Archive for June, 2013

Rep. Ward seeks assurance that public data will be protected under new law

June 28, 2013

ImageRep. Gene Ward (R, Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley) has requested assurance from the state’s Chief Information Officer that data housed in the state’s computer systems will not be misused by any entity that may gain access to the information under new legislation.

Senate Bill 1003 allows for periodic security audits of all Executive Branch departments and agencies to ensure that the state’s computer infrastructure and sensitive data are protected from unauthorized use, intrusions, and other security threats. It will become law on July 9 if not signed earlier by the governor.

The letter states, “Although … the bill is not intended to give State authorities a license to spy on the activities of Hawaii’s people, the language on page 2 of the bill referencing the contracting of security audits to private firms might be alarming to some … Reportedly, Mr. [Edward] Snowden was authorized by his firm to conduct surveillance on whomever he felt was necessary; there may be fears that this bill will result in similar surveillance activities in our State.”

Said Rep. Ward, “Much of the world was surprised to learn recently of some of the federal government’s surveillance activities, so I think it’s a fair question to ask as our state expands its IT infrastructure and develops brand new legislation on the subject. The people of Hawaii should have the peace of mind that their right to be free from unreasonable searches, seizures, and invasions of privacy will not be infringed upon.”

The letter requests written confirmation that “no one in the State of Hawaii, including State employees and elected officials, has been, is being, or will be subjected to NSA-style surveillance or collection/storage of private information under OIMT’s policies and procedures.”

In the letter, Rep. Ward also commends the newly formed Office of Information Management and Technology for its accomplishments in advancing open government and security and privacy.

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June 28, 2013

Mr. Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia

Chief Information Officer

State of Hawaii Office of Information Management & Technology (OIMT)

P.O. Box 119, Honolulu, Hawaii 96810-0119

Re:      OIMT assurances of citizen privacy in light of recent revelations of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance activities

Aloha Sonny,

First, I would like to commend OIMT on its recent accomplishments, including the development and public dissemination of a comprehensive Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan.  The plan’s many worthy initiatives, such as Open Government and Security and Privacy, represent a significant step forward for our State.

I am writing about Senate Bill 1003 SD2 HD1 CD1 of the 2013 session.  I do appreciate that this bill will allow for periodic security audits of all Executive Branch departments and agencies to ensure that our State’s computer infrastructure and sensitive data are protected from unauthorized use, intrusions, and other security threats.

However, given the recent media reports of the scope of NSA’s top-secret call-tracking and internet surveillance programs, I am concerned that people in Hawaii may feel uneasy about the bill’s enactment and implementation.  Although I understand that the bill is not intended to give State authorities a license to spy on the activities of Hawaii’s people, the language on page 2 of the bill referencing the contracting of security audits to private firms might be alarming to some.  For example, Edward Snowden, the person attributed as having leaked the NSA story to the press, was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a private firm contracted by the NSA that provides cybersecurity and technical support for government computers and networks.  Reportedly, Mr. Snowden was authorized by his firm to conduct surveillance on whomever he felt was necessary; there may be fears that this bill will result in similar surveillance activities in our State.

Therefore, I would like your assurances that Senate Bill 1003 SD2 HD1 CD1, once enacted into law, will not be implemented in a manner that infringes on the right of Hawaii’s people to be free from unreasonable searches, seizures, and invasions of privacy under the Hawaii and U.S. constitutions.  Please respond to my request in writing, to confirm that no one in the State of Hawaii, including State employees and elected officials, has been, is being, or will be subjected to NSA-style surveillance or collection/storage of private information under OIMT’s policies and procedures.

With Thanks and Aloha,

Representative Gene Ward, Ph.D.

Minority Leader Emeritus

Vice Chair, Economic Development and Business Committee

Kailua residents blame contractor for road project mishaps

June 26, 2013

Image Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More concerns are being raised about a mainland contractor who left open trenches in Kailua.

A bicyclist was hurt when she fell into one of them.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R) Kailua-Kaneohe Bay, says it was one problem after another from the very beginning.

“I have to say that we’ve never had a Kailua project that has caused so many problems,”Rep. Thielen said.

Among the problems and probably the most dangerous are the open trenches that were dug up to install new bus pads. There are about a dozen of them on Mokapu Boulevard, each one with rows of rebar or metal rods sticking out of the curb.

There are sawhorses to serve as barricades, but they were not enough to keep Allison Vande Kapelle from falling in when she was riding her bike on Saturday.

Rep. Thielen and other residents say the trenches have been left open for at least a month and no one has been working on them.

“It’s not something you’d like to have in a neighborhood or a busily walked, biked, and traveled area,” Rep. Thielen said.

The contractor for the project is Road and Highway Builders, which is based in Nevada.

ImageRep. Thielen says residents complained when the project started in February with dust covering homes in the area while the road was being resurfaced.

Then there was a traffic jam because workers kept the lanes closed past the evening rush hour.

Residents also say construction waste was not covered properly and was washing into the Kawainui Canal.

“It was one thing after another after another,” Rep. Thielen said.

After passing the complaints on to the state transportation department, Rep. Thielen got a phone number for the construction site manager and she handed it out in a community card to the residents.

“Shortly after the manager started getting the calls, that number was cut off,” Rep. Thielen said.

The Department of Transportation says Road and Highway Builders was the low bidder for the $5.76 million Mokapu Project.

The contractor is currently involved in one other road project with the state in Aiea.

KHON2 asked if the state has received complaints about that project as well and was told by the DOT that all road projects draw some complaints from area residents.

Rep. McDermott blasts Abercrombie administration’s obstruction of VA loans

June 21, 2013

Image

Friday, June 21st, 2013

State Rep. Bob McDermott held a press conference at the State Capitol to outline his efforts to work with Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration to alter an arbitrary Department of Health ruling posted on their website that blocks VA loans to homes with rainwater catchment systems.

“We tried working with Gary Gil at the DOH and Blake Oshiro at the Governor’s Office for over sixty days,” explained Rep. McDermott. “Everyone seemed to understand the situation, but absolutely nothing was done to correct the problem.”
McDermott was first apprised of the problem by VA loan administrators who pointed out that the policy statement on the DOH Website was causing the VA to balk at home loans and re-fi’s for thousands of homes with catchment systems.  They were also concerned that other lenders such as Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac might follow suit paralyzing mortgage lending for a huge segment of the Big Island real estate inventory.
According to McDermott the problem has a simple solution.  Just change the Website copy.
“This isn’t a law, or an official rule,” said McDermott.  “it is just something…an opinion…that some nameless bureaucrat put up on the Website that has become de facto policy.”
Another State authority, The University of Hawaii, has stated the exact opposite opinion, saying catchment systems that are properly maintained produce potable water acceptable for home use.
ImageMcDermott and the VA have suggested a solution; removing the offending copy from the DOH website, and replacing it with a simple policy of requiring testing the catchment water system for safety, at the owner’s expense, prior to completion of loans.
The counties issue permitting and perform inspections for catchment systems the same way that do for septic systems.  These are not illegal installations that should be penalized.
“It is unfair to deny our Vets financing on what are some of Hawaii’s most affordable homes, because of this arbitrary entry on the State’s Website..” added McDermott.
The State of Hawaii is disenfranchising Veterans and I ask the Governor to fix this problem his administration as created, today.
In 2011 the State Of Hawaii. DOH put up a web posting that said, in essence, water catchment is not potable water.
The action by DOH is Not a Law, Not a rule, merely a policy promulgated by a mid-level bureaucrat which has the effect of denying Veterans home loans or the re-fi opportunity at historically low rates.
We believe this State’s Policy is wrong and harmful.  Catchment can and does provide safe, clean, drinking water.  Just ask the 60,000 residents on the big island who live off catchment.  Or the university of Hawaii report done by Mrs. Macomber.
Since then, the VA has not entertained home loans for Veterans who use water catchment; this is solely based on the States Policy and web-site posting.  I have come to this conclusion after discussion with all parties concerned.
The VA rules for Loans are straight forward:
1.      Potable Water
2.      Electricity
3.      Sewage or Septic Tank
The VA is basing their decisions on the misguided and un-vetted State Policy.
Solution:  Amend the wording on the State of Hawaii website that states something to the effect,  “A catchment System is deemed potable if that system is successfully tested for drinkability, and is found potable, by an independent lab  within 1 year of testing.”
The governor can fix this today – Today.  With a phone call. I have been unable to get the administration to act. Despite the positive attitude by Blake Oshiro and his helpfulness in trying to get this done, the DOH has failed to act.
The State DOH view is that the VA should change their policy – Good luck.
This is an easy fix, we can do it today.  I have researched this issue and I am confounded by the beauractic foot dragging and the seemingly keystone cop lack of effectiveness at the State DOH. The State by their misguide Policy is injuring Veterans and should change it to today.  I implore the governor to knock the rust off the seemingly rigid and sloth like DOH and get them to take action today.

WITHDRAWAL OF KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR HAWAII KAI’S “GREAT LAWN”

June 17, 2013

ImageThis has been a long battle between the people of Hawaii Kai and the biggest private trust in the United States.  But it is over for now.

I am grateful to the people of Hawaii Kai who came to the defense of the aesthetics, traffic congestion and wise land-use planning of their community.  A shopping mall on the Great Lawn would have been the end of Hawaii Kai as we know it.  Thank you, people of Hawaii Kai!

Secondly, I’m thankful to Kamehameha Schools for seeing, and finally believing, the handwriting on the wall through our past polls and the 300 plus people who came out to our town hall meeting to protest the proposed development with Foodland.  Thank you KS/BE, but let’s make the ‘suspension’ of your shopping mall plans permanent; we’re still suspicious when we’re suspended.

Lastly, I’m thankful to Foodland and the great Sully Sullivan’s tradition of being a part of our community and never wanting to do something not in the community’s best interest.  This year is their 65th anniversary since they opened their first store in Market City in 1948, and their behavior in this matter will continue to bless them throughout Hawaii.  Thank you Foodland for living up to all that Sully stood for in his original plans for Foodland to be “community-focused and put customers first.”

Rep. Ward office will continue to monitor any development plans for the Great Lawn as he has done for the Ka Iwi coast since cabins were proposed for development there a few years ago.

The Case For The Great Lawn

June 6, 2013

Image June 5, 2013 by Representative Gene Ward

http://www.midweek.com/the-case-for-the-great-lawn/http://www.midweek.com/the-case-for-the-great-lawn/

There is ongoing concern in Hawaii Kai over 20 years about over-development and a reduction of open space. One of the outstanding open spaces is the Great Lawn, now center stage in a land-use debate: Open space or commercial development?

Kuapa Isle_Great LawnThe Great Lawn encompasses the area bordered by Hawaii Kai Drive, Kalanianaole Highway and Keahole Street across from Maunalua Bay, and is owned by Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate. KSBE wants to build a shopping village and “gathering place” on the site with stores, restaurants, an educational facility, and bike and walking paths, anchored by Foodland, which in 2011 lost its lease at Koko Marina.

More than 300 people attended a town hall meeting March 21 at Kamiloiki Elementary School to share concerns about the impending development. This historic meeting was co-sponsored by Sens. Slom and Laura Thielen, Rep. Mark Hashem, City Councilman Stanley Chang, many members of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, and myself – the first time in recent years all East Honolulu elected officials hosted a joint meeting. Also attending were representatives from Kamehameha Schools, Foodland, The Outdoor Circle, Hui Ilio Hawaii (Dog Park), and Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, for example. While the community expressed affinity for Foodland and Hui Nalu Canoe Club, the overwhelming majority (90 percent-plus) of those in attendance wished to see the Great Lawn preserved as open space. Follow-up polls in greater Honolulu confirm this opposition to another shopping center.

A Honolulu Star-Advertiser poll on March 24, for example, found 50 percent in opposition to commercial development including Foodland on the Great Lawn, 21 percent “don’t care” and 29 percent support. Polls conducted by my office last spring and in January showed around 79 percent opposed.

These polls contrast significantly with one conducted by KSBE finding 72 percent in favor of a shopping center anchored by Foodland. KITV also conducted a poll on the issue and found that 31 percent were in favor of the strip mall, 66 percent not in favor and 3 percent undecided. These polls certainly show the vast majority of residents are against the project.

These polls should not be surprising because Hawaii Kai already has three vibrant shopping centers and one dormant (Kalama Valley). Bottom line of all this: Yes, we love Foodland, but we love Hawaii Kai more.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Contact state Rep. Gene Ward, R-District 17 (Hawaii Kai to Kalama Valley) at 586-6420, repward@capitol.hawaii.gov.