• 28 Aug 2014 /  Uncategorized

    By Alan McNarie

    Like many Web sites that serve as public forums, the Big Island Chronicle has a troll problem. We’ve pretty much allowed comments so long as they were on point with the topics of the articles they were commenting on and weren’t obvious spam. But some people have been posting comments under pseudonyms, and even faking their e-mail addresses, and some of the comments they’ve been posting have ranged from irresponsible to downright vicious. One recent poster, for instance, suggested that an anti-geothermal activist may be taking money from the petroleum industry. The author of that comment used only a first name, and gave an e-mail address at a Web site belonging to a Florida real estate company.
    Trolls such as that are common on the Web. But no responsible newspaper allows them. If you submit a comment to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, for instance, you have to use your real name and address.
    There’s a reason for that. In order to make good decisions, the public needs solid, reliable information, and it needs to be able to do its own research about the sources of that information. For that reason, when we use information in a story, we attribute the source, and if we publish a press release or a public meeting announcement, we say who we got it from.  (And to avoid any confusion, Ms. Hunt and I will be posting our own by-lines with any stories that we do individually.) The only exception might be a whistle blower who’s going against the wishes of his or her boss in the public interest–and in those cases, we need to explain the situation in the article, and we’d better make every effort possible to corroborate the whistle blower’s information and check that person’s credentials. In fact, with Hawaii’s current lack of a whistle-blower law, it’s possible that we could end up in jail if we DON’T disclose our sources.
    If we expect our sources to make their names known, then we should at least be able to tell them that they won’t be attacked by someone who’s unwilling to accept the same responsibility for his or her actions. So as of now, no more anonymous trolls at Big Island Chronicle. If you want to be part of the public dialogue, own up to your input, use your real name, and give us comments that you can be proud of.

    And unreconstructed trolls: Don’t think that if you lie, we won’t catch you.  We are journalists, after all.

     

  • 28 Aug 2014 /  Uncategorized

    Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for individual assistance:

    “We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.”

  • 27 Aug 2014 /  news

    Those who want to give input on on the Planning Department’s permit for Business Services’ Hi-5 redemption center in Pahoa need to contact the  department immediately.According to planning director  Duane Kanuha, the department is in the final stages of drafting its permit requirements.

    Kanuha says that the center has been operating without a permit until now. Contrary to some reports within the community, Business Services isn’t applying to expand its activities into a full-scale recycling center, only to get the proper permit for a current redemption center.

    According to Kanuha, after the company lost its Hi-5 redemption contract with the County, it opened its own centers in Kona and Pahoa. “They started doing one in Kona.We caught them there and told them what they needed to do.  “We actually cited them.  Then we found out they were doing this one in Pahoa,” Kanuha said.

    There is no formal mechanism for public input on this type of permit, but Kanuha said calls from the public about problems such as noise at the site were being taken into account. Among other requirements that Planning would make of the owners, he said, would be  fencing or barriers in addition to landscaping, specific hours of operation, specifically marked ingress and egress routes, paved driveways and parking stalls, including handicapped stalls. When the Chronicle mentioned that we’d also heard complaints about smells at the site, he added that the department would also consider smell abatement measures such as closed containers.

    –Alan McNarie

     

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  • From Robert Petricci:

    Puna Pono Alliance Geothermal Health Impact Meeting Notice

    Community meeting regarding the operation of the geothermal plant during the arrival of Tropical Storm Iselle.

    August 30th at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS School), 15-1397 Homestead Road, in Pahoa at 4:00 pm.

    PPA will host the Hawaii County Civil Defense director, and a PGV representative in a public meeting to address the concerns of the community regarding the operation of the geothermal plant in the face of Tropical Storm Iselle, We also invited HELCO, DOH, and the Hawaii County Planning Director.

    Council District 4 Rep. Greggor Illigan told me he would be there also.The meeting will address the release of geothermal toxins during and after the storm, [and] the action taken as concerns possible health effects from the release, and the performance of the H2S monitoring system before, during, and after the storm.

    Those invited to interact with the community are Jay Ignacio of HELCO, Mike Kaleikini of PGV, Darryl Oliveria of Civil Defense, Duane Kanuha of the Planning Department, and Dr. Linda Rosen of the Hawaii Department of Health. Puna Pono will provide a brief introduction. Then each of the invited participants will be asked to provide a timeline and to address why the plant was operating, to address the adequacy of County and PGV emergency plans, [and] to describe what actions were taken, what complications were faced, and how those complications were dealt with. Following the presentations of invited presenters, the attendees will ask questions as time permits.

    Please email this notice of the meeting to your network and friends as soon as possible.

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  • 26 Aug 2014 /  Hurricane, news

    HELCO reports that most residents now have electricity and most stores now have ice, but the cleanup after Iselle continues.

    “We have made some great progress,” says Kellie Swift, who has been working with others to clear fallen trees in Kapoho.  But she adds, “There is still a huge need getting rubbish into the dumpsters and off the streets and [we] need people with chainsaws to help with the massive pile of branches”. She estimates that the volunteer crews “still have at least 2-3 days of saw work. And [we] need people with trucks that can help move debris piles to dumpsters.”

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  • 25 Aug 2014 /  Uncategorized

    The reality of us clinging to an active volcano is that lava could flow our way at any time. Tonight at a public meeting with USGS and County Civil Defense, that reality was emphasized. The flow is currently two miles up slope from Ka’ohe Homesteads. If you are concerned about the current flow, I suggest you attend similar meetings slated for tomorrow and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Pahoa Community Center. — Tiffany Edwards Hunt

  • 25 Aug 2014 /  Hurricane, news

    A lot of Big Islanders have seen Tropical Storm Iselle as an opportunity to help their neighbors.  But unfortunately, a few have seen it as an opportunity to run scams

    HELCO has received reports of local residents getting phone calls persons who claim to represent the utility and demand personal information such as Social Security numbers.  The utility has also gotten calls about “individuals wearing safety vests and climbing fences and gates to access homes.”

    “Hawaii Electric Light will not contact customers to request personal information or direct customers to submit payments via options other than those listed on the back of the billing statement. The company also will not access private property without first notifying the customer. Employees and approved contractors wear photo identification badges and their vehicles are clearly marked,” the utility reports.

    HELCO suggested the following tips to avoid getting scammed:

    • Never provide personal, confidential or financial information to an unidentified individual.
    • Ask questions or ask for proper identification. Request the individual’s name, company name, and phone number.
    • Be cautious when responding to callers from an unidentified phone number.
    • Be aware that today’s technology can be used to mask the caller’s phone number and the caller ID could indicate the call is originating from Hawaii Electric Light, even though it is not.
    • Report any suspicious activity to local police.

    Patrice Macdonald of Hawaiian Acres told BIC of another scam: someone  has been accepting money to haul storm debris and personal trash to the transfer station, but instead has been dumping the bags on various streets in Hawaiian Acres.    MacDonald has investigated three such incidents so far.  In one case, the trash ended up in another resident’s driveway, who contacted her.  In all three cases she found personal mail among the debris and contacted the owners,who were all senior citizens and all  told same story: A man and a woman  in a faded black pickup with some patches of gray primer paint offered to haul away storm debris for a fee.

    –Alan McNarie

     

     

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  • 22 Aug 2014 /  commentary, food, Hurricane, news

    Frojm Cody Osbourne:

    Last night we served Spaghetti at Nanawale! I would like to thank Liko Lehua Cafe and Gourmet Butter once again for an awesome meal and for providing, cooking and transporting all that deliciousness!
    Liko has provided meals for about a dozen days, and couldn’t have done it without the gracious help of our community. The last two days food was in part provided by a donation by New Hope Hilo Hawaii Church. They bought the chicken for the Chicken Luau, and they provided the hamburger and sauce for last nights Spaghetti! I would estimate, all told that Liko Lehua has provided nearly 8,000 meals over the last two weeks. I would estimate that about 6,500 of those meals were provided by donation from big island businesses and individuals!
    So we have to give a huge MAHALO to East Hawaii as well for really stepping up to the plate here! What an amazing contribution and last two weeks.
    Two weeks ago today, we opened our eyes not only to a brand new day, but to a brand new chapter in our lives. A lifetime of experiences have transpired over the last two weeks, and now that most have power, we shift our focus to clean up and rebuilding, with an eye on those few individuals still without power.
    The good news is that with fewer in need, it becomes easier by the day to get to everyone that needs it. Volunteers have made the difference and are continually needed to keep making a difference so we can help anyone that needs it.
    So tomorrows Pancake breakfast is not only a celebration of what we’ve accomplished, but a way for us volunteers and victims to come together and share what still needs to be done. There is a ton of work ahead of us, so let’s EAT, say a word of thanks, stand united and move forward together.

    Editor’s Note:  The pancake breakfast will take place Saturday, August 23, from 9:15 to 11:00 a.m.

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  • 21 Aug 2014 /  BULLETINS, Hurricane, news

    Governor Neil Abercrombie has formally requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle.  The request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County: a class of assistance that  would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

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  • 21 Aug 2014 /  BULLETINS, Hurricane, news

    HELCO’s latest bulletin, below.  Since this was issued at 11:45, BIC has received a firsthand report that power has also been restored in at least parts of Nanawale.

    HILO, Aug. 21, 2014 (11:45 a.m.) – Electric service has been restored to approximately 300 customers in Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots who have been without power following Tropical Storm Iselle. At this time, more than 99 percent of Hawaii Island customers now have power.

    An estimated 800 customers remain without power. Nearly all of these customers are in Nanawale Estates, where electrical line crews are focusing their efforts and expect to make more progress today.

    The storm caused extensive damage in that area, with many streets impacted by fallen trees, downed power lines and damaged utility poles. Tree-trimming and construction crews have been working in those areas to clear roads and dig holes for poles, so electrical line crews can move in and work safely and efficiently.

    In the interests of safety, crews will complete repairs before restoring power to the subdivision. Restoration progress may be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

    “We understand how hard it’s been for these customers who have been without power for such a long time. We assure them that we we’re committed to restoring service to all of our customers,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

    Customers in other areas who are still without power should report their outage by calling 969-6666.

    Utility crews are working with the county and other agencies to clean up storm debris and damaged utility equipment. As a safety precaution, customers are reminded not to touch or move any fallen poles, lines or other utility equipment.

    Electrical line crews are also continuing to work on smaller outages in the following areas:
    Hawaiian Paradise Park, Leilani Estates, and Lanipuna Gardens. In addition, tree-trimming and hole-digging crews are continuing to work in Hawaiian Acres, Lanipuna Gardens, Mauna Loa Estates, Nanawale, Pohoiki Road, and Volcano.

    Although crews have made good progress, it could still take another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

    Customer Information Center in Puna

    Hawaii Electric Light’s Customer Information Center is at the Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna. Operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The center will close after Friday, Aug. 22. After the center closes, customers may call 969-6666 for status updates.

    Until then, company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairs. Free Wi-Fi access and a charging station will also be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there.

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  • 21 Aug 2014 /  Uncategorized

    HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I – A lawsuit filed Thursday, August 21 by Pahoa residents and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation (“ACLU”) asks the State Supreme Court to allow any registered voter affected by Tropical Storm Iselle to cast a vote that will be included in the August 2014 primary results. The lawsuit also asks the Court to find that the Legislature failed in its constitutional obligation to protect the fundamental right to vote by delegating all decisions relating to natural disasters to the Office of Elections. The lawsuit concerns the fundamental right to vote and the disenfranchisement of hundreds and potentially thousands of affected voters. The lawsuit does not challenge the results of any particular race nor does it endorse any campaign.

    On August 6, 2014, Governor Abercrombie signed an emergency proclamation, in advance of two anticipated storms projected to impact Hawai‘i: Hurricanes Iselle and Julio. The proclamation – valid from August 6 through August 15 – included a statement that “the danger of disaster is of such magnitude to warrant preemptive and protective action in order to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the people[.]”

    Facing massive damage from Iselle on August 8, and thousands of Hawai‘i County residents dealing with historic flooding, power outages, property damage, and road closures – some of which continue even now – the Chief Elections Officer determined that the primary would go on as scheduled on August 9. the Chief Elections Officer went on to change the rules of the election (who could vote, where and how) at least two more times over the course of three days.

    This series of decisions led to the denial of the right to vote for many Hawai‘i County residents. Indeed, Precinct 04-03 had among its lowest voter turnout ever.

    Daniel Gluck, Senior Staff Attorney said: “Although the votes in question may not change the outcome of any of the various races, the ACLU filed this suit because the right to vote is a cornerstone of our democracy. Every vote counts equally – this is about an individual exercising a fundamental right and not about the results of any single race. The government has a duty to respond to conditions on the ground to make sure people can vote. Here the government failed to do that, and changes are needed now to preserve the integrity of future elections.”

    The ACLU, as a non-partisan organization, has regularly intervened to protect the rights of the electorate. Within the last ten years, the ACLU successfully challenged proposed amendments to the State Constitution because the electorate was misinformed or because the amendment was improperly passed by the Legislature. The ACLU also successfully challenged the use of public funds to advocate for particular results in an election. The right to vote is critical to the mission of the ACLU.

  • 20 Aug 2014 /  Uncategorized

    imageBy Tiffany Edwards Hunt

    Let me take a moment to offer you an update as the #PahoaBoosterClub secretary, regarding the newly reinstated football program at Pahoa High and Intermediate School. We had a booster club meeting today in which we received an update from the principal and athletic director. Then I heard the buzz at the school’s open house tonight.
    For background: booster club members successfully submitted a grant in aid application to the Hawaii State Legislature. We requested and received $92,000 to put back the athletic program that fell by the wayside 14 years ago.
    The program has taken off in the last month. Twenty eight players will play on an 8-man team. Several of them — three from Kea’au and one from Hilo — transferred to Pahoa to play for their home team. This was anticipated in the grant application; we know anecdotally that many parents seek geographical exemptions at other schools to afford their children opportunities not offered in Pahoa.
    The students are very honored to be part of the program and have created a “study hall” group to keep the grades well above the minimum required 2.0 grade point average. They walk around school proudly displaying their practice equipment. Students are eagerly planning a homecoming they can boast is a bonafide homecoming. They are planning a pep rally the night before the 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27 homecoming.
    The football players practice at 4 p.m. daily. At least 10 of the players are well over 200 pounds and athletic. Many of them have played for the Pop Warner Puna Panthers. One teacher whose classroom is near the practice field noted how strong and powerful they sounded out on the field practicing.
    The first football game for these Pahoa players will be at 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 30 at Wong Stadium, against Hilo. If you can make it, come out and cheer on your home team!

  • 19 Aug 2014 /  BULLETINS, Hurricane, news

    From Daniel Gluck, Senior Staff Attorney at ACLU of Hawaii:

    “The ACLU of Hawai‘i is concerned about reports that voters may have been denied their fundamental right to vote in the aftermath of Hurricane Iselle.  We are gathering information about what happened, and we are assessing options to ensure that all voters have their voices heard.  Voters wishing to make a report can write confidentially to office@acluhawaii.org.

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  • On Tuesday, August 19, at the HAAS school in Pahoa, Puna Pono Alliance is sponsoring a community meeting about Puna Geothermal Venture’s emergency shut-down and emissions during Tropical Storm Iselle.  Community members are invited to relate their experiences and express their concerns.

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  • 18 Aug 2014 /  BULLETINS, Hurricane, news

    The Hawaii County Department of Water Supply has lifted its water emergency in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle.

    According to the department, county water system services are now restored in areas affected by the the storm. Water restriction and conservation notices are no longer in effect for Kalapana, upper Puna, Kaiwiki, and Hamakua district water system customers. For any emergency water concerns call 961-8790.

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  • 18 Aug 2014 /  business, Hurricane, news

    Bank  of Hawaii has set up three in-house programs to aid those impacted by Hurricane Iselle with quick-approved, low-interest loans and relief from immediate payments on existing loans.

    According to their press release:

    “Essentially, the three programs provide access to cash via special loan programs or getting relief on existing Bank of Hawaii loans through loan extensions or forbearances. Special program features include:

    • Low interest rates on loans
    • Loans with no payments for first three months
    • Fast approval and quick funding
    • Reduced payments with loan terms up to 60 months
    • Loan amounts up to $25,000

    “Depending on the particular loan program, funds may be used to 1) provide cash relief for emergency supplies and living essentials; 2) repair homes and/or vehicles, replacement of living essentials, or to bridge working capital needs; 3) receive forbearance and/or extension on loans for existing BOH clients.”

    Bankoh branches are also accepting cash and check donations for Iselle relief through the Hawaii Island United Way.  Checks should be made out to “Kokua Puna.”

     

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