Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park opens National Park Week with free entry Saturday and Sunday. Photo by Peter Anderson
HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL’S COMMITTEE on Human Services and Social Services approved distribution of $1.5 million to county nonprofit agencies Tuesday. The committee received 137 eligible applications requesting more than $5.5 million. Last year, 103 organizations requested slightly more, while the budgeted amount was the same.
Maile David
      Ka`u Council member Maile David, who chairs the committee, said, “Although amounts requested by organizations far exceeded recommended award amounts, all applicants expressed their understanding and conveyed their determination to continue providing services to supplement the needs of our island communities and increasing population.
      Ka`u nonprofits receiving funds include Boys & Girls Club, $10,000 for Out-of-School Fitness for Life in Pahala; Ho`omalu Ka`u, $3,000 for a native dry-land plants workshop; Ka`u Rural Health Community Association, $25,000 for Ka`u Rural Health Academy; and `O Ka`u Kakou, $20,000 to be divided equally among its Family Fun Fest, Ka`u Coffee Trail Race and `Ohana Day, Ka`u Sanitation Program and Keiki Fishing Tournament at Punalu`u.
      Except for Boys & Girls Club, these organizations did not receive grants from this funding source in the past two years.
      Other nonprofits with a presence in Ka`u include Bay Clinic, which received $35,000 for its mobile health unit; Big Brothers Big Sisters, $7,000 for one-to-one mentoring; The Food Basket, $20,000 ensuring capacity for East and West Hawai`i; Hawai`i County Economic Opportunity Council, $20,000 for drop-out prevention program and $35,000 for its transportation program; Hawai`i Meth Project, $5,000 for meth prevention youth outreach; and Hui Malama Ola Na `Oiwi, $3,000 for 15th annual Ladies Night Out, $10,000 for its cancer program and $35,000 for Kokua Hali Health transportation.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

SOME FACEBOOK AND OTHER ONLINE comments on media reports are calling for public reporting of county credit card use by all four county mayors in Hawai`i. This follows the focus on Hawai`i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of the card and his reimbursement history, which is being published by media outlets after Nancy Cook Lauer, of West Hawai`i Today, reported that Kenoi used his card for personal charges.
      Cook Lauer today reported that comparison of campaign spending reports with county credit card statements showed that Kenoi “has mixed political activity with his county business at least twice since taking office.” One charge was for a meeting with a market research and political polling firm. Another involved hosting a campaign fundraiser on the same day that he was in Honolulu for government-related meetings and a press conference.
      According to Cook Lauer, Kenoi spokesman Peter Boylan said in an email response to questions, “Due to the ongoing inquiries, we are not going to comment further on this matter.”
      See westhawaiitoday.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Brian Schatz
THE U.S. SENATE HAS PASSED Sen. Brian Schatz’s motion to instruct budget conferees to include in their final report language affirming the need for legislation to ensure that all legally married same-sex spouses have equal access to Social Security and veterans’ benefits they have earned. The motion passed by voice vote.
      Speaking on the Senate floor prior to the vote, Schatz said, “Imagine a veteran who served his country for decades, fighting for equality and freedom around the world. He gets married in a state that allows gay marriage. If he is permanently disabled from his service, his spouse is eligible for veteran spousal benefits.
      “They have earned these benefits.

 But if they move – if they drive over the border from Florida into Georgia, for example, they lose those benefits.

 The same scenario applies to our seniors and their right to Social Security spousal benefits. 

      “Why does this happen? Simply because the federal right to these benefits happens to be defined in law with respect to the state of residence, rather than the state of celebration of the marriage.

 In other words, eligibility for these benefits is based on where you live, not where you got married.

 So, we have one federal right and two unequal outcomes based on the person’s residence.
      “This is the definition of unequal treatment under the law.

 No one is denying that Americans earn their Social Security and veteran’s benefits regardless of whether they are gay or straight. …
      “This is not an ideological proposal. This is about treating veterans, disabled Americans and our seniors equally – no matter where they live or what their sexual orientation may be.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Sen. Mazie Hirono
TODAY, SEN. MAZIE HIRONO CO-INTRODUCED the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, a measure that would strengthen Social Security for generations to come and improves benefits for all Americans by restoring fairness to Social Security contributions. By ensuring those at the very top of the income ladder pay into Social Security at the same rate as most Americans, this legislation would extend the system’s solvency at a time when nearly two-thirds of retirees rely on Social Security for a majority of their income. The legislation also restores accuracy to the cost-of-living adjustment formula and ensures that benefits of all retirees keep pace with inflation. 
      According to Hirono, currently, most Americans contribute 6.2 percent of every paycheck they earn to Social Security, while a corporate lawyer earning $400,000 pays an annual rate of just 1.71 percent and a CEO earning $2 million pays an annual rate of just .003 percent.
      “Social Security is one of the cornerstones for the middle class, and literally a lifeline for millions of seniors,” Hirono said. “But right now, those at the very top of the income ladder pay a lower share of their income into Social Security than the rest of Americans. That’s not fair for middle class families in Hawai`i or anywhere else. Our proposal would make sure all workers pay the same rate and would improve benefits for seniors.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U AGRICULTURAL WATER COOPERATIVE DISTRICT meets today at 4 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Orchards field office in Pahala.
      For more information, call Jeff McCall at 937-1056.

VOLCANO ART CENTER presents Ka Hana Kapa this evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. The film documents the history of kapa in Hawai`i and follows the complex process of kapa making.
     A forum with kapa artists from Volcano follows the screening.
     The event is free, and donations are appreciated.

Greg Smith is president of Ka`u Farmers Union United. Photo by Ron Johnson
JACKPOT HUNTING TOURNAMENT is Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Pahala. Cash prizes go to biggest boar, sow and laho`ole and longest tusk. For more information, call Cameron at 808-646-1316 

HAWAI`I FARMERS UNION UNITED meets Saturday at 9 a.m. at Gilligan’s Cafe in Discovery Harbour. President Greg Smith encourages new members to attend.
      For more information, email gailandgreg@mac.com.

VOLCANO ART CENTER’S SPRING JAZZ SERIES continues on Saturday with Keahi Conjugacion and the VAC Jazz Ensemble.
      Two shows are offered, with a matinee at 4:30 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the matinee are $15 for VAC members ($18 non-members) and for the evening show are $18 for VAC members ($20 non-members).
      Purchase tickets at volcanoartcenter.org.

TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL PARK WEEK, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park waives entry fees Saturday and Sunday, and Kilauea Military Camp offers an open house where everyone can utilize any of its facilities and services to experience how KMC supports America’s troops.

KAUAHA`AO CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH in Wai`ohinu holds a fundraising bazaar Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
      For more information, call Walter Wong Yuen evenings at 928-8039. 

KA`U DRAFT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN SPEAK-OUTS continue Sunday. Ka`u residents can view visual displays about the CDP, discuss strategies with people familiar with it and provide feedback at Pahala Community Center from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Discovery Harbour Community Center.
      The plan is available for public review at local libraries and community centers and online at kaucdp.info.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_April2015.pdf.

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