Letters — Regarding A Hui For Medical Marijuana

Image courtesy of Nothin' But A Gangsta Party, Weed IS Unity

Aloha,
I would like to shout out a big Mahalo to everyone of you who wrote e-mail and/or called Josh Green and the other senators.  It helped.  I have no official word but I think the bill has been deferred.  So I believe it is over for this year, but if the patient base doesn’t stay active, I mean more active than ever before, this year could be devastating to the Medical Cannabis program.
Honestly, we already know where the opposition is going.
*Targeting the younger patients
*Targeting chronic pain and muscle spasms
*Intimidating physicians and accusing them of abuse in the Medical Cannabis program
Are we going to sit back and let the NED (who is really behind all this) sit in judgment of this program?  If you have had it with prejudice and intimidation and invasion of your patients rights, we need to let all the senators, representatives, and the governor know how we feel and that we will not put up with this attack any longer.
We think it is about time to have a public assembly of patients and advocates of  the Medical Cannabis program.  Patients and doctors coming together to speak out.  At this assembly we should invite the opposition and make them listen!
Well OK, I’m fired up, and you should be too.  Let me know some of your ideas.  Let’s make this happen!!
Sincerely, Sandy Webb

***Commentary*** Congratulations, Kamehameha Schools; Happy World Press Freedom Day

Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Pictured above are students from Kamehameha Schools Pukalani in Maui at the Hawaii Publishers Association High School Journalism Awards banquet Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in Honolulu.  They won best in the state, they are that good.  I had the privilege of judging the news category for the High School Journalism Awards.  I found the Kamehameha Schools-Maui news story about the cell phone ban to be exemplary.  It was a comprehensive, multi-source story that presented the facts about the cell phone ban.  With the story was a sidebar and graphics that made for a nice package.  It was most definitely a fine example of journalism.

At the banquet Wednesday at Pagoda Hotel, it was energizing to be around all the high school students involved with newspapers statewide. Read more

Hawaii News — Senate’s Proposed Hotel Tax Cut For Counties Concerns Mayor

(Media release) — County of Hawaii Mayor Billy Kenoi released the following statement today on the new draft of Senate Bill 1186, which would reduce the distribution of the transient accommodations tax (TAT) revenues to the counties:
“We are deeply concerned about the Senate position on the hotel room tax. The Senate proposal to cap the TAT distributions at $85 million for all of the counties represents a deep cut into our second largest source of revenue,” Mayor Kenoi said.
“The Senate draft would hurt all of the counties. We ask that the Senate instead accept the House position, which would cap the TAT distribution at the 2010 level, or about $102 million,” Mayor Kenoi said.
From the time of the establishment of the TAT in 1986, the Legislature planned to make the Counties beneficiaries of the hotel room tax because lawmakers recognized the importance of county facilities and services to support and enhance the visitor experience.
The TAT is distributed to the counties in recognition of the fact that county services are critical to a healthy visitor industry. The counties provide the police officers, firefighters, lifeguards, water and sewer service, transportation infrastructure and other essential services for visitors.
(Submitted by Kevin Dayton.)

Feature — Portrait Of Our 2011 Merrie Monarch Queen

Image courtesy of Kaleo Francisco

(Editor’s Note:  A version of this story by Tiffany Edwards Hunt appears in this week’s edition of the Big Island Weekly.)

It seems fitting that Kaleo’onalani Mei-Ling Francisco has a framed 8 x 10 portrait of Queen Liliuokalani in her dining room.

Noting what hardship Liliuokalani endured 117 years ago by being deposed, having the monarchy abrogated, then being arrested and imprisoned at Iolani Palace, Francisco says, “I figure patriotic people have pictures of their president.  I should have a picture of the queen.”

Indeed.  Francisco is this year’s Merrie Monarch queen, re-enacting the revered Hawaiian tradition of the monarchy alongside this year’s king, Aaron Ka Pomai’i Kaleo, an 11-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Department.

In real life, Francisco is married to Nick Kalamakani Francisco and the mother of four sons, Kalamakua, Aulanikailoa, Tyler Lokahi, and Kahoku’okekaihawanawana Kimo, who passed away a few years ago.

Along with being a middle-aged woman, to be Merrie Monarch queen you have to have Hawaiian ancestry.  Francisco is a descendent of Kalanikauika’aleno Keopuolani.  Her mother is Mei-Ling Manuwa Green and her father is Phil Arellano.  She is third in a line of seven children.  She, her four sisters and her two brothers grew up on Oahu.  Francisco, off an on for 30 years, has made the Big Island her home and, in the last several years, settled in Puna’s Leilani Estates.

She and her husband founded Ho’ai, a non-profit organization focused on growing dry land kalo, a dream they had since they met.  The Franciscos make a point of sharing the kalo with kupuna.

Francisco volunteers at her son’s preschool and the Hilo Grandmothers’ Club.   She is a member of ‘Ahahui Ka’ahumanu, or Ka’ahumanu Society, which is akin to a Hawaiian civic club but is actually one of four royal societies in Hawai’i.  Named after Queen Ka’ahumanu, the formal society is historic and symbolic, with a goal to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and serve as a reminder of Hawaiian nobility.

“I think if you want to be queen, you should belong to kupuna clubs,” Francisco says, grinning and laughing, before “just kidding.” Read more

Puna News — New Pahoa Police Station To Open May 2

(Media release) — The Hawai’i Police Department announces that the new Pāhoa police station will be open for business effective May 2. This station in lower Puna, which is larger and more modern than the Kea‘au police station, will serve the public temporarily as Puna’s main district station.

The Kea’au station, which is no longer large enough to meet the demands of a district station, will be converted to a substation until a more suitable facility for a main Puna station is acquired. The Puna District is the third busiest police district on the island—behind South Hilo and Kona.

The new Pāhoa station is located just north of Pāhoa town on Highway 130. Business hours of operation will be 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays and county furlough days).

The new expanded facility will offer enhanced services to the public. Beginning in May, citizens will be able to apply for gun permits and register firearms by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Persons wishing to make an appointment for these services may call the station’s business number at (808) 965-2716.

Driver’s license renewal and vehicle registration are already available in a portion of the new building operated by the County Department of Finance.

The public is reminded to call 911 in case of emergency or 935-3311 for non-emergency calls for service.
(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Puna News — Police: Puna Man Facing Charges For Hele-On Bus Incident

(Media release) — Big Island police have charged a 20-year-old Pāhoa man with four crimes for an incident on a Hele-On bus.

On Monday (April 25) around 8 p.m., Puna patrol officers responded to a call aboard a Hele-On bus in the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision. Responding officers learned that an intoxicated man had caused a disturbance on the bus as it was on its route. As the bus driver attempted to call 911, the suspect allegedly grabbed the mobile phone from the driver’s hand to prevent him from completing the call. The suspect exited the bus with the phone and fled the area. A short time later, police arrested the man, identified as Aina Kealoha Cachero.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigation Section charged Cachero with second-degree robbery (a Class B felony), interference with the operator of a public transit vehicle (a Class C felony), interference with reporting an emergency or crime (a petty misdemeanor) and disorderly conduct (a petty misdemeanor).

Cachero was held at the police cellblock in lieu of $7,500 until his initial court appearance on April 27.
(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Letters — Medical Marijuana Program Is Under Attack

Image courtesy of Salem News

Medical cannabis patients need to immediately and decisively take action to a proposed bill which could gut the state medical cannabis program and possibly disqualify more than 97% of the patients currently with blue cards.

No one, including advocates in the medical cannabis community, thought that SB 1458 which would have established state compassion centers (dispensaries) could become an absolute nightmare.  Yet legislators, unresponsive to the expressed interests of patients, are currently modifying the original bill so dramatically that if passed and signed by the governor it will be the death knell to Hawai’i’s medical cannabis program.

During the past two months patients and advocacy organizations and groups from all over the state have submitted thoughtful testimony and testified before the legislative committees for a number of medical cannabis bills that would have eased the burden of growing and providing for patient needs.  Only one bill is still under consideration.

SB 1458 when first passed in the Senate in February would have provided for six compassion centers on the Big Island.  Certainly, it was not a perfect bill but with some amendments it could have helped patients with safe access and a reliable source to cannabis medicine. Read more

Missing People — Zoe Domizio Was Last Seen In Kea’au Friday

(Media release) —
Big Island police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 19-year-old Pāhoa woman who was reported missing.

Zoe Domizio is described as Caucasian, about 5-foot-9, between 210 and 230 pounds with shoulder-length black hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion.

She was last seen in Kea’au on Friday (April 22) around 2 p.m. She may be in the company of two other females and may be in the Keaukaha area of Hilo.

Police ask that anyone who may have seen Domizio call Detective Reed Mahuna at (808) 961-2384.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 in Hilo or (808) 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.
(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Waimea News — Explanation Of Mauna Kea Summit Administrative Rules Process On Community Association’s Agenda May 5

(Media release) — The 2010 Hawai’i State Legislature authorized the University of Hawai’i to develop and adopt Administrative Rules for public and commercial activities in the UH Management Area on Mauna Kea.  This process will formalize many of the operational guidelines already in effect in the summit region and bring them into conformance with adjoining Natural Area Reserve and Forest Reserve rules.  The primary focus of the rules will be to protect natural and cultural resources and promote public safety.

To begin public outreach on this process, Hawai’i Island planner Jeff Melrose, under contract to the Office of Mauna Kea Management, will share information on current public and commercial use of the UH Management Area and look for input from the community on related issues during Waimea Community Association’s next Town Meeting at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, May 5, 2011 in Waimea School cafeteria.

This is a very preliminary session; draft rules and formal public hearings to adopt proposed rules are not expected until very late in 2011 or early 2012.

Also on the agenda will be introduction of the new Parker Ranch CEO Dutch Kuyper. Read more

Guest Column — Regarding Island Naturals’ Purchase Of The Old Sugihara House In Pahoa

Island Naturals has purchased the old Sugihara house in Pahoa. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

By Russell Ruderman

Island Naturals purchased the lot next to our Pahoa store, formerly the Sugihara home. We are removing the house and expanding our parking lot, which is our limiting factor for the store. As any customer will tell you, the parking lot is not only too small, but very inconveniently designed also. Currently, there are only 16 parking spaces in our lot. After the expansion, we will have approximately 35 spaces and a logical flow pattern.

Unlike the Joni Mitchell song, although we are ‘putting up a parking lot’, we are preserving paradise! The back portion of the lot is a beautiful and unique garden area where anthuriums were grown in the shade of hapuu.  We are keeping this intact, fencing it for protection, and will be adding an herb garden for our kitchen’s fresh herbs and vegetables.

Ironically, there was a rumor going around that this garden area was to be paved (not true) , and someone snuck in there a month ago and stole most of the anthuriums which have grown there under natural shade for decades.  Fortunately the hapuu are mostly intact, and we will replant some of the lost anthurium. I hope to post a sign describing the lovingly tended garden that has been there for so long, and the living shade technique used to shelter them.

If the public proves respectful enough to allow this (I’m such an optimist!), we plan on opening this area as a park-like setting for the public to enjoy. Possibly a few picnic tables there, or maybe just a walk-through for the pleasant, historic shaded experience. It’s quite nice back there. (I’m happy to show you this at your convenience.)

FYI Mrs. Sugihara, a familiar figure and well-loved Pahoa resident, is now over 90 years old and living in Hilo.

(Russell Ruderman is the owner of Island Naturals Markets, which has advertised with Big Island Chronicle since its inception in December 2008.)

Guest Column — Déjà Vu All Over Again

Pete Hoffmann

By Pete Hoffmann

On 19 April, the Council’s Agricultural, Water and Energy Sustainability Committee recommended approval of the long-awaited Agricultural Development Plan (ADP).  Prepared by the Kohala Center, the ADP is really not a plan – as Mr. Pilago correctly reminded us.  The document the Council considered contains no specifics regarding implementation but is rather a collection of ideas and concepts that address a number of varied aspects related to the County’s agricultural capabilities.  Regardless what we want to call it, the ADP is very well done in my opinion and should prove a useful guide and reference for many years.

So what’s the problem, you might ask?  The problem raised by the administration’s support for this ADP is similar to countless other instances that the current and previous administrations have presented to the residents of this County:  it is remarkably long on words and ideas but discouragingly short on resources.  The plan details exactly the issues and the possible solutions.  Anyone reading the ADP cannot help but appreciate the great potential this County possesses in our agricultural sector.  Page after page of the ADP clearly explains the situation and the reasonable suggestions that must be implemented if our agricultural potential is to be fully realized.

No one disputes these possibilities, therefore, I think it is reasonable to ask where are the resources to activate the ADP?  Where in the Mayor’s budget submission do we see some recognition of the importance that should be accorded to the ADP?  Read more

Kona News — ‘Women in Transition Returning To College’ Seminar Is In Kealakekua June 4

(Media release) — Interested in going back to school or work? A “Women in Transition” seminar will be held Saturday, June 4 from 8 am to noon at the UH Center, West Hawaii, in Kealakekua. The keynote speaker will be Jeanne Hartney, Kealakehe High School guidance counselor. Jeanne will share her experiences as a woman returning to college after a long absence working and raising a family. Breakout sessions will include successful job searching strategies and job interview techniques, starting a small business of your own, navigating the actual college admission and registration process, exploring online classes or career training, and understanding the personal and family issues to consider when making a transition. Attendees will have an opportunity to take a short career inventory questionnaire, visit a free interview clothing boutique, and learn more about educational and training options available in West Hawaii.

This event is sponsored by the American Association of University Women Kona Branch, Hawaii Community College, and the University of Hawaii Center West Hawaii. Admission is free but registration is required.  For a complete list of seminar sessions or to register, please contact Laurel Gregory at (808) 322-4858 or by e-mail at lgregory@hawaii.edu.
(Submitted by Debbie Hecht.)

Kea’au News — Seed Exchange In Honor Of Mother’s Day On May 8

(Media release) — Spring is here and it is a good time to plant a garden.

In line with the organization’s mission to promote self-sufficiency and sustainable living, the Grassroots Community Development Group, based in Kea`au, is organizing a community Seed Exchange to be held on Sunday, May 8, 2011 at the Kea’au Youth Business Center (KYBC). This is to celebrate mother’s day by honoring our mother earth’s bounty.

Community members, gardeners, and farmers are invited to stop by between 10am to 12noon to share seeds and growing tips with fellow plant enthusiasts. All seeds at the event are given freely or traded. Please bring pre-cleaned, pest-free, GMO free and non-invasive material. Seed donations prior to the event are welcome as well.

For more information or to pre-arrange seed drop off, please contact Lily at KYBC at (808) 966-6354 or (808) 938-2387.

(Submitted by Lily Harris.)