Press Releases

GABBARDS ELECTED TO OFFICE IN HAWAI'I

HONOLULU -November 8, 2010- American Samoa native, Mike Gabbard, was re-elected as a Hawai’i State Senator with 74% of the vote on November 2nd. Senator Gabbard was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and represents District #19, which is comprised of the West Oahu communities of Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Makakilo, Kapolei, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale and portions of Waipahu and Ko Olina.

Senator Gabbard will continue serving as the Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee and Vice Chair of Transportation and International Affairs--posts he’s held since November 2008.

Gabbard said, "I’m humbled to have this opportunity to continue serving the people of West Oahu and the rest of the state. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot working together over the last 4 years, but there’s still much more work to be done in our growing community.”

Senator Gabbard previously served as a Honolulu City Councilman (Ewa, Kapolei, Waianae Coast) from 2003 to 2005. He was born to Benjamin Harrison Gabbard and Agnes Yandall Gabbard of Leloaloa and lived in American Samoa from 1971-1983. During this time, Gabbard taught at Faga’itua and Samoana High School, and served at American Samoa Community College as a guidance counselor, Assistant Dean of Instruction and Dean of Adult and Community Education.

His daughter, Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, also a native of American Samoa was elected as a Honolulu City Councilwoman for District 6, which encompasses the areas of Honolulu from Kalihi to Makiki..

Councilwoman-elect Gabbard Tamayo said, “My parents taught me the importance of service-that serving others and making a positive impact on people's lives is the most rewarding thing you can do with your life. I took this to heart, and have tried to live my life centered around this service attitude. It’s an honor to have this opportunity to get in there and make a positive difference for the people of Honolulu.”

In 2002 at the age of 21, Gabbard Tamayo became the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history when she won her election as State Representative. Since that time, she has risen to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the Hawai'i Army National Guard, earning top awards and accolades in training and in combat while serving on two Middle East deployments (2004-2006 and 2008-2009). Additionally, she worked as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington D.C., where she assisted him with issues relating to veterans affairs, energy and natural resources, and homeland security.

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

MAJORITY OF STATE SENATORS SEND PRO-RAIL LETTER TO GOVERNOR

HONOLULU -March 11, 2010- A majority of State Senators signed a letter that was delivered to Governor Linda Lingle today urging her to review and accept the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in a timely manner once the document is released by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The letter was spearheaded by Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19 – West Oahu) and stated, "Considering the many years of study and public input, it doesn't make sense to delay this project from moving forward. Our opinion is seconded by the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation, neither of which sees anything at this point to preclude us from making rail transit a reality. The longer we delay Oahu's economic recovery, the longer we leave our working families unemployed and struggling during the prolonged recession."

The letter was signed by the following 13 Senators: Mike Gabbard, Will Espero, Clarence Nishihara, Michelle Kidani, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Gary Hooser, Brickwood Galuteria, Roz Baker, David Ige, Jill Tokuda, Bobby Bunda, Norman Sakamoto, and Shan Tsutsui.
A similar letter signed by 39 members of the state House of Representatives was presented to Governor Lingle on February 10, 2010.

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

Hawaiian Electric’s Solar Moratorium

HONOLULU -February 24, 2010- Statement by Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair, Committee on Energy and Environment

Prohibiting Hawai'i’s homeowners and businesses from installing solar energy systems on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Lana‘i, and Moloka‘i is not in the public interest. In fact, it is directly at odds with the interests of the families and small business owners that my colleagues and I represent.

Today’s solar and other types of renewable energy systems being installed directly on homes and businesses are a glimpse into a future that is not far off. These efforts by thousands of individuals committing to a clean energy future are a crucial part of the solution to Hawai'i’s energy problems and should not be discouraged by our utilities.

Hawai'i’s energy security situation is dire – we are incredibly vulnerable to oil price spikes and supply disruptions that are charged to utility customers, who must simply pay their bill no matter how high it rises. Furthermore, as an island chain, we are exposed to sea level rise and other consequences of global warming that threaten the way of life that we are so fortunate to enjoy. If Hawai'i – which has so much to lose - cannot move decisively to address its own impact on climate change we cannot credibly expect others to do the same.

Meanwhile, in these challenging economic times when Hawai'i needs jobs more than ever, the solar industry is creating green jobs for working families. It is one of the few industries that have survived the economic downturn relatively unscathed. There is no doubt that Hawaiian Electric’s proposal will put solar contractors out of business and this is simply unacceptable in the current environment.

On a more personal level, my district has world-class solar potential and at the same time folks are paying as much as $600 per month for electricity for their homes. I'm concerned that Oahu could possibly be next in line for this PV ban, and I’m not willing to stand by and watch Hawaiian Electric remove the one off-ramp that these families have to reduce their electricity bills.

As Chair of the Senate's Energy and Environment Committee, it's clear to me that our efforts to convert Hawai'i to renewable energy cannot succeed if we allow the utilities to have veto power over which plans and projects get selected. The Hawaiian Electric companies must begin living up to their responsibilities as public utilities and stop acting in opposition to the interests of the citizens of our state.

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

SENATOR GABBARD DEMANDS GOVERNOR ADDRESS H1N1 VACCINE SHORTAGE

HONOLULU -December 13, 2009- Hawai‘i State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu) demanded today that Governor Linda Lingle and the Department of Health (DOH) take swift action to get more H1N1 vaccine into the hands of doctors for high-risk patients.

Gabbard said, "We're in the middle of a pandemic and people who need the vaccine to protect themselves and their families can't even get it. Basically, what we've got right now are bureaucrats standing between patients and their physicians. We’ve already had 11 deaths in Hawai’i. People's lives are at stake here, so we have to stop fooling around."

Gabbard’s first main point was that he has been contacted by constituents, doctors, and others in the medical community who are very frustrated with the DOH's current vaccine distribution system which has been plagued by problems. Doctors have complained that they've had little to no input in how the vaccine is being distributed, that there’s been a lack of transparency in the distribution process, and that a disproportionate amount of vaccine has gone to pharmacies.

Gabbard continued, "Secondly, why can’t we get more vaccine to Hawai’i now? We’ve received two thirds of our original allocation. Where’s the other third? Also, Director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, says about 85 million doses of swine flu vaccine are now available. In addition, Fourteen states have so much H1N1 vaccine right now that they no longer have to reserve it for priority groups, but are instead making it available to anyone that wants it. My questions are why haven't we gotten our fair share and why isn't the Governor fighting for us?”

Gabbard concluded, “Now that the shortage of vaccine on the mainland has eased, the Governor and her team at DOH should be demanding that the CDC direct it to us. There’s absolutely no excuse for pregnant women, chronically ill patients, and young children to go another day without having the protection of being vaccinated. Given that our flu season will most likely peak after the Christmas holidays, it’s critical that we act quickly. No excuses. Everyone is saying how unpredictable this virus is. The Governor and DOH bureaucrats should be aggressive advocates for the people. To summarize: 1) Stop standing between patients and their doctors and 2) Get more vaccine from the mainland now.”

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT TO CONDUCT BRIEFING ON ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL CONTROVERSY

Council has lost three members, deferred further work because of lack of support.

HONOLULU -September 29, 2009- Hawai‘i State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), chair of the Senate’s Committee on Energy and the Environment, will convene an information briefing to gather information on the operations of the state’s Environmental Council, which has lost three members to resignation since April, and recently announced that it would defer further work until it receives adequate support from the State Department of Health.

The briefing will be held on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 1:00 p.m., in State Capitol Room 016.

“The Environmental Council serves important statutory functions,” said Senator Gabbard. “I think we have a responsibility to find out how we have reached the point that a lack of support from the administration has caused council members to quit, and forced the council to defer all further action.”

By statute, the Environmental Council is attached to the State Department of Health for administrative purposes.

In April 2009, former Environmental Council chair Robert King resigned from the council, expressing his frustration over the lack of support offered by the Lingle administration. In May 2009, council members David Bylund and Wade Lord also resigned, citing similar reasons.

In August 2009, Gail Grabowsky, chair of the Environmental Council, informed Laurence Lau, Deputy Director of the State Department of Health, that all further meetings of the council and its standing committees would be postponed until “the conditions to conduct a successful Council meeting have been met.” In particular, Grabowsky’s letter cited inadequate meeting rooms, non-functioning video conferencing equipment (which had been intended to eliminate the cost of flying council members to meetings), insufficient staff support, and “extremely slow” appointments to fill vacancies on the council.

On September 8, 2009, Senator Gabbard sent a letter to Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Department of Health, expressing his concern over the challenges facing the Environmental Council. “I stand in complete support of the Environmental Council, its charge, and the services it provides to our community,” Gabbard said in the letter, “and share a commitment to seeing that it has the resources it requires to fulfill its mission.” He has not received a response from the Department of Health.

“My intention in sending that letter was to find out of how we reached this point,” Gabbard said. “We all know that the state is facing funding challenges, so how do we solve the problem? Where are the collaborative solutions that will let the Environmental Council achieve its very important objectives, at a price the state can afford to pay? The administration didn’t respond, so now it is time for us to go out and ask questions. And we will keep asking until we get answers.”

Those expected to testify at the briefing include Gail Grabowsky, chair of the Environmental Council, as well as representatives of the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law, Life of the Land, the Office of Environmental Quality Control, and the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. One or more of the council members who have resigned may also appear.

For more information online: VIEW BRIEFING

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

State Not Taking Action to Prevent Further Spread of H1N1 Virus

HONOLULU -May 14, 2009- Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) stated today that the refusal of the state administration to close down a local public school for a week/ten days to prevent the further spread of the swine flu virus among students and their families and the state’s continuing refusal to take more proactive aggressive screening measures at entry points to Hawai’i, make it clear that there is no serious attempt being made to contain the spread of this virus throughout the community.

Gabbard said, “The decision by the state not to temporarily close Anuenue School is shortsighted and the height of irresponsibility. However, it is consistent with their failure to do the most basic precautionary screening at the airports.”

Two recent studies show that timely temporary closures of schools can significantly decrease the spread of flu transmission:
“A 2007 study(http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6228039...) led by Marc Lipsitch, of the Harvard School of Public Health, compared the progress of the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic in American cities that adopted different public health policies. Cities such as St Louis, which rapidly closed schools and banned many public gatherings, experienced a relatively flat pandemic, with deaths peaking at 31 per 100,000 people. Philadelphia, which waited three weeks before imposing controls, suffered peak deaths of 257 per 100,000. The overall death rate for Philadelphia was 719 per 100,000, more than double the rate of 347 per 100,000 for the same period in St Louis.” (Times Online, May 6, 2009)

“A 2008 study(http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v452/n7188/abs/nature06732.html), led by Simon Cauchemez and Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College, London, used data on how school holidays influence seasonal flu transmission in France to simulate the effect of school closures in a pandemic. It found that they could significantly slow the spread of the virus, reducing the numbers falling ill at the pandemic’s peak by as much as 45 per cent. A school closure policy could also prevent up to one in seven cases.” (Times Online, May 6, 2009)

“In addition,” Gabbard said, “whatever faith the people of Hawai'i have had in the Department of Health has been further undermined by them not counting tourists swine flu cases or officially listing them.”

Gabbard commented that taken as a whole, the state's policy of inaction in regards to protecting the people of Hawai'i borders on criminal negligence.

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

Swine Flu Virus

HONOLULU -April 30, 2009- The purpose of this news release is to inform the media that Australia has now joined Japan, Hong Kong, and other island states in the implementation of aggressive measures at their airports and seaports to prevent the introduction of swine flu. These are the exact same measures that Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) has asked our state leaders to begin implementing here in Hawaii.

Gabbard said, "There is no reason in the world why Hawaii cannot or should not implement the aggressive screening policies of these other island states. We should not be foolishly imitating the policies of the US mainland, which, unlike Hawaii, has thousands of miles of porous borders. This is a war and every theater of war requires a different strategy. Hawaii is a completely different theater of war than the US mainland."

Senator Gabbard is again urging that the following policies being implemented in Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong, also be immediately implemented here in Hawaii:

  1. Taking the temperature of incoming passengers.
  2. Passengers coming from Mexico need to be more carefully screened.
  3. Right now, passengers fill out agricultural/customs forms when they arrive. Why not make an announcement on each flight, and have them fill out an additional questionnaire detailing whether they have any symptoms and where they have travelled in the last week?
  4. Distribute an info sheet to airline passengers and hotel guests with a hotline number to call if they develop symptoms in the next 10 days.

Gabbard continued, "Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong have proven that these measures are very effective and can be done in a very efficient manner and cost-effective way. The people of Hawaii deserve to know why our leaders are not implementing the same kind of aggressive policies as other island states/nations. "

For more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's Office at 586-6830.

SEN. GABBARD CALLS ON GOVERNOR TO DO MORE TO PREVENT SWINE FLU FROM REACHING HAWAII

HONOLULU -April 28, 2009- Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) called a press conference today to express concerns about the Governor’s handling of the swine flu virus entering Hawai’i.

Gabbard said, "I'm calling on the people of Hawai'i to join me in demanding that the Governor and her Administration do everything that they can and should be doing to protect the people of Hawai'i from the swine flu virus. Based on what I've seen, they've handed over that responsibility to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has not even seen fit to formulate and institute a policy for Hawaii that is different from the mainland."

Gabbard commented that at a press conference yesterday, the state administration admitted they were only taking passive action at the state’s airports and that the swine flu virus will inevitably enter Hawai’i. "I was surprised to hear the Governor parroting words from the CDC and telling people to be concerned but not alarmed. What's her point, that we care but we're not going to do anything about it?"

“The state administration is basically sitting on its hands until after it’s too late,” Gabbard said. “Hawai’i is extremely fortunate that we’re isolated from the rest of the country and the world. The only way this virus can come to Hawai’i is by air and water. So we should be having a full court press to prevent that from happening. A few measures that the administration could be implementing immediately are:

  1. Taking the temperature of incoming passengers using quick, non-invasive procedures.
  2. Passengers coming from Mexico need to be more carefully screened.
  3. Right now, passengers fill out agricultural/customs forms when they arrive. Why not make an announcement on each flight, and have them fill out an additional health declaration questionnaire detailing whether they have any symptoms and where they have travelled in the last week.
  4. Distribute an info sheet to airline passengers and hotel guests with a hotline number to call if they develop symptoms in the next 10 days.

Gabbard said: “Hawai’i is in a unique situation. We’re not in the same position as other states. It’s a sign of laziness and irresponsibility not to have our own policies based on our unique situation Other island states such as Japan and Hong Kong are responding aggressively at their points of entry, why can’t we? We're a group of isolated islands and we can prevent it from coming here if our state leaders simply have the commitment and determination to do so."

Gabbard concluded, “An ounce of prevention is going to be worth many, many tons of the cure. We can and must do more.”

Please contact me if I can help you. My phone is 586-6830 and e-mail is sengabbard@capitol.hawaii.gov. Mahalo for the privilege of serving you!

SENATORS GABBARD & BAKER TO CONVENE INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ON ISLAND-WIDE POWER OUTAGE

HONOLULU -January 4, 2009- State Senator Mike Gabbard (West Oahu), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment, today announced that his committee, in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection chaired by Senator Roz Baker (West Maui), will convene an informational briefing on January 14, 2009 at 2:00pm in Conference Room 229 at the State Capitol.

The purpose of the briefing is to investigate the causes of the power outage on December 26 that left the entire island of Oahu without power. The briefing will also focus on the reasons for the delay in restoring the power and possible solutions. In addition, the status of electrical systems on the neighbor islands will be explored.

Gabbard said, “I want to make it clear that this is not about pointing fingers and playing the blame game. The business community and residents deserve some answers. These outages do far more than simply leave our residents sitting at home in the dark. They have serious negative effects on businesses and our economy which is having a tough enough time as it is. I’ve been getting calls from small businesses that lost tens of thousands of dollars in damaged merchandise, in addition to lost business because they couldn’t stay open without electricity. We also need to find out what steps need to be taken to develop a more stable and reliable electrical grid.”

Baker said, “Reliable electric power is important for our residents and businesses. Through this briefing, we want to ascertain from a regulatory and policy perspective what needs to be put in place to ensure redundancy to improve current reliability as we move forward to new energy platforms.”

The briefing’s main presentation will be by officials of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Other briefings may be provided by the State Public Utilities Commission and the State Division of Consumer Advocacy. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. The public is welcome to ask questions pertaining to island-wide power outages and preparedness.

For more details on the informational briefing, please call Senator Gabbard’s office at 586-6830.

EXTENTION OF BARBERS POINT POST OFFICE HOURS FOR CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS

HONOLULU -December 5, 2008- Senator Mike Gabbard announced today that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has agreed to extend the hours at Barbers Point (Kalaeloa) Post Office during the 2008 Christmas Holidays. From December 8th to 19th, post office hours will be 9:00am – 2:30pm, Monday – Saturday.

"Mahalo to Greg Wolny, Manager for Post Office Operations-Honolulu District, for responding to my request. I'd gotten tons of phone calls from area residents, so it's great news that the post office will be open for extended hours each day leading up to Christmas", said Gabbard. "This will help reduce long lines and make it much easier for Kalaeloa and Kapolei residents to send packages to their loved ones.

Gabbard had launched a petition drive, garnering over 1,000 signatures, in early 2007 after USPS made their November 6, 2006 decision to scale back weekday hours at Barbers Point Post Office from 9am – 4:00pm to 9:00 – 1:00pm. Barbers Point (Kalaeloa) Post Office hours were extended for the Christmas Holidays in 2007 and once again this year.

If you would like more information, please contact Senator Gabbard's office at 586-6830.

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