The Beat

  • One-Stop Center to Help Micronesians Opens in Hawaii

    ·By Chad Blair
    A “one-stop center” pilot project that aims to help Micronesians in Hawaii was opened in Kalihi Friday. The center wants to serve as a “central hub” linking Micronesian communities, families and individuals with public services and other resources. The Hālau Ola One-Stop Center is located at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church at 720 N. King Street in Honolulu. “In addition, the center will connect the Micronesian community with federal, state and county representatives and agencies to further advocacy and self- empowerment,” according to a press release. An opening ceremony for a new “one-stop center” in Kalihi to help Micronesians in Hawaii. We Are Oceania The one-stop center is run by We Are Oceania (WAO), which advocates for Pacific Islanders from the Micronesia region living and working in Hawaii. The Micronesian population in Hawaii, which hails from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and other islands, is estimated to total between 15,000 and 17,000 people. “The Micronesia region faces many challenges such as U.S. militarization and weapons testing, loss of land from rising ocean levels, and lack of a sustainable, local food supply,” said WAO’s program director, Josie Howard. “Limited options force many Micronesians to leave their home in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Many individuals and families legally come to Hawaii to seek proper medical treatment, a better education and other opportunities  that are unavailable in their home community.” The grand opening of the Hālau Ola One-Stop Center drew guest speakers from the
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  • Hurricane Ignacio Slowly Moving Toward Hawaii

    ·By Nathan Eagle
    Hurricane Ignacio is continuing to move northwest toward Hawaii, potentially reaching the Big Island on Monday morning and then crossing over the rest of the islands, according to the National Weather Service’s forecast Friday. Maximum sustained winds were near 90 mph and the storm was moving 8 mph. A flash flood watch is in effect for Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai and Niihau. Hurricane Ignacio was tracking toward Hawaii, according to Friday’s forecast. National Weather Service “We understand the public is fatigued from experiencing four major approaching storms so far this season, but we urge people to take the weekend to prepare their homes and families for impacts that could be felt statewide,” said Doug Mayne, state administrator of emergency management, in a release Friday. “Severe weather associated with Ignacio is expected, and with Jimena not far behind, we need to ready ourselves and our loved ones as much as possible with the time we have. We will continue to work with our county, state and federal partners and leadership to monitor the storms and provide the public with timely updates as we receive them.” Ignacio may strengthen more through Saturday, according to the forecast. It was a Category 1 hurricane 840 miles east-southeast of Hilo at 8:30 a.m. Friday. East- and southeast-facing shores of Hawaii Island and Maui can expect advisory-level surf Saturday and warning-level increases Sunday through Monday, the release said. Tropical storm force winds could begin to impact Hawaii Island as early as Sunday evening. The public is urged to be cautious and continue
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  • Another Wastewater Spill Closes Windward Beaches, Including Sandy

    ·By Marina Riker
    About 1 million gallons of treated but not yet disinfected wastewater have spilled on the Windward Shore, forcing health officials to close beaches from the Halona Blow Hole to Erma’s Beach on Thursday. Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, said the wastewater hadn’t yet been disinfected with chlorine at the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is located across from Sandy Beach. Hawaii American Water, the company that runs the plant, said that the spill happened after an underground electrical cable shorted out because of heavy rains, interrupting the chlorination system, the Associated Press reported. The wastewater flowed from the treatment plant for about five hours. Visitors enjoy the water at Sandy Beach in happier times — a month ago. Cory Lum/Civil Beat On Monday, 393,000 gallons of wastewater spilled out of manholes near Ala Moana Park, with 129,000 gallons entering the ocean. That caused officials to close popular coastal areas from Kuhio Beach to Point Panic. Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park were reopened Wednesday despite brown water conditions still being in effect. Meanwhile, another 24,000 gallons were spilled near Hickam Beach on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Monday. Officials are telling the public to stay out of those waters as well. All of the mishaps have been partially blamed on recent heavy rains.
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  • What Are Hawaii’s Most Popular Baby Names?

    ·By Marina Riker
    “Liam” and “Olivia” were the most popular baby names in Hawaii last year, and a “Game of Thrones” character’s name even made the girls’ top 10 list, according to the recently released Hawaii Data Book. “Aria” tied with “Isabella” for No. 7 on the girls’ list. Maisie Williams plays “Arya Stark” on “Game of Thrones.” Heather Paul/Flickr.com “Arya Stark” is the name of the headstrong, pre-teen daughter of a lord in HBO‘s hit show, based on the George R. R. Martin novels. The name started to grow in popularity following the success of “Game of Thrones,” and eventually became the fastest-growing name for a baby girl in the country. This is the second time “Aria,” which includes other spellings of the name, has made it onto Hawaii’s top 10 list. Last year’s Data Book had the name ranked 10th most popular baby. Source: Hawaii Data Book, 2014 Civil Beat
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  • Air Force to Develop Renewable Fuels Through $20 Million Microgrid Project

    ·By Todd Simmons
    U.S. Air Force researchers will develop a microgrid demonstration project for renewable fuel sources at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam under a new $20 million agreement announced today by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. Under the deal, the Air Force Research Lab and the Hawaii Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies will create a “microgrid testbed” for development and testing of alternative fuel sources – a project Schatz said will strengthen energy resilience for the 154th Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard and possibly have implications far beyond that. Asst. Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine, center, and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, right, tour Pearl Harbor-Hickam facilities that will be part of a microgrid demonstration project focused on development of alternative fuel sources. “Assured access to energy is essential to the Air Force’s mission. Without it, the Air Force could not fly its aircraft or power the flight simulators, alert facilities and other equipment that are critical to sustaining the readiness of our airmen at installations like Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,” said Schatz in a statement released after he and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Miranda Ballentine toured base facilities that will be included in the work. The microgrid testbed project “will help ensure that the Air National Guard has access to the energy it needs to execute its defense and homeland security missions, while providing a proof of concept that alternative energy and microgrid technologies can support the Air Force’s broader energy security goals,” he said. Initial work will entail development of a
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  • July Broke Hawaii’s All-Time Record for Monthly Tourist Arrivals

    ·By Marina Riker
    Hawaii hosted more visitors in July than ever before, and they spent a record $1.4 billion, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Since January, visitors have spent $9 billion in the Aloha State, a 3.6 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, visitor arrivals have gone up 4.2 percent. Visitors at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Chad Blair/Civil Beat There was an increase in tourists from the mainland and Canada, who also spent more on their vacations. However, there were fewer visitors from Japan, who spent about 10 percent less than they did last year. “The growth we have been experiencing is keeping us on track for another milestone year for Hawaii’s visitor industry,” said George Szigeti, the president of the HTA. “While the growth is not as significant as in previous years, we are still projecting to reach new records in spending and arrivals for 2015.”
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  • Ige’s Team Cuts Kakaako’s Homeless Population by 10 Percent

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday that his leadership team worked with a group of service providers to relocate about 10 percent of homeless people who were living at the encampment in Kakaako. The team found spaces for 28 people — five families and six single adults — at Next Step and Institute for Human Services shelters, where a total of 27 people had recently left and moved into either permanent or longer-term transitional housing. According to a survey conducted during the week of Aug. 3, nearly 300 people — including 31 families — were living at the Kakaako encampment. Scott Morishige, who officially began his tenure as the governor’s coordinator on homelessness on Monday, said in a statement: “This movement of individuals and families from the streets into temporary shelters is significant because their lives have been changed for the better and because it demonstrates the positive outcomes we can achieve when the city and the state work together. Delayed enforcement in the area helped service providers move more people into shelters.” The governor’s leadership team found spaces at Next Step (above) and Institute for Human Services shelters for 28 people who were living at Kakaako’s homeless encampment.
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  • Hawaii DLNR Official Has Close Connection to Virginia Shootings

    ·By Richard Wiens
    The top communications official for the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources hired and fired the man suspected of fatally shooting two former colleagues, a TV newswoman and a cameraman, in Roanoke, Virginia, on Wednesday morning, Hawaii News Now reported. Dan Dennison, now senior communications director for the DLNR, was the news director of WDBJ in Roanoke from 2011 to 2013. He told HNN that he hired and fired Vester L. Flanagan, the shooting suspect who killed himself hours after the shootings. Dennison said Flanagan, who was hired in 2012, was terminated in 2013, largely for performance issues. “You just never know, when you’re going to work, how a potentially unhinged or unsettled person might impact your life in such a tragic way as we saw in Roanoke this morning,” Dennison told HNN. Dennison added this about Flanagan, who also went by the name of Bryce Williams: “He had a level of a long series of complaints against coworkers nearly from the beginning of employment at the TV station. That really had nothing to do with his termination, and after a lot of investigation both internally and externally, all of these allegations were deemed to be unfounded. And they were largely under along racial lines, and we did a thorough investigation and could find no evidence that anyone had racially discriminated against this man.” Dan Dennison recently accompanied DLNR Director Suzanne Case on a visit to the Civil Beat Editorial Board. Cory Lum/Civil Beat  
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  • Getting Tropically Depressed Yet? Ignacio is Next Storm in Line

    ·By Richard Wiens
    Now that Kilo, the sometimes-hurricane, sometimes-tropical storm and sometimes-tropical depression, seems destined to stay off Hawaii’s shores and just cause heavy rain, it’s apparently time for a new character to take the stage in this season’s Central Pacific parade of storms. The Weather Channel reported Tuesday afternoon that Ignacio has developed into a tropical storm with likely hurricane status in its future as it churns in our general direction. According to the report: • Ignacio is located about 1,530 miles east-southeast of Hilo. • The storm is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane later this week as it moves in a west to eventually west-northwest direction. • Ignacio is not a threat to land over the next few days, but if it remains organized, it’ll come close to Hawaii early next week. NOAA/National Weather Service
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  • Catholic Cardinal’s Hawaii Vacation Ends In DUI Arrest

    ·By Chris D'Angelo
    One of the Roman Catholic Church’s most senior clergymen was arrested last week for driving under the influence during a trip to Hawaii. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday that 79-year-old Cardinal William Joseph Levada, of Menlo Park, California, was stopped at about midnight Thursday in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island after a patrol car saw him swerve. Levada, formerly the highest-ranking American official in the Vatican, was charged with driving under the influence and was released from police custody after posting $500 bail. In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post by a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Levada said, “I regret my error in judgment. I intend to continue fully cooperating with the authorities.” Cardinal William Joseph Levada Levada, the former archbishop of Portland and San Francisco, was reportedly vacationing with other priests on the Big Island when the arrest occurred. When asked how the archdiocese handles situations like this, spokesman Michael Brown said that in this specific case, “‘punishment’ is not a factor.” “Speaking generally at all levels of the organization, such things would be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” he wrote in an email to HuffPost. “Where a lapse in judgment occurred, the matter would probably be considered less serious. If the matter seemed to indicate a more serious problem, this would be treated more seriously. This would be true at all employee levels.” Catholic cardinals, traditionally seen as “princes of the church,” are appointed by the pope and are second to him in terms of church hierarchy. Currently, there are 219 cardinals worldwide, including 15
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  • Former Hawaii Gov Linda Lingle Settles Into New Role

    ·By Nick Grube
    Linda Lingle says she’s not giving political advice to her new boss Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, even though he considers her a “superstar.” The former Hawaii governor, who spent eight years at the helm of the Aloha State, is now earning $198,000 as Rauner’s chief operating officer. But in a recent interview she insists she’s only helping with the day-to-day operations of the state. NPR Illinois reporter Amanda Vinicky caught up with Lingle during the Illinois State Fair as part of on ongoing feature that takes a look at political insiders working in the Land of Lincoln. You can check out the piece here. Vinicky talked with Lingle during a parade, and had her interview cut short by Rauner’s handlers after only a few minutes. Much of the focus is on Illinois’ budget challenges. Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is now working in Illinois alongside Gov. Bruce Rauner. Courtesy of the Lingle campaign
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  • Kilo ‘Less of a Threat’ to Hawaii, But Still May Become a Hurricane

    ·By Richard Wiens
    UPDATE: Tropical Depression Kilo is expected to mill around in the waters well west of the islands the next few days, the Weather Underground reported. “Kilo will still likely organize into a hurricane, but the latest forecasts … keep the storm well to the west of Hawaii for at least the next five days,” the website reported Sunday. But always, it seems, there’s another threat brewing. “Hawaii should keep an eye on three tropical disturbances to its east, in the waters of the Eastern Pacific to the southwest of Mexico,” the website reported. The latest satellite image of Kilo courtesy of NOAA. NOAA  
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  • Hawaii Spends More on Rent Than Any Other State In the US

    ·By Marina Riker
    It probably comes to no surprise for many Hawaii residents that we spend more on rent than any other state, according to the recently released Hawaii Data Book. The Aloha state’s median monthly rent is $1,414 – over $100 more than any other state in the country. West Virginia residents spent the least amount on rent, with a median of $620 per month. Across the country, more people than ever are renting instead of buying homes. Yet being a renter isn’t getting any easier. Nationwide, approximately half of all renters spent more than 30 percent of their paycheck on housing in 2013, according to a recent study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies.  About half of those households spent more than half of their monthly income on rent and utilities. Meanwhile, Hawaii ranks third for the highest percentage of monthly income spent on rent at nearly 33 percent, according to the Hawaii Data Book. The only two states that surpassed us were California and Florida, spending approximately 33.8 and 34.1 percent, respectively.
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  • Hawaii’s Unemployment Rate Has Dropped to Lowest Point Since Recession

    ·By Marina Riker
    Hawaii’s unemployment rate has dropped to its lowest point since the recession. The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, down from 4 percent in June. Department of Labor & Industrial Relations The last time Hawaii’s unemployment rate was that low was in April 2008 when it was at 3.6 percent. Statewide, 648,050 people were employed while, 24,750 were unemployed in July. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in July, the same as in June. Department of Labor & Industrial Relations
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  • Hawaii Senate Minority Celebrates 56 Years of Statehood

    ·By Chad Blair
    Hawaii State Sen. Sam Slom, the only Republican in the 25-member chamber and one of only eight Republicans in the 76-member Hawaii Legislature, says he is celebrating Admissions Day Friday — even though few others bother to do so. A press release from Slom’s office notes that the occasion “is often met with apathy, disinterest and even controversy.” Instead, Slom thinks the 56th anniversary of statehood should encourage celebration “and reflection upon what was achieved by those who voted overwhelmingly in favor of statehood in 1959.” A Hawaiian flag at a Mauna Kea demonstration fronting the Hawaii Convention Center earlier this month. Cory Lum/Civil Beat Statehood efforts, his office explains, have been documented as early as 1919, “when Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole introduced in Congress the first bill calling for Hawaii’s admission to the United States.”  Slom states: “When President Eisenhower signed the Admission Act into law in 1959, Hawaii’s people celebrated in the streets. We were united and proud to be American as well as Hawaiian. It was a major victory for those who spent years hoping for and working towards statehood. We were excited to be the 50th State. Hawaii has been a pace setter in many social, economic and cultural developments since then. “Now, 56 years later, many of the gains that were achieved, and benefits enjoyed from statehood, are largely overlooked, taken for granted, or criticized. We should build on our statehood experience and make it better while recognizing the freedoms and many
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  • Nonprofit Accepting Donations for Disaster Relief in Saipan

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    A Hawaii nonprofit is accepting donations this weekend to help victims of Typhoon Soudelor in Saipan. The storm hit Saipan over two weeks ago, but residents are still without electricity and running water because over half of the power infrastructure was destroyed. Hundreds of residents became homeless, and are living in shelters, in their cars or in tents. Reach Out Pacific, in conjunction with state Sen. Glenn Wakai’s office, is accepting batteries, sleeping bags and other goods at the Safeway on Pali Highway on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m and Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Children sleep at a shelter in Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor destroyed their home. Courtesy of Dan Lin According to a press release from Wakai’s office, the group is looking for “bottled water, tents, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, baby/disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers, batteries (all sizes), battery operated lanterns, flashlights, gently used clothing (infant to adult, all sizes).” Wakai’s press release said the donation drive is being organized by former Northern Marianas resident LJ Duenas. “I have experienced many typhoons during my time on Saipan, but I have never seen anything like this before; the destruction is surreal. Priorities have changed. Life has changed on Saipan. Let’s share our Aloha with those in Saipan,” said Duenas. On Saturday morning, the group will pick up donated medical equipment from Castle Hospital and 60 mattresses from Trump International. Matson is donating a container, and Pacific Transfer, Safeway and former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman are also assisting. A
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  • Schatz Emerging as a Foreign Policy Thought Leader in Senate

    ·By Todd Simmons
    U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has been increasingly vocal in recent months on foreign policy matters, whether calling for a ban on American ground troops in Iraq and Syria, speaking out on the Iran nuclear accord or criticizing the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. In June, the Hawaii Democrat joined with two colleagues — Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut — in publishing an op/ed in the influential journal Foreign Affairs promoting a group of eight “Smart Power Principles” that could serve as “guideposts” for U.S. foreign policy. The principles call for a new Marshall Plan for at-risk regions, deeper collaboration with allies and mandatory goals and exit strategies for any foreign conflict the U.S. enters. The essay created a stir in Washington and beyond and has helped to elevate Schatz, Heinrich and Murphy as fresh voices on foreign affairs. The Huffington Post political team released a 30-minute video interview with the trio on Wednesday titled “These 3 Senators Want To Change How You Think About U.S. Foreign Policy.” Of the three, Murphy is the only member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Heinrich is on Intelligence, but it is Schatz who shows up as the most nimble and interesting as a speaker, deeply familiar with facts but thoughtful and, at turns, humorous. U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich, Chris Murphy and Brian Schatz speaking with Huffington Post Foreign Affairs Reporter Akbar Shahid Ahmed. Via Huffington Post In summing up a discussion on the complexity of
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  • First the Fire, Then the Flooding, and Now the Video

    ·By Marina Riker
    A recent brush fire that blackened 4,500 acres in the northwest region of the Big Island and subsequent flooding amount to a teachable moment, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization believes. The nonprofit organization dedicated to wildfire prevention produced a video to teach people about the impacts of fires on natural resources. The Kawaihae wildfire burned dangerously close to homes and local businesses, forcing evacuations and road closures. A week later, the community was hit with heavy rainfall, causing murky stormwater to run through Kawaihae’s streets into the ocean. Because acres of vegetation burned in the fire, large amounts of fine, loose ash and soil were swept from mauka to makai when heavy rainfall hit the area. Soil and debris from the flood has littered popular fishing areas and family gathering places, such as Kawaihae Harbor. The silt that was swept to sea is also detrimental to coral reefs. The video used footage from the recent events to show how residents can prevent future wildfires, and to demonstrate their harmful effects on Hawaii’s coastline.
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  • Gabbard Says She’s Open to Possibility of Running for Vice President

    ·By Rui Kaneya
    U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she’s open to the idea of running for vice president next year. The two-term Hawaii congresswoman said during a visit to Kauai on Wednesday she would consider an offer from a presidential candidate to join his or her ticket, the Garden Island newspaper reported. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard may have aspirations beyond serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Brian Tseng/Civil Beat “I would, because the question that I’ve always asked myself is, ‘Where can I be in a position to make the most positive impact?’ That’s what motivated me to run for office at 21,” said Gabbard, a Democrat who will turn 35 next year — the minimum age set by the Constitution to serve as president or vice president. But Gabbard made it clear that none of the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination — or any of the GOP contenders, for that matter — has talked to her about the possibility. Speaking at a Kauai Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Gabbard also said she will be talking to President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Friday about the proposed Iran nuclear deal. “I have not come to a decision yet on this deal,” she told the audience. Last month, Gabbard issued a statement saying, “We cannot afford to make the same mistake with Iran that was made with North Korea. The failure to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons has resulted in an unacceptable threat: North Korea’s long-range missiles, coupled with its nuclear warhead stockpile, puts my home
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  • Mayor’s Search for Company to Install LED Streetlights Scrutinized

    ·By Anita Hofschneider
    City Council Chair Ernie Martin urged Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Wednesday to re-evaluate his current effort to find a private company to replace Honolulu’s streetlights with LED lights. “I would ask the administration to seriously reconsider its course of action proceeding forward,” said Martin, noting that the contract to replace the lights and maintain them could cost upwards of $20 million. Martin’s comments came during a Honolulu City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday. The panel approved a resolution asking Mayor Kirk Caldwell for more information about the content, status, and progress of the request for proposals to replace the city’s standard streetlights. One of Honolulu’s new LED lights casts a sharp glow over Lowrey Avenue. Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to install them throughout the city. Curt Sanburn “We’re talking about a long-term commitment, we’re talking about a minimum of 10 to 15 years so whatever we select we’re stuck with it for a while,” Martin said. “We want to make sure that we get the best value for our taxpayers.” The resolution also requested information on what technology is permitted, the evaluation criteria and a list of vendors who are qualified to provide LED lights. Caldwell has been advocating to replace the city streetlights with LED lights to save energy and make the streets safer for pedestrians. Last December, the city issued a request for proposals seeking vendors to install new streetlights. But the plan has been harshly criticized by astronomers and others who think the bright, blueish lighting is garish.
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Countdown to UH Mars Food Mission Team’s Return to Earth

·By civilbeat

Six researchers who have spent more than 100 days on a simulated space journey are on their way back to Earth. 

Or back to society, that is.

The HI-SEAS mission began in April and is expected to conclude later this month. The six researchers, who were selected from a pool of 700 applicants, have been living and working like astronauts. They’ve suited up in space gear whenever they’ve ventured outside their simulated Martian base and cooked meals from a list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

The study was led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Cornell University and aimed to evaluate new food types and preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished during space exploration. The research was funded by NASA’s Human Research Program. 

The six researchers compared crew-cooked and pre-prepared food systems — all while simulating the living and working experience of astronauts on a real space mission.

They’ll announce the winners of the HI-SEAS recipe contest upon their “return.” Check out some of the recipes that have already been tested out @HI_SEAS on Twitter.

Photo: Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre, a researcher, next to the “hab.” (Photo courtesy of Dr. Sian Proctor)

— Alia Wong

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