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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Speed bumps and additional signage, sponsored by Black Sand Beach, LLC, ʻO Kaʻū Kākou and the state Department of Land & Natural Resources, will soon help protect the native nēnē geese by attempting to slow down traffic on Ninole Loop at Punalu'u.
Photo by Bob Martin
PROTECTING NĒNĒ AT PUNALU'U will involve the state Department of Land & Natural Resources representative Raymond McGuire, of Department of Forestry, Fish & Wildlife, according to ʻO Kaʻū Kākou and Black Sand Beach, LLC. He met with the non-profit and the development group on Tuesday to talk about the increasing numbers of nēnē at Punalu'u and their risk of being killed as they cross roads there. 
    The state bird, the Hawaiian nēnē goose, is listed as Threatened on the federal Endangered Species List. It was first listed as Endangered with as few as 30 birds left statewide in 1967.
    After McGuire visited Punalu'u on Tuesday, Eva Liu, who owns the development property, said that she will sign an agreement with DLNR to access to the property to study and advise on nēnē protection. 
    DLNR works with many landowners around the state, including those with golf courses and ponds, as well as ranches and farms with reservoirs where the Hawaiian geese like to congregate.
Mowing the unused golf course at Punalu'u makes it more attractive for nēnē,
say representatives of Black Sand Beach, LLC and OKK.  Photo from Eva Liu
    Wayne Kawachi, President of OKK, said there is a triple partnership developing between DLNR, Black Sand Beach and OKK. Three portable speed bumps are on their way to Kaʻū to slow down the traffic on Ninole Loop where nēnē cross the road. Also on its way is additional cautionary signage. Liu, the principal of Black Sand, said she and DLNR will assume the costs and OKK will install the speed bumps and signage.
     Bruce Wright, who lives much of the year at Punalu'u, said he spends time almost daily watching and counting the nēnē and has noticed a surge in the population over the last few years.  He said that during the last week he has regularly seen seven. His highest count was 17 in December.
   "They nest here but when finished they move around the island as far away as Hilo, according to Forestry & Wildlife. Most of the nēnē are banded, so we can track them," said Wright.
    Wright said the nēnē "roam the whole golf course, but seem to center around the ponds near the road coming into the condos from Hwy 11." 
    Some nēnē geese have reportedly been killed over the years.     
    Liu said that plans to help support nēnē habitat include mowing the golf course, even though it it not currently in use, in addition to installing speed bumps and more signage. She said she learned from the state Forestry & Wildlife representative that slowing down the traffic at Punalu'u is one of the most important ways to protect nēnē.
    While nēnē are usually welcomed to reservoirs and golf course ponds, some area farmers in the past have been concerned about their entrance into food growing areas. In 2012, Peter Anderson photographed Volcano farmer Richard Yet Chu Lee waving goodbye to nēnē in his chard crop.
Nēnē sometimes bother farmers and their crops as in this 2012 photo of the late Volcano food grower
Richard Yet Chu Lee, then 92, waiving goodbye to nēnē in his chard garden. Photo by Peter Anderson

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TROJAN SPORTS COMING UP THIS WEEK include Girls Basketball with Kaʻū at Keaau on Wednesday, and Pahoa at Kaʻū on Saturday, followed by Christian Liberty coming to Kaʻū on Tuesday, Feb. 1 and Kaʻū heading to Honoka'a on Friday, Feb. 4.
    Kaʻū's swim team will travel to Hawai'i Preparatory Academy in Kamuela on Saturday. No fans are allowed at any high school sports, due to COVID concerns. Kaʻū Trojan sports teams include the public high school and Volcano School of the Arts & Sciences.
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ONE MORE FOOD DISTRIBUTION THIS WEEK for 'ohana will be happening in Kaʻū, sponsored by Hawai'i Food Basket.  On Thursday, Jan. 27, there will be a Nāʻālehu distribution by Sacred Hearts - Loaves & Fishes, at the Church on Hwy 11, from 9 a.m. 'til 11 a.m.

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HAWAI'I'S EMPLOYMENT RATE HAS BOUNCED BACK LEAST IN ALL THE STATES and Washington, D.C. according to a study released this week by WalletHub regarding employment during the pandemic. It shows the five locations with lowest return to employment are New York, California, New Jersey, Nevada, with Hawai'i ranking 51. The places that bounced back most are Nebraska, Utah, Oklahoma, Montana and Georgia.
    A statement from WalletHub explained that "In order to identify the states whose unemployment rates
are bouncing back most, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on five key metrics that compare unemployment rate statistics from the latest month for which data is available (December 2021) to key dates in 2019 and 2020."
    Regarding Hawai'i, WalletHub reported: "Hawai'i has experienced the biggest increase in unemployment because the number of unemployed persons jumped by 169% from January 2020 to December 2021, compared to the average increase of 15%. Hawai'i's overall unemployment rate is 5.7%, compared to the average of 3.9%."
    The nationwide report concludes: "U.S. unemployment rate sits at 3.9%, which is still higher than it was before the pandemic but is much lower than the nearly historic high of 14.7% in April 2020. This overall drop can be attributed largely to a combination of vaccinations and states loosening restrictions. It will take far more time for us to reduce the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic levels than it did for the virus to reverse over a decade of job growth, though."  See more at https://wallethub.com/edu/states-unemployment-rates/74907. See more at https://wallethub.com/edu/states-unemployment-rates/74907

HAWAI'I HAS THE SECOND NARROWEST WEALTH GAP BETWEEN RACES, according to a WalletHub report released this week. Nationwide, the lowest income racial groups are blacks and Hispanics. However, in Hawai'i there is little income gap between all races, compared to the mainland where non-Hispanic white Americans have a median household wealth of $139,300, compared to $12,780 for black households and $19,990 for Hispanic households.
    The top five places with the biggest wealth gaps are Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Connecticut. The five with the least wealth gap are Alaska, Florida, Montana and Hawai'i with West Virginia coming in last at 51.
     According to WalletHub, some kay factors driving the racial wealth gap include unequal access to higher education and employment for minorities, as well as residential segregation that still persists on the mainland. See more at https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-financial-gaps-by-race/9842

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THE EPA'S ABILITY TO REGULATE CO2 MAY BE UP IN THE AIR. Sen. Mazie Hirono and more than 190 members of Congress submitted an amicus brief on Wednesday to the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, a case looking at the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act.
    "In Hawai'i, we understand the sense of urgency in addressing climate change as we continue to experience its devastating impacts. Reducing carbon pollution from power plants is critical to curbing the climate crisis," said Hirono.
    The brief supports EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to protect the public from harmful pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and address the climate crisis. It also rejects arguments that challenge the EPA's authority to address climate pollution. The brief contends that enacting the Clean Air Act gave the EPA broad authority to regulate air pollution like carbon dioxide and flexibility to address pollution problems that developed since the measure was passed over 50 years ago.
    The brief notes that Congress has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to a problem as complex as climate change. Any argument that new bills addressing the climate crisis somehow limit the authority of the EPA or repeal its existing authority "do not hold water." The brief states: "Congress is creating as many avenues as possible to deal with the climate crisis. The Court should tread carefully in curtailing any specific tool, including the Clean Air Act."
    The Clean Air Act and its precursors were signed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson, Pres. Richard Nixon and Pres. George H.W. Bush. The EPA was organized under Nixon.

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U.S. JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER'S RETIREMENT PLANS DREW SEN. MAZIE HIRONO TO COMMENT on Wednesday. Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after reports that Breyer plans to announce his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court:
    "Throughout his 27 years of service on the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer has been a steadfast champion of reproductive rights, voting rights, health care and so many other rights and freedoms we hold dear.

Sen. Mazie Hirono praised Justice StephenBreyer as he plans
o retire from the U.S. Supreme Court. She will be involved
 in the confirmation process of the next Justice as a member
 of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
Photo from Politico
    "Despite the Supreme Court's rightward shift during his time on the bench, Justice Breyer never compromised his values or his dedication to the rule of law. Thanks to his work and sound decisions, we have hugely consequential opinions like Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt and June Medical Services v. Russo, in which Justice Breyer protected a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. And just last summer, Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion in a decision that ensured the Affordable Care Act remained in effect, protecting health care for millions of Americans. I join a grateful nation in thanking Justice Breyer for his decades of service to our country.
    "I am confident that President Biden will soon nominate a Black woman who both shares Justice Breyer's fidelity to the rule of law and will add to the diversity of the court. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will carry out my constitutional duty to advise and consent on the President's nominee."
    As a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Hirono will interview and question Pres. Joe Biden's nominee for Breyer's replacement. The nomination requires a Senate confirmation for the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

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BROAD SUPPORT FOR CONGRESSMAN KAI KAHELE'S TEN STEPS FOR COVID RECOVERY is the announcement from his office on Wednesday. See his plan at
http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022_01_19_archive.html where Kahele outlined details to help Hawaiʻi navigate its way through the coronavirus pandemic that has taken the lives of 1,146 people in these islands. Those supporting the plan that Kahale gave to the Hawai'i Legislature and state administration include:
    Dr. Kealoha Fox, PHD, MA, Senior Manager, Social Health Integration, AlohaCare, who said:
"I support Congressman Kahele's aim and scope of vision. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have suffered greatly from the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus. Many of us stand ready to contribute
to the details of what could make-up a statewide strategic plan – a solid, cohesive plan that unifies us to take the necessary steps for our emergence from COVID-19 and to prepare us for future pandemics with a whole community approach that is equitable and pono."
    Richard Sato, Executive Director, Maui Facilities and Engineering Leadership Council, who said:
    "We support Congressman Kahele's leadership and vision. We are encouraged by his initiative to have open, constructive and transparent discussions with our State leaders on this most critical issue. It's clear to our Council, establishing a thoughtful, well defined, path forward which is easily understood and broadly communicated, is needed to guide Hawaiʻi and its people through and beyond Covid."
    Dr. Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH, CEO, Pandefense Advisory, who said: "Beautiful Hawai'i is the only state in the United States that is completely surrounded by water thus having the unique advantage of being able to have safe practices in place which can exclude the virus or any virus from the island. We had that in place in the early days of the pandemic when Hawaiʻi was one of the safest destinations imaginable. I hope that political leaders are wise enough to seriously consider Congressman Kahele's plan and return to what worked."

    Patty Olinger, JM, RBP, Executive Director, Global Biorisk Advisory Council, who said:"The current pandemic has pointed out that it is critically important to ensure that our communities and our people are protected, ready for the next stages of the pandemic and the future. Hawai'i, of all the states in the United States, is uniquely positioned to put in place and support programs that provide the protection and resilience needed.            "Over the last two years, my team has worked with thousands of facilities and communities in over 80 countries as they start to reopen and establish programs that helps them stay open. We stress a layered approach to prepare, respond and to become resilient. Congressman Kahele has eloquently laid out a plan that puts in place the necessary elements to do just that."
    Dr. Robert M Wachter, MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, who said: "I want to thank Congressman Kahele for his robust and thoughtful plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Hawai'i. Preparation of this kind is smart. Even if we experience a long-lasting hiatus of the virus, the recent past has taught us that we must have the capacity to take appropriate action at the first hint of another surge. Congratulations Congressman on articulating a vigorous and clear approach."
    See the plan at http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022_01_19_archive.html.

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The Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) is accepting applications

for its summer 2022 internship program. PIPES is a 10-week undergraduate internship

program May 31 to Aug. 5, offered through University of Hawai'i at Hilo.

The goal is "to connect under-represented undergraduate students, especially those

who are Native Hawaiian or kamaʻāina, to internship opportunities with agencies and

organizations responsible for research, management, and education relating to

environmental issues in Hawaiʻi and throughout the Pacific region. Internships are

paid experiences. Participants may be eligible for additional housing assistance.

For more information, visit: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhintern

The deadline to apply is January 31, 2022.

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