HI Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Marriage Equality Act

From the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office:
The Hawai’i Supreme Court today dismissed a legal challenge raised by
four individual plaintiffs to the Hawai’i Marriage Equality Act of 2013. The 2013 law
changed Hawaii’s statutes regarding marriage so that same-sex couples could marry.
The Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs were not harmed or injured by the Marriage
Equality Act and therefore did not have standing to challenge it.
“The most important part of the Supreme Court’s ruling was its conclusion that the
‘legislature’s decision to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples did not, in any
way, diminish the right to marry’ for the plaintiffs or anyone else,” said Attorney General
Doug Chin, quoting the opinion.
“This is an exciting time for marriage equality in our country, as we await the United States Supreme Court’s ruling that will govern so many other States,” said Deputy Attorney General Deirdre Marie-Iha, who argued on b ehalf of the defendants. “We hope that the United States Supreme Court will recognize, as our Supreme Court did today,
that those who oppose marriage equality are ‘harmed not at all when others are given the liberty to choose their own life partners and a re shown the respect that comes with formal marriage.’ ”


Hilo Shop Employee Nabs Mt. View Shoplifter

From Hawaii Police Department:

A Puna man faces a felony offense after struggling with a store employee who tried to detain him for shoplifting.

At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday (May 26) police responded to a home improvement store on the 300 block of Maka?ala Street in Hilo. H

A store employee had reportedly seen a shopper attempting to leave the store without paying for items in his possession. When the employee attempted to detain the suspect, the suspect reportedly struck the employee.

The suspect, Patrick K. Elaban of Mountain View, was arrested at the scene. He was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

At 9:10 a.m. Thursday (May 28) detectives charged him with second-degree robbery. His bail was set at $5,000. He remained at the cell block until his initial court appearance on Friday (May 29).

The employee was suffered mild injuries but did require medical attention.


M 8.5 Quake Strikes Bonin Islands; No Tsunami Expected Here.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has reported that a magnitude 8.5 earthquake that occurred near the Bonin Islands.  Based on all available data, a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawai`i.

There are no initial reports of casualties.

The Bonin Islands are a string of subtropical atolls southeast of the main Japanese islands.  The islands are a Japanese prefecture, but have a population of only 2,440.  The closest populated island, the prefectural capitol of Chichi-Jima, is 189 kilometers (117 miles) from the earthquake epicenter.

Classic Cars to Invade Hawaii

Expect to see lots vintagecars rolling along Big Island highways from June 25 to July 5.  Members of the Hawai`i Classic Cruisers (HCC) organization will be  bringing their prides and joys  from Michigan, Oregon, Texas, California, Nevada and around the globe, as well as from O’ahu and Maui,  to this island for their triennial “Cruise Paradise” happening.

Participants pay $20 to enter one vehicle and $10 for each vehicle thereafter so that their vehicle entry into all events related to the cuise; they pay their own shipping to get their cars here.  But for spectators, “This is a free, fun, family-oriented 10-day event,” notes the press release for the cruise. “During Cruise Paradise 2012, over 400 classic vehicles geared up for car shows on the Big Island that attracted over 10,000 spectators in Hilo, Kona and Waikoloa.  On July 4, hundreds of cars participating in the cruise will be on display at Hilo’s Bayfront.

The event will contribute to the economy, if not to local air quality;  sponsors anticipate that the cruisers will “burn over 7,500 gallons of fuel, travel over a total of 90,000 miles and spend $23,000 in fuel costs alone. Some vehicles anticipate traveling approximately 600 miles over the 10 days getting about 10-12 miles per gallon of fuel. Car enthusiasts will travel across the island, lodge at various hotels and condominiums, eat at local eateries and shop in our malls, shops and supermarkets.”
For more information, go to  www.hawaiiclassiccruisers.com

18-Year-Old Charged in Mt. View Murder



From the Hawaii County Police Department:

Hawai’i Island police have charged the Puna man who was arrested for murder on Saturday (May 23).

At 3:30 p.m. Sunday (May 24), 18-year-old Forrest Keesler of Mountain View was charged with second-degree murder. His bail was set at $250,000.

He remains at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Tuesday (May 26).

The victim has been identified as 47-year-old Jeffrey Kelly of Mountain View.


Survey: Hawaii County is Unhealthiest in State

Just as Hawaii Health Systems, the island’s chief hospital facilities provider, announced that shortfalls would force it to cut services and lay 0ff 87 employees in East Hawaii, a prestigious nonprofit released survey findings that rank Hawaii County dead last in the state for overall health.

Every five years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health,” releases the results of a nationwide survey of health conditions, broken down by county. The latest survey ranks Hawaii County dead last in the state, behind Maui County, the City and County of Honolulu and Kauai County. The survey covered 32 factors that affected residents, health, and grouped those factors six general areas.  Hawaii ranked fourth out of the four counties in five of hose factors: length of life; quality of life; health behaviors such as drinking, smoking, obesity and inactivity;  clinical care, and social and economic factors. The only bright spot:  Hawaii ranked second in “Physical Environment.”

The foundation estimated that approximately 6,700 every 100,000 Hawaii County residents died prematurely. About 10 percent o county residents were without health insurance.  About 25 percent of the population were considered obese, about 45 percent of deaths in traffic accidents were found to be  alcohol-related and 22 percent of island residents drank excessively. Approximately 321 out of every 100,000 island residents had a sexually transmitted disease and on average, 22 out of every 1,000 girls between the age of 15 and 19 gave birth. Twenty-six percent of children in the county live in impoverished households, compared to 14 percent statewide. But Hawaii residents were found to be slightly less likely than their counterparts statewide to be victimized by violent crime; on average, 254  such crimes were committed per 100,000 residents here, versus 263 per 100,000 statewide.

According to the Foundation’s statistics,  there is one primary care physician for every 1,391 island residents the average statewide is one per every 1,045.


Puna News — Son Arrested For Father’s Death

(Media release) — Hawaii Island police have initiated a murder investigation in connection with an incident in Puna on Saturday morning involving a father and son.

At approximately 9:15 a.m. Saturday, police officers responded to a reported domestic incident at a home in the Fern Acres subdivision. They arrived to find medics treating an unconscious 47-year-old man. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

The victim’s 18-year old son, Forrest Keesler of Mountain View, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder. He was taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Jefferson Grantz at 961-8810 or jefferson.grantz@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. 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.

Letter: About the Budget

Dear Editor,

I woke up at 5 this morning, drank coffee, finished some notes and headed out to testify on the Mayor’s budget.  Of course I was a day late, so after reminiscing with another guy who had also thought Tuesday, I’m sending out some thoughts while they are fresh in mind.

I’ll try to summarize, and am rounding off numbers and mostly going by the actual costs of 2013-14 because we don’t know the actual costs of this current fiscal year.  I believe the totality of the mayor’s budget is less than 6% increase from the previous year.  Right away I find several conflicts, mainly the projected increase of employee pensions and contributions rises from $56.5M (13-14) to 87.2M in 2017-18.  That alone is an average of 6.14M a year, more than 6% increase.

Add to that the police budget from 121.3M in 2014-15 to 134.1M in 15-16.  That is a 12.7M increase in one year.  It is explained in the letter accompanying the budget as mostly an increase in subsidized vehicle insurance, buying 100 mobile data terminals (cell phones?) and replacing 100 guns.

I looked into the written goals of the police department: to protect life and property, involve the community in crime prevention, gather evidence to solve crimes, return stolen property, aid in prosecutions and at the bottom of the list are enforce traffic laws and other.   

Then I noticed further goals for the different departments, and the actual completion rates for these goals.  I was horrified, and I did mention it in my testimony last month, that the Hawaii County Police Department only has goals of 30% in solving Burglaries and Thefts, 60% Robbery and 80% Sexual Assaults?  I’m not sure what the goal of solving murders is, but I saw where they responded to 3 murders, and are giving evidence on 1 to the prosecution.  That seems about 33% to me.

As I dug further I was wondering why they are not able to solve more crimes?  After all, we hear it is the same people in many subdivision thefts, and we hear about the same crack houses operating for years at a time in the same location, how hard can some of it be?  

Well, I think I figured something out.  First off, there are only like 3 criminalists and 37 detectives, while there are 306 patrol officers.  And our Federal and State governments ensure that those 306 patrol officers are busy overtime performing revenue generating, seat-belt checks, DUI checks, cell phone stings, and so forth.  Don’t tell me they don’t have quotas.  The police received 16 grants this year, 9 of them are for traffic revenue compliance operations totaling almost $550K.  Additionally there were 3 grants for crimes against women for $150K, 1 Tobacco/eCig sting grant of $8K, 1 grant for Meth operations $125K, 1 grant for State Narcotics Task Force of $125K to eradicate 60,000 pot plants which is supposed to be taken of the budget as it is a mistake, and 1 Justice System Grant for technical equipment and training which perhaps will not happen now that Obama declared a stop to militarizing the police.

I notice that there were supposed to be a number of hard drug investigations initiated, as well as attendance at some hard drug conventions, which were not attended. There seem to be no grants forthcoming and no money to be made solving actual crimes, but plenty to be made by extorting the drivers in Hawaii County, and forfeiture of real property if the opportunity presents itself.

I think it would be nice if the County Council would decline those traffic related revenue grants, and instead have the police follow their stated goals, and see if we can actually solve more real crime in line with their stated intent.


Sara Steiner

Letters — From A Disgruntled Senior In Pahoa

(Editor’s note: Following is a letter Puna resident Toby Hazel recently wrote to Puna Councilman Daniel Paleka, regarding issues involving the Pahoa Senior Center and the planned park project.)

Open letter to Daniel Paleka, council person for District 5:

Following up on our phone conversation concerning the Pahoa Park Project phase one and two, for a total of $54 million.  You have suggested that I list some of the needs of the senior members of our community.  For seven years since I have been asking for a senior center for Pahoa, one of the central requests has been for a certified kitchen and a dedicated room for computer education including high speed internet connection for the whole park, emanating from the senior center building that was previously the fire station and already had the internet connection.

Mayor Billy Kenoi gave us the building after the fire department moved into their new building, and “PROMISED” to give us the high speed internet, but eventually all we go was a free dinky dial up and no computer room.  The Park and Rec planner, James Komata, has had fears that someone would do “porn in the parking lot.” I have been assured by expert computer specialists that these sites can be blocked.  We could have a dedicated computer room in the senior center or the community center if P & R would remove all the summer fun materials they have stored in the meeting rooms.  Part of the $54 million needs to be spent building some storage space so existing meeting rooms are open to public use. Read more

Press Release: Mediation Saves Homes of 172 Families

From Julie Mitchell, Kuikahi Mediation Center, Hilo:

Hawai‘i Island’s Foreclosure Mediation Program has helped 172 homeowners to stay in their homes.  Through a partnership of Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center and West Hawai‘i Mediation Center, along with the Third Circuit Court, lenders and borrowers have the opportunity to utilize mediation services while in judicial foreclosure.  Those pre-foreclosure can also opt for mediation as an alternative to court.

“Foreclosure Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party assists the lending institution and the homeowner to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement to prevent foreclosure,” said Ku‘ikahi Executive Director Julie Mitchell.

 “As non-profit community mediation centers, we provide case management and mediators to facilitate dialogue and document exchange,” Mitchell stated.  “Our Foreclosure Dispute Resolution Specialists have extensive experience working with borrowers, lenders, attorneys, and housing counselors.”

  During the mediation process, lenders and borrowers engage in meaningful discussions that can lead to real resolutions.  The ideal outcome is for residents to retain their houses.  This win-win solution also serves the lender, by keeping the mortgage solvent, and the greater community, by reducing the negative effects that foreclosures have on neighborhoods.

  “Together our mediation centers have helped save 172 homes to date, through loan modification or reinstatement,” noted WHMC Executive Director Katie Woods.  “If retention is not possible, other options such as a short sale, deed in lieu, or cash for keys can be discussed.  These loss mitigation options help avoid the negative results of foreclosure judgements.”

 “For those homeowners who are pre-foreclosure, meaning you have missed or are about to miss a mortgage payment, we encourage you to contact us to see if mediation is right for you,” Woods said.  “For those who have received notice of judicial foreclosure, we encourage you to fill out the ‘Foreclosure Mediation Request’ form attached as the last page of the mailed court complaint.”

  In 2010, Hawai‘i County had the highest foreclosure rate in the state.  In response to this crisis, the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court established a Foreclosure Mediation Pilot Project in the county.

 A 2010 report by the Third Circuit Court stated that homeowners expressed feeling “intimidated and overwhelmed by the foreclosure process.  Homeowners who have fallen behind on their bills are often in a state of stress, with worries of foreclosure, bankruptcy, and repossession creating a sense of high anxiety.  Homeowners may not know where to turn, or what options they may have available.”

 Third Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura stated that, “The mediation process provides relief to homeowners within a process they can access and understand.  When compared to the court process, mediation is more informal and parties have more time to negotiate and, hopefully, reach a joint agreement on the terms.”

 For the past three years, the Hawai‘i Island Foreclosure Mediation Program has been funded through the Department of the Attorney General which, on behalf of the State of Hawaii, obtained a consent judgment against the five largest mortgage loan servicers in the United States.  As a result of the judgment, the Attorney General received approximately $7.9 million to be held in trust for the benefit of homeowners and others who are, have been, or may be affected by mortgage loan proceedings.  As part of the consent judgment, the Attorney General developed the Foreclosure Assistance Program in an effort to immediately assist distressed homeowners through housing and financial counseling; public education, mediation, and dispute resolution efforts; and enforcement of laws and agreements protecting the rights of homeowners and lessees.

 To learn more about the Foreclosure Mediation Program in East Hawai‘i, contact Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center at 935-7844 or visit www.hawaiimediation.org.  In West Hawai ‘i, contact West Hawai‘i Mediation Center at 326-2666 or visit www.whmediation.org.

Letters — Crosswalk and intersection improvements to Post Office Road and Pahoa Bypass appropriated in 2013

120px-Brunei_road_sign_-_School_Crossing_Patrol.svg(Editor’s note: Following is an open letter to Sen. Russell Ruderman and members of the media.)

Dear Russell, others:

There was another accident at the HAAS school / Post Office road intersection last week. Still figuring how to help the community with the crosswalk problem. I was wondering if you could tell me what pages the Post Office road improvement appropriations are on in the 2013 HB200 State Budget. I saw it when I searched keyword, but archived bill is not searchable, and it’s almost 400 pages. I can’t believe with the technology available today it’s like that.

Anyone who has been cc’d in this email is welcome to join in the solving of this problem. Haven’t met again with Steve Hirakami, but will soon. I had talked to him a couple weeks ago, and he did not know that you (Russell) had met with the DOT and they are not going to build a HAAS School intersection with stop-light because of the lava threat.

Russell, you do know that Hawaii County Civil Defense formally evacuated the Pahoa Village Center on or around October 27, 2014? Warnings were posted on buildings and handed out to tenants. HAAS school had 2 classrooms there, evacuated and incurred expenses. Later on the word out was an “inexperienced CERT” person passed out the evacuation notices, but that was way after the fact, no apologies or offers of monetary reimbursement.

Fast forward to Malama Market, with Civil Defense “going to pull the plug in 5 days”, it was indicated the businesses there (and Woodland Center) might as well get a head-start on packing. HAAS had one classroom at Malama which evacuated, again at the expense of the students.

HAAS Charter School wants and needs to expand due to the three additional classes coming home from evacuation (and for planned growth) but the County of Hawaii won’t let them do anything until there is a decent intersection on the state controlled by-pass.

If the DOT refuses to do the work, can we as a community take them to court because they (DOT) have created and maintain a dangerous situation blasting 45 mph speeding during school hours? Is there any other school in the state of Hawaii without crosswalks and 20-25 mph speed limits? Should the community just give up on the State and paint the crosswalks themselves? Even if we do, that won’t help with the expansion of HAAS School because the community can not widen the road and install stop lights.

Please, can any of you elected or appointed officials do anything to help the DOT do their job? They have the money. The Keaau merge is about pau. I would hope that children and school are important issues to all here addressed, especially the DOT.

Most Sincerely,

Sara Steiner

Police: Do You Know This Alleged Burglar?

From the Hawai’i County Police Department:

Hawai’i Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a person whose image Alert Photowas recorded on a surveillance photo obtained in connection with a burglary in Waikoloa in February.

On February 2, someone entered a home on the 68-3500 block of Makuahine Street and removed two cell phones with a combined value of $900.

Police ask anyone with information about his identity to contact Detective Sandor Finkey at 326-4646, extension 281 or sandor.finkey@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. 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.

Guest Column — Does $60K Per Acre Interest You?

By Roger Christie

The GIANT wave of all things Cannabis hemp and “marijuana” is fast evolving in much of the world and it’s eventually coming this way.  It’s sadly way too late for us to be ‘leaders’ in this healthy, wealthy and happy movement, but at least we need to know the whole truth of what the future may bring us and who continues to block it.  Some of the big questions I have are; WHEN is legalization coming to Hawai’i, HOW will it be structured and regulated and WHO will benefit the most?

Recently I had a conversation with a large mainland company (www.hempmeds.com) that makes and sells Cannabis hemp CBD oils and other hemp products.  I was told that their company recently negotiated long-term leases on “hundreds of thousands of organic acres” in eastern Europe.  They say on their website that they legally grow, process, sell and ship CBD hemp oil and other CBD oil products to residents in all 50 U.S. states and 40 foreign countries.   Read more

The Primal Home — The Power Of Appreciation

By Dena Smith 

You walk into the kitchen after a long day only to find the dishes still piled up in the sink, even though you had asked your partner that morning to wash them. A moment later, your partner walks in with a big smile and asks how your day went.

Sound at all familiar? It’s possible that your initial reaction may range anywhere from contorting your face to reflect your annoyance and frustration, to a full on verbal assault involving vehement expletives. In any case, your partner would likely look back with the kind of horrified stare that happens in the movies when someone is about to get hit by a car.

Okay, we all have the image in our mind. And, it’s quite likely, we’ve all been on either end of this kind of situation. Either way, it doesn’t feel good…giving or receiving.

So, let’s rewind and back up to the point where your partner is standing there smiling. Read more