Puna Geothermal Facility Tripped Offline – “No Danger to the Public at This Time”

Hawaii County Civil Defense Alert Message:

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

Puna Geothermal Facility tripped offline this afternoon.

Steam was released through a safety valve.

No danger to the public at this time.

Big Island Police Charge Pahoa Man for Offenses Stemming From Armed Robbery Last Year

Police have charged a 25-year-old Pahoa man for several offenses stemming from an armed robbery that occurred last year in Hilo.

Patrick John Lindsey

Patrick John Lindsey

Yesterday (March 12, 2013) at 4:40 pm, upon conferring with prosecutors, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigation Section charged Patrick John Lindsey for first degree burglary, attempted first degree robbery, two counts of first degree terroristic threatening, and attempted first degree unauthorized entry motor vehicle. Bail for Lindsey was set at $105,000.00 and he remains in custody in the police cellblock pending his initial court appearance this afternoon.

On June 24. 2012 at about 3 a.m., police responded to a burglary report at a home in upper Kukuau Street. A 55-year-old Hilo man who was parking in his carport was reportedly accosted by a lone male who brandished a firearm and threatened him. When the victim’s 54-year-old wife entered the carport after hearing the commotion, she was also threatened with the firearm.

The suspect fled the area on foot toward Kukuau Street. He was described as possibly a young local male with a slim build and a fair complexion. He also was wearing dark clothing and what appeared to be a mask to conceal his identity.

Neither victim sustained any injuries during this incident.

Hawaii House Approves State Budget

The House of Representatives today voted to approve HB200 HD1 which appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the next biennium fiscal years FY2013-2014 and FY2014-2015.

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For FY2013-2014 the bill appropriates operating money of $5.9 billion in general funds and $11.6 billion in all means of financing. For FY2014-2015 it appropriates $6.1 billion in general funds and $11.7 billion in all financing means.

House Finance Chair, Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa) re-iterated her observation that while the fiscal climate is a little more positive than it has been in the past, “this is actually the time to take a conservative approach to our budget picture. We are not restoring all the budget cuts made over the last four years to pre recession numbers. We need to re-evaluate what government is here for, change institutional behavior and develop a budget that is transparent, efficient and accountable,” she said.

Funding highlights include:

  • $7.9 million in FY2013-2014 for a reasonable rollout of the State’s Information Management and Technology Transformation Plan. The Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) plan is to consolidate the State’s existing information-technology infrastructure, enhance security and privacy, and develop shared services functions across state departments.
  • Restored services and positions cut by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) by funding positions that support our local food sustainability and agricultural health. This includes 19 critical specialist and inspector positions to help control the spread of invasive species, 5 engineers for irrigation systems, and additional personnel that provide specialized testing for livestock.
  • $1.1 million for the State Library System to purchase additional books and e-books.
  • A total of almost $2 million to support for the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative to meet the State’s goal of using 70% clean energy by the year 2030.
  • To address the issues that encompass the State’s growing Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) unfunded liability, $205.5 million over the next two years has been infused into Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB).
  • Support for our local students by providing to the Department of Education (DOE) an additional $12.9 million for the Weighted Student Formula and $1 million for the development of a Common Core assessment test in the Hawaiian language to serve students enrolled at 14 Hawaiian immersion schools across the state.
  • Restored public health service positions within the Department of Health (DOH) including 8 vector control workers and $443,520 of funds to increase surveillance at our airports, 8 food safety inspectors, and 7 environmental health specialists and engineers to administer programs on environmental protection regulations. $800,000 in general funds for both fiscal years for Hale Makamae and Kula Hospital.
  • $10 million annual funding for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) to carry out its duties of planning and developing Hawaiian Homelands across Hawaii.
  • Significant support for the State’s largest department, the Department of Human Services (DHS), with $98 million to cover increasing Medicare costs, $1.9 million for youth and juvenile services, and 10 personnel to focus on homelessness project management.
  • Provides 9 additional positions to provide security and intake services for inmates returning from out of state facilities and appropriates $8.7 million in additional funding for the Department of Public Safety (PSD) to maintain essential functions.
  • Continued support of our higher education systems with $780,000 for distance learning courses, $1 million for operating costs at the West Oahu Campus and $2 million to support the community college system in each fiscal year.

Capital Improvement Projects (CIP)

The budget bill also appropriates funding for capital improvement projects totaling $798,530,000 in general obligation bonds and $1,707,745,000 in all means of financing for FY2013-2014, and $514,030,000 in general obligation bonds and $912,851,000 in all means of financing in FY 2014-2015.

House Speaker Joe Souki (Kahakuloa, Waihee, Waiehu, Puuohala, Wailuku, Kahului) said, “the funding approved by the House will allow us to move forward on vital repair and maintenance of our statewide infrastructure including maintaining our airports and public highways as an investment in our state’s top economic driver, tourism.”

House Majority Leader, Representative Scott Saiki (McCully, Kaheka, Kakaako, Downtown) added, “we decided it would be more efficient and effective to focus on getting ‘shovel-ready’ projects funded rather than directing money to initiatives whose plans and designs have not yet been completed. The CIP budget attempts to address the most basic necessities to fix our schools, infrastructure and facilities.”

The CIP budget now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Once approved by the House and Senate the funds are released at the discretion of the Governor.

CIP funding highlights include:

Agriculture

  • $7 million over the biennium for irrigation systems statewide

Accounting and General Services

  • $31 million over the biennium for the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • $8 million over the biennium for the design and building of the statewide information technology (IT) infrastructure

Business, Economic Development, and Tourism

  • $54.8 million for the development of a new facility for the Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC)

Defense

  • $2 million each year of the biennium for improving hurricane protection for public buildings and increasing the number of public shelters statewide
  • $2.4 million each year of the biennium for replacement and upgrading of state civil defense warning system

Education

  • Total of over $355 million for biennium for the Department of Education, an increase of over $58 million from Governor’s budget
  • Over $113 million for the biennium for improvement of school facilities statewide
  • $42 million over biennium for electrical improvements, health and safety issues, ADA compliance, Title IX compliance, and special education improvements at school facilities statewide
  • $10 million for modernization of Farrington High School
  • $16 million for renovations to buildings at McKinley High School
  • $65 million to begin construction of Kihei High School
  • Over $28 million for the design and construction of additional new schools across the state

Health

  • Over $91 million for the biennium for Hawaii Health System Corporation hospitals for repair & maintenance, upgrades, and improvements
  • Over $10 million for development of Waimano Ridge

Libraries

  • $15.5 million for construction of a new library in Nanakuli

Land and Natural Resources

  • Over $18 million in all means of financing for renovations and upgrades at small boat harbors across the state

Taxation

  • Over $32 million for the Tax System Modernization program

University of Hawaii

  • $100 million over the biennium for system-wide repair and maintenance with $25 million of those funds designated for community colleges

 

National Dance Week Hawaii Gears Up with “Dance-A-Thon” Fundraiser – Workshops by Mari Koda

Dancers Unlimited LLC is proud to announce that “Step Up Revolution” dancer Mari Koda will hold three dance workshops in Hawaii, with part of the proceeds going to support the 4th Annual National Dance Week Hawaii 2013.

Mari Koda

Mari Koda

It all culminates toward the big arts and dance fundraiser at the Aloha Beer Company on March 24.

Dance Week HI

Japan-born Koda  is an accomplished dancer of many styles, including hip hop, popping, locking, jazz and salsa. She has danced with Jamie Foxx, 50 Cent and Missy Elliot, and was seen in “Step Up 2,” “Step Up 3D” and “Step Up Revolution.”

Mari will also join Dancers Unlimited for the March 24 “Dance-A-Thon” fundraiser, which will feature exhibitions for beatboxing, emcees and DJs; as well as an arts festival with live art, body painting, dozens of vendors and an auction. All the events go toward National Dance Week Hawaii, Oct. 6 to 13. This year, 20 percent of proceeds from National Dance Week Hawaii workshops and performances will be donated to two Hawaii non-profit arts outreach programs. Past National Dance Week Hawaii beneficiaries are Aloha United Way, Hawaii Children’s Cancer Foundation and The ARTSmith.

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

“There is so much talent in Hawaii, with many local dancers turning their passion for the art into a professional career worldwide,” says Dancers Unlimited Founder Linda Kuo. “Mari Koda is another perfect example of someone taking her art to inspire others, and we’re so blessed to have the support of someone who fiercely believes in the same goals as we do.”

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

March 16

What: Mari Koda dance workshop

Where: N2Dance @ YMCA on Hawaii Island, 145 Ululani St., Hilo

When: 3 – 4 p.m., popping; 4 – 5 p.m., hip hop; $15 per class, or $25 for both

March 21

What: Dance Talk with Mari Koda & Kid Dynamo

Where: UH Manoa, BusAd D203

When: 12 – 2 p.m., Free

March 22

What: Mari Koda dance workshop

Where: The Playground, 94-223 Hanawai Circle, Waipahu

When: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., street styles; $20

March 23

What: Mari Koda dance workshop

Where: Diverse Art Center, 604 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu

When: 12 – 1:30 p.m., street styles; $20

March 24

What: Dance-A-Thon fundraiser

Where: Aloha Beer Company, 580 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu

When: 3 – 9 p.m.; $20 at the door, $15 online presale at www.duhawaii.com

ABOUT DANCERS UNLIMITED LLC

Dancers Unlimited LLC is a group of artists dedicated to providing opportunities to Hawaii artists and youth. Using dance as a vehicle, they hope to create a network of creative advocates for positivity and humanity. Dancers Unlimited is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts services organization. Donations to Dancers Unlimited through Fractured Atlas are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. For more information, visit www.duhawaii.com.

State Chief Information Officer Honored with Prestigious ‘Federal 100 Award’

Hawaii Only State Recognized Among 2013 Recipients

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is proud to announce that Hawaii is the only state government in the nation to be recognized as part of the 2013 Federal 100 Awards by Federal Computer Week magazine, which will bestow State Chief Information Officer (CIO) Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia with the prominent award.

abercrombieheader

This honor highlights the State of Hawaii for transforming its technology infrastructure, implemented as an element of the Governor’s New Day Plan by Bhagowalia and the newly created Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT).

The “Fed 100 Awards” recognize top leaders in industry, academia and government who had the greatest impact on the government information systems community in 2012. This year’s honorees include 22 from industry, two from academia, 75 from the federal government, and Hawaii – the lone state government recipient.

“Sonny has built confidence and momentum across government agencies, industry leaders, and the people of Hawaii toward modernizing our state’s aging technology infrastructure and systems, a long-term investment that will improve government and business processes,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “His work transcends technology into a new way of doing business in Hawaii and providing public services.”

Gov. Abercrombie appointed Bhagowalia as the state’s first CIO in 2011, charging him with planning and implementing the state’s IT transformation, as well as overseeing the OIMT. Bhagowalia inherited business, information technology, and organizational cultural environments that were significantly behind the times – up to 30 years in some areas.

He was nominated for the Fed 100 Award for achieving groundbreaking results in transforming government in Hawaii through:

  • completion of a first-ever, baseline analysis of the state’s business and technology environment;
  • development of a comprehensive Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan that provides the roadmap for the state’s modernization initiative;
  • implementation of foundational projects necessary to initiate transformation efforts; and
  • facilitation of a positive “aloha with urgency” organizational culture change with all key stakeholders.

“While I am deeply honored with the Fed 100 Award, the recognition really belongs to everyone who contributed and collaborated in our efforts to develop and implement the state’s Business and IT/IRM Transformation Plan,” Bhagowalia said.

Bhagowalia also joins an especially elite group of multiple Fed 100 Award recipients, as this is his third; he previously received the award in 2010 and 2009.

In October 2012, Gov. Abercrombie and Bhagowalia unveiled the state’s Business and IT/IRM Transformation Plan, which highlights three categories of activities that help achieve the transformation:

  1. Streamlining and improving current business processes and applications to directly benefit the public.
  2. Leveraging the state’s investment in shared enterprise services and consolidated technology infrastructure.
  3. Establishing a strong organization-wide management and oversight framework, including policies, processes, performance measures, program management and organizational change management.

The Transformation Plan is available at: oimt.hawaii.gov

World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick

A  Laysan albatross known as “Wisdom” – believed to be at least 62 years old – has hatched a chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge for the sixth consecutive year. Early Sunday morning, February 3, 2013, the chick was observed  pecking its way into the world by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary, who said the chick appears healthy. Wisdom was first banded in 1956, when she was incubating an egg in the same area of the refuge. She was at least five years old at the time.

Wisdom and her chick

Wisdom and her chick.  Photo Credit: J. Klavitter/USFWS

“Everyone continues to be  inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species,” said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), which includes Midway Atoll NWR.

Staff and volunteers stationed on Midway are responsible for monitoring the health of the beautiful seabirds that arrive every year  by the hundreds of thousands to nest. Upon the seabirds’ arrival, field staff  monitor them and gather information for one of the longest and oldest continuous survey data sets for tropical seabirds in the world.

Wisdom has worn out five bird bands since she was first banded by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Chandler Robbins in 1956. Robbins estimated Wisdom to be at least 5 years old at the time, since this is the earliest age at which these birds breed. Typically, they breed at 8 or 9 years of age after a very involved courtship lasting over several years so Wisdom could be even older than 62.

Wisdom preens her chick. Photo credit: J. Klavitter/USFWS

Wisdom preens her chick. Photo credit: J. Klavitter/USFWS

“As Wisdom rewrites the record books, she provides new insights into the remarkable biology of seabirds,” said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. “It is beyond words to describe the amazing accomplishments of this wonderful bird and how she demonstrates the value of bird banding to better understand the world around us. If she were human, she would be elible for Medicare in a couple years yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. Simply incredible.”

Peterjohn said Wisdom has likely raised at least 30 to 35 chicks during her breeding life, though the number may well be higher because experienced parents tend to be better parents than younger breeders. Albatross lay only one egg a year, but it takes much of a year to incubate and raise the chick. After consecutive years in which they have successfully raised and fledged a chick, the parents may take the occasional next year off from parenting. Wisdom is known to have nested in 2006 and then every year since 2008.

Sue Schulmeister, Manager of the Midway Atoll NWR, said, “Wisdom is one is one of those incredible seabirds that has provided the world valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful creatures and reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the population. This information helps us measure the health of our oceans that sustain albatross.”

Almost as amazing as being a parent at 62 is the number of miles Wisdom has likely logged – about 50,000 miles a year as an adult – which means that Wisdom has flown at least two million to three million miles since she was first banded. Or, to put it another way, that’s four to six trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again, with plenty of miles to spare.

Funding Renewed for Organic Cost-Share Program

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is currently accepting applications for a new round of organic certification cost-share assistance to organic farmers and organic livestock operators. Renewed federal funding totaling up to $65,000 has been allotted to help Hawaii organic farmers with the cost of organic certification through a cooperative agreement executed between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and HDOA.

Click for more information

Click for more information

Organic farmers and livestock operators are required to have their farms and practices inspected annually and certified by an agent approved by the USDA. The Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (AMAOCCSP) allows organic growers to receive reimbursement of up to 75 percent of the cost of this inspection and certification (up to a maximum of $750).  The AMAOCCSP program was authorized under the Federal Crop Insurance Act. This is the fifth consecutive year that Hawaii has participated in this program.

To receive reimbursement, the date of certification or renewal by a USDA accredited certifying agent must occur between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013. Applications and information are available online at the HDOA website:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/add/md/usda-organic-certification-cost-share-programs/

Unfortunately, USDA did not renew a separate program this year for organic processors/handlers.

For information and assistance with the application process, contact:

HDOA – Agricultural Development Division

Market Development Branch, 1428 S. King Street, Room 214, Honolulu, HI  96814-2512

Phone: (808) 973-9595 Fax:  (808) 973-9590  Email:  hdoa.md@hawaii.gov

Commentary – Open Letter to DLNR and DOA: Hawaii Needs Biodamage Comp Fund

To: Russell Kokobun, Chairman, HDOA and William Aila, Jr., Chairman, DLNR

Many residents and property owners are very concerned about potential property damage to privately owned strawberry guava trees and potential negative health impacts caused by the biocontrol insect, T. ovatus, released in Volcano and Waiakea last year.

The State needs a biodamage mitigation fund to pay for private property damage from biocontol releases. Without this fund, the State is putting property owners and residents at risk without a guarantee of ability to compensate victims.

The problem is that biological control is not area specific, but spreads to private property.

If the government used herbicide and there was over-spray that damaged private property, then the harmed parties must be compensated for damages, according to the Hawaii and US Constitutions. The same should apply to biocontrol agents floating or flying onto private property to infest trees.

What is the government’s plan to mitigate the property damage to privately owned strawberry guava trees if they suffer in appearance and fruiting by this biological control release?

Are there guidelines and procedures recommended by the DOA whereby people can document harm to their trees and seek compensation without having to resort to litigation?

How will the government compensate people for health impacts, such as allergies and respiratory problems that may result from exposure large numbers of airborne nymphs and eggs expected to be released by this insect?

Please understand that for the people living in environments that have abundant strawberry guava, this insect release is seen as a potential health threat and abuse of private property rights.

Your department is mandated to protect the environment, but you only consider the natural and agricultural environments as worthy of protection. However, peoples’ backyards and neighborhoods are just as much environments as are native forest and farm land. Our novel ecosystems and backyards need protection, too.

The government has been categorically labeling species as invasive, including strawberry guava. This is a big error.  Species can have resource value and provide benefits in some contexts, despite being invasive in another. You need to label contextually, not categorically, and recognize that people live in different environments and have different values than those of forest or ag land managers.

Private property owners are important stakeholders, and many have opposed this release against strawberry guava. The Hawaii County Council passed a resolution banning this release. There were over 5,000 petition signatures of residents opposing this release. This means that: 1. the government is not listening to the voice of the people; and 2. if there is significant damage from these insects, everyone will know it and see it, and there will a massive outcry against the government. Future biocontrol efforts will be opposed vehemently. And litigation will be likely.

Without a biodamage mitigation fund to pay for private property damage from biocontrol releases, the State is putting property owners and residents at risk of suffering irreparable harm.  This is neither legally nor morally justifiable.

Please stop further biocontrol releases until this fund is established.

Sincerely,

Sydney Ross Singer, Medical Anthropologist – Director, Good Shepherd Foundation

Sid Singer

Syd Singer