Big Island Police Investigating Robbery at Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a robbery at a public beach earlier in the month.

At 11:33 a.m. on February 14, South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a robbery two hours earlier in the parking lot of Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha.

NUMBER 2: Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

NUMBER 2: Carlsmith Beach Park in Keaukaha

A 58-year-old Hilo man was reportedly loading his car after a swim, when a young man approached from behind and asked for help. When the victim turned around, the suspect punched him, grabbed his wallet and ran away. He may have gotten into a small white sedan heading toward Hilo.

He was described as a local male in his 20s, slim with a tan complexion, short black hair and unshaven. He was wearing dark surf shorts.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the incident or anyone who knows the identity of the suspect to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers 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.

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Update

Kahaualeʻa 2 flow still active northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō

View of the flow front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow, looking west. The flow front has focused into a new lobe that is slowly migrating through thick forest, triggering scattered forest fires. The smoke from these fires seems to be “seeding” the cloud above it. The active flow front was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Mauna Loa can be seen in the distance.

Top: Looking northeast from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, the smoke coming from forest fires at the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, thick fume is coming from the Kahaualeʻa 2 lava tube, which is supplying lava to the flow front. Bottom: View of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. This small cone is also the vent area for the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. The cone has recently hosted a small lava pond, but today this seemed to be crusted over. See the time-lapse sequences below to see recent activity at this cone.

Thermal image of the front of the Kahaualeʻa 2 flow. Yellow and white areas depict active breakouts, while red areas are cooler, inactive portions of the flow. Over the past week a new lobe has pushed east, between lobes that were active in November and January. The tip of this new lobe was 7.4 km (4.6 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Compare this view to the February 20 map (see link above).

Spattering and gas pistoning in the northeast cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō

This selection of images shows activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past two weeks. The lava pond was undergoing gas pistoning, a gradual buildup and release of gas in the lava pond that is often associated with spattering and lava level changes. For scale, the lava pond is about 10 m (30 feet) across.

More images of the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō, taken with a time-lapse camera.

This Quicktime movie shows a time-lapse sequence of activity at the northeast spatter cone in Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater on February 9-10. Rapid fluctuations in the height of the lava pond are caused by gas pistoning, which is the gradual buildup and release of gas in the pond. Mauna Kea is visible in the upper right portion of the frame. The sequence was captured by an inexpensive time-lapse camera, whose plastic housing was warped by the extreme heat.

Senator Malama Solomon on the Hawaii Business News “Geothermal Article”

Senator Malama Solomon responded to the following Hawaii Business News article:

Click to read article

Click to read article

Your report on geothermal energy (HB November 2013, “Geothermal is a Red-Hot Topic”) failed to make some very important points about why geothermal would improve the quality of life for all of us in Hawaii.

• Geothermal is used worldwide and can be applied to Hawaii. According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are several regions worldwide with geothermal and geologic conditions very similar to Hawaii, such as Iceland and New Zealand. Both nations benefit from electrical rates of up to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to Hawaii’s average of 32 cents/kwh. DLNR also points out that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy.

• Safeguards are already in place. “The State of Hawaii has developed a thorough series of procedures to review, regulate and oversee the development of geothermal resources,” says DLNR Chair William Aila. “This includes the drilling of all geothermal wells, the protection of underground sources of drinking water, safe well construction techniques, and seismic monitoring.”

Also, geothermal development projects are required by Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to develop an Environmental Impact Statement, which includes public disclosure of potential impacts and proposed mitigations measures that are subject to public hearings and a public comment period before any project can proceed forward. “These processes are already in place ensure the protection of the environment, natural and cultural resources, and the public’s health and safety,” Alia says.

• Geothermal has Hawaiian support. “Hawaiians have supported and continue to support geothermal development on Hawaii Island,” says Mililani Trask of the Innovations Development Group. She points out geothermal development has received support by the largest Hawaiian organization, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Hawaiian energy producers and land owners, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who has also invested in a Hawaiian company seeking to develop the resource on Hawaii Island.

We have a great opportunity to responsibly develop geothermal to provide clean, renewable and firm power to our homes and businesses at a lower cost.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Senate District 4 (Hilo, Hāmākua, Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa and Kona)

Grassroot Institute Issue Brief Looks at the Minimum Wage Debate

A recent Issue Brief from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii considers the effects of an increase in the minimum wage, concluding that the raise in the minimum wage currently before the Hawaii Legislature will not advance the goal of improving the plight of Hawaii’s working poor.

Click to read brief

Click to read brief

The report, entitled Four Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate in Hawaii, identifies four key areas of concern that are at odds with the objectives of the legislation. They are:

  • Raising the minimum wage will benefit less than 4%of low-income working families.
  • The current proposed minimum wage raise increases the costs of low-skilled labor by 39%.
  • Raising the minimum wage will not lift working families out of poverty.
  • Raising the minimum wage is expected to reduce teenage employment.

Though the intent of a minimum wage increase is to lift Hawaii’s working families out of poverty, the brief concludes that such legislation will do little to achieve this objective while placing a substantial burden on Hawaii’s small businesses and employers. In effect, states the brief author, “[a]n increase in the minimum wage would accomplish no more than to increase benefits for a handful of low-income working families at the expense of teenage workers and small business owners. The one thing that the minimum wage proposal does accomplish, however, is to effectively divert the political narrative away from the real causes of poverty and inequality in Hawaii.”

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii continues to advocate for free market solutions to our state’s economic problems,” states Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Unfortunately, the proposed raise in the minimum wage is nothing more than a band-aid solution that will burden Hawaii’s businesses without effectively helping our state’s working families. What we really need is a reduction in the obstacles that the state places on business and entrepreneurship in Hawaii, as a vibrant and growing economy is the best way to improve the situation of low-wage workers.”

You can read or download this brief in its entirety at: http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2014/02/four-things-you-should-know-about-the-minimum-wage-debate-in-hawaii/.

Captain Cooked Treasure Revealed

After four years author S.P. Grogan has revealed the location of the hidden $5,000 Hawaiian war club, where the clues were to be found in his award-winning mystery thriller, Captain Cooked. (www.spgrogan.com)

captain cooked

Captain Cooked (www.captaincooked.com) is the second treasure hunt in the Quest Mystery ™ series where clues lead to a cash prize. The first, Vegas Die, had a hidden dagger worth $25,000.

In the search for the hidden Hawaiian war club, the Lei-OˈManō, with clues within Captain Cooked, treasurer seekers (called Questors) were to use geocaching and metal detectors and search on The Big Island of Hawaiˈi.  Eight ammunition cases also holding clues were hidden throughout the island, including within a lava tube and even at South Point, the farthest most southern tip of the United States.  A highly popular event for family and groups, geocachers (geocaching.com) can still search out the locations of the Captain Cooked caches across the island. No one to the date of the contest closing had found the war club though several Questors did come close.

Location of the treasure (now removed):  On your way to Waipi’o Valley, at a trash dump, under a tire, under an ammunition case (#2), under white coral rocks, is another ammunition case (#8).  For more information on the clues and full answer visit:  spgrogan.com.

Captain Cooked, 2011 winner of the ‘Aloha Across the Sea’ award from the Hawaiˈi Publishers Association, is also a culinary mystery featuring recipes from the top chefs and restaurants on The Big Island with a portion of book sale proceeds to go to The Food Basket, Hawaiian Islands Food Bank.

Captain Cooked can be purchased within the Hawaiian Islands as well at Amazon, Smashwords, and Nook, both as hard cover and E-book.

Author Grogan’s most recent work, not a Quest Mystery, but still as entertaining, is a political action thriller E-book entitled, bin Laden’s Revenge.

I got a chance to review the book back in August

I got a chance to review the book back in August

For further information and in-depth answers to Mystery Quest plus search photos visit:  S.P. Grogan  (www.spgrogan.com)

Bruno Mars Ticket Fiasco Has Lawmaker Introduce Resolution to Assist Local Residents in the Future

If you’re a loyal fan standing in line to purchase a coveted concert ticket, and plan to attend that concert, you should be able to have more than six percent of a chance to purchase that ticket, said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. The lawmaker has introduced a resolution urging concert and entertainment venues to require only in-person ticket sales for the first 48 hours.

Capital Logo

The resolution was triggered by the disappointment of local residents after the quick sale – three concerts sold out in 2-hours – of tickets for local boy Bruno Mars’ Hawaii shows in April. It was later announced that people from the mainland and Canada snagged 42 percent of the 17,000 tickets. Even more frustrating was for those who stood in the long lines at the Blaisdell box office, only six percent of tickets were bought there. It’s also been reported that scalpers who purchased tickets in bulk are selling them for exorbitant prices. Kim is hoping to change this for concertgoers so that those who will actually go to a performance are able to purchase tickets from the original venue at the actual ticket price, and not from a secondary market at inflated prices.

“Despite waiting in line for hours, many fans were unable to purchase tickets to the upcoming Bruno Mars concert at the Blaisdell Center,” said Kim. “Anyone who takes the time to show up in person should have the opportunity to purchase tickets for at least the first two days before opening up to online sales. It’s unfortunate that out-of-state ticket brokers and scalpers will resell these concert tickets back to local residents for an enormous profit.”

The resolution names and urges the following entities to set purchasing terms: Hawaii Community Development Authority, Stadium Authority, Department of Enterprise Services of the City and County of Honolulu, Board of Regents, President of the University of Hawaii and Chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

These entities hold concerts at venues such as Kakaako Park, Aloha Stadium, the Neil S. Blaisdell Center, Waikiki Shell, University of Hawaii Stan Sheriff Center and the Hawaii Convention Center.

“Our residents should enjoy a night of entertainment without having to pay inflated prices,” said Kim.

Medical Examiner Defers Cause of Death Following Autopsy of Man that Died After Being Arrested

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Tuesday in the course of an arrest.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending toxicology and histology results.

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon (commonly known as a “Taser”) in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Fire Department EMTs on scene attempted resuscitation and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

Detectives recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle.

The Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.

Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.

39-Year-Old Kona Man Dies After Being Arrested

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 39-year-old Kona man who died in police custody.

Ernest Alvares

Ernest Ricky  Alvarez

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

His passenger, 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona—who was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders—fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. During the struggle, the officer sustained injuries. Other officers responded to the scene. After Hatori was in police custody at the scene, he became unresponsive. Fire Department personnel arrived and took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53. a.m.

The officer required treatment for his injuries at Kona Community Hospital.

Alvarez was taken to the Kona police cellblock. In addition to the contempt charge, he was arrested on suspicion of promoting a dangerous drug. He remains at the cellblock while detectives continue that investigation.

Police have initiated a corner’s inquest investigation in connection with Hatori’s death. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

As is standard practice in any police involved death, the Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section will conduct an investigation into the death and the circumstances leading to it, and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

Big Island Now Has Only One Crime Stoppers Number – 961-8300

Hawaiʻi Island now has one Crime Stoppers telephone number to serve the entire island. The number is 961-8300.

HPDBadgeIn the past, two community organizations ran Crime Stoppers operations, one serving East Hawaiʻi and one serving West Hawaiʻi.

The community organization that previously served East Hawaiʻi now operates islandwide.

Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. When you call Crime Stoppers, you will be given a code number to track the status of your case. By calling later and giving your code number, you can find out whether you qualify for a reward.

If the Crime Stoppers board of directors selects you for a reward, you will be directed to an agreed-upon location to pick up the money. You will never be required to provide your name. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record any calls or subscribe to caller ID.

Photography Is Not a Crime – Lawyer Threatens Me Over Today’s #WordlessWednesday Picture

Well once again I’m getting threatened by an attorney for something that seems ridiculous and I will ask this question now… Is taking photographs of cars and the signs that are on them illegal?

Earlier today, as I do on many Wednesdays, I posted a post entitled: “Wordless Wednesday – I Lost My Implants…” where I simply stated:  “I saw this truck parked at Island Naturals in Pahoa on the Big Island yesterday:” and then posted a picture of a truck that I saw parked at Island Naturals in Pahoa.

This afternoon I received an email from Honolulu Law firm WILLIAM J. NAGLE III, ESQ., Roeca Luria & Hiraoka LLP stating:

Mr. Tucker:

This firm represents Dr. ***********  in the matter of the photograph of the sign displayed on your blog dated 1/29/14.  We request that the photograph be removed from your blog (damontucker.com) as the contents of the sign are offensive to our client.  Because your blog is widely read on the Big Island, the photograph of the sign has disappointed and upset Dr. *********.
Mahalo for your kokua in this matter.

Well I don’t know what I should do really and feel that I have every right to post pictures I take in public.  I was just posting an observation I saw and really wasn’t making any statement other then it was “Wordless” in a sense.

I’ve left the blog post up… but have now removed the Doctors name from the picture.

IS PHOTOGRAPHY A CRIME?  Here is the incriminating photograph… minus the doctors name:

Dr. Who?

Dr. Who?

Sex Abuse Victims in Utah Seek justice from Maui Land & Pine, Mormon Church, and Others

Honolulu attorneys Charles McKay and Randall Rosenberg of Rosenberg & McKay filed a complaint in Second Circuit Court on Maui yesterday afternoon against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (ML&P), Youth Development Enterprises, Inc. (YDE) and Brian R. Pickett, who currently resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  The Plaintiffs are two Utah men, Kyle Spray (42) and Jake Huggard (41), who now live in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.  Also consulting on the case are Idaho and Seattle Attorneys Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon and Weeks, P.A., and Mark Leemon of Leemon + Royer.

Kyle Spray

Kyle Spray

Jacob Huggard

Jacob Huggard

The lawsuit alleges the LDS (Mormon) Church and ML&P recruited boys in the 1970s and 80s from Mormon communities in Utah and Southeastern Idaho to pick pineapples at camps in Maui, where the Plaintiffs were sexually molested.  The camps closed in the early 1990s.

“There were hundreds of boys over more than a decade cycled through these camps,” explained attorney Randall Rosenberg, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.  “Hundreds were exposed to the alleged sexual predator in our case.  We do not know how many others may have been molested, but our experience is that child sexual predators with access to kids have multiple victims.”

Maui Land and Pineapple

“We are asking for anyone with knowledge about sexual abuse at these camps to come forward,” added attorney Charles McKay, Esq., of Rosenberg & McKay.

LDS men in their twenties, who qualified for supervisory positions after completing their two-year missions from the LDS Church, ran the camps.   When recruiting boys, the suit alleges the LDS Church represented to parents that the camps were a safe training ground for boys to become Mormon missionaries.

According to the suit, Defendant Brian R. Pickett, a Camp Coordinator, molested the Plaintiffs as boys while overseeing up to 200 boys at one camp from 1986 to 1988.  ML&P promoted Picket in 1988 to Vice President of Operations over both camps, exposing him to more than 400 boys employed at the camps. The alleged sexual abuse took place at the ML&P barracks while Picket was Camp Coordinator. Abuse of one boy allegedly continued at Pickett’s Maui upcountry home.  In addition to being the boys’ boss, Pickett was their spiritual leader.  Pickett was the Branch President, similar to a Mormon Bishop, who presided over the boys’ religious training.  According to the suit, Pickett baptized one 15-year-old victim who had been recruited as a non-Mormon, then sexually molested the boy.

“We believe Brian R. Pickett used his position over our clients as their supervisor and religious leader to gain access to the boys and manipulate them,” said attorney Craig Vernon, Esq., of James, Vernon and Weeks.  “The [Mormon] Church marketed this as a safe, wholesome and exciting adventure; fly to Hawai’i and pick pineapples.  That was extremely attractive to Mormon boys in Utah and Idaho in the 70s and 80s.”

“Thanks to a new Hawai’i law, abuse survivors as far away as Utah and Idaho now have access to justice for harm they suffered as boys in Hawai’i,” explained attorney Mark Leemon, Esq., of Leemon + Royer.   “We share our clients’ concern that other boys who may have been abused at these camps in the 70s and 80s only have until April of this year under the new law to file their claims.”

The two-year window statute in Hawaii allows child sexual abuse survivors to come forward and file suit until April 2014, regardless of when the abuse took place.

Equitable relief

Like similar suits Rosenberg and McKay filed against the Catholic Church, they and their team seek more than money for their clients.  “Our clients seek equitable relief for the protection of children, in addition to acknowledgement and restitution for the harm to them,” explains Rosenberg.   “We ask the LDS Church to take concrete steps to prevent future abuse and for the healing of victims.”  The relief sought demands the Church:

  • Change its corporate policies regarding reporting of suspected child sexual abuse. According to the suit, current policies instruct members and leaders to contact the Church instead of police or child protective services when they suspect child sexual abuse.
  • Reject current policies that state Church leaders should avoid testifying in civil or criminal cases involving abuse (Handbook 1, State Presidents and Bishops 2010, Section 17.3.2.)
  • Institute regulations that:

o   All alleged sex abusers will be immediately removed from exposure to children.

o   Members and leaders must report suspected abuse to the police and child protective services.

o   Leaders and members shall cooperate with civil and criminal authorities in cases involving sexual abuse, including testifying.

  • Publicly list abusers names on the LDS homepage of all its web sites to alert people of danger, including on the list Brian R. Pickett as a credibly accused pedophile with his last known address.
  • Identify all leaders and members who have been credibly accused of sexual molestation of a child in Hawaii.
  • Never support any laws that would shield child sexual abusers.
  • Establish age appropriate sex abuse training and educations for children ages 3 – 18 years old. This will include a “safe haven” for children to report abuse to any of three people in each Ward (a collection of individual churches).
  • Adopt a whistleblower policy so those reporting abuse will not have any retaliatory action taken against them.
  • Publish through its President an annual written statement that there exists no undisclosed knowledge that any leader has sexually abused any person in Hawaii.
  • Send a letter of apology to Plaintiffs.

“Equitable relief ensures there is concrete action for the prevention of future abuse and for the healing of victims,” explained McKay. “Given the number of young boys under Pickett’s supervision in the 1980s, there could be many more boys who experienced this abuse in Hawaii and now live in shame and silence in Idaho and Utah.”

Big Island Police Determine Boaz Johnson Killed Brittany-Jane Royal – Johnson Found Dead with Confession

The active investigation into the strangulation death of 25-year-old Brittany-Jane Royal has concluded with a determination that she was murdered by her boyfriend, 22-year-old Boaz David Johnson.

Boaz D. Johnson

Boaz D. Johnson

On December 18, a Grand Jury indicted Johnson for second-degree murder. At that time, a Circuit Court judge issued a warrant for Johnson’s arrest and sealed the indictment—at the request of police and prosecutors—to give state and federal law enforcement agencies the opportunity to locate and arrest Johnson. That indictment has now been unsealed.

Meanwhile, a body found hanging from a tree in Kalapana on January 2 has been identified as Boaz David Johnson. A private forensic laboratory confirmed the identity by comparing DNA from the body with a known sample of Johnson’s DNA. Johnson’s identity was also confirmed using dental records.

A composition book was found near Johnson’s body. In three handwritten pages, the writer—who identified himself as Boaz Johnson—confessed to strangling Royal while involved in a domestic dispute and to throwing her body into the ocean. He also indicated his intention to end his life.

A forensic document examiner determined that the writing in the composition book came from Boaz Johnson.

An autopsy on Johnson’s body revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia due to hanging and the manner of death was suicide. The medical examiner ruled out foul play.

This investigation began on May 28, 2013, at approximately 6:30 a.m., when police and firefighters responded to a report of a body caught in a fishing line in waters off Kalapana. The body was identified through fingerprints as Brittany-Jane Royal, who had recently moved to Hawaiʻi from Tustin, California, and was living in the Kalapana area with Boaz Johnson, who had recently moved to Hawaiʻi from Petersburg, Alaska.

Investigation revealed that after Royal’s body was found, Johnson said in a telephone conversation with a friend that he and Royal were in good health and were on their way to Hilo. That phone call, in addition to DNA and other evidence found at the crime scene, made Johnson an early suspect in Royal’s murder.

Throughout the investigation, police followed all leads in this case, including investigation that was able to exclude other individuals as being responsible for Royal’s death.

The case is still officially open because detectives have minor follow-ups to conduct before the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney conducts a final review.

Statement Regarding Auditor’s Report – “…Report, however, relied on outdated information…”

“The Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to eliminating all fraud, waste and abuse. The Department appreciates the assistance of the Legislature and the State Auditor’s Office to help identify areas to reduce medical assistance program costs and to improve program integrity,” said DHS Director Patricia McManaman. “The Auditor’s Report, however, relied on outdated information and did not recognize the Department’s substantial progress under the Abercrombie Administration to enhance program integrity and eliminate abuses,” said McManaman.

Department of Human Services

Since the 2011 federal report was issued, the DHS has implemented new systems, processes, screening and enrollment requirements, contractual requirements for health plans, and launched a new eligibility system, KOLEA — all with the goal of reducing fraud and waste.

The DHS is seeking funds from the 2014 Legislature for an additional investigator, fraud auditor and program integrity manager. Funding also is being sought for an asset verification IT system, which will interface with KOLEA. The verification system will improve program integrity for all individuals still subject to asset verification.

The Auditor’s Report expressly recognizes that Hawaii’s Medicaid program fares well when compared to peer states in the rest of the nation. It also notes that DHS has managed to control its costs on a per-enrollee basis even in the face of growing Medicaid enrollment. In 2010, Hawaii’s per-enrollee costs were 19 percent lower than the average among peer states.

Hawaii’s efforts to control costs did not come at the expense of quality. In 2013, the Commonwealth Fund ranked Hawaii as the state with the best health care system for low income individuals. “The Med-QUEST staff is dedicated to providing timely access to quality care for beneficiaries, while assuring proper oversight of taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to assure program integrity throughout the Department,” said McManaman.

An estimated 301,000 individuals are enrolled in the Hawaii Medicaid program, which is administered through the Department of Human Services.

For more information about the Department of Human Services, Med-QUEST Division visit http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/mqd.

Hualalai Academy Head of School Responds to the Financial Collapse of the School

Yesterday, I posted about the possibility of Hualalai Academy on the Big Island of Hawaii closing down at the end of the year or possibly sooner.

Hualalai Academy

Hualalai Academy

John Colson, Head of School, responded today with the following letter explaining the financial collapse of the school.

 Aloha Hualalai Academy Ohana:

Now that the sting of the Board of Directors’ announcement has settled a bit, I write as Head of School to clarify the announcement and the progress we have made to date.

First, I ask that you look at the situation with an open mind and realize that there is no one to blame for the financial collapse of the school. Over the years, the student enrollment has dropped substantially from a high of 235 to today’s enrollment of 112. This decline has led to staffing adjustments and annual borrowing from the bank to be able to continue offering a quality independent school program. The collective nature of the annual borrowing over the years has reached the point where lenders have no interest in working with us due to our lack of cash flow. Consequently, we have tried to turn over as many rocks as we could to see if some lender would work with us. Our final option told us “No” on the 15th of January. The Board of Directors met on the 16th of January and the announcement was made on the 17th to faculty and parents. The announcement was made in mid-January to give families time to apply to other independent schools that have an application deadline of January 31, 2014 should they so desire.

Our immediate task is to acquire a bridge loan that will allow us to finish the school year in total. I am pleased to tell you that as soon as the financial hardship was made public, several members of the HA Ohana stepped up and either offered cash contributions or bridge loans to ensure we serve the students correctly. More specifically, we have received over $25,000 in direct gifts and two bridge loans totally $300,000. With this level of support already in hand, we will most definitely be able to finish the year as currently calendared.

Once that is complete, we are committed to looking for that magical gift that would allow us to eliminate the collective debt and cancel the closure of the school. In the last 24 hours we have received contact information for potential donors who might help a special school like HA. I have to tell you it is a long shot but we are committed to trying as it is for the benefit of the students.

For me, this has been very hard as I care deeply about each student and want what is best for them. I would not have come to Hualalai Academy if I did not believe I could help build the school into the finest independent school in Kona. That being said, circumstances have dictated this action for now and with some good old fashioned luck, we may just be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat.

Please join me in doing your best to assist the students as they work to have a highly successful second semester. Tomorrow we celebrate the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King. His teachings taught us to work together and to do so with a spirit of aloha and service to others. Anger and blame will not change anything but positive action has a chance. Come Tuesday, we need to support the students and faculty in the most appropriate fashion possible. Your cooperation and support is necessary and will be beneficial for all.

If you have questions, please contact me at jcolson@hualalai.org at your convenience. If I don’t have the answer to your question, I will surely get you an answer.

E malama pono,

John (Colson)

Hualalai Academy on Big Island Closing, Needs Funds to Get Through School Year – Board of Director Under Fire From Parents

Parents of students that attend Hualalai Academy on the Big Island of Hawaii were shocked when they received an email on Friday from the Board of Directors of the School, Dr. Matt James, that told them the academy would be closing it’s doors for good at the end of the academic year OR SOONER.

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

Hualalai Academy on the Big Island

The letter basically stated the school needed to raise $3,000.00 per student just to be able to complete the school year.

I tried to warn folks about the legitimacy of some of the things this alleged “Dr.” was doing previously on my website:

Dr. Matt James

Dr. Matt James

Today I got an email from a parent from one of the students that attends the campus and she is concerned about her kids future at this school and whether he will even complete the school year at the school:

“Aloha Damon
I’m a concerned parent who’s child attends Hualalai. We received a letter Friday that they will be closing their doors before end if school year. We are currently trying to get answers and can’t get any. We started looking into the president of the board Dr. Matt James and seen do did a story on him awhile back, we found that his past seems to be shady. Looking for some help.”

I’ve forwarded this information on to some of my other journalist friends and we will see if we can get some answers for the students.  In the meantime here is the letter that students brought home to their parents yesterday:

 January 17, 2014

Dear Hualalai Academy Ohana,

It is with a heavy and sad heart I must share with you that Hualalai Academy must close its doors at the conclusion of this academic year or sooner if we are unable to secure additional funding. We are turning to you, the ohana, to help the school get through this school year.

Before I begin and share with you the entire series of events, I want you to know that as parents of two children who attend this amazing school, my wife and I are devastated. The faculty and Board of Directors have done everything we can and at this point we do not see a miracle on the horizon.

John Colson, the Board of Directors and I have been working on our financial challenge since July 1st of this school year. To begin, please keep in mind that John left a wonderful job at HPA to join us. He believed this school was special and that it could become the premier independent school in Kona.

First, we identified the school needed to cut expenses and reduce overhead. John did this immediately and put the school in a position to be as close to a balanced budget as possible. Furthermore, the board made the difficult decision of conducting a teach-out for the high school and suspending operation at the end of May 2014. Both of these actions set up our ability to stabilize the school.

Next, we secured funding to fill gaps created by a smaller than usual enrollment to complete the first half of the school year. This temporary loan assisted the school to remain functional, and it allowed John and I the necessary time to meet with the bank and work on our debt restructuring. While the school owns the land, it has also incurred significant debt over the years.

The school campus, both land and structures, has a significantly higher value in comparison to our debt; therefore, based on this, we created a three to five year business plan to improve the school. As a part of the plan, we met with the bank to restructure the loans and refinance the land. Based on the land value and our plan, we were very confident the bank would approve the plan and assist us with a new financial package. We have been with this bank since the foundation of our school and have a good working relationship with them.

So, with the land asset, John running the school, and our business plan, the meeting went extremely well. The bank gave us positive indications and we were asked to wait. Because of this response, we only pursued one other avenue which was a possible sale of the land to finance our operations. After waiting for two months, we were informed by the bank that not only would they NOT refinance the land, they would not assist us in any other fashion.

During the two month wait, we also met with all of the viable banks in Hawaii to no avail. Additionally, we worked with an investment company from the mainland, explored the option of becoming a charter school with authorities and we have looked for a buyer to purchase the land all with the legitimate expectation that we could stay open and continue to deliver the amazing Hualalai Academy Experience.

As of January 16, with no other viable options for the school, we felt we must disclose our financial situation to you. Thus, we must now work to find transitional funding to complete this school year and assist families as they begin to find other educational options for the 2014-2015 school year. To put our financial situation into perspective, the school needs to raise approximately $3000 per student to make it through the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year.

On behalf of the full board, I thank you for your support of Hualalai Academy and being a part of our ohana. We are now doing everything we can to complete this year, and we need your support and help. To be clear, without additional funding the school year may have to be shortened.

Should you have questions, please contact John at your convenience.

With a heavy heart,

Dr. Matt James, Chair

Board of Directors

Hualalai Academy

Wordless Wednesday – Mysterious Facebook Comment Leaves Me Wondering About Body Found Hanging in Puna Last Week

1/28/14 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have identified human remains as that of a 47-year-old man reported missing in 2012.

Robert Allen Park of Mountain View was reported missing on October 22, 2012.

On January 6 of this year, human remains were found in an abandoned house on Pikake Street in the Fern Acres subdivision.

The body was identified as Park on Monday (January 27) through dental records.

An autopsy was conducted January 7 but the cause of death is still pending. Police do not suspect foul play.

So last week I received a  private message on my public “Facebook Page” from someone who obviously follows this website.  They informed me that there was a body found hanging in an old shack last on Pikake near Rose St.

Facebook message I received last week.

Facebook message I received last week.

I haven’t heard anything from local authorities however, the person swears to the event happening and an officer allegedly came by their house to ask them if they had heard of anything.

UPDATE:

The body found on Pikake was a suicide. His name was Robert Park. …..There were several signs posted in the Fern Acres area “Looking for Rob”.

Robert Allen Park

Robert Allen Park

Commentary – Family Looking for Missing Big Island Man Last Seen in Fern Forest July of 2013

Phillip Ray Voelker has been missing since July, 2013.   

Phillip Ray Voelkner

Phillip Ray Voelker

His mother just filed a missing persons today with the police, but it wont be public until the detective goes to her home and investigates.

We’ve heard a lot of rumors regarding his whereabouts, the latest is that he is dead. His mother wants to know and we believe there has been foul play.

He is 23 years-old, 6’3 and about 200 pound, hair is sandy brown, and he has a large tattoo of the grim reaper on his neck.

Last known address was Fern Forest on the Big Island.

Hawaii in Critical Fiscal Condition – Study of State Solvency Ranks Hawaii in Bottom 10 Nationwide

A nationwide study found Hawaii ranks number 43 nationwide as one of the states whose finances are reaching a critical point. The study, which was conducted by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, considered and weighted a variety of financial indices, including cash solvency, budget solvency, long-run solvency, and service level solvency, in formulating their rankings.
Cash Solvency
Though the report specifies that the findings reveal a, “snapshot in time,” for the states, the rankings are reflective of general fiscal health and policy—a fact that underlines Hawaii’s spending and budget issues as well as the problem of unfunded liabilities that continue to damage the state economic outlook. Hawaii ranked 24th in cash solvency (whether the state has cash on hand to meet short-term obligations), but was 47th in budget solvency, 40th in long-run solvency (ability to cover long-term obligations), and 42nd in service-level solvency (whether the government has sufficient resources to provide adequate services for residents).

“Again, we see the effect of continual fiscal mismanagement,” states Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, the state’s free market think-tank and advocate for greater fiscal responsibility. “Taxpayers and citizens must demand greater accountability from our political leaders or we will see our spending and budget shortfalls continue to damage Hawaii’s economic well-being.”

With the legislature primed to consider new bills related to taxes, spending, and unfunded liabilities, Dr. Akina called on legislators to heed the warnings contained in the Mercatus Center’s State Fiscal Condition Report:  “As Hawaii’s legislators begin a new session, we urge them to consider sound fiscal policies which will raise Hawaii out of the ‘Bottom 10’ grouping of states in terms of fiscal condition.  Serious and workable measures are needed immediately not only to reduce the State’s unfunded liabilities, but to reverse the trend of borrowing from the future to pay for the past.”

The Mercatus report can be downloaded and read in full at http://mercatus.org/publication/state-fiscal-condition-ranking-50-states.

Land Board Issues $2,500 Civil Fine for Commercial Activity Violations at Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) today authorized an civil penalty fine of $2,500 and associated administrative costs of $753 to be assessed against Alexander Aquino, of Captain Cook, for violation of State Parks Hawaii Administrative Rule chapter 13-146-68, which prohibits commercial activities in State Parks without a written permit from the board or the Division of State Parks.

Aquino was arrested on Nov. 21, 2013 within Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park during an undercover operation conducted by officers of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), and charged with soliciting for patrons to rent kayaks for use in Kealakekua Bay. Also arrested and charged for the same violation was Nathan Kolii, also of Captain Cook.

Criminal cases against both men are still pending.

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

Kealakekua Bay Historic Park

In January 2013, the Division of State Parks implemented a moratorium on the use of all vessels within Kealakekua Bay and all landings at Kaawaloa Flat. Vehicle parking and launching of kayaks at the historic Napoopoo wharf were no longer allowed without a permit. Only the 3 previously Board-authorized commercial companies holding state parks revocable permits were allowed to continue offering guided kayak tours to Kaawaloa Flat and to launch from Napoopoo. State Park’s objective was to stop the illegal vending and renting of equipment at Napoopoo, and stop the proliferation of kayak client landings at Kaawaloa, with the accompanying environmental damage to nearshore corals and from human waste upon archaeological sites.

State Parks then began to issue special use permits for vessels such as stand-up paddleboards, sailboats, kayaks, etc. to transit the water of the bay only, but not to launch from Napoopoo or land at Kaawaloa. No one is allowed to land a vessel, or to swim from a vessel and land at Kaawaloa. Permits are free and contain a set of conditions to protect the natural resources of the park. During 2013, a total of 447 special use permits were issued, 93 authorized vessel permits, and 354 for non-commercial users.

Although Aquino held a special use permit, it is not a commercial permit allowing for solicitation of patrons within the park, which constitutes a violation of park rules and is grounds for revocation of the permit.

“This case shows that DLNR is taking enforcement action to curb a prolific business in illicit sales and services that have had detrimental impacts on the community and the park environment,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have provided opportunity for a limited number of responsible commercial vendors to service a manageable number of clients going to Kaawaloa, and share in stewardship responsibility. We have also provided a simple process for ocean recreational users to obtain permits to allow them to enjoy the bay’s waters,” Aila said.