Shan Tsutsui Accepts Lieutenant Governor Position

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced that former state Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui has accepted the position of Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, effective immediately under the order of succession. The office was vacated yesterday by the appointment of former Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to the U.S. Senate.

Shan S. Tsutsui

“Shan’s acceptance reflects this administration’s commitment to represent all the people of Hawaii as a statewide community, not one that is Oahu-centric,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “As demonstrated during his time in the Legislature and most recently as Senate President, Shan is extremely effective in bringing various parties together to benefit all the people of Hawaii.”

“The decision to leave the state Senate was not a choice I made lightly, but I am eager to make a meaningful contribution to the future of Hawaii as Lt. Governor,”Tsutsui said. “There is much work to be done in the Senate, but I have full confidence in my colleagues at the Legislature. I look forward to working with them this session in my new role.”

Plans are underway to establish an additional Office of the Lt. Governor on Maui, expanding the office’s reach and accessibility to all island communities. The Office of the Lt. Governor will continue to conduct business in the State Capitol in Honolulu.

“In the past, Neighbor Island elected officials might have thought they had to move to Honolulu in order to serve,”Gov. Abercrombie said. “In my view, this may no longer be necessary, especially as technology brings us closer together and the state’s IT transformation plan affords greater opportunities to conduct state business from all islands.”

Tsutsui served as the 12th Senate President of Hawaii. He is the first Senate President from Maui as well as the youngest. Elected to the Senate in 2002 to represent Hawaii’s 4th senatorial district, his previous leadership positions included the Vice Chair of Ways and Means and Majority Caucus Leader.

Tsutsui graduated from Maui High School in 1989 and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hawaii in 1994. He and his wife, Lyndelle Lee Tsutsui, reside on Maui with their three daughters, Mikayla, Kaylee and Kenna.


Rest In Peace – Susan Rowe Tucker (MOM)

Susan Rowe Tucker, 65, of Hilo, Hawaii, passed away on December 21, 2012 with her son at her side at the Hilo Medical Center.

Mom and I on my 40th Birthday.

Mom and I on my 40th Birthday.

A private family gathering is planned and her ashes will be spread at a later date.

Su was born in Lynden, Washington on MAY 1, 1947 and graduated from Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Su continued on in her education to receive a BA from Western Washington State College and a Masters Degree from Chapman University.

A Social Worker for many years, Su enjoyed spending time doing arts and crafts and swimming at the local YWCA. She was a strong advocate of supporting the Salvation Army and the Goodwill Industries.

Su is survived by her son Damon Tucker, grandson Hayden Makana Masafumi Konanui-Tucker, her older brother Michael Rowe of East Moriches, New York, younger brother Robert Rowe of Kauai, nieces Courtney, Allison and Whitney Rowe, nephew Logan Rowe as well as many folk she had “adopted” into her house over the years.

Su is preceded in death by her father Dr. Perry E. Rowe (Ted) and her mother Elizabeth Lane Rowe (Betty).

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries.

Video: Brian Schatz is Sworn in as Hawaii’s New U.S. Senator


With Senator Akaka at his side, Vice President Joe Biden formally swore in Brian Schatz as Hawaii’s United States Senator, filling the seat left open by the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Schatz Confirmed

After the swearing in, Senator Akaka made remarks in support of Senator Schatz.

Hawaii Entomologists Ramp Up Production of Moth to Control Toxic Fireweed

Hawaii ranchers are hopeful that a small beige-colored moth will be able to control the fireweed, an invasive plant that is toxic to livestock and has caused havoc on the state’s prime pasturelands. For more than 13 years, entomologists and researchers at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) have literally searched the world for a natural enemy of the weed that would be safe to release in Hawaii. The most promising turned out to be an insect called Secusio extensa (Arctiidae), the Madagascan Fireweed Moth, the larvae of which voraciously eats the leaves of fireweed.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

It is believed that the weed came to the islands in hydromulch material imported from Australia where it is a serious pest. HDOA entomologists on Oahu have begun stepping up production of the moth after receiving the long-awaited approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which came on Dec. 6, 2012. The state approved the release of the moth in 2010, but also required approval of a federal permit.  The first release of the biocontrol insects is slated for early 2013, depending on the rearing of the insects in the laboratory.

“Years of extensive research have been conducted on this biocontrol program,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “Control of this weed is one of the more important issues to Hawaii ranchers, and we are hopeful that it can be controlled by this natural process.”

Fireweed Plant

Fireweed Plant

“Fireweed has become an even more aggressive pest during this extended period of drought,” said
Dr. Tim Richards, president of Kahua Ranch on Hawaii Island. “So it’s even more critical to our industry’s sustainability that an effective control prevents additional loss of productive pasturelands.”

In 1999, HDOA began looking for a biological control for the pretty but deadly plant with yellow daisy-like flowers, also known as Madagascar Ragwort. It is estimated that the weed has infested more than 850,000 acres, mainly on Maui and Hawaii Island. Although there are effective pesticides, it is expensive and impractical to use across hundreds and thousands of acres.  Besides Hawaii, fireweed has spread through many parts of the world killing animals in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan. Secusio will be the first biocontrol agent to be released against Madagascar fireweed in the world.

HDOA’s exploratory entomologist, Dr. Mohsen Ramadan, traveled to Australia, South Africa and Madagascar in 1999 and returned with 14 insects and one fungus, which were researched and tested under quarantine conditions.  Some were found to be ineffective, while others were found to harm other native or beneficial plants.  Dr. Ramadan traveled to the region again in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2012 to look for more potential biocontrols for fireweed and other pests, such as coffee berry borer, small hive beetle and the protea mealybug.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Entomologists and staff in Honolulu were busy not only trying to keep the quarantined pests alive, but it also meant that they also had to grow the fireweed to host the moths.  HDOA is also testing four other potential natural enemies of fireweed, each which appear to attack different parts of the plant.

“Until now, we have been able to keep generations of this moth alive under quarantine conditions,” said Darcy Oishi, section chief of the Biocontrol Section. “We have now switched gears and begun to ramp up production to increase the chances of successful control of fireweed. With the support of the ranchers and others, we hope to release more than one million moths this year.”

“Biological control of pests can be the most efficient and cost-effective method to manage significant pests,” added Dr. Neil Reimer, manager of HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch.  “Since 1975, HDOA has released 51 biocontrol agents and all have been successful and none have been found to attack anything but the target pest or weed.”

“Fireweed has proven to be highly invasive and in certain areas has reduced the forage production by as much as 60 percent,” said Dr. Mark Thorne, state range specialist with the University of Hawaii – College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “With the pending release of Secusio, ranchers will have a valuable tool that will help them recover some of the economic value of their pastures.”

Fireweed Flower

Fireweed Flower

Biological control, which utilizes natural plant enemies and/or diseases, is needed in natural and managed ecosystems as a tool for managing invasive plant species that are too widespread and expensive to control using herbicides and/or mechanical removal methods. Although challenging to implement, effective biocontrol can provide long-term, large-scale, highly selective control of otherwise prolific weeds. Current research methods thoroughly test potential biocontrol agents prior to release to ensure that they only attack the target weed and not other native or beneficial plants or animals.

Hawaii continues to be a leader in biocontrol of pests. The Kingdom of Hawaii was a world leader in biocontrol with successful introductions of a beetle to control cottony cushion scale in 1890. After Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900, biological control methods progressed with the introduction of several insect species to control lantana in 1902. Since then, researchers in Hawaii continue to be internationally recognized in biological control of weeds and plant pests and have collaborated with colleagues worldwide on the biological control of invasive weeds and pests such as miconia, fountain grass, banana poka, ivy gourd, gorse, wiliwili gall wasp and nettle caterpillar, among others.

Hawaii Department of Education Begins College and Career Readiness Assessments Beginning Next Spring

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today announced it will administer college and career readiness assessments to all middle and high school students statewide in grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 beginning next spring.


For the first time ever, the DOE will be able to comprehensively collect and examine college and career readiness data in reading, mathematics, science and English.

“By 2018, Hawaii will rank 10th in the nation in jobs requiring postsecondary degrees,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are setting a high bar for achievement and delivering optimal tools and resources to accelerate our students’ trajectory toward college and career readiness. All high school graduates must complete a rigorous course of study and be prepared to successfully pursue their dreams, aspirations and goals.”

Starting in April 2013, more than 50,000 students annually will take the ACT EXPLORE test in grades 8 and 9, the PLAN exam in grade 10, and The ACT assessment in grade 11. The new ACT College and Career Readiness System is benchmarked to both the expectations of higher education institutions and workforce. It is also designed to help students plan for future education opportunities and explore careers based on their skills, interests and ambitions.

“The DOE’s decision to administer the ACT College and Career Readiness System for all students in 8 – 11th grades is evidence of their strong commitment to preparing students for postsecondary success,” said Karen Lee, Executive Director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. “The data gathered from the assessments will be invaluable as we work together with institutions of higher education to reach the state’s goal of 55 percent of working age adults having a 2- or 4-year college degree in 2025.”

Schools, educators and youth will benefit from ACT programs and services that reduce the need for remediation, align with state standards, and foster student success in postsecondary education. ACT’s unique student-level assessment data may also be used by counselors to improve the effectiveness of student intervention plans.

“A systematic, statewide college and career readiness assessment system has been a critical need for schools to comprehensively measure and support students’ progress,” said Teri Ushijima, complex area superintendent for Aiea, Moanalua and Radford. “The ACT suite of assessments will serve as a key resource for the DOE to fulfill its strategic goal of ensuring all students are on a path toward success in college, career and citizenship.”

The DOE Systems Accountability Office is leading the implementation of the ACT College and Career Readiness System. ACT, Inc. was recently awarded a contract totaling approximately $882,000 for the system’s assessment package, programs, and services for school year 2012-13.

The DOE is aggressively addressing key statewide goals and strategies outlined in the BOE/DOE Strategic Plan. The ACT College and Career Readiness System will generate measurable and baseline data to ensure all students are gaining the academic skills they need to succeed on the K-12 pathway and throughout their lives.

For more information about the ACT test, log on to



RIP Sen. Dan Inouye – Big Island Memorial Services Being Held Now

The memorial services on the Big Island of Hawaii for Senator Dan Inouye have begun at the Hilo Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Inouye Ceremony

Viewing started at 12:00 noon and then at 1:00 the service began.

Inouye Cover

Here is what the program consisted of:

Inouye Program

Here is a look at the inside of the program:

Inouye Inside

Click to Enlarge

And this is the back of the cover with his famous last words:

Inouye Back