April is Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) is encouraging the public to take tsunami preparedness into their own hands this April during Tsunami Awareness Month. Seventy years ago, on April 1, 1946, one of the deadliest tsunamis to ever hit Hawaii caused widespread devastation on all islands. Generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands, the massive tsunami took 159 lives and caused more than $26 million in damage. April was chosen as the month to honor and remember the lives lost in all tsunamis to hit the state.

Due to Hawaii’s location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are extremely vulnerable to the threat of tsunamis. Distantly generated tsunamis can reach Hawaii within several hours and are triggered by earthquakes that take place along the Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific Rim. Locally generated tsunamis are caused by earthquakes or volcanic activity that occur in or near the Hawaiian Islands, and can make landfall in a matter of minutes.

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Report: Honolulu has 10th worst traffic in U.S.

A new report out of transportation analytics firm INRIX ranks Honolulu 10th on its list of the 10 most congested cities in the country, with each commuter wasting 49 hours per year stuck in traffic.

The top 10 list also includes Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Houston, New York and Seattle, and commuters spent a total of 8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2015 across all ten cities combined. INRIX also notes that the U.S. accounts for 50 percent of the top 10 metros with the worst traffic congestion across both the U.S. and Europe. Only London has worse traffic than top-ranked U.S. cities.

INRIX released its 2015 Traffic Scorecard today, a benchmark for governments and agencies in the U.S. and Europe to measure progress in improving urban mobility.

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Honolulu Neighborhood Board applications open

Beginning today, O‘ahu residents can file to run for a seat on their Neighborhood Board.

“Serving on your Neighborhood Board presents the opportunity to create real change in your community, build a legacy, and network with other leaders,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “No one knows a neighborhood better than the people who live in it. I was honored to serve on both the Manoa and Kaimuki Neighborhood Boards.”

Candidacy is open to O‘ahu residents who will be at least 18 years of age by February 20, 2015. Mailed forms must be postmarked by February 20 and received by February 27, 2015. This is also the deadline to for residents to register to vote in the Neighborhood Board elections.

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New Partnership Uses Technology to Assist Public with Legal Forms

The Hawaii State Public Library System will provide access to the Self-Help Interactive Forms on their 800 library computers and 250 netbooks statewide. Legal Aid kicked off their first training session for library staff on Wednesday, and will be providing similar trainings across the state to demonstrate how to navigate the new software. The software also includes a new chat feature to enable individuals to ask questions directly to Legal Aid about the self-help forms on its LawHelp website.

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Big Island Election Challenged in Hawaii Supreme Court

On August 6, 2014, Governor Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation, in advance of two anticipated storms projected to impact Hawai‘i: Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. The proclamation – valid from August 6 through August 15 – included a statement that “the danger of disaster is of such magnitude to warrant preemptive and protective action in order to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the people.”

Facing massive damage from Iselle on August 8, and thousands of Hawai‘i County residents dealing with historic flooding, power outages, property damage, and road closures – some of which continue even now – the Chief Elections Officer determined that the primary would go on as scheduled on August 9. the Chief Elections Officer went on to change the rules of the election (who could vote, where and how) at least two more times over the course of three days.

This series of decisions led to the denial of the right to vote for many Hawai‘i County residents. Indeed, Precinct 04-03 had among its lowest voter turnout ever.

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State blasts ‘American Jungle’ shoot in Hawaii

In response to The History Channel’s new series “American Jungle,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), as well as representatives of hunting, animal protection and film agencies in Hawaii, find the series’ depiction of hunting activities on the Island of Hawaii to be inaccurate, offensive, and in some cases, potentially illegal.

The DLNR Division of Conservation Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) is currently conducting an investigation into whether several of DLNR’s rules and regulations may have been broken during the filming of the program. Activities such as night hunting both on public and private land, are illegal under Hawaii Revised Statues §183D-27 and Hawaii Administrative Rules §13-123-6. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), which oversees DLNR’s hunting program, denied a permit request last spring for the production to film on state forest lands.

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Battleship Missouri expands access during shutdown

Starting Friday, October 4, the Battleship Missouri Memorial will begin offering special tour access in response to the federal government shutdown and subsequent closure of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, including a free interpretative tour experience from its pier of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

“We want to ensure continued access for our guests to see the Mighty Mo, while also supporting the expectations of visitors who came here to see the USS Arizona Memorial,” said Michael A. Carr, President and COO of the Battleship Missouri Memorial. “Our pier offers the best possible vantage point from land and our tour guides will provide a very informative presentation about the USS Arizona Memorial and its place in our nation’s history.”

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Early Childhood Education Discussed Using Google+ Hangout

Honolulu– Early childhood education providers and stakeholders from across the State, along with lawmakers, Early Childhood Coordinator Terry Lock and Governor Neil Abercrombie, participated in a roundtable discussion on early childhood education in Hawaii today. Stakeholders from Maui, Kauai, Waimea, Kona and Hilo participated in the discussion via Google+ Hangout, hosted by Senate Committee Education Chair Senator Jill Tokuda. U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono’s Chief of Staff Betsy Lin also linked in, via Google+ Hangout from Washington, D.C.

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Digital Government Summit explores Hawaii tech roadmap

Nearly 700 state employees, community leaders and members of the public joined Governor Neil Abercrombie today for the 2012 Hawaii Digital Government Summit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to engage employees and other stakeholders in the state’s business and information technology transformation initiative.

Presented by Government Technology Executive Events and the Center for Digital Government – at no cost to the state – the event featured more than 20 sessions on topics ranging from modernization of public schools to health information technology.

“Transformation of state government is about delivering the services people need – anywhere, anytime,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “Hawaii’s IT Transformation Plan, launched in October, will accomplish its goals by investing in the state’s greatest asset – its employees. Making government more efficient and effective brings opportunities to those who work in state offices, enabling employees to provide a higher level of service while attaining new skills and playing a role in reshaping the way government conducts business. This will help us to strengthen our economy, sustain Hawaii for future generations and build public confidence in government.”

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Navy powers up city’s largest solar facility

An official “Flip the Switch” ceremony and Hawaiian blessing was held today to mark the completion of more than 4,300 solar panels installed at the Pearl City Solar Energy Facility. Capable of generating 1.23 megawatts of electricity, it is now the newest and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on O’ahu.

This project marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that developer Forest City Hawaii has completed in Honolulu, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the state.

At today’s ceremony, Jennifer Sabas, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, praised the project’s vision, and Governor Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing the state’s clean energy goals. These sentiments were echoed by other event attendees, including Jerrod Schreck, president of Hoku Solar, and Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, chairman of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and chairman of American Savings Bank.

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Hawaii, other states reach antitrust settlement over ebook pricing

Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie, along with 53 attorneys general in other states, districts and U.S. territories, announced today that they have reached an antitrust settlement with three of the largest book publishers in the United States.

Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, and Simon & Schuster have agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers to resolve antitrust claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books (E-books). They have also agreed to change the way they price E-books going forward.

The settlement occurs in conjunction with a civil antitrust lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.

The lawsuit alleges that the three settling publishers and two nonsettling publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, “conspired and agreed to increase retail E-book prices for all consumers” and “agreed to eliminate E-book retail price competition between E-book outlets, such that retail prices to consumers would be the same regardless of the outlet patronized by the consumer.”

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City unveils web apps for traffic, tsunami sirens, art

Israel Kamakawiwoole, the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Information Technology (DIT) says there are “apps for that.”

DIT has partnered with software developers to put key information in the hands of smartphone and computer users. “We are using mobile applications to provide useful information for the public and make them aware of what is happening around them in a timely manner. It’s exactly what a 21st Century city is supposed to do,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle.

“The launch of these applications, and the way in which they were developed and implemented, shows how the City and County of Honolulu is leading in its use of technology to work directly with citizens,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America. “By using lightweight, innovative approaches, reusing existing software, and building deeper connections with residents, Honolulu is creating real value and strengthening the fabric of the city.”

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State business website wins international award

The State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) was recently honored with two awards for its suite of mobile business applications. The mobile apps are the first of their kind worldwide and the first mobile apps launched by the state.

The International Association of Commercial Administrators (IACA) awarded a prestigious 2012 Merit Award for Outstanding Innovation, one of the top international honors for business registries, to DCCA’s Business Registration Division (BREG) last month at the IACA annual conference.

“Hawaii’s technological transformation remains a top priority for my administration, and this award is recognition that we are on track to bringing state government where it needs to be in the 21st century,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “Through the innovative work now being done by DCCA and others in our state, we are creating technological assets that improve efficiency, expand services and save businesses money.”

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Governor: Invest now for Hawaii’s future

There was no way for us to have balanced our budget and achieved today’s fiscally favorable outlook without the commitment of everyone. To all of you who came to work each day bearing the burden of cuts and slashes to your programs for the past three years; and to those of you who gave up furloughs because of your commitment to serving Hawaii’s people, I thank you. Mahalo plenty to each and every one of you.

Together, we are moving forward. And moving forward means leaving behind the drama of the recent past.

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Report: Defense department powers 18 percent of Hawaii economy

Up to 18 percent of Hawaii’s economy can be linked to spending by the U.S. Department of Defense, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation.

“It’s common knowledge that defense activity in Hawaii plays a significant role in Hawaii’s economy, but the size of that role has not been previously studied and quantified,” said James Hosek, lead author of the study and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Defense department spending in Hawaii averaged $6.5 billion per year during fiscal years 2007-2009. Of that, $4.1 billion was for personnel and $2.4 billion for the purchase of goods and services in Hawaii.

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Hawaii, NASA expand space exploration partnership

NASA and the State of Hawai’i have agreed to collaborate on a wide range of activities to promote America’s human and robotic exploration of space. The partnership also will contribute to the development of education programs and foster economic opportunities including new, high-tech jobs.

Governor Neil Abercrombie and NASA Associate Deputy Administrator Rebecca Keiser signed a two-year agreement, formally called a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement Annex, during a ceremony today in the Governor’s Office.

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Capitol chamber to open to the public

The House of Representatives today announced that the House Chamber will be open daily for Hawaii State Capitol visitors and guests to tour the gallery area during the remainder of the month of February as a pilot project. After February, the project will be evaluated and a decision will be made on whether to extend access to the Chamber year round beyond the months the legislature is in session, January to May.

Access to the Chamber will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including the hours that the House is normally in session.

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Judge Kobayashi confirmed by U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Leslie E. Kobayashi, currently a federal magistrate judge in Honolulu, to serve as a district judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Judge Kobayashi, 53, was confirmed on Saturday on a voice vote of the Senate. She is expected to receive her commission shortly and will fill a judgeship vacant since June 30, 2009, when U.S. District Judge Helen W. Gillmor took senior status.

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Abercrombie names first cabinet members

Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie today appointed five Cabinet members in his first announcement on leadership positions in the Abercrombie Administration. William J. Aila Jr. was named the Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, an appointment that Robert Harris, director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, called “an outstanding choice.”

In addition to Aila, Abercrombie’s appointments are Richard Lim as the Director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; Jodie Maesaka-Hirata as the Director of the Department of Public Safety; and Alapaki Nahalea and Bobby Hall as the team leading the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands as its Director and Deputy Director, respectively.

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Hawaii Supreme Court to Convene in Kapolei

The Hawaii Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Thursday, December 2, at 10 a.m. in the Ronald T. Y. Moon Judiciary Complex in Kapolei. It will be the first time the Supreme Court convenes in the Hawaii State Judiciary’s newest facility, which opened to the public in May 2010 and houses the First Circuit Family Court, Juvenile Detention Center and Waianae District Court.

Attorneys on each side will have a half hour to present arguments in a dispute over property division in a First Circuit divorce case, Cvitanovich-Dubie v. Dubie. The appellant is asking the Supreme Court to review the April 12, 2010 decision by the Intermediate Court of Appeals
(ICA).

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State mulling Big Island coffee bean quarantine

The Advisory Committee on Plants and Animals, attached to the State Department of Agriculture, will meet on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 to consider one or more quarantine zones on the island of Hawaii to prohibit the importation of green coffee beans.

At issue is a serious infestation of the Coffee Berry Borer in local crops reported by Kona Coffee farmers. The pest infestation was confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Research Service Systematic Entomology Laboratory.

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Abercrombie announces transition plan

Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie today announced plans for the transition to a new Abercrombie/Schatz Administration, including the process for ensuring a smooth transition from the current administration.

Bill Kaneko, who served as the campaign manager for the Abercrombie for Governor campaign, will serve as the Transition Director.

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