Coast Guard Medevacs Crewmember From Tug Off Oahu

A 65-year-old crewman from the tug vessel Natoma arrived safely to Honolulu Thursday, after being medevaced by the Coast Guard 50 miles north of Oahu.

A 65-year-old crewman from the tug vessel Natoma arrived safely to Honolulu Thursday, after being medevaced by the Coast Guard approximately 60 north of Oahu. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted the crewman aboard and safely delivered him in stable condition to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu at 12:18 p.m. (U.S. Coast Guard video/Released)

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point hoisted the crewman aboard and safely delivered him in stable condition to Queens Medical Center in Honolulu at 12:18 p.m. An HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point also flew cover and provided additional communications for Dolphin aircrew.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received a request for a medevac at approximately 8:50 a.m., from the captain of the Natoma for a 65-year-old crewman who was reportedly was suffering stroke like symptoms. The vessel was approximately 70 miles offshore of Oahu at the time of the request.

Watchstanders from SCC Honolulu consulted the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon who recommended the medevac.

The Hercules aircrew was diverted from a training mission at 9:48 a.m., and the Dolphin aircrew was launched at 10:45 a.m.

“This case illustrates our units ability to remain always ready,” said Charles Turner, a command duty officer at SCC Honolulu. “Whether our crews are busy conducting a training mission on land, in the air or at sea, they are ready to respond. They were able to get this gentleman quickly to the adequate care he needed.”

The men and women of Air Station Barbers Point serve as “Guardians of the Pacific” in the largest and most culturally diverse of all Coast Guard operating areas — 12.2 million square miles of open ocean, atolls, and island nations. They enhance the readiness of the 14th District with long range patrol and logistical support capabilities, as well as quick and versatile search and rescue response using the Hercules and the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Crime in Hawaii at Record Low Level in 2016

Attorney General Douglas S. Chin announced today the release of the State of Hawaii’s annual Uniform Crime Report, Crime in Hawaii, 2016.

Attorney General Doug Chin

The report shows that in Calendar Year 2016, a total of 45,805 Index Crimes* were reported in the State of Hawaii, yielding a rate of 3,206 offenses per 100,000 resident population, the lowest on record since statewide data collection began in 1975. Hawaii’s Index Crime rate in 2016 was 6.2% below the rate reported in 2015, and 27.1% below the rate reported a decade earlier (2007).

Attorney General Chin said, “The record low crime statistics in 2016 highlight the outstanding work of law enforcement throughout the State and in all four counties. These numbers also help refute the false narrative from President Trump’s administration that crime in our country is at an all-time high.”

A total of 3,452 violent Index Crimes were reported statewide in 2016, yielding a rate of 241.6 offenses per 100,000 residents. Hawaii’s violent Index Crime rate in 2016 was 2.0% below the rate reported in 2015, and 12.5% below the rate reported in 2007.

There were 42,353 property Index Crimes reported statewide in 2016, yielding a record low rate of 2,965 offenses per 100,000 residents. Hawaii’s property Index Crime rate in 2016 was 6.5% below the rate reported in 2015, and 28.0% below the rate reported in 2007.

Other highlights of Crime in Hawaii, 2016 include:

  • The rate of reported offenses for two violent Index Crimes decreased in the State of Hawaii in 2016:  robbery, by 9.0%; and aggravated assault, by 2.3%. The rate of reported offenses for the other two violent Index Crimes increased:  murder, by 20.9%; and rape, by 11.9%.
  • Rates of reported offenses decreased for two property Index Crime categories: burglary, by 12.0%; and larceny-theft, by 6.6%. The motor vehicle theft rate increased by 1.3%.

* Including the violent Index Crimes of murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and tracked separately, human trafficking, commercial sex acts and human trafficking, involuntary servitude; the property Index Crimes of burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny-theft; and, tracked separately, arson.

  • The number of Index Crime arrests fell by 20.1% statewide in 2016. Arrests for violent Index Crimes decreased 13.9%, and arrests for property Index Crimes decreased 21.7%. Crime in Hawaii, 2016 also provides state and county data on the age, gender, and race/ethnicity of arrestees.
  • The City & County of Honolulu’s total Index Crime rate, violent crime rate, and property crime rate all decreased by approximately 2.5% in 2016, and its burglary rate fell to a record low level.
  • In 2016, Hawaii County’s total Index Crime rate and property crime rate decreased 24.1% and 26.5%, respectively, to reach their record low levels, and the violent crime rate rose 16.3%. Hawaii County’s burglary rate in 2016 was also at its record low level.
  • Maui County reported record low rates for total Index Crimes and property crime in 2016, with decreases of 5.6% and 4.3%, respectively, as compared to 2015. Maui County’s violent crime rate fell by 19.1% in 2016, and its burglary and larceny-theft rates decreased to record low levels.
  • Kauai County’s total Index Crime rate decreased 5.3% in 2016, reaching its lowest level on record. The violent crime rate decreased 24.1% and the property crime rate dropped 7.8%, also reaching a record low level. In 2016, Kauai County also reported its record low burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft rates.
  • Thirty-five murders were reported statewide in 2016, marking a 20.7% increase compared to the prior year. Males comprised 91% of the alleged murder offenders and 66% of the victims in 2016. Roughly two-thirds (68.6%) of the murder victims knew the offenders, and firearms were used in about half (51.4%) of the murders.
  • Of the 2,851 murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults reported statewide in 2016, 43.9% were committed using strongarm weapons (i.e., hands, fists, and feet); 25.2% with “other” or unknown weapons; 18.3% with knives or other edged weapons; and 12.6% with firearms.
  • Over $80 million in property value was reported stolen in the State of Hawaii in 2016, down 5.9% from the figure reported in 2015. Of the total value stolen in 2016, 32.2% was recovered, marking an increase from the 29.5% that was recovered in 2015.
  • No police officers were killed in the line of duty in the State of Hawaii during 2016, but 373 officers were assaulted, yielding a rate of 12.5 assaults per 100 officers. Crime in Hawaii, 2016 also provides data on the time of day, type of assignment, and the weapons used in assaults against police officers.
  • On October 31, 2016, a total of 2,995 police officers and 784 civilians were employed by the four county police departments, denoting a 0.4% increase in workforce from the figures reported from October 31, 2015.

 Record Crime Rates*
State of Hawaii and Counties, 2016

State of Hawaii

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.

City & County of Honolulu

  • Record low burglary rate.

Hawaii County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.

Maui County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.

Kauai County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.
  • Record low motor vehicle theft rate.

* Within jurisdiction, since the start of statewide data collection in 1975.

Copies of the complete Crime in Hawaii, 2016 report can be downloaded from the Research and Statistics section of Attorney General’s Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division web site at

House Transportation and Finance Committees Pass Rail Funding Bill

The House of Representatives committees on Transportation and Finance today passed SB4, a critical step in moving the bill forward to provide the funds needed to complete the City’s rail project.

Senate Bill 4 Report Title:  County Surcharge on State Tax; Extension; Transient Accommodations Tax; Appropriations:

Authorizes a county that has adopted a surcharge on state tax to extend the surcharge to 12/31/2030. Authorizes a county to adopt a surcharge on state tax before 3/31/2018, under certain conditions. Decreases from 10% to 1% the surcharge gross proceeds retained by the State. Allows the director of finance to pay revenues derived from the county surcharge under certain conditions. Clarifies uses of surcharge revenues. Establishes a mass transit… (See bill for full description.)

Stakeholders and the public testified at the State Capitol today including City, State and HART officials before both committees voted to pass the bill. Transportation voted 4 to 2 in favor with one excused, and Finance voted 8 to 6 in favor of the bill with one excused.

Transportation members voting yes were: Henry Aquino, Nadine Nakamura, Joy San Buenaventura (with reservations), and Bob McDermott. Voting no were: Sean Quinlan and Tom Brower. Mark Hashem was excused.

Finance members voting yes were: Sylvia Luke, Ty J.K. Cullen, Cedric Asuega Gates, Daniel Holt, Jarrett Keohokalole, Matt LoPresti, Nadine Nakamura and Kyle Yamashita. Voting no were: Romy Cachola, Bertrand Kobayashi, Lynn DeCoite, Nicole Lowen, Andria Tupola and Gene Ward. Beth Fukumoto was excused.

The bill contains two funding mechanisms: a three-year extension of the 0.5 % GET surcharge on Oahu and a 13-year 1% increase in the TAT statewide. This bill ensures that the City’s rail project will be sufficiently funded and reaches Ala Moana.

Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke said the bill also mandates accountability for hard-earned taxpayer money.

“This bill will provide enough money to fund the City’s rail project to Ala Moana and require the City to be transparent about how they are spending that taxpayer money,” Rep. Luke said.

The bill provides accountability by requiring a state-run audit and annual financial reviews of the rail project, and requires the State Comptroller to certify HART’s invoices for capital costs. The bill also requires the Senate President and the House Speaker to each appoint two non-voting, ex-officio members to the HART board of directors.

Transportation Committee Chair Henry Aquino said not depending solely on the GET to fund rail will save taxpayer money.

“By adding the hotel room tax to the mix, which provides and immediate cash flow to the project, we are saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars that would be spend on financing fees,” Rep. Aquino said.

The bill now moves to the full House for a vote on second reading tomorrow.

Senate Roll Call – Who Voted for What When It Came Down to the Rail

Today at the Hawaii State Capitol Building in Honolulu, the Senate voted 16-9 in favor of moving Senate Bill 4 over to the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 4 Report Title:  County Surcharge on State Tax; Extension; Transient Accommodations Tax; Appropriations:

Authorizes a county that has adopted a surcharge on state tax to extend the surcharge to 12/31/2030. Authorizes a county to adopt a surcharge on state tax before 3/31/2018, under certain conditions. Decreases from 10% to 1% the surcharge gross proceeds retained by the State. Allows the director of finance to pay revenues derived from the county surcharge under certain conditions. Clarifies uses of surcharge revenues. Establishes a mass transit… (See bill for full description.)

Many folks were wondering who voted yes and no on moving this bill forward and I was able to obtain the following roll call sheet from today’s hearing and for what it’s worth… all four Big Island Senators voted against moving this bill forward:

Big Island Police Searcing for Missing 15-Year-Old Puna Girl

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 15-year-old Puna girl reported as missing.

Tanika Nihipali-Franchey

Tanika Nihipali-Franchey was last seen at her residence (July 18). She is described as 4-feet-9-inches, 115 pounds, with brown eyes and shoulder-length brown hair.

Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call Officer Kenneth Ishii at the Puna Police Station (808) 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. 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.

Governor Ige Appoints Two Third Circuit Court (Island of Hawaiʻi) Judges

Gov. David Ige today announced two appointments to the Third Circuit Court (Island of Hawaiʻi) as follows:

Henry Taro Nakamoto, 53, District Family Court Judge, Third Circuit, is appointed to the Third Circuit Court (Hilo) to fill the vacancy created by the December 2016 retirement of The Honorable Glenn S. Hara.

Henry Taro Nakamoto

Judge Nakamoto has served as a Family Court Judge and a District Court Judge beginning in June 2014. Prior to his service on the bench, he practiced law at Nakamoto, Okamoto & Yamamoto where he was a partner and director, and Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, where he was an associate. He was born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island and practiced law there for 23 years, focusing on family and civil law. Nakamoto completed a B.A. in economics at Cornell University before earning his J.D. at Hastings College of Law.

“I would like to thank Gov. Ige for giving me the opportunity to serve as a circuit court judge. I appreciate all the support I have gotten from friends and family and will strive to continue to serve the community,” said Nakamoto.

Attorney Robert D.S. Kim, 63, is appointed to the Third Circuit Court (Kona) to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of The Honorable Judge Ronald Ibarra in June 2017.

Robert D.S. Kim

Kim, who is in private practice, is a litigator who concentrates in the areas of criminal defense, family law, civil litigation, personal injury litigation, and administrative proceedings. Kim has served as the West Hawaii Bar President for many years. He has extensive civil, family and criminal trial experience. Kim graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi – Hilo with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and earned his law degree at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

“I am honored and humbled to be nominated to fill the position of retired Judge Ronald Ibarra. I am committed to work diligently and respectfully if I am confirmed by the Senate,” said Kim.

“Judge Nakamoto and Mr. Kim both understand the law and the role of a judge in ensuring fair and impartial decisions in our judicial system. They will serve the people of Hawaiʻi well,” said Gov. Ige.

The process used to select these appointees is the same process used in prior selections and will be used whenever Gov. Ige makes judicial appointments.

Gov. Ige personally interviewed each candidate, received input from retired Hawai‘i State Supreme Court Associate Justice James Duffy, who reviewed the qualifications of the nominees and solicited feedback on each from the law community, and reviewed testimony submitted by the public. The Senate confirmation also allows opportunities for the general public to weigh in.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

UH Hilo Offering American Sign Language Classes

The College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers non-credit American Sign Language (ASL) classes open to anyone age 15 and older.American Sign Language Level 1A will introduce the basics of ASL, including grammar and vocabulary for simple social conversation. Participants will also learn about deaf culture and rules of social interaction. Instructor Vicki Linter has been an ASL interpreter for 25 years and has taught ASL in California and Hawaiʻi. Classes will be held in UH Hilo’s Kanaka`ole Hall Room 106 on Wednesdays from 5 – 6:30 p.m., September 20 – November 22. The cost is $150.

American Sign Language Level 1B is for anyone who has some experience with ASL. Participants will focus on advancing expressive and receptive conversational skills. The course will be taught by Pam Bond, a deaf instructor and native in ASL with 12 years of teaching experience at Brigham Young University and at the high school level in Utah. Classes will be held in UH Hilo’s Kanaka`ole Hall Room 106 on Thursdays from 5 – 6:30 p.m., September 14 – November 16. The cost is $150.

Both classes require the Signing Naturally Student Workbook, Level 1, Units 1-6.

For more information and to register, call CCECS at 932-7830 or visit

Hawaii Senate Passes Rail Bill

Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today passed Senate Bill 4 on third reading by a vote of 16-9 to provide funding to complete construction on the City and County of Honolulu’s rail transit project.

SB4 addresses the City and County of Honolulu’s rail construction shortfall of $2.378 billion by extending the General Excise Tax on Oahu for three additional years through December 31, 2030 which will provide $1.046 billion. It also raises the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) by one percent to 10.25 percent for 13 years, to December 31, 2030. This will provide $1.326 billion. SB4 permanently increases the counties’ share of the TAT from $93 million to $103 million. The measure reduces the State Department of Taxation’s administrative fee on the GET surcharge from 10 percent to one percent. The measure creates a Mass Transit Special Fund to review and disburse funds to the city for its costs on the rail project. It also requires a state run audit of the rail project and annual financial reviews.

SB4 now crosses over to the House for their consideration.

A complete schedule of the hearings can be viewed at

State Civil Rights Commission Settles Disability Discrimination Case with the County of Maui

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) and the County of Maui today announced the settlement of a complaint alleging the denial of a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability.The no-fault settlement provides for review of the County of Maui’s non-discrimination policy by the HCRC, with revisions as deemed necessary, non-discrimination training for County of Maui employees, with a specific focus on disability discrimination, and monetary relief to the complainant.  All parties may now move forward and avoid the time and expense of extensive litigation.

HCRC Executive Director William Hoshijo stated, “The County of Maui should be commended for agreeing to review its current policies and training to prevent and eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunity for all in county employment, regardless of disability.”

County of Maui Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist Ralph Thomas agreed, “It has always been the County of Maui’s policy to provide reasonable accommodations training to employees and managers so they have the information needed to address any physical or mental disabilities they may encounter while employed with the County of Maui.  This settlement reaffirms that commitment.”

The case involved a long-time employee of the County of Maui who claimed that she was denied a reasonable accommodation in the workplace.  The employee’s doctor requested the elimination or reassignment of a job function and the requested accommodation was initially granted to the employee.  However, the employee’s request for an accommodation was eventually denied.  The case was settled during conciliation after an HCRC finding of reasonable cause, but before a final decision was issued by the Commission and with no admission by the County of Maui of any wrongdoing.

Under Hawaiʻi law, an employee with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation, which is an adjustment or change needed to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  Managers and supervisors should be trained to distinguish between the essential and marginal functions of the job when considering a request for a reasonable accommodation.

If a request for accommodation has been made, the employer must initiate an interactive process with the employee to determine what, if any, accommodation can be provided.  Communication between the employer and employee during the interactive process is essential.  The parties should identify the precise limitations resulting from the disability that impact job performance, whether an adjustment or change is needed to allow the employee with a disability to perform the essential job functions, and if any alternative accommodations may be effective in meeting the employee’s needs.

Reasonable accommodation in the workplace is not preferential treatment, rather, it allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the position.  The employee with a disability is not entitled to his/her preferred accommodation if the employer has identified an alternative reasonable accommodation that also effectively allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.  Further, an employer may deny a proposed accommodation by showing that it would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business.  The goal of the interactive process is to identify a reasonable accommodation for both sides.

“What should an employer do when an employee with a disability requests a reasonable accommodation?” Hoshijo says, “both the employer and the employee have an obligation to engage in an interactive process, or simply a discussion to see if there is a reasonable accommodation.  Both state law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require this, and it may seem complex, but at its core it is based on common sense and good faith.”

The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded services.  If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination on any basis protected under state law, contact the HCRC at:  telephone (808) 586-8636, or email

For more information on employment discrimination, go to the HCRC webpage at:

Big Island Charter School Awarded $1 Million School Improvement Grant

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo Public Charter School is the recipient of a $1 million School Improvement Grant (SIG) for school years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo Public Charter School

The federal grant is designed to support Title I schools that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to use them to substantially raise the achievement of students. State Education Agencies administer the SIG program by creating competitive subgrants.

Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo will be supported by Hawai’i DOE staff to ensure grant requirements are fulfilled.

The Hawai’i Island public charter school will receive the funds for school years 2017-18 and 2018-19 to boost student achievement. School Improvement Grants (SIGs) are awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to states to create competitive subgrants.

The SIG program has invested more than $7 billion to transform some of the country’s lowest performing schools. Nationwide, the efforts have been credited with the decline in dropout rates and an increase in graduation rates.

Key documents

USS John Paul Jones Intercepts Target Missile Off Coast of Hawaii

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and U.S. Navy sailors aboard USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile (SM) 6 guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii, Aug. 29.

A medium-range ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, Aug. 29. (U.S. Navy/Latonja Martin)

John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar and onboard SM-6 missiles executed the intercept.

“We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD (Ballistic Missile Defense) ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.”

This test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile (FTM) 27 Event 2, marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target.

Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program.

Hawaiian Electric Companies Submit Plan to Modernize Island Grids

The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their Grid Modernization Strategy with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) yesterday, providing a roadmap for building more resilient and renewable-ready island grids.

Yesterday’s filing follows the submission of the companies’ draft report in late June. The draft was posted online and presented at four public meetings on Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu to review the strategy with customers, answer their questions and receive their comments. Dozens of written comments and transcripts of the public meetings are included in a separate document that accompanied the filing.

The plan, “Modernizing Hawaii’s Grid for Our Customers,” outlines near-term initiatives that strengthen the grid through investments in technology to enable more renewable energy resources to be safely and efficiently integrated with the grid, including private rooftop solar.

Longer term, the strategy is to continue to evolve the grid as a platform to enable greater customer choice and support statewide economic development and “smart communities” efforts that rely on robust data and energy management systems.

The Companies estimate it will cost $205 million to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light over the next six years. The plan aims to help bring on more renewable resources – customer-sited and grid-sourced – increase reliability, and give customers new choices to manage their energy use.

Highlights of this near-term work include:

  • Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, i.e., to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits and customers interested in demand response programs, variable rates or electricity usage data
  • Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater rooftop solar adoption
  • Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology

To read the filing, please use the following links:

Celebration of Life and Silent Auction Planned for Ernest Jackson

Ernest James Jackson was killed tragically in a motorcycle accident August 24, 2017 in Pahoa HI. He leaves behind his wife Jenn and his 3 children: Jamar, Tristan, and Amora.

His Celebration of Life will be Saturday September 2, 2017, 1pm until 4pm, at the E-Max building, Kalani Honua Resort, 12-6860 Kalapana-Kapoho road, Pahoa.

There will be a silent auction in conjunction with the Celebration of Life, with the proceeds going to Ernest’s children. We are accepting all manner of donations for the auction; massages, watsu, art, meals, vacation packages, jewelry, personal services, etc.

If you would like to donate something for the auction, please contact the organizers Kevin Horton and Misti Johnson.

Kevin Horton/Misti Johnson
PH: 808-965-1084
FaceBook: Kevin Horton

Community Forum to Discuss Puna Roads

Representative Joy San Buenaventura will host a Community Forum on Saturday, September 9, at the Hawaiian Paradise Park Activity Center. The panel will include representatives from the Department of Transportation, Hawaii County Council, and the Hawaii County Department of Public Works.

  • WHEN: Saturday, September 9, 1:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Hawaiian Paradise Park Activity Center, 15-1570 Makuu Dr, Keaau, HI 96749

Panelists will speak about the condition of roads in Puna and provide progress updates for highway 130 and other roads. The event is free and open to the public with seating space assigned on a first come basis.

Hawaii Lawmaker Elated With the Establishment of the Health and Human Services Committee

Representative John Mizuno (D-Kalihi, Kamehameha Heights), was confirmed today as the first Chairman of the newly combined committees of Health and Human Services through the passage of House Resolution 4 and 5. The resolutions amend the standing committees and committee assignments, and the Rules of the House of Representatives of the Twenty-Ninth Legislature of the State of Hawaii to Establish the Committee on Health and Human Services.

Rep. John Mizuno

“I am humbled by the passage of House Resolutions 4 and 5 and for the kind assignment and trust displayed by Speaker Scott K. Saiki, the leadership team and the caucus members to place me as the Chairman of the newly established Committee on Health and Human Services,” said Rep. Mizuno. “I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to Chair the combined committee and I anticipate a substantial workload for the upcoming 2018 session. With issues such as homelessness, possible cuts in Medicaid funding from the Federal government, compassionate care for our elderly and disabled, and a focus to be more efficient in the entire healthcare system in Hawaii, this will be an opportunistic 2018 session.”

“I will do my best to display careful, thorough thought in drafting sound policy and hearing good Legislation, which is congruent to Speaker Saiki, our leadership team, the majority caucus, as well as the GOP and the people of Hawaii. I look forward to a fruitful 2018 legislative session.”

11th Annual Peace Day Parade & Festival Schedule

On September 23, 2017, the 11th annual Peace Day Parade & Festival in Honoka‘a town joins millions of people across the planet, to honor the values of peace, compassion and global interdependence.

Photo by Evan Bordessa

This year’s theme, “Together for Peace,” echoes the United Nations’ theme for Peace Day, “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” On September 23, 2017, the 11th annual Peace Day Parade & Festival in Honoka‘a town joins millions of people across the planet, to honor the values of peace, compassion and global interdependence.

Expressing serious messaging in creative, colorful, and ultimately positive ways, these events use music, dance, drumming, acrobatics and more to bring community together. The Peace Day Parade steps off down Mamane Street at 11 a.m., and the Peace Festival starts immediately afterward, with live entertainment, a large community Bon Dance, food booths and keiki activities.
The adoption of the UN’s theme—intended to focus on refugees around the world—gives Honoka‘a and Hawai‘i Island the opportunity to stand with other global communities supporting peace locally. In light of recent events that further divide a troubled world, it also takes on new relevance.

“In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats,” said Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. “We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other.’ Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people, and societies, from achieving their full potential… Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”

Related Peace Day events take place throughout the month, September 14-30 (see schedule below). For more information and updates, please follow Peace Day Parade on Facebook, visit or email



This year’s theme, “Together for Peace,” echoes the United Nations’ theme for Peace Day this year. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners in various categories. Open to all ages, all grades, all school students and homeschoolers. Details and entry forms are available at Or contact Alicia Glover at 808-724-3373, Free.


Thursday, September 14, 5-6 p.m., “Read for Peace” in the Honoka‘a Library, presented by Friends of the Libraries. All are invited for an engaging conversation about the book “The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival” by John Vaillant, an international bestseller that has been translated into 15 languages. Film rights have been optioned by Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company.

Publisher’s Weekly has said, “Over millennia of shared history, the indigenous inhabitants had worked out a tenuous peace with the Amur, a formidable hunter that can grow to over 500 pounds and up to nine feet long, but the arrival of European settlers, followed by decades of Soviet disregard for the wilds, disrupted that balance… {the book} leads readers into the lair of the tiger and into the heart of the Kremlin to explain how the Amur went from being worshipped to being poached.”

Additional books in the project are “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama and “The Wise Heart” by Jack Kornfield. Kornfield was teacher of Mary Grace Orr, who will lead the September 30 Day of Mindfulness. Readers are welcome to bring their favorite books that further the discussion of attaining peace.

199,000 CRANES

The Peace Committee has reached its goal of gathering a “flock” of 199,000 origami cranes, one representing each victim of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are now working on a unique three-dimensional interactive exhibition of the cranes, to share with the public as part of the Peace Day events. Still in the planning stages with a community of artists and creatives, the ultimate goal is to take the exhibit to Hiroshima as a gift. Extra hands are welcome to string the cranes in groups of 50: at the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua on First Friday, at Hāmākua Harvest, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., and September 22, 7-9 p.m. at Sea Dandelion Cafe ($10 dinner special).


Thursday, September 21, 3:30-5:30 p.m., at the Honoka‘a public library. Young artists are encouraged to come and express themselves on the sidewalks. A free activity for youth presented by the Friends of Honoka‘a Library; all materials provided. Free.


Friday, September 22, 5 p.m. at Cafe Il Mondo. The Blue Zones’ concept of “Wine at 5” suggests that people live longer when they take time out of their schedule to de-stress and enjoy socializing with friends in the community with good food and a relaxing drink. Cafe Il Mondo supports this concept with a special edition of their daily “Wine @ $5,” offering three select wines for $5 each, from 5-6 p.m., plus free samplings of wines from Blue Zones regions of the world, while they last. Entertainment will include the New Dharma Band as well as local favorites Sergio Ramirez and Robin Jensen.


Saturday, September 23, the 11th Annual Parade & Festival for the United Nations International Day of Peace steps off at 11 a.m. Mamane Street will be closed for this colorful and entertaining celebration, with Taiko drumming, hula, and all kinds of music. The Peace Day Festival follows immediately, with food booths, a variety of music, Bon Dance, Silent Auction and more.

CommUNITY Dance Party – Dancing Together for Peace

Saturday, September 23, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua.  A commUNITY gathering to embrace music and dancing as the perfect way to reduce stress and increase energetic vibrations of positivity into our lives. DJ RajaSick will be sharing a huge selection of tracks, including dance classics and musical vibes from all over the world. (Requests can be sent in advance to Admission is $5 (cash only) and keiki are free. Fresh Hawaiian ‘awa & Big Island Booch will be available for sale at $4. This is a family friendly event produced by Sea Dandelion Cafe. Plant-based vegetarian potluck dishes are welcome.


Saturday, September 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (registration at 9:30 a.m.), located in the Social Hall, Honoka‘a Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. Participants will experience guided sitting and walking meditation with Mary Grace Orr, a Dharma discussion with Q&A and a mindful, silent meal. Please RSVP to, or call 808-775-1064.

The Day of Mindfulness is free, and donations, or Dana, as offerings of generosity and gratitude for the teachings, will be gratefully accepted. No prior meditation experience is necessary. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch and a cushion. Chairs and additional meditation cushions will be available. For more information and updates, please follow Peace Day Parade on Facebook, visit or email

Hawai’i CC Nursing Instructor Receives National Recognition for Work in Psychiatric Nursing

Hawai’i Community College Nursing instructor Cheryl Puntil is the 2017 recipient of the Award for Distinguished Service from the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA).

Cheryl Puntil

Puntil will be recognized for her commitment, initiative, loyalty, integrity and exceptional and meritorious service at the 31st Annual National APNA Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on October 18. With more than 10,000 members, APNA is the largest professional membership organization committed to the specialty practice of psychiatric mental health (PMH) nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems, and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders.

Puntil and several APNA colleagues worked on the APNA Essential Suicide Competencies for nurse assessment and management of individuals at risk for suicide.

“Through [Cheryl’s] vision, determination, and perseverance, the APNA Suicide Competencies initiative became a reality and an exemplar, continues to expand, and addresses both a major national public health problem and gap in nursing education,” Puntil’s colleagues stated.

“It is an incredible honor to receive the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Award for Distinguished Service,” said Puntil. “I followed my passion and was lucky to find awesome mentors who paved the way for me to assist in establishing competencies that will change nursing practice and improve care for those at risk for suicide. I was very surprised and grateful for the acknowledgment from my esteemed colleagues who nominated me, and to the APNA board for voting on my behalf to receive the award.”

Puntil received her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the College of Saint Teresa and her Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is certified as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and a Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PMHCNS-BC).

Puntil joined Hawai’i CC Division of Nursing and Allied Health in 2014. Hawai’i CC offers Associate of Science Degree in Nursing and a Certificate of Achievement in Practical Nursing.

Suicide Prevention at Hawai’i CC

With suicide the second leading cause of death for persons 15-34, Hawai’i Community College has taken an active approach to suicide prevention. The college has established a Mental Wellness and Personal Development Service that offers services to students and leads trainings for faculty, staff and students in Safe Talk and QPR. Puntil has also brought Safe Talk training to Hawai’i CC Nursing students.

Puntil and Hawai’i CC Mental Health Therapist Kate De Soto were invited by UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Farrah-Marie Gomes to serve on the UH Suicide Prevention Committee.

The college will participate in National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September with tabling events, sign making and sign waving on September 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The goal is to bring awareness to the issue of suicidality and and enhance prevention efforts, said De Soto.

“We want to reduce the stigma of depression and suicidal thoughts so people have fewer barries to seeking help,” De Soto said. “The more we show support as a community, the more people are likely to speak up and the more people are likely to know what to do if someone does speak up.”

Students seeking services from the Mental Wellness and Personal Development office can contact De Soto at 934-2706 and

Governor Nominates Representative Marcus Oshiro to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board 

Gov. David Ige today announced that he has nominated State Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D-House District 46) to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board as Chairperson and Representative of the Public. Oshiro will be completing the term left vacant by the resignation of Kerry Komatsubara, which ends June 30, 2018, and he is also being appointed for a six-year term which ends June 30, 2024.

State Rep. Marcus Oshiro

“Marcus is a respected leader who knows and understands the issues, and he has the background and experience to step right in to fill this very important role,” said Gov. Ige. “This will be a new opportunity for him to use his talent and skills on behalf of the public, and I have every confidence in him.”

“I am humbled by Gov. Ige’s nomination to serve as the chairperson of the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. With the Senate’s approval, I look forward to ensuring our labor laws are applied fairly and consistently with the principles of collective bargaining in promoting the harmonious and cooperative relations between the parties.”

Oshiro has served in the State House of Representatives since being elected in 1994. He is a former vice speaker, majority leader, and is past-chair of the committees on finance and labor. He is an active member of the community,

Oshiro earned his Juris Doctorate at Willamette University College of Law after completing his undergraduate work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is a graduate of Leilehua High School.

Both nominations to fill Komatsubara’s term and to the additional six-year term are subject to Senate confirmation.

Hawaii Judge Betty Vitousek Leaves Lasting Legacy at 98

Retired Senior Family Court Judge Betty Vitousek, who was instrumental in creating a model for family courts across the country, passed away Monday morning. She was 98.

“Judge Vitousek was a person of great integrity, compassion and wisdom who shaped our Family Court into the strong institution it is today,” said Hawaii Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “From encouraging mediation to developing programs to help families cope with the impacts of divorce, she was an innovator who cared deeply about Hawaii’s children and families. Her many other contributions to our community included laying the groundwork for what became the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi. She also served as a mentor to countless lawyers and judges. We are deeply grateful for her legacy, and send our heartfelt sympathy and aloha to her family.”

In 1970, Gov. John A. Burns appointed Judge Vitousek to the newly created Family Court of the First Circuit. At that time, she was the only active female judge in the state, although there had been previously.

In 1977, she was named Senior Administrative Judge of the Family Court, where she oversaw its wide-ranging judicial services and programs. Judge Vitousek was instrumental in formulating its policies and procedures to address legal issues regarding families and children.

Judge Vitousek had a reputation for being hardworking, compassionate and fair, but firm and for treating everyone with dignity. She was also known for working collaboratively with her fellow judges and Judiciary staff while developing new programs, and making ongoing improvements within the Family Court.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Judge Vitousek, one of the greatest jurists in the history of the State of Hawaii’s Judiciary,” said Judge R. Mark Browning, Chief Judge of the First Circuit and previously the Senior Family Court Judge. “As a jurist and as a person, she personified grace and wisdom. I and many others will miss her. We are comforted by the fact that the values that she passed to us continue to be taught to a new generation of judges and lawyers. Her commitment to the children and the families of our state and to the community as a whole is a legacy that continues today.

“I had the privilege of knowing her personally. She touched my life in a profound way, for which I am eternally grateful. Judge Vitousek will live forever in our hearts and souls,” he added.

Judge Vitousek was an early advocate of mediation, working in partnership with the Neighborhood Justice Center for mediation, particularly for child custody cases. She also started “Divorce Experience,” to help divorcing couples to understand the process, both legally as well as emotionally. The program included how best to consider the needs of the children. Today the program is called “Kids First” and is mandatory for couples with children.

Judge Vitousek’s influence extended beyond Hawaii. She served as national president of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, was named a delegate to the White House Conference on Children, and served on the board of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court judges.

During her time on the bench, she was recognized by the Legal Aid Society, Protection and Advocacy Agency, and Hawaii Women Lawyers. She was also given the 1987 Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Distinguished Service Award.

Judge Vitousek retired from Family Court in 1988.

After retiring, she continued serving the community by volunteering on numerous boards and for the Supreme Court’s Appellate Mediation Program and Chief Justice’s Judicial Performance Review Panel.

Betty Belle Morrison was born in Wenatchee, WA. in 1919. After graduating from Lewis and Clark High School, she attended the University of Washington, earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1940.

That year she traveled by ship to Japan as a delegate of the American Student Conference. While on board, she met and became friends with Roy Vitousek of Honolulu. After the war, they reconnected and were married in December 1945.

They attended law school at Stanford University and graduated together in 1948.

After graduating from Stanford, Judge Vitousek practiced adoption law for a number of years. She conducted the research which led to the formation of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi, and volunteered for numerous community organizations. She became the first executive director of the Hawaii State Bar Association and worked with Judges Gerald Corbett and Samuel King to pass legislation establishing Family Courts in Hawaii, only the second state to do so.

Judge Vitousek is survived by her sons Peter (Pamela Matson) Vitousek and Randy (Sharon) Vitousek, and daughter Kelly (Frederic Manke) Vitousek, six beloved grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Roy Vitousek passed away in 1994.

Services are pending.

Mayor Harry Kim Opposed to Permanent Cap on Counties’ Transient Accommodation Tax

Testimony by Harry Kim, Mayor, County of Hawai’i before Senate Ways & Means Re: SB 4:

The County of Hawai’i opposes the permanent cap on the counties’ share of the Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT). This cap is unnecessary to achieve all other aspects of the bill to finance Honolulu’s rail. The bill proposes to finance rail by extending the General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge period to 12/31/2030, increasing the share of the surcharge that goes to rail by decreasing the administrative charge retained by the State, and increasing the TAT rate by 1% and dedicating all of that increase to rail. There is no reason related to rail financing to cap the share of the TAT to the counties.

A cap on the counties’ TAT share is contrary to the Legislature’s own working group report and the original intent of the TAT tax summarized as follows:

  • Working Group Recommendation. The working group recommended the Tourism Special Fund receive $82 million in FY 2016 and increase in subsequent years in line with the Consumer Price Index for Honolulu, $31 million constant for the Convention Center-Turtle Bay-Special Land Develop Fund, and the remainder split between the State and counties at 55% for the State and 45% for the counties. Based on total TAT revenues in 2016 of $444 million, the $103,000,000 cap represents 31% of the remainder of the TAT after allocations to the Tourism Special Fund ($82 million) and the Convention Center-Turtle Bay-Special Land Development Fund ($33 million). As a result of the cap, the counties’ share will only get worse as tourism grows.
  • Nexus to Tourism Services. The incidence of the TAT is primarily on visitors, so the TAT tax revenues should fund public services which benefit visitors. The UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) estimated that the counties pay for 53% of the services for which visitors directly benefit (UHERO Working Paper No. 2016-4). These services include police and fire protection, rescue, parks, beaches, water, roads, and sewer systems.
  • Act 185 (1990). Recognizing that “many of the burdens imposed by tourism falls on the counties,” the legislature created the TAT as a “more equitable method of sharing state revenues with the counties” (Conference Committee Report 207 on HB No. 1148). The legislature deemed at that time that the fair allocation was 95% of the total TAT revenues to the counties.

The State has multiple sources of revenues. The counties only have property tax, motor vehicle weight tax, and public utility franchise tax. Our out-of-control homeless problems are a symptom of the soaring cost to rent or own a home in Hawai’i. And you want to offer us the power to increase the GET tax, the most regressive form of taxation that impacts the lower income the greatest. We already had to increase our property tax to make ends meet. With the collective bargaining decisions dominated by the State, we again will face possible increases. We ask only for our fair share as recommended by the Working Group, to maintain quality services that uphold the tourism industry and affordability for our people.