Group Essay — Regarding The Allocation Of Fuel Tax Revenue, Thinking Outside The Box Is Needed

(Rob Tucker is a Puna resident who is active with the non profit group Friends of Puna’s Future (FoPF) and is the moderator of He and I, through and email exchange, started what hopefully with your help will be a group essay related to fuel tax revenue and how it should be allocated countywide.)

Rob: Consider the following agenda item for the County Council on (Wednesday) July 8th. You might wish to submit testimony (email Here is the language of the agenda item. I have used red letters for the place that leaves Puna out of the dollars.

“Bill 79 — Amends Ordinance No. 08-79, as amended, Relating to Public Improvements and Financing Thereof for Fiscal Year July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009. {Establishes the following program appropriations:
Roadway Projects (Engineering) $2,000,000
Bridge Inspection, Repair and Replacement Program (Engineering) $1,000,000
Americans With Diabilities Act Curb Cut and Accessible Route Program (Engineering) $500,000
and Local Road Improvements (Highways) $3,500,00 for a total of $7,000,000;
funds shall be provided from that portion of the Highway Fund, which is designated as the Fuel Tax Increase Account No. 3104.6, and which consists of the increase fuel tax revenues created pursuant to Resolution No. 504-08. Projected Revenues are being allocated based on each district’s percentage of miles of local streets for all roads maintained by the county (specific projects are listed in Exhibit A).} Read more

Kohala News — $2.69 M Federal Stimulus Grant For Pelekane Bay Watershed


Tons of sediment are carried into Pelekane Bay with storm flows like this one in 2003.

Tons of sediment are carried into Pelekane Bay with storm flows like this one in 2003. Photo credit: Carolyn Stewart

(Media release) — The Kohala Watershed Partnership has received $2.69 million in federal funds through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coastal restoration grant to improve the condition of the Pelekane Bay watershed on the leeward coast of Kohala Mountain, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye and Senator Daniel K. Akaka announced today.

The Pelekane Bay Watershed Restoration Project is one of two Hawai‘i habitat restoration projects selected for funding by NOAA through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NOAA received $167 million from the Act to jumpstart the nation’s economy. NOAA announced today the selection of 50 high quality, high priority projects to support more than 5,000 jobs and restore U.S. coasts on a grand scale. The Nature Conservancy also received funding for its Maunalua Bay Reef Restoration Project on Oahu. The projects were chosen from a pool of 814 proposals. Read more

***Commentary*** Establishing ‘Trust, Honesty, And Communication,’ My Meeting With Council Chair J Yoshimoto

Today started out with a phone call from Curtis Narimatsu saying he had arranged for me to have lunch with Elroy Osorio, Sr., former County Council chairman and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi’s political mentor.  As you know, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi was one of the freshman council members who introduced the Council reorganization legislation who has not responded to multiple phone messages from me.

Before Curtis Narimatsu, Elroy Osorio, Coco, and I had lunch at Miwa’s, I met with Council Chair J Yoshimoto at the Ben Franklin Building.  Big mahalo to my hanai tutu Toni Thomson for taking Coco to the Ruth Oda Playground at Lincoln Park while I had my meeting down the street.

J Yoshimoto

J Yoshimoto

Truly, it was a pleasure meeting with J Yoshimoto. Whenever we meet, I always find him to be quite straightforward and willing to meet me eye-to-eye.  Both are very important qualities to me generally, but particularly at this time, when there are council members not even speaking to me or returning my calls.

Just to be open and transparent, J Yoshimoto’s late uncle used to live right next door to me in Lower Kaumuna. While J Yoshimoto and I first got to know each other two and a half years ago when he replaced Jimmy Arakaki as the representative of District 3, I’ve been observing him and his family for some time longer. Read more

Guest Column — For Those Who Want To Preserve Country Life At The Same Time You Support Corporate Franchise Development, You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

By Sofia Wilt

On Tuesday, June 12, 2009, I participated in the protest in opposition to the fast food development at the Woodland Center in Pahoa. We voiced concern about the influence of corporate franchises in our small rural community. Regardless of whether or not the development will actually be stopped, our position has largely been to raise awareness of the impacts of this development — from loss of cultural integrity, to syphoning money out of the community, to traffic congestion and hazards, to health impacts, just to name a few. 

Most of us at the protest were haole, and it’s safe to say that we grew up some place on the mainland, in rural or suburban areas. I remember being excited to have these same fast food restaurants come in to my home town. With perspective and time, I can now see how the area where I grew up was changed by this development, and not for the better.
Whatever was original or unique was consumed and replaced with a carbon copy of what is everywhere across the country. Read more

***Commentary*** Hawaii Meth Project Ads Are Not Just Disturbing, They Are Traumatizing My Child

Is it just me, or are those Hawaii Meth Project advertisements on television traumatizing?  I’m really in a quandary because, admittedly, I watch a good deal of television. I enjoy watching the news and certain shows. The “Girls Gone Wild” DVD promotional commercials used to really bother me, but the Hawaii Meth Project commercials of late are just plain disturbing.  Today one of those “Meth Not Even Once” commercials came on and I covered my daughter’s eyes so she couldn’t see.  I couldn’t get to the remote control fast enough to push mute.  

Hawaii Meth Project is reportedly aimed at significantly reducing first-time meth use through public service messaging, public policy, and community outreach.  I would like to encourage this organization to reconsider these horrifying images of meth users, for the sake of innocent children intent to explore the wonders of life in giggles. Read more

***Commentary*** Environmental Management, A Community Problem We Need To Talk About

Suffice it to say, I am disturbed to discover there are people who are so pilau that they resort to the sort of illegal dumping depicted above. Why, when dumping trash at transfer stations is free, do we have this hillbilly waste disposal?  

 I would like to start a public discussion about solid waste disposal on Hawaii Island.  First of all, you need to know that there will come a day when the County of Hawaii starts charging residents for solid waste disposal.  Being someone who resides in the country, I fear that imposing fees will only exacerbate the illegal dumping problem.  We can increase the fines for illegal dumping to try to dissuade people, but without deputy sheriffs patroling the rural and remote areas, enforcement will remain far and few between.

What is it going to take to prevent illegal dumping?  What can we do to truly address solid waste here? In my mind, being on an island, our solid waste and wastewater disposal is a priority problem that shouldn’t be looked at as a problem, but an opportunity.  We should be looking at both solid waste and wastewater as resources that can be reused somehow, some way.  Until we create a paradigm shift in how we view our trash, though, we aren’t going to make much progress.   Read more

***Commentary*** ‘Cool 29’ License Plates Are Apropos for This Ford Beauty


Oooh, sweet, like sugar, this 1929 Ford owned by Al Haraguchi

Oooh, sweet, like sugar, this 1929 Ford owned by Al Haraguchi

Welcome Cruise Paradise! This 1929 Ford owned by Al Haraguchi was featured in the Sunday, June 28, 2009 edition of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald announcing “Cruise Paradise” classic car festivities throughout the island this week.  Here it is in the Hilo Shopping Center today.  To see jaw-dropper classic cars like this candy-apple-red beauty or prettier, visit Prince Kuhio Plaza at 4 p.m., Friday, July 3, 2009 or show up the festivities on Hilo’s Bayfront on Saturday, July 4, 2009.

Island Art — The Virtues Of The Canoe, A Micronesian Perspective

Canoes of Kiribati, Collection of Stephen and Diane Heiman

Baurua of Kiribati, Collection of Stephen and Diane Heiman



(Herb Kawainui Kane, of South Kona, a Living Treasure of Hawaii, is an artist, author, and historian whose interest is in Hawaii and the South Pacific and who, among other things, was the general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hokule’a and served as its first captain.) 

Depicted above are the canoes of Kiribati, the former Gilbert Islands in Micronesia.  A small wa-ririk (fishing canoe) crosses the wake of a chief’s baurua (voyaging canoe).  Canoes were vitally important in Kiribati where the people wrung much of their living from the sea. But they were also beloved objects of art, of tradition, and of sport. In these islands where large trees were few and lumber scarce, men without metals fashioned the available wood and fiber into vessels of light weight and dazzling speed.

Old men would spend hours lovingly repairing canoes in which, as youths, they had raced against the best canoes of other villages. No dance has been better choreographed than the performance of a nimble crew quickly reversing all positions of spars and steering paddle to change sailing, yet keeping the outrigged float to windward. When the wind on the sail causes the outrigged float to rise above water, a crewman must  dash out on the outrigger booms, adding, his weight to that of the float to avoid a capsize. Read more

*** Commentary*** HTH Was A Finalist For Editorial Opinion At SPJ Awards Banquet; It’s Nice To Read The Editor’s Opinion Once In Awhile


Click here for the online version of the Hawaii-Tribune Herald

Click here for the online version of the Hawaii-Tribune Herald

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports it was “honored for journalistic excellence” at a Society of Professional Journalists banquet in Honolulu Friday night.  In fact, the brief states HTH was “a finalist in Editorial Opinion category” for an editorial entitled, “No bailouts for Aloha or ATA,” written by editor David Bock.  

In the coverage about HTH’s kudos from SPJ, it states that in April the Hawaii Publishers Association gave a second place Pa’i Award to HTH for David Bock’s editorial “blasting anti-business legislation passed by the state Legislature.”

the two times per year that David Bock writes an editorial, he gets awarded by our esteemed professional organizations.  I’m being facetious; it’s possible that David Bock writes more than two editorials a year.  Truly, it’s not very often that he does write editorials, and I’ve heard people in the community complain that HTH does not take a stand on issues often enough. Read more

*** Commentary*** Pete Hoffmann Bought A Newspaper Ad To Thank Supporters And Share His Thoughts About The Reorganization


Pete Hoffmann

Pete Hoffmann

Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, at his campaign’s expense, had an ad published in the newspaper today thanking supporters and apologizing to everybody for his colleagues’ shenanigans of late.  This is what he wrote exactly:

“I very much appreciate the outpouring of support during the recent
‘Council coup’. It is gratifying to know so many residents would
take time to testify, write letters and send e-mails. The outcome
was disappointing, but your recognition of my efforts, and those
of Mr. Yagong and Ms. Ford, encourage us all to continue to work
diligently to achieve effective County government.
As noted at the Council debate on June 16th, I am embarrassed
for our Council. Over the past five years, I have spent considerable
time and effort to increase the credibility and respect for the
Council as the County policy-making body. Unnecessary and illconceived
political maneuvering does not enhance that objective.
More importantly, I am embarrassed for our voters who clearly
deserve better representative government.
Despite the ‘gamesmanship’ displayed by some Council
members, I pledge my best efforts to adhere to the phrase that
appears on our Council correspondence, ‘serving the interests
of the people of our island.’ As long as I’m on the Council, this
will serve as the goal foremost in my mind.
Once again, I thank all for their expressions of support.” Read more

***Commentary*** The Hawaii County Council And The Awakening Of The Sleeping Giant


Click here for Big Island Video News coverage of the June 16, 2009 County Council meeting.

Click here for Big Island Video News coverage of the June 16, 2009 County Council meeting.

Mahalo nui loa to Cheryl King for nudging me to give kudos to Dave Corrigan of Big Island Video News by posting his video coverage of that fateful Tuesday, June 16, 2009 meeting in which council members passed their reorganization resolutions. 

If you haven’t seen footage of the highly publicized County Council meeting, consider this a shout out to visit Dave Corrigan’s site.  Dave provides an invaluable service to the island community and, in the case of the County Council, he broke the marathon meeting, from testifiers to council members, into palatable chunks.

“Corrigan’s judicious editing of the videotaped meeting managed to convey the essence of what happened in a way that print media can’t,” Cheryl King told me.  Indeed, the footage is organized in such a way that you can pick and choose among 14 clips or you can watch the entire 11-hour Council meeting.  

I just shared the clips with my husband, who has never taken the time to sit through an actual County Council meeting, let alone watch any airings of the lengthy meetings on TV.  He and I watched all 14 clips, some of them twice to catch the innuendoes.  It was like were watching YouTube videos or something.  We can laugh for the entertainment value, but the saddest part about it is that these are our elected officials behaving this way. Read more

Dispatches From Curt — Big 5’s Davies/AmFac Cartel Over Groceries; Territorial/State Sen. William ‘Doc’ Hill; Grassroot Pride; And Public Trust Doctrine

(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Big 5’s Davies/AmFac Cartel Over Groceries

To break the haole stranglehold over supply/distribution of groceries, Issei Tomiji Yamamoto formed Hawaii Grocers Co-op, made up of buddaheads, whose offices first were in the Volcano Arena off Kumu St. next to Waiolama Canal, then behind today’s Duke’s Kilauea Shell off Lanihuli St. (after the 1960 tsunami destroyed Kumu St. bldgs.).  Point is that non-haoles couldn’t get brand names, except for Fujimoto Trading (Rich Imai bookkeeper), which had earliest links to get brand names from Stateside manufacturers (canned milk/etc.).  Isamu Kanekuni was Grocers Co-op’s bookkeeper.  Yasu Iwasaki’s wife is Fujimoto Trading kazoku.  Here is how Fujimoto Trading undercut haole overlords — plantation store ledgers show purchase of kamaboko/fishcake from Fujimoto, but it’s really canned milk.  Since Fujimoto bought via bulk shipment from Mainland U.S.A., Fujimoto was able to sell canned milk way below Big 5 costs.  Thence, plantation stores made larger profit than buying “inhouse” via overlords.  Economy of scale (to overcome Big 5 largesse). Read more

Hilo News — K. Taniguchi, Ltd. Reaches Agreement With The EPA


KTA Puainako

KTA Puainako

(Media release) — K. Taniguchi, Ltd., sister company of KTA Super Stores, agreed to pay a fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not meeting deadlines to phase out large capacity cesspools at its Puainako store site.

“We believed the best solution was to work with Hawaii County to expand the municipal sewer system and connect to it,” said Andrew Chun, administrative officer of K. Taniguchi, Ltd., which owns the land at the grocery store site.   A municipal line would have benefitted other businesses and residents in the area, too.

When the County found cost and topography too challenging, the company sought other options and failed to meet a 2005 deadline.

“We’ve cooperated fully with both the EPA and the state Department of Health to resolve this issue,” Chun said. The company planned to install an innovative newer technology, but that was determined to be unreliable for the site conditions. Read more

Noteworthy Obituaries — RIP Freddy Yokoyama

By Don O’Reilly

We were saddened earlier this month to hear of the passing of fellow Hilo businessman Freddy

Freddy Yokoyama

Freddy Yokoyama

Yokoyama.  He was just 61.  Despite his premature departure, Freddy led a full and active life.  Some 30 years ago, after successfully establishing and operating The Kamuela Deli, he came home to Hilo and, with is family, opened the Manono Mini Mart in an old wooden building on the corner of Manono and Piilani Streets, across from the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.  

Due to the tireless work of the entire family, the endeavor was a great success.  People loved, and still do, the fresh, made-to-order deli sandwiches offered way before anything else like it in Hilo.  After just a few years, the old store was replaced with a new combination restaurant, deli, and mini mart.  Today more than thirty people are employed there, many of them for years now. 

Freddy’s place just seems empty without him.  What I’ll remember the most about Freddy is the inspiration of his upbeat attitude, and his easy, genuine smile.  With such Aloha, it is easy to understand how he was admired and respected by so many — family, friends, employees, and customers.

***Commentary*** While We Focused On Their Reorganization, Council Members Adopted The Hands-Free Cell Phone Bill; Mayor Signed Bill 66 Into Law Today


Pardon the F word, but this was too classic not to share. Credit: LAist. Click here for related story.

Pardon the F word, but this was too classic not to share. Credit: LAist. Click here for related story.

While the public’s focus was on the Council reorganization and Sunshine Law violation, at the same meeting in which they reorganized, council members unanimously approved a bill that bans the use of handheld cell phones in motor vehicles beginning January 2010.  Today Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law Bill 66, which council members approved on Tuesday, June 16, 2009.

 I’ve told you before, I’m one of those people who thinks we will all be safer by not using our cell phone in our vehicles, but I do find it interesting how little public notice people received about the bill being on the Council agenda and then adopted. Recall, that the issue came up a couple of months ago and council members postponed the matter.  Now all of a sudden, the bill has been adopted and signed into law.     Read more

Island News — Unions’ Rally Against Governor’s Furlough Plan To Be Held On Hilo’s Bayfront Tuesday

Local chapters of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii State Teachers Association, United Public Workers, and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly are planning to rally against Gov. Linda Lingle’s plan for state worker furloughs to balance the budget.  The “Unity Rally” is set for 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2009 on Hilo’s Bayfront fronting the Kamehameha Statue.  For more details, visit