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Update on Roland Cazimero – Saturday’s Big Island Concert Still On

Roland Cazimero will not be able to perform at Saturday’s concert on the Big Island at the Kahilu Theatre, as he is recovering from pneumonia.  However Robert Cazimero will bring members of his halau with him to play bass, and dance hula, while he plays the piano and sings the wonderful songs that the Brothers Cazimero have made their own since The Sunday Manoa days in 1970s.  It will be a fabulous show!

The Brother's Cazimero

The Brother’s Cazimero

The Kahilu Theatre will suspend its usual refunds policy and allow refunds in advance of the show, for non-members as well as members; there will be a processing charge of $5 instead of the usual $10 fee.  The show is very close to a sellout, with just 19 tickets left today.

Roland Cazimero was hospitalized after falling ill during a performance on Maui last Friday night.  He was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and had fluid removed from his lungs and was placed on a ventilator. He remains hospitalized today at Maui Memorial Medical Center, where a family member said he was “doing good and getting rest.” Roland was performing with his brother, Robert, at their May Day concert in the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Robert continued the performance after Roland was taken to the hospital for treatment, and was awarded a standing ovation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Roland and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery.

 

Mayor Kenoi Submits Proposed Operating Budget for the County of Hawai‘i for 2014-2015 to Hawai’i County Council

Hawaii County Logo

Aloha Chair Yoshimoto and Council Members:

As required by the Hawai‘i County Charter, submitted with this message is the proposed operating budget for the County of Hawai‘i for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. This balanced budget includes estimated revenues and appropriations of $416,915,831, and includes the operations of eleven of the county’s special funds as well as the general fund.

This FY 2014-2015 budget is $13,710,833 or 3.4 percent larger than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. This budget continues our strategic investments in county services and infrastructure to support our working families and businesses, while carefully controlling the cost of government.

We continue to see a gradual recovery from the past five years of budget challenges caused by the national and international recession. We are finally experiencing a measured recovery in property values, which allows us to address the new challenge of $20.9 million in additional employee expenses in the year ahead. Most of these costs are the result of public worker arbitration decisions and negotiated agreements that significantly increase salaries, wages, social security contributions and retirement obligations.

A coordinated effort by the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties and Hawai‘i Conference of Mayors this year helped to convince the state Legislature to allocate additional hotel room tax funding to the counties, and we welcome this assistance. This revised budget commits all of that additional funding to pay for future health care obligations for public employees.

This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Investing In Our CommunitiesFrom the beginning of this administration, we have developed budgets that limit spending, but also allow for targeted investment in our communities and our future. Through carefully selected initiatives we created or improved parks and playgrounds, built or rebuilt roads and other public infrastructure, and improved public services. Our primary objective has always been to make the County of Hawai‘i a better place for our families to live and work.We have used the county’s borrowing power and excellent credit rating to help stimulate the economy and create jobs during a period of low interest rates and favorable bid prices. In Kona, we answered residents’ calls for relief from traffic congestion by advancing projects such as the La‘aloa Avenue Extension, the Ka‘iminani Drive Reconstruction and the Ane Keohokālole Highway, and we will soon begin work on the Māmalahoa Bypass.  In Hilo, we are repairing downtown streets starting with the Kīlauea Avenue Reconstruction, followed by the Kamehameha Avenue Reconstruction project. We will continue in the months ahead with repairs and improvements to Ponahawai and Komohana Streets.

We have partnered with the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, which has emerged as a critical component of our economy. Our university allows our young people to achieve better lives for themselves while providing a skilled workforce to help our island economy to grow and innovate. To help the university expand, we are advancing the Kapi‘olani Street Extension to open up lands for new student housing, additional classroom space, and to alleviate traffic congestion.

We are investing in parks, gyms, and playgrounds across the island where our families can engage in positive activities, and where our coaches can teach our youth respect, discipline, and teamwork. We opened covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park in Hilo, and built the Kamakoa Nui Park in Waikoloa. We have added seven playgrounds islandwide, and will soon be opening the new Ka‘ū District Gym & Shelter. We renovated popular recreational facilities such as the Waiākea Recreation Center, Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, Laupāhoehoe Pool, Kēōkea Beach Park, and Pāhoa Pool. We will soon make the largest investment in recreation in the history of the county by constructing district parks in Pāhoa, Waimea and Kona.

Despite the budget challenges of recent years, we continue to invest in alternative energy and agriculture because we understand those sectors are essential for a sustainable economy. We installed solar arrays on county buildings to reduce oil consumption and utility costs, and will use wind power at Lālāmilo to provide clean energy to supply water to our communities. We are encouraging growth in agriculture by investing in training and support for farmers, and provided 1,739 acres of county-owned lands for ranching and community-based agriculture at the Kapulena Agricultural Park. We joined in a public-private partnership to upgrade the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse and provide a new rendering facility to support our grass-fed beef industry.

At the same time, we have preserved funding for public safety and essential core services. We funded additional police officers for the Puna and Ka‘ū communities, and opened the new Makalei Fire Station. We protected funding for nutrition, recreation and other services for seniors, and preserved and expanded programs for our children and youth. We maintained county funding to non-profit organizations serving the people most in need in our communities.

Fewer Employees, Growing Costs

We want to thank our county workers for their efforts during the Great Recession, which was a time when people across our island made sacrifices. Many of our employees accepted furloughs even as overtime was cut and staffing levels in county agencies were reduced because of hiring restrictions. County employees’ workloads increased, but their hard work and dedication allowed us to continue to deliver essential county services and protect public safety.

During these many challenging budget years, the size of the county workforce declined from 2,787 in November 2008, to a total of 2,632 more than five years later.

Even with that smaller workforce, the new negotiated collective bargaining agreements will significantly increase our employee costs in the year ahead. Wages, salaries and fringe benefits including health care and retirement for all of our employees will increase in all departments by a total of $20.9 million in Fiscal Year 2014-2015, with most of that increase attributable to these new agreements.

County of Hawai‘i tax collections in the year ahead will be $8.24 million or 3.6 percent more than the amount of property taxes collected when this administration began in 2008. However, the combined cost of employee wages, fringe benefits and health care expenses has grown by
$31.1 million or 17.3 percent during the same period.

This year the Hawai‘i State Legislature agreed to raise the cap on the amount of transient accommodations tax that is distributed to the counties, and the new hotel tax allocation will provide an additional $1.86 million to the County of Hawai‘i. This revised budget adopts the fiscally responsible strategy of investing that entire amount into pre-funding future employee health benefits, also known as GASB 45. That allows the county to increase its contribution to GASB 45 to $6.09 million for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, which is nearly double the contribution budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Revenue Estimates

General Fund

  • Real Property Tax – Revenue projections have increased by $1,700,000, as the result of upward valuation adjustments and a reduction in the tax appeal allowance.
  • State Grant in Aid – As the result of state legislative action, the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) allocation to Hawai‘i County increased by $1,860,000.
  • Fund Balance Carryover – Carryover projections have increased by $770,000, which represents an increase in current year expenditure savings as a result of restrictions on hiring, travel, equipment and other spending.

Solid Waste Fund

  • Beverage Container Deposit Program – Revenue was reduced by $217,307 to reflect the revised grant amount from the Department of Health.
  • Transfer from General Fund – An increase to general fund transfer was included to provide additional revenue of $412,742 to meet the critical operational needs of the Solid Waste Division.

Significant Changes to February 28, 2014 Expenditure Estimates

General Fund

  • Police – Funding from the Hawai‘i Impact Grant is expected to increase by $129,000.  Additionally, funding is included for community safety programs.
  • Fire – Funding was increased by $320,000 in the Ocean Safety Division, for salaries, equipment and miscellaneous costs to support a pilot jet ski program.
  • Prosecuting Attorney – Additional staffing was provided to meet the increased demand and workload placed on office staff by changes in judiciary requirements, increasing the budget by about $186,000.
  • Parks & Recreation – Funding of approximately $180,000 was provided for staffing to accommodate increased parks maintenance responsibilities related to new facilities and to respond to increased use of existing facilities.
  • Transfer to Solid Waste – Subsidy to the fund has been increased by $412,742 to support additional recycling program needs and solid waste operations.
  • Transfer to Debt Service – Budget was increased by $291,793 based on anticipated activity on State Revolving Fund (SRF) funded projects.
  • Postemployment Benefits – Funding in the amount of $1,860,000 was added in the expectation of making a larger contribution toward the County’s unfunded future health benefits liability (GASB 45).

Solid Waste Fund

  • Solid Waste – The recycling program appropriation decreased $217,307 due to a reduction in the Beverage Container Deposit Program grant funding, and costs increased in glass recycling and organic recycling by $202,000.  Funding for cover material at the Hilo Landfill increased by $132,000 to ensure state Department of Health requirements are met.

Position Changes from February 28, 2014 Budget Proposal

This amended budget proposes 10 new positions and an increased time element for one position.

Department Position Title
Information Technology Information Systems Analyst III
Fire – Ocean Safety Water Safety Officer II (4)
Prosecuting Attorney Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk III (2)
Prosecuting Attorney Legal Clerk I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I
Parks and Recreation Park Caretaker I (1/2 to Full Time)

Conclusion

This proposed budget represents a collaborative effort by our departments to address the growing needs of our growing population in a way that is both responsive and fiscally responsible. Our years of careful planning and conservative budgeting have positioned us to invest in our communities while maintaining core services and meeting our obligations to our employees.

The recent, modest gains in property values point to a gradual economic recovery, and we remain cautiously optimistic that the economic and budget outlook will continue to improve. We believe our efforts to promote renewable energy, agriculture and higher education are an investment in the future of our island. We will continue to invest in recreational projects to support our youth and families and to protect public safety, and we ask for your support in these efforts.

We look forward to working closely with the County Council to address our community’s new and continuing demands for public services while also maintaining a balanced and responsible budget.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

Open Letter to UH Hilo Regarding the UH Hilo Student Government Election and Election Process

Aloha Dr. Oaks and UH Hilo,

This is an open letter to UH Hilo regarding the UH Hilo student government election and election process. We have not had a clear response from UH Hilo as to why the past election results were ‘nullified.’ We contest that decision and call for the past election results to be made public. We will sign the necessary paperwork to participate in the upcoming ‘new election,’ but we do this in protest.

​We are ​​ greatly concerned as to the way this ‘new election’ is already being handled by UH Hilo staff. Please see the individual complaint made by previously disqualified student candidate Ardena Saarinen below.

We have requested that the ‘new election’ will be fair and transparent. Dr. Oaks responded to our requests as to the handling of the ‘new election’ by saying,

Our campus IT person, Mr. Sunny Walker, has set up a secure system with firewalls and also included measures to protect against hacking and fraud. Only myself, Mr. Walker, and possibly Interim VC Makuakane-Lundin will have access to the votes.

We formally request that information technology specialist, Mike Purvis, be allowed to confirm the accuracy and security of the new voting process. From the handling of the last UH Hilo student government election we do not have confidence that UH Hilo will run a fair, secure, and transparent ‘new election.’

We emailed you a list of questions on April 30, 2014 (attached) regarding questions we have about the last election, and the overall election process . Please answer those questions. We are paying students at UH Hilo, and we have a right to know why we were disenfranchised.

Respectfully submitted,

Disqualified UH Hilo Student Candidates:

Glenn Aanstoos          Ryu Kakazu
Josh Boranian             Chantelle Mashreghy
Jarod Campbell           Ardena Saarinen

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.

These students have filed an ethics complaint against the UH Hilo Election Committee.

Complaint from formally disqualified UH Hilo student candidate on ‘new election’ process:

On Sat, May 3, 2014 at 4:56 PM, Ardena Saarinen <ardena@hawaii.edu> wrote:

Aloha Dr. Oaks, Ms. Makuakane-Lundin, and fellow candidates,

Again I am writing out of great concern for the way this ‘new’ election is already being handled by UHH staff. My previous email to you pointed out that there was supposed to be an email sent out on behalf of UHHSA on Friday 5/2/14 with the attached fair campaign election code to be signed and returned. I did not hear back from you regarding my concern and the promised email was never sent. In fact, no candidates received an email with this promised information.

Seeing as that my confidence in, UHH, UHHSA and Ellen Kusano has already been greatly diminished, I replied to that ‘candidates meeting’ email and requested that UHHSA send me the documents ASAP so that I could sign and return them.

Ms. Kusano then sent me (and only me) all of those documents. I read them, signed the code of conduct as required, and then scanned it and emailed it back yesterday evening 5/2/14. I was then told via email by Ms. Kusano that I still needed to bring in the original copy to her office by Noon on Monday 5/5/14, or if I could not to have someone else do it.

I feel that this is completely inappropriate in today’s technological world, does campus center not utilize their own computers and printers? This is not a legal document for which an original signature would even matter. I wonder why I must spend even more time on this disaster of an election to meet the demands of

Ms. Kusano. There is nothing ANYWHERE that states I must bring in the ORIGINAL document. This, I believe is another tactic to potentially disqualify either myself or even some of the other candidates. And I absolutely feel that there in nothing FAIR or ETHICAL about the unequal treatment we (candidates) are being subjected to especially during the last week of classes and when we are ALL working on final projects and papers.

Mahalo,

Ardena Saarinen,

Student Intern – Land and Property Management, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

 

Big Island Police Searching for 25-Year-Old Man Who Frequents Kona and Kohala Areas

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for information about a 25-year-old man who is wanted on an outstanding warrant and for questioning in an unrelated case.

Kaina Namaka Black

Kaina Namaka Black

Kaina Namaka Black is wanted on a bench warrant for contempt of court. He is also wanted for questioning in a theft case.

He is described as 5-foot-6, 145 pounds with short black hair, brown eyes and a missing front tooth. He has no permanent address but frequents the Kona and South Kohala districts.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts not to approach him but to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 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.

Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Transportation for Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

The Justice Department announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the state of Hawaii and the state of Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division (HDOT-Airports) alleging that the defendants discriminated against former employee Sherry Valmoja by subjecting her to sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

US Department of Justice

According to the complaint, Valmoja complained to the defendants about the harassment and was then subjected to retaliation, also in violation of Title VII.  Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion, and prohibits retaliation against an employee who opposes an unlawful employment practice or against an employee who has made a charge or participated in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under the act.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, alleges that during Valmoja’s employment as a law enforcement canine handler, she was subjected to sexual harassment in the form of lewd and unwelcome comments.  Valmoja also suffered intimidation by a co-worker.  The complaint also alleges that the unwelcome conduct and intimidation began as early as 2009, when both Valmoja and her co-worker were employed by a private company contracted to the defendants; after both Valmoja and the co-worker became employed by the state of Hawaii, the harassment and intimidation continued until Valmoja’s ultimate termination in 2012.

The suit further alleges that the co-worker confronted Valmoja about her prior sexual harassment complaints and intimidated her after canine handler services were transferred to Hawaii.  Despite timely complaints by Valmoja about her co-worker’s conduct, the defendants failed to take reasonable steps to remedy the harassment.  Instead, the defendants implemented an employment schedule that brought Valmoja and her harasser into close contact.  When Valmoja objected to the continued harassment and retaliation by other HDOT-Airports employees, including managers, her employment was terminated.

Through this lawsuit, the United States seeks declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the defendants to develop and implement policies preventing their employees from being subjected to sexual harassment sex and retaliation.  In addition, the United States seeks monetary damages for Valmoja as compensation for the employers’ discriminatory actions.

“ The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of all federal civil rights laws under its jurisdiction, including Title VII’s prohibition against sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace ,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the department will take necessary action to eliminate and remedy the effects of unlawful sexual harassment in our public sector workplaces .”

Valmoja originally filed her sexual harassment and retaliation charges against HDOT-Airports with the Honolulu Field Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigated the matters, determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that discrimination had occurred based upon sex and retaliation and referred the matters to the Department of Justice.  This lawsuit is brought by the department as a result of a project designed to ensure vigorous enforcement of Title VII against state and local governmental employers by enhancing cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division.

“Sex discrimination and retaliation in the workplace continue to be problematic — they’re a factor in 32 and 43 percent, respectively, of all EEOC charges filed in Hawaii,” said Director Timothy Riera for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office.  “The EEOC is pleased to partner with the Department of Justice to ensure that employers appropriately address sex discrimination and promote work environments where employees are free to complain without fear of retribution.”

More information about Title VII and other federal employment laws is available at the division’s Employment Litigation Section website .  The continued enforcement of Title VII is a priority of the Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is available on the division website .

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website .

New Online Tool to Track Whales Around the Hawaii Islands

First in Hawaii we were able to track sharks… now we have the ability to track whales through a new interactive animated map located here: Smartmine Whale Tracking map

Where whales were at on 5/5/14 at 10:20

Where whales were at on 5/5/14 at 10:20 am

This interactive animated map was put together by the earth sciences and tech company GeoEngineers using data from the Cascadia Research group. It lets you follow sperm, beaked, false killer, and pigmy killer whales around the islands, while projecting wind and ocean currents. You can even choose to stalk an individual whale.