Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
|Ty Sanga in orange on the set of "Stones." - Photo from Honolulu Weekly online|
Ramsay Taum, of Pacific Islanders in Communications, said it best. He noted that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Program should have been the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Program.
Beth Kammerer, director of Kahuku High School’s award-winning choir “Vocal Motion,” added that kids need enrichment programs. Our students absorb information in their math and science classes all day, she said, and in their music, film and art classes, they get to let things out, their feelings, their knowledge, and their stories.
Taum explained how Pacific Island cultures would tell their stories through song and dance, but today stories are and can be told through contemporary tools. We need to assist islanders to tell our cultural stories the way we tell our stories, he said, ultimately changing past interpretations of Hawaiian culture in the creative media industries.
An exciting addition to the discussion was Ty Sanga, a local boy from Kalihi and graduate of Saint Louis School whose short film “Stones,” which was filmed in Hawaii and adapted from a Hawaiian legend, was selected to be shown at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film was completed in 2008 as part of his thesis project at a mainland university. Sanga recounted to lawmakers how he had to persuade university advisers to allow him and his crew to film on location in Hawaii. They told me that I could just film it in California, I didn’t need to go all the way to Hawaii, he said. He wanted to film a story about Hawaii in Hawaii.
Hawaii’s creative industries has grown 10 percent since 2002, and today has a total workforce of 44,000 employees, said panelist Georgia Skinner, head of the Creative Industries Division at the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. She said since the division’s establishment in 2003 there has been 10 feature films, four television series, and several national commercials shot in Hawaii. The companies provide internships to local students and contribute in various ways to the communities in which they are filming. Hawaii Five-O takes on five interns per season.
Skinner also talked about the need for more integration of digital arts into the classroom, using digital media in biology and math courses at elementary, intermediate and high school levels to engage students in both the arts and sciences. She noted that given the economy and lack of funding for classroom courses, DBEDT is working on connecting creative industry communities and creating strategic public and private partnerships. DBEDT will be taking a survey of Hawaii creative industry sectors to see what they need. Results of that survey should be out by the end of the year, before the start of the 2012 Legislative Session.
This was the first of several meetings held by the House Committee on Culture and the Arts. The next one is tentatively scheduled for September 7, 2011. The committee is lead by Representative Jessica Wooley.
Bill For Broadband Infrastructure
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed House Bill 1342 June 21. The bill, now Act 151, expedites the permitting process for broadband infrastructure. With this measure, broadband providers are exempt from state and county permitting requirements for installation, construction and development of broadband infrastructure for a five-year period. Pictured (from left) are Norm Santos, Ret. Vice Adm. Robert Kihune, Everrett Kaneshige, state Rep. Kyle Yamashita, Abercrombie, state Sens. Carol Fukunaga and David Ige, and John Komeiji.
'Flaws' in Act 48 are actually teeth to protect homeowners
On Wednesday, this paper reported on a meeting sponsored by collection lawyers to discuss Act 48 — Hawaii's mortgage foreclosure reform ("Attorneys say flaws mar new isle foreclosure law," Star-Advertiser).
It appears this meeting was a gripe session for those who previously enjoyed a free ride on a fast track through a giant loophole in Hawaii's foreclosure law.
Act 48 has taken the wind out of their sails because of its explicit moratorium on a law from the 1800s. That law allowed a bank to sell a home at a foreclosure auction in just four weeks — without requiring the homeowner's knowledge.
Until Act 48, these lawyers used that law to steamroll through the vast majority of Hawaii's foreclosures. That process had virtually no consumer protections, nor any third-party oversight.
With the fraud, deception, mismanagement and mistakes that have come to light during this national foreclosure fiasco, I feel no sympathy.
It's clear these lawyers are going judicial because they have little faith in their ability to follow the new non-judicial law and the integrity it requires.
One lawyer said he receives up to 100 referrals a month. If compensated at Fannie Mae's bargain rate of $1,100 per non-judicial foreclosure, that lawyer could still bring in $110,000 per month. However, Fannie Mae only pays $2,200 per judicial foreclosure — money they might not see for a couple years. Plus, these lawyers actually have to show up and plead their case to a judge. What a hassle! No wonder they're so upset.
They should look at the bright side. The Legislature could have taken the approach the New York courts have — require lawyers to affirm they actually verified the accuracy of the foreclosure papers submitted to the court.
Well, as we say here at the Capitol, "we can fix it next year."
I wonder if the collection lawyers gave any thought to why Act 48 was passed. Let me enlighten them.
This law wasn't passed for the banks who, with the help of Fannie Mae, seduced the unwary, concocted complex investment schemes to line their pockets, pass on the risk, and cheat the investors — the very banks that required the taxpayers to bail them out and keep our economy afloat.
Nor is Act 48 for the unscrupulous real estate agents and mortgage brokers who encouraged people to purchase homes they couldn't afford — whose greed contributed to the inflation of a market wherein the hard-working families of Hawaii can hardly afford a home. Their indulgences added to a housing bubble that was bound to burst.
Certainly, Act 48 was not passed for the collection lawyers, whose fast-track, fast-money non-judicial foreclosure binge is now over.
Let me be clear: Act 48 was passed to protect the consumer. It creates a level playing field for the beleaguered homeowner. It has helped many deserving homeowners, and will do so for many more.
Foreclosures breed foreclosures; and before Act 48, they were pouring right through that non-judicial loophole from the 1800s. To the lament of the collection lawyers, that loophole is now tightly sealed. As chairman of the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, I have no intention of reopening it.
It is plain to see that the biggest whiners in a post-Act 48 Hawaii are those who can no longer make big fast easy money.
What the collection lawyers are calling the "flaws" of Act 48 are actually "teeth." They are so sharp, the lawyers are running scared into the jaws of the courts.
The people of Hawaii have my pledge that I will do all in my power to support the other branches of government as we address this crisis together — for the consumer.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
State Representative Henry Aquino will be holding a School Supply Drive to support the students of August Ahrens and Waipahu Elementary Schools. The drive will be held on the following dates and times outside the Longs Drugs at Waipahu Town Center:
Saturday, July 30, 2011 8:00 A.M. to 12 Noon
Saturday, August 6, 2011 8:00 A.M. to 12 Noon
"Many families going through difficult times are unable to provide basic school supplies for their children," said Rep. Aquino (District 35 – Pearl City, Waipahu.) "As a father with a young child, I know how important it is for students to have the supplies they need in order to do their homework and to learn effectively. We want to see every child going to class well prepared, so we are coming together, as a community, to help give them a good start."
The desired items include:
Wide-rule folder paper
Wide-rule folder paper
Wide-rule composition books
Wide-rule composition books
4 oz. glue
4 oz. glue
24 or 48-count crayons
24 or 48-count crayons
For more information, call Rep Aquino's office at 586-6520.
For more information, call Rep Aquino's office at 586-6520.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Rural Outreach Services is a public/private consortium of agencies that provide a wide range of needed services for the community on a rotating basis. The purpose of the initiative is to make it more convenient or even possible for residents to receive services without having to drive long distances to Hilo or Kona. Services include employment counseling, job seeking strategies, assistance with online registrations, low income and energy assistance, housing services, youth tutoring and mentoring, eldercare assistance, long-term care assistance, college programs and application assistance, financial aid, small business solutions, veterans services and more. For many people, the improved access to critical services will have a great impact on their quality of life.
Governor Neil Abercrombie is expected to attend the opening, making good on the claim that his administration will not be "Oahu-centric". The Governor has been instrumental in ensuring participation by state agencies.
"Rural Outreach Services is an initiative that will turn lives around," said Rep. Mark Nakashima, a member of the coordinating committee, who also sits on the advisory board for NHERC. "Because of the long distances that people need to travel on the Big Island, many residents have not been getting the services they need, whether it be job-related, housing, or even healthcare."
"Our initial challenge was to bring the agencies together to establish a working schedule of volunteer services," continued Nakashima. "Now our goal is to make sure that the community is aware of the availability of these services, and the more they take advantage of the program, the more resources we will be able to provide for the future."
The organizations that are participating in the consortium include the University of Hawaii at Hilo – North Hawaii Education and Research Center, the Department of Labor – Workforce Development Division, Hamakua Partners in Elder Care, Kapulena Land Project and the Department of Education – East and West Hawaii Community School for Adults.
Other agencies volunteering their services include Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, US Department of Labor – Veterans' Employment & Training Service, Hawaii Community College, Services for Seniors, Hawaii Adult Day Care, Hawaii Small Business Development Center Network, Hawaii Center for Independent Living, Arc of Hilo, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, and Office of Veterans' Services.
The participating agencies are available on a rotating basis on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with plans to increase days and times in the future. For more information or a schedule of upcoming services, contact the North Hawaii Education and Research Center at 775-8890.
View the link to the Rural Outreach Services calendar at http://goo.gl/fS9T3
Follow NHERC on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Hawaii-Education-and-Research-Center/91544554478
Friday, July 15, 2011
The meeting will be held on Thursday, July 21, 2011 from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at Pearl Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria. Light refreshments will be served.
Discussions will focus on the following topics:
Kam Drive-in Development: Representative Blake Oshiro will talk about the planning and permitting process, specifically with the City and County of Honolulu Planning and Permitting Department and the Honolulu City Council, and provide further updates on the proposed redevelopment by Robertson Properties Group of the old Kam Drive-In site, currently home of the Kam Swap Meet. This is an opportunity for the community to learn how they can get involved.
Robertson Properties Group (Los Angeles, CA) wants to change the property zoning from B-2 Community Business district to BMX-3 Community Business Mixed-Use. If this zoning change is approved, it will allow the property to have residential uses, additional building heights, and commercial uses. The proposed project may include 1500 residential units composed of three 35-story towers, 220,000 square feet of commercial retail space, and a possible 150-room suburban hotel.
Robertson Properties Group held a scoping meeting on May 16, 2011 at Pearl Ridge Elementary School regarding their proposed redevelopment. The company informed the community of its plans to create an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice. The community was offered the opportunity to submit comments and questions for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and was informed that PBR Hawaii and Associates Inc. would accept comments and questions until June 6, 2011.
Kaimakani Street: Representative Blake Oshiro and the City and County of Honolulu will discuss the issue of Kaimakani Street, which has a section that requires much improvement because of hazardous conditions during heavy rainfall. The issue is whether jurisdiction and maintenance lies with the City or the State. A resolution passed this session requests DLNR to report findings and recommendations regarding ownership of the road to the Legislature before the start of the 2012 Legislative Session.
Aloha Stadium: Stadium Manager Scott Chan, DAGS Comptroller Bruce Coppa, and DAGS Planning Branch Manager Chris Kinimaka will give presentations on the status of repairs.
New Aiea Public Library: Glenn Miura, a representative from CDS International, the Honolulu-based architectural company working on the new Aiea Public Library, will present updates and answer questions on the progress of the project. The library will be built on the former sugar mill site just above the intersection of Aiea Heights Drive and Halewiliko Street.
The present schematic design captures Aiea's sugar mill heritage, is "open" and relies on natural light, and emphasizes energy conservation. Planned photo-voltaic panels on the roof would generate some of the building's electrical needs. The new library will meet at least the "Silver" designation of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) which is an internationally recognized green building certification system.
The current estimated timetable calls for the schematic design to be finalized in May, the preliminary design in August, the pre-final design in November, and the final design in January, 2012. The estimated construction schedule shows the contract bid in March 2012, contract award in June, begin work in August, and completion in November 2013. Allowing time to move from the existing library, the new library is estimated to open for public use in January 2014.
The meeting is sponsored by Senators David Ige, Donna Mercado Kim and Representatives Blake Oshiro, Roy Takumi, K. Mark Takai and Aaron Ling Johanson.
For more information, please call the office of Representative Blake K. Oshiro at 808-586-6340.
President and Chief Executive Officer
SUBJECT: ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS UPDATE
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At this point,
Your regional leadership and I will be sure to keep you abreast on any new developments, including when the contract is finalized and details of the first phase of implementation.
On behalf of the
Thursday, July 14, 2011
New Law Encourages Renovation of State Buildings through Public/Private Partnerships
Honolulu, Hawaii. A new law will make it easier for the state to repair, renovate and maintain state facilities. Governor Abercrombie signed House Bill 1505 into law as Act 231. The measure creates a state facility renovation partnership program which provides the State with the ability to enter into public-private partnerships while allowing the State to retain the land under the building and charge lease rent via a ground lease on the property.
"As we have entered a new day in Hawaii, I am pleased that Governor Abercrombie has signed HB1505 into law because this bill provides the State with the ability to engage in 'out-of-the-box' financing for the repair and maintenance of our state buildings," said Rep. Sharon Har, the bill's introducer. "These types of public-private partnerships work in other states and will assist the State of Hawaii in moving forward with our ailing building infrastructure."
The state facility renovation partnership program will be administered by the Department of Accounting and General Services. The department is now responsible for conducting a comprehensive review of all state office facilities and to compile a list of priority facilities best suited for the program.
The department may then enter into an agreement with a private investor for the sale of the facility. The private investor would renovate, maintain or construct the facility, and lease the facility to the state. The state would maintain ownership of the land beneath the facility. The state would have the option to purchase the facility back from the private investor.
"The condition of our state facilities is a reflection on state government," added Rep. Har. "Act 231 provides the state with another tool to keep our state facilities safe, clean, and a source of pride for the people of Hawaii."
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Trade Deals Get More Attention Due to NAFTA
The way Hawaii Rep. Roy Takumi sees it, states didn’t pay close attention to the impact free trade agreements would have on state policies in the 1990s, when Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA.
They’re paying attention now.
“As (free trade agreements) started to proliferate, legislators, including myself, became more aware of how these trade agreements went beyond international trade and encroached into what (were) matters that states and only states historically dealt with,” Takumi said. That includes procurement, investment and service policies.
As Congress considers additional trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, state policymakers are taking action and making their concerns known. That includes what they perceive as lost jobs.
But Takumi and others say it goes well beyond that.
“In every (free trade agreement), there may be sections that are benefits and others that are not,” he said. “Or it could be beneficial/negative to some states and not to others.”
Read the full story here.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The new law is similar to Rosa's Law, which changes references in federal law from "mental retardation" to "intellectual disability", and references to a "mentally retarded individual" to an "individual with an intellectual disability". The federal law replicates a state law that was passed in Maryland through the efforts of the family of Rosa Marcellino, a 9-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, and their state representative.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Rep. Marcus Oshiro and Rep. Tom Brower joined many at the Hawaii State Capitol in donating blood to the Blood Bank of Hawaii to help save lives. The event was sponsored by Senate President Shan S. Tsutsui.
If you've never given blood, consider these facts from the American Red Cross the next time you hear about a blood drive:
- Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
- More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
- Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
- Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Innovations Development Group (IDG), a Hawaii-based company already in joint venture partnerships with groups in New Zealand to develop geothermal resources, presented information on geothermal development, opined on needed state energy policy changes, and provided a proposal to House and Senate lawmakers.
Who is Innovations Development Group? They have a website here and a copy of their Powerpoint presentation to state lawmakers is here.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I've had a couple of requests recently on whether the House of Representatives has a social media policy. Actually, we put one together back in 2009, so it's probably time to revisit it and see if it needs an update. I thought it might be worthwhile publishing it again here and welcome comments. Printable version here.
Social Media – Proper Use Policy
Social Media including Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and other Internet based media, are powerful communication tools. We use them for various purposes, both public and private, and it’s important to distinguish between the two when using social media at and for work. If it is your personal opinion, you should make clear that views expressed are personal and not necessarily the views of your representative, office, other employees or the House. However, even with that disclaimer, the following specific policies and guidelines shall apply.
Personal or private use during work hours is strictly prohibited. Any such use should occur on employee's personal, after hours or break times, provided that use of government computers is prohibited because of the potential misuse or possible threats to system. Any and all personal/private use must be on personal or private computer equipment.
When using social media at work and as part of your job, the following rules shall be adhered to because whether you are posting as yourself or for your representative, there remains a public image that is being presented and any posting can potentially be discovered by others and possibly broadcast to millions.
1. Any disparaging or extremely negative comments about specific individuals could be defamatory or could invade their privacy. Thus, these statements shall be avoided.
2. Do not disclose any confidential or proprietary information. This could subject you or the House to liability.
3. Photographs, video clips, pictures or other images of any person should only be used with their permission unless it was obtained and used for public dissemination (e.g. media clips, official House proceedings, etc.) since private persons have rights to the use of their images.
4. When using material from another source, especially when blogging, proper credit to the source must be given to avoid any copyright, trademark or other intellectual property issues.
5. Private or personal use of the Hawai`i State Seal, or other official symbols without prior authorization is prohibited.
6. Business promotion, endorsement of products, marketing or any other business enterprise is prohibited.
7. Campaign or electoral related postings, statements, or images are strictly prohibited.
8. Use shall also be consistent with the House's policy on computer use and equipment.
Violations of these policies may result in reprimand, suspension or termination with or without notice.
In addition to the above required policies, the following guidelines are recommended:
1. Don’t tweet or post when you are angry or in a bad mood. You may say something you’ll regret.
2. It’s always a good idea to pause, read over, and make sure you are really ready to press “send”. If in doubt, don’t send.
3. Remember that your bosses can go back and check what you’re tweeting or posting, and at what time of day. Therefore, don’t show off your awesome “Bejewelled” or “Farmville” scores, for example, when you are supposed to be working.
4. You want to come across as a real person, not a robot. Don’t be afraid to show your personality as long as you don’t embarrass yourself, your representative, or the legislature.
5. Be informative, be interesting, be respectful and be real.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Governor Abercrombie today signed into law House Bill 605 which establishes a special fund for the "Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarette" program. This advancement will allow the State Fire Council to move forward with the administration and staffing of the program. Reduced ignition propensity cigarettes are essentially fire-safe cigarettes that are rolled with a low-ignition paper and more easily go out on their own if left untended. The legislation to establish the program passed in 2008.
The bill was one of several signed into law today related to fire safety.
“Governor Neil Abercrombie signed three legislative bills that passed the 2011 session into law on July 5, 2011 that have a significant impact on the fire and emergency services in Hawaii," said Chair of the State Fire Council and Honolulu Fire Chief Kenneth Silva. "The first two measures will enable the Hawaii State Fire Council (SFC) the ability to hire personnel to administer state mandated programs including adoption of the State Fire Code and the Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarette Program (RIPC). The third bill protects fire fighters and water safety officers from assault during the line of duty."
Learn more about the legislation on RIPC: