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The Hawai‘i State Senate in their second special session of 2020 has confirmed the judicial appointments of First Circuit Court Judge Todd Eddins to the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court and Stephanie R.S. Char to the District Family Court of the Fifth Circuit.

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi

Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Associate Justice Richard Pollack retired in June after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, leaving a vacancy on the State's highest court.



The Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Karl Rhoads (Dist. 13) stated, “After careful consideration by members of the Judiciary Committee and the entire State Senate, I’m confident that both Justice Eddins and Judge Char will serve our communities well in their new roles on the State Supreme Court and the District Family Court of the Fifth Circuit."


Justice Todd Eddins and his 'ohana

Justice Eddins served as a judge of the Circuit Court of the First Circuit since 2017, where he primarily presided over criminal cases. Prior to that appointment, he was in private practice handling criminal, civil, and appellate cases for thirteen years. Previous to that, he was a Deputy Public Defender in the State Office of the Public Defender from 1992 to 2004. At the beginning of his legal career, he was a law clerk for then-Associate Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court. Justice Eddins is a graduate of Hawaiʻi Baptist Academy, the College of William & Mary, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law.


Judge Stephanie R.S. Char and her 'ohana

Judge Char has spent her legal career as a public defender in the State Office of the Public Defender, primarily on Kaua‘i, since 2003; most recently she served as a Supervising Deputy Public Defender. She is active in the Kauaʻi and legal communities, having been a member of the Kauaʻi Criminal Defense Bar, the Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity Advisory Board for Mediation Program, and the Hawai‘i State Board of Continuing Legal Education. Judge Char graduated from Kapa‘a High School and received her undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Denver and her law degree from the University of San Diego Law School.



Honolulu’s iconic Aloha Tower will turn purple this week as two important homelessness-related events take place.

The tower will be lit up on Wednesday and Thursday to observe Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, which is typically held the week before Thanksgiving and is meant to raise awareness about the pressing issues of hunger and homelessness, as well as poverty. In Hawai‘i, there are an estimated 6,458 homeless individuals statewide on any given night, including more than half who are unsheltered and sleeping on the sidewalks, beaches, in their vehicles, or in other areas unsuitable for human habitation.

Wednesday and Thursday are also the dates of the statewide 2020 Homeless Awareness Virtual Conference, Moving Forward Together: Our Resilient Community. The conference is sponsored jointly by the State of Hawai‘i; City & County of Honolulu; County of Hawai‘i; County of Kaua‘i; County of Maui; and Hawai‘i’s two Continua of Care: Partners in Care and Bridging the Gap.

“This week is a time to recognize the hard work of all who work so hard to end homelessness throughout the year,” said Scott Morishige, Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “Despite the adversity of the pandemic, our homelessness system has transitioned nearly 3,400 individuals into permanent housing between March and September. Our community is resilient and has pulled together to keep a focus on permanent housing and helping the most vulnerable among us.”

“2020 has been a difficult year for everyone in Hawai‘i, the United States, and around the world,” said Laura Thielen, executive director of Partners in Care. “As the year comes to a close and we reflect on the issue of homelessness and hunger, let us remember how we have come together in so many ways during this pandemic, and acknowledge that we do have the ability to overcome some of the issues that have plagued our community for years.

“Despite the pandemic, we have gotten food to our neighbors on our beaches and on our streets, we have housed those who have been homeless for years, and we have shown compassion to our community. We are stronger than we realize and together we can make a better community for all. Let’s continue the amazing things that we have started during 2020 and carry them into the new year.”

“Despite a worldwide pandemic, we still saw the Aloha Spirit alive and well in Hawai‘i, where people didn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand to those in need,” said Brandee Menino, chief executive officer of HOPE Services Hawai‘i and chair of Bridging the Gap. “Our island community has been incredibly resilient this year, and I’m pleased that we continue to look out for each other. During this week and through the holidays, let us all continue to keep our most vulnerable residents in mind.”

To find out more about Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, please visit https://homelessness.hawaii.gov/main/homelessness-awareness-week/.

To find out more about the 2020 Homeless Awareness Virtual Conference, visit https://honolulu.gov/housing/homelessness/svch/. The conference is free, and will feature keynote speeches from Gov. David Ige, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and CEO Nan Roman from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.



The newly released Hawai‘i Broadband Strategic Plan 2020 provides a fresh look at ways to strengthen Hawai‘i’s broadband infrastructure and programs at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is making clear how dependent Hawai‘i is on broadband connectivity for education, health, livelihood and economic prosperity.


The Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), with support from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and the Office of Planning (OP), published the plan, which is an update to the original Hawai‘i Broadband Strategic Plan released in 2012.


The 45-page document provides information and a framework for the creation of policies and programs to address the challenges faced in meeting the state’s broadband goals.


Since the original plan was published in 2012, the broadband landscape has changed dramatically. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on Hawai’i’s digital divide as stay-at-home orders required people to distance learn, seek healthcare and work from home.


“Broadband connectivity is the critical infrastructure that builds resilience and ties all of Hawaii’s residents to the global economy -- from businesses in our urban centers to remote workers and content creators in our rural communities,” said Gov. David Ige. “Broadband and digital equity are the foundations upon which we can build a Hawai‘i for the future. I would like to extend my thanks to the many stakeholders who collaborated to create this new Broadband Strategic Plan.”


“Due to the pandemic, there is even greater recognition that Hawai‘i’s competitiveness in the global digital economy, educational exchange, and digital competency is reliant on broadband infrastructure,” said DBEDT Director Mike McCartney. “Hawai‘i’s link to the rest of the world relies on transpacific fiber optic cables. Broadband is how the Internet traffic flows throughout the entire state from interisland fiber, terrestrial fiber, wireless services and rural connectivity This will be fundamental for Hawai‘i’s economic diversification and expansion.”


Burt Lum, DBEDT’s Broadband Strategy Officer, said, “All of Hawai’i’s residents need to benefit from broadband in order for the state to thrive in the 21st century. This plan seeks to outline the steps to achieve digital equity throughout the state of Hawai’i.”

Download the Hawaii Broadband Strategic Plan Update: https://broadband.hawaii.gov/about/.

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