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Monday – Puna Legislative Town Hall Meeting

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau) will host a community town hall to provide updates on and discuss the 2016 legislative session.

pahoa town meetingAlso presenting will be Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira, who will address the County’s efforts in combating the dengue fever outbreak.

They will also honor the students and faculty who built a replica of the space shuttle Challenger in honor of Ellison Onizuka and the 30th anniversary of the tragic loss of the space shuttle and its crew.

Ellison Onizuka Kids

The Town Hall Meeting will provide updates on bills along with other issues that may be heard during this session.  Questions, concerns and/or new ideas from those in attendance will be entertained.

  • WHO: Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau)
  • WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the 2016 Legislative Session
  • WHEN: Monday, February 29, 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road Pahoa, HI, 96778

Island Naturals Implements $10 Per Hour Minimum Wages

As of July 2015 Island Naturals Markets has established a $10 per hour minimum wage for all employees.

Island Naturals

While most staff are already above $10/hour, some entry level employees got an unexpected raise in their paycheck this month as the company adopted the voluntary higher minimum wage standard.

Russell Ruderman, President of Island Naturals, who was recently awarded the State of Hawaii Small Business Administration, Businessperson of the Year, believes strongly in investing in his staff for motivational and retention purposes.

“In recent months we have seen some national companies raise their minimum wage voluntarily, and we want to be in the forefront of this movement locally.  But it’s also the right thing to do. Treating employees well, and paying them well, is good business!” said Ruderman.  “Island Naturals values our staff and strives to provide a good work environment, higher wages than local standards, and treats staff with respect.”

“While $10/hour is not a true living wage in Hawaii, this is a step in the right direction, as raising our minimum also results in higher wages for mid-level staff.  Doing so approaches a living wage for more and more workers. We are happy to share our success with our staff, and we all work together to make our company successful, said Ruderman.”

Island Naturals is the leading group of naturals food stores on the Big Island with three locations in Hilo, Pahoa and Kailua-Kona.  Island Naturals has more than 200 employees.

Senator Ruderman Hosting Talk Story Sessions

Senator Russell Ruderman is hosting talk story sessions to discuss the outcome of the 2015 legislative session and how some of the new legislation will affect you and the community.

Senator RudermanIdeas and issues for next year’s legislative session will also be discussed.

  • Pahoa Community Center – Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, Kauhale Street, Pahoa
  • Cooper Center – Thursday, June 4th, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM, 19-4030 Wright Rd, Volcano Village

Light refreshments will be served.

For more information call Senator Ruderman’s Office @808-586-6890 or email: senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero Meet With Detainee Roger Christie at Federal Detention Center

At 8:00am today, Senator Russell Ruderman, joined by Senator Will Espero, met with federal detainee Roger Christie at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Honolulu to discuss his incarceration, health, and rights as a United States citizen under the United States Constitution. Mr. Christie has been held now for almost three years without a bail hearing or a trial.

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

Senator Espero and Ruderman at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu

After weeks of requests and assurances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office granted permission for Senator Ruderman, representing Christie’s district, and Senator Espero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, to visit Mr. Christie at the FDC in Honolulu with restrictions, including that no media shall be present. Mr. Christie has not been allowed to meet with media despite requests from National Geographic, Newsweek and Honolulu Civil Beat among many others.

In June of 2010, Mr. Christie, along with twelve co-defendants, was charged with manufacture, possession with intent to sell marijuana. The other defendants have been released on bail pending trial. Prior to the detention hearing, Mr. Christie was interviewed by the Office of Pretrial Services and on July 13, 2010, Pretrial Services issued a report that recommended that Mr. Christie be released on an unsecured bond of $50,000.

In the almost three years since that recommendation, all efforts to have Mr. Christie released pending trial or have access to a speedy trial have been denied. Visitations have been severely limited by the FDC including those by his wife Share Christie, who has not been allowed to see her husband for almost a year. In recent weeks, additional charges have been added, and his trial postponed once again.

While the charges against Mr. Christie are federal in nature, holding a defendant without bail, while denying his/her constitutional right to a speedy trial is virtually unheard of in our state. Even those accused of serious crimes such as large-scale distribution of ice, violent criminals, rapists, and murderers are routinely released on bail pending trial.

To urge President Obama and the Federal Government to release Mr. Christie pending a hearing, Senator Ruderman authored two measures – Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 and Senate Resolution 42 – both of these measures have been passed by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs.

Mr. Christie explained that he is content with the position he is in because he feels he is doing the right thing and looks forward to proving his innocence in a court of law, saying, “Dignity trumps longevity.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero expressed their concern for Mr. Christie, the violation of his Constitutional rights, and the implications for all persons facing non-violent federal charges and deemed dangerous by the federal judicial system, such has been the case for Mr. Christie since July 2010.

Senator Ruderman said, “I have known Roger for over 25 years. He is one of the most peaceful persons I know. To anyone who knows him, the claim that he is a danger to the community is absurd.”

Senator Espero commented. “This visit was very enlightening. I still feel that Mr. Christie should be released pending a trial.”

Senator Ruderman and Senator Espero would like to graciously thank FDC Warden David Shinn, Asst. Warden Tom Blumm, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Kawahara, and Public Defender Thomas Otake, for their assistance and for the opportunity to meet with Roger Christie.


Talk Story Events With Senator Ruderman

Three Talk Story sessions with Senator Russell Ruderman in Pahoa, Keaau and Pahala to discuss state legislation, community priorities, and how the public can participate in the legislative process.

Senator Russell Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman

A talk story will be held at Pahoa Neighborhood Center on Sat. Feb. 23rd from 10:00 AM to Noon, followed by another session at the Keaau Girl Scout Center on Sat. Feb. 23rd from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.  There will be a talk story held at the Pahala Plantation House on Tuesday, Feb. 26th from 5:00 to 6:30 PM.

Please join your senator for a lively session and provide your feedback in this democratic process.  For more information, please call Senator Ruderman’s office in Honolulu at (808) 586-6890 or toll free at 974-4000 (then enter 66890).

You can also tap into the Senator’s events and activities at www.russellruderman.com These events are open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

Bill Introduced to Bring $65 Million for Capital Improvements Projects to Puna Area

Senator Russell Ruderman has introduced Senate Bill 377 that would bring over $65 million dollars for capital improvement projects to the Puna District.

Senate Bill 377

Senate Bill 377 (Click to Read)

SECTION 1.  The director of finance is authorized to issue general obligation bonds in the sum of $67,550,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary, and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary is appropriated for fiscal year 2013-2014 for the purpose of capital improvement projects for the second senatorial district, as follows:

1.   Traffic Signal at the Pahoa Bypass/Post Office Road Intersection – Plans, design, construction, materials, and equipment    $2,000,000

Total funding                              $2,000,000

2.   Albizia Tree Control in Hawaii County – Funding to Hawaii Island Invasive Species Council

Total funding                                $200,000

3.   Pohoiki Swimming Area, Puna TMK (3) 1‑4-002:008 – Planning, feasibility, engineering, and initial design to develop a safe swimming area at Pohoiki Boat Ramp and Isaac Hale Beach Park     $250,000

Total funding                                $250,000

4.   Hawaiian Paradise Park Elementary School, Phase I -Plans, design, and construction $20,000,000

Total funding                             $20,000,000

5.   Puna Medical Center Emergency Room – Plans and design                   $100,000

Total funding                                $100,000

6.   Pahoa Wastewater Treatment Plant – Plans, design, and construction $15,000,000

Total funding                             $15,000,000

7.   Highway 130 Improvements – Department of Transportation – Widening of the highway and other improvements     $25,000,000

Total funding                             $25,000,000

8.   Puna Makai Alternate Route – Emergency Route on the Old Railroad Easement – Plans and design for an alternate route connecting Puna to Hilo          $5,000,000

Total funding                              $5,000,000


Candidate’s Forum Tonight at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale

Candidate’s forum tonight, Tuesday July 10th at Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale from 5-9pm. We will have voter registration info, info tables from many different organizations, and light refreshments will be served.

At least 26 candidates have agreed to attend so far, including Wendell Ka’ehu’ae’a, Russell Ruderman, Bob Marx, John Carroll, Lorraine Rodero Inouye, Brittany Smart, Denny Coffman, Harry Kim, Dominic Yagong, Lincoln Ashida, Paul Dolan, Ken Goodenow, James Weatherford, Zendo Kern, Karen Eoff, Chelsea Yagong, and many MORE! Candidates will be making short speeches and will be available for informal talk story sessions. A town hall forum will begin at 7:30. Please bring your questions and a friend! Check this web site for more info http://7wiseideas.org/

Sponsored by Occupy Hilo, Pele Defense Fund, Puna Pono Alliance, Ohana Ho’opakele, Malu Aina, Aloha Uprising, Na Kupuna Moku o Keawe, Heiau o Lono, Na Koa Lohe o Ke Akua, and MKrug