Governor Neil Abercrombie Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today commented on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which mirrors his investment in early childhood education and his push for increasing the minimum wage.

abercrombieheaderGov. Abercrombie stated:

“It’s encouraging that President Obama’s national priorities echo those I’ve outlined as top initiatives for the State of Hawaii.

“The President’s emphasis on early childhood education are in line with Hawaii’s plans to expand access to pre-kindergarten for all four year olds. We are investing in new partnerships to provide our keiki with the educational opportunities they deserve.

“As I stated in last week’s State of the State address, a hard-working sector in Hawaii has gone seven years without seeing their wages rise. I applaud the President’s proposal to increase the minimum wage for all federal employees.”

Kona’s Yano Hall Renovated, Rededicated

A major $753,000 renovation of the Sgt. Rodney J. T. Yano Memorial Hall, a popular facility in Captain Cook, was completed today with a rededication ceremony. Yano Hall hosts a variety of senior programs and is also available for community events.

Glenn Yano and former State Rep. Virginia Isbell untie the maile lei to reopen Yano Hall. Looking on is Managing Director Wally Lau, Reverend Jiko Nakade, Councilmembers Dru Mamo Kanuha and Brenda Ford, Kona Regional Senior Club President Sharen Bangay, and Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Glenn Yano and former State Rep. Virginia Isbell untie the maile lei to reopen Yano Hall. Looking on is Managing Director Wally Lau, Reverend Jiko Nakade, Councilmembers Dru Mamo Kanuha and Brenda Ford, Kona Regional Senior Club President Sharen Bangay, and Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Stan’s Contracting re-roofed three buildings, removed hazardous building materials, replaced floor tiles, made accessibility improvements, and painted under a $702,978 contract. Funding came from a mix of Community Development Block Grant funds and County capital improvement funds.

Seven months of major renovations began in April 2013, followed by in-house work by Department of Parks and Recreation staff to beautify the exterior of the facility and remodel the kitchen with new accessible counters, cabinets, and appliances. Their work is valued at $50,000.

“The reason I feel blessed to have grown up in this beautiful, wonderful community is because of our kūpuna. What we have didn’t just magically appear. What we have was given to us by our kūpuna,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi on the importance of supporting senior programs in his remarks at the rededication ceremony.

The Kona Daifukuji Mission in Honalo hosted the senior programs that were displaced by the renovation for the duration of the project. The misson’s Reverend Jiko Nakade performed the blessing at today’s rededication.

The Sgt. Rodney J. T. Yano Memorial Hall opened in December 1970. It is named after Sergeant First Class Rodney James Takahashi Yano, who was born in Kealakekua. He served in the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and was killed in action in Vietnam. A grenade detonated in his helicopter, but before Yano died, he threw burning ammunition out of the helicopter to save the rest of his crew. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Rodney’s brother Glenn Yano and other members of the Yano family were in attendance at today’s rededication.

911 System Down Statewide in Hawaii

1/28/14 UPDATE (3:36 pm) A backup system is now in place restoring the emergency 911 system on the island of Hawaii.

The emergency 911 system is down statewide.

HPDBadgeA backup system should be in place shortly. In the meantime, persons requiring police assistance should use the Police Department’s non-emergency line, 935-3311.

Big Island Police Arrest 38-Year-Old Man in Connection with 2011 Death of 19-Month-Old

Police have arrested a 38-year-old Mountain View man for a 2011 murder in Hilo.

Xavier J. Cortez Jr., also known as Pee Wee Cortez

Xavier J. Cortez Jr., also known as Pee Wee Cortez

At 9:40 a.m. Tuesday (January 28), acting on a tip, police arrested Xavier J. Cortez Jr., also known as Pee Wee Cortez, on the strength of a sealed arrest warrant for second-degree murder. He was located at a home in the Livingston subdivision in Mountain View and taken into custody without incident.

On January 22, the case was presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment for second-degree murder. At the request of police and the prosecutor, the indictment was sealed while police actively searched for Cortez.

Cortez was held without bail until he made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon.

On January 2, 2011, police received a report that 19-month-old Pomaikai Ferreira had been taken to Hilo Medical Center and was experiencing difficulties breathing. She was transferred by air ambulance to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, where she died on January 9, 2011.

Cortez was initially arrested for first-degree assault on the day of the incident. He was later released pending further investigation by detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section.

The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Ferreira ruled the death a homicide as a result of crainiocerebral injuries due to, or as a consequence of, abusive head trauma.

Hawaii Department of Education Statement on Shooting at Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High ended classes at 10 a.m. today as a result of an incident that placed the school under lockdown earlier in the morning. Classes will resume tomorrow as scheduled.

Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School

The lockdown began around 8:30 a.m. when two police officers arrived to escort a 17-year-old reported “runaway” off campus. The male is a non-active student registered at Roosevelt High. According to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), upon seeing the police officers, the male became combative and brandished a knife, which he used to slash at the officers. One of the officers fired two shots, striking the male once. The male was taken to a hospital in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.

Parents were immediately notified of the lockdown through the school’s emergency call system. An hour and a half later, the school released students early to allow the HPD to conduct an investigation. Parents and guardians were notified of a student pick-up location.

“Incidents like this are very rare in Hawaii, however, our partnership with the Honolulu Police Department on safety drills played a major role in the success of today’s lockdown,” stated Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “I commend Roosevelt High staff and students for their diligence in following safety protocols, as well as police officers for quickly bringing the situation under control. I also want to thank parents for their patience and understanding during the incident.”

Complex Area Superintendent Ruth Silberstein added, “Today’s situation was handled in a manner that caused the least disruption on campus and it is a testament to our teachers, faculty and students.”

Roosevelt High will have supports and counselors available to students when classes resume. There are 1,390 students enrolled at Roosevelt High.

All Hawaii State Department of Education schools conduct regular safety drills in coordination with HPD to ensure students and staff are prepared to respond to emergencies.

Land Exchange Next Step in Creating Central Oahu Agriculture Hub

State senators introduced this session land exchange legislation that would help protect agricultural and conservation lands, boost the agricultural industry and put the appropriate entities in the proper places to grow a better Hawai‘i. The measure is supported by eighteen lawmakers in the Hawai‘i State Senate, including the bill’s main sponsor Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D- Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, and portion of Poamoho).

The measure, Senate Bill 3065, Relating to Land Exchange, would allow the Department of Land and Natural Resources to exchange state-owned parcels in Kapolei for 20,000 acres of agricultural and conservation lands in Central O‘ahu. The lands, currently owned by the Castle & Cooke, surround the 1,207 acres of arable land purchased by the state for $13 million in 2012.
The land acquisition was part of a detailed plan for the future of Hawai‘i known as the Whitmore Project, an initiative to revitalize Hawai‘i’s local agriculture industry by bringing farmers and the state together to increase local food production, create jobs, engage in partnerships, and provide affordable housing.

Castle & Cooke has listed the land for sale at $175,000,000 and has also been supportive of the idea of a land exchange. The State currently owns land near areas where transit-oriented development is in the works.

“A land exchange with Castle & Cooke makes real sense here,” said Sen. Dela Cruz, “We have to look at all our options and think outside the box to help diversify Hawai‘i’s ag industry and preserve our lands. The state would spend little to no taxpayer money, and the exchange would allow for the appropriate entity to oversee smart development around transit plans and put the State in a place where it can provide opportunities for farmers and preserve lands.”

“Wahiawā can be an ag industrial hub,” he added. “These lands are up for sale and anything can happen to them. Do we want to see them parceled out and developed or do we want to see them as part of a plan that supports agriculture and our farmers?”

Hawaii’s Education Goal of 55 Percent with a College Degree by 2025 – “55 by ’25”

Leaders in education and business, and politicians spoke at a news conference today in an effort to strengthen the state’s workforce through higher education. During the event at Honolulu Community College, Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education (Hawaii P-20), a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawaii State Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii System today announced the launch of Phase II of the “55 by ‘25” campaign.

The launch of phase II of the "55 by '25" campaign is celebrated by (L to R): Senator Jill Tokuda, Dr. GG Weisenfeld, David Lassner, Karen Lee, Kathryn Matayoshi, John La Forgia, Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep. Roy Takumi, and John Komeiji.

The launch of phase II of the “55 by ’25” campaign is celebrated by (L to R): Senator Jill Tokuda, Dr. GG Weisenfeld, David Lassner, Karen Lee, Kathryn Matayoshi, John La Forgia, Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep. Roy Takumi, and John Komeiji.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that by 2018, 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require some college, and according to the U.S. Census, just under 42 percent of Hawaii’s adults currently hold a two- or four-year college degree.  This leaves a 23 percent skills gap; an alarming percentage to Hawaii’s educational leaders.

In order for Hawaii to meet the challenges of an increasingly global economy, the Hawaii P-20 Council established a goal for 55 percent of Hawaii’s working age adults to have a two- or four-year college degree by the year 2025. Stressing the need for community-wide participation, civic leaders illustrated ways everyone – from parents and educators to businesses and community organizations – can help achieve this goal.

Governor Neil Abercrombie; Kathryn Matayoshi, Superintendent of Hawaii State Department of Education; David Lassner, Interim President of the University of Hawaii System; GG Weisenfeld, Director of Executive Office on Early Learning; John La Forgia, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Hawaii Pacific Health; Karen Lee, Executive Director of Hawaii P-20 and Richard Mizusawa, UH Manoa student and Chair of the UH Student Caucus all shared details on what is currently being done in support of this campaign, ways the community can help, and the myriad of benefits a more educated workforce means for our local economy.

The effort is also being supported by the Hawaii State Legislature, as the news conference closed with a joint House and Senate certificate presented by Senator Jill Tokuda and Representative Roy Takumi.

Continue reading

Man Flees Police After Pissing on State Vehicles at UH Hilo

The following crime was reported by the University of Hawaii Campus Security department:

UH Hilo Moniker

Saturday, January 25th, 2014


Report Status: Pending.

Location: Hale Ikena parking lot.

Time Reported: Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 1:46 AM.

Incident Start: Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 1:46 AM.

Incident End: Monday, January 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM.

Crime Details:
Intoxicated male observed urinating on state vehicles in the Hale Ikena parking lot. HPD called, and male fled rapidly on foot before HPD arrival.

Big Island Police Investigating Robbery in Waimea

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery Monday night (January 27) in Waimea.

HPDBadgeSometime between 8:50 p.m. and 9 p.m., a 34-year-old visitor from France was standing by his rental car in the parking lot of Waimea Shopping Center when an unknown man approached him and asked if he had a cigarette or money. After being told no, the man shoved the visitor against the car and grabbed a bag of clothing the visitor was carrying. The suspect then fled west on Māmalahoa Highway on foot with the clothing, valued at $50.

The suspect is described as local, in his 30s, 5-foot-10 to 6-feet tall with a thin build, a pointy nose and a word tattooed on the right side of his neck. He was wearing shorts and a dark “hoodie.”

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.