots from the episode that she was in:


Kristina Anapau playing the role of Maurella on True Blood

I asked Kristina what her initial reaction was when she found out that she had been chosen to play the role of “Maurella” on True Blood and she stated,  “I was thrilled.  I absolutely love Alan Ball’s work and True Blood is one of the best shows on television.


Maurella captured fans attention during last seasons True Blood and wonder if she will be back for the next season

I noticed that Anapau seems to play characters in a lot of suspense type of movies and so I asked her what her favorite suspense movies were and she noted that “Sea of Love” and “Witness” were two incredible suspense films that she favorites.

Don't mess with Maurella

Don't mess with Maurella

I had the opportunity to meet Kristina at last years Big Island Film Festival and when I asked her if she was going to be present for this years film festival she said, “I love the festival and adore Leo and Jan Sears.  If I’m not filming at that time, I’d love to attend next years fest.”

Kristina at the Big Island Film Festival

Kristina at last years Big Island Film Festival

I asked Kristina if she believes in vampires and she said, “Yes, but not the kind that suck your blood.”


Dang Blood Suckers!

I asked Anapau what she would like to say to Big Island residents in general about the upcoming workshop at UH Hilo and she said,  “I’m very excited to be able to share a bit of what I’ve learned throughout the years.  There is a lot of talent on the Big Island…I hope my experiences and guidance will inspire the attendees to go out and make their own dreams a reality.”