Puna News — 65-Year-Old Pahoa Motorcyclist Dies At Leilani Estates Intersection

(Media release) —  A 65-year-old Pahoa man died Thursday (November 29) from injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle/motorcycle crash at the intersection of Route 130 and Leilani Avenue in P?hoa.

Responding to a 3:34 p.m. call, Puna patrol and Traffic Enforcement Unit officers determined that the 65-year-old man was operating a 2003 Suzuki motorcycle and traveling north on Route 130 when a 1999 Lexus multi-purpose vehicle being operated by a 66-year-old P?hoa man failed to yield the right of way and made a left turn onto Leilani Avenue.

The motorcycle operator was not wearing a helmet and was dead at the scene.

The driver of the Lexus was not injured. His wife, a 64-year-old woman, went to the Hilo Medical Center by private vehicle and was treated and released with minor injuries.

It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved.

The motorcycle operator was taken to Hilo Medical Center and officially pronounced dead at 9:19 p.m.

The name of the motorcycle operator is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.

Traffic Enforcement Unit Officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone with information about the crash call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119.

This is the 37th traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with 19 at this time last year.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Hawaii News — $3.7 Million In Capital Improvement Funds Headed To Hilo Medical Center

 Today Governor Neil Abercrombie announced the release of more than $3.7 million for capital improvement projects (CIPs) at Hilo Medical Center.

“On behalf of the Board of HHSC’s East Hawaii Region, I want to express my appreciation for the Governor’s release of funds that will enable Hilo Medical Center to address critically needed repairs,” said Howard Ainsley, HHSC East Hawaii Regional CEO.  “Our facility is more than 25 years old and aspects of the its infrastructure and equipment are in need of upgrades to be operational.”

Ainsley notes that in addition to the cumulative years of insufficient CIP funding, numerous infrastructure improvement projects have become more urgent.  For example,  replacing the air handling system’s 25-year old chiller pipes will prevent a loss of air conditioning for the hospital should the aged pipes fail.  Similarly, the hospital will benefit from replacement of a non-operational washing machine that can no longer generate sufficiently high temperatures to sanitize laundry.

“The fact that medical equipment used for diagnosis and treatment has advanced dramatically in the last quarter century cannot be overlooked from a CIP planning standpoint.  Today’s technologies place ever greater demand on the hospital’s electrical infrastructure. This is just one factor in the need to continually invest in the infrastructure of our public hospitals and draws ever higher electrical loads on the hospital’s electrical system is another factor in the need to continually upgrade HMC’s facility systems,” Ainsley said.

Funds for improvements to the hospital’s campus such as re-designing the parking lot will make HMC safer for patients and visitors.  Improvements such as a masonry fence around HMC’s Hale Ho’ola Behavioral Health Unit will increase the security and privacy of patients.

 

Allotment of funds for the following projects at Hilo Medical Center were identified by the state Legislature and approved by the Governor:

 

•       $1,052,000 – Construction and required works of art to renovate the acute care hospital at Hilo Medical Center, including renovations to bathrooms with leaky fixtures and cracked shower tiles, replacement of inoperable and corroded facility doors, sound masking to reduce noise, and other repairs as necessary

•       $728,000 – Design and construction for the replacement of the medical center’s atrium walls and roof, which need to be repaired to address the water leakage causing damage to the hospital interior

•       $650,000 – Planning, design and construction to repair leaking roofs of the West Wing, Hospital Cottage and acute hospital

•       $350,000 – Design and construction to replace chiller pipes that are more than 25 years old to prevent loss of air conditioning for the hospital

•       $235,000 – Parking lot improvements/renovations, such as re-designation of parking to accommodate patient and visitors’ needs, signage, fencing and lighting

•       $233,000 – Materials abatement, relocation of utilities, and demolition of an old two-story building on the campus that has partially collapsed, resulting in a potential fire hazard and an obstacle to the helipad adjacent to this structure

•       $200,000 – Construction to bring existing storage tanks into compliance with new EPA regulatory standards; project includes construction of a concrete footing, metal roof overhang, and installation of new chain link fences and gates

•       $160,000 – Equipment to replace an existing washer, which is more than 25 years old and is no longer operable

•       $134,000 – Design and construction to replace existing chain link fence with a higher masonry fence that will increase security for the behavioral health unit and additional privacy for patients

Submitted by Aileen Jervis.

Volcano News — Jagger Museum Overlook Is One Of The Best Eruption Viewing Spots

NPS Photo/Mark Wasser. People enjoying evening views of Halema’uma’u Crater from Jaggar Museum overlook.

(Media release) — The narrow streams of lava that reached the ocean last weekend are flowing several hundred yards outside of the park’s easternmost boundary, over private land closer to Kalapana.

Park officials do not encourage hikers to access the flow from the end of Chain of Craters Road. The trek is an extremely arduous and grueling hike over hardened lava at least 10 miles round trip. For information on observing lava from Kalapana, call the County hotline, (808) 961-8093.

“The best and closest place to observe a volcanic eruption within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at present is from Jaggar Museum overlook, and other vantage points at the summit of K?lauea that provide views of  Halema‘uma‘u Crater,” said Chief Ranger Talmadge Magno.

During daylight, the robust plume of volcanic gas is a constant and dramatic reminder of the molten rock churning in a lava lake approximately 100 feet beneath the crater floor. After sunset, Halema‘uma‘u continues to thrill visitors and park staff with a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and the plume as it billows into the night sky.

The park has increased staffing at Jaggar Museum to assist the many visitors drawn to Halema‘uma‘u, which has been erupting consistently since the crater became active again in March 2008.

Nevertheless, hundreds of visitors venture to the end of Chain of Craters Road, hoping to hike out to the coastal flow originating from Pu‘u ‘?’? vent in the remote East Rift Zone, not realizing the distance or hazards involved.

“We don’t want people to be disappointed, and we especially don’t want people to get hurt,” Magno said. “While the historic flows covering the end of Chain of Craters Road are well worth a visit during the day, hiking all the way out to the ocean entry from the park side and leaving the park to cross private party isn’t something we recommend,” he said.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/havo. For webcams and daily K?lauea status updates, visit the USGS HVO website, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

(Submitted by Jessica Ferracane.)

Guest Column — Against Geothermal In Puna

By Carley Fonville, MA ODT

Why is geothermal drilling in Puna so unacceptable?  It is very different from drilling in California, Iceland, and other places where there is steam.  Here, the drilling goes into an active volcano.  The exploratory drilling, which is the most dangerous phase of the process, makes money whether or not any successful wells are tapped.  Water has to be put into the ground to make steam from lava, which also releases toxic gases.  Geothermal expansion poses an extreme danger for Puna residents.   Read more

Puna News — Highway 130 Closure After Crash In Leilani Estates Area

There is apparently a fatal car crash that occurred at the intersection of Leilani Boulevard  and Highway 130, which has resulted in a  road closure and traffic backup. Facebook postings indicate a motorcycle and Honda SUV were involved.  At least one Facebook post indicates the individual killed in the wreck is a widely known individual in the community. Police issued a Nixle alert shortly after 5, telling people to avoid the area due to road closure. They have yet to issue a press release about the circumstances of the crash. — Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Hawaii News — Kona Surf Film Festival Will Be Epic Weekend Of Film, Acoustic Music, Art, Food Dec. 7-8

(Media release) — Get ready for Hawaii’s premier international surf film showcase, the Kona Surf Film Festival from Dec.r 7-8, 2012. The ninth installment of this epic weekend of film, acoustic music, art, ono grindz and drinks is set to be the biggest festival yet with surprise special guests to share in the stoke.

The Kona Surf Film Festival showcases independent short and feature films from established and emerging surf filmmakers from around the globe.  The event is a benefit for the Kona Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and N? Kama Kai (Children of the Sea), whose mission is to empower youth by creating ocean-based programs that target ocean safety and conservation awareness.

This year festival organizers received a record number of film submissions including American, Australian, European and locally produced works.

“I’m so stoked to be gearing up for our 9th year,” Festival founder and program director Chad Campbell said.  “It seems like each year we get more films, more art, more people, and always have a great time.”

The 2012 Festival will again present a sustainable art fair showcasing planet-friendly local art, design, fashion, jewelry and surf equipment and accessories.  Art installations and an alternative surf movie screen will also feature as part of the line-up.

Opening up the Festival on Friday, Dec. 7 is soulful Hawaiian musician Paula Fuga and on Saturday, Dec. 8, the opening act will be Hawaii Island’s own rising star Kimie Miner.

Visit www.konasurffilmfestival.org for the complete list of films and information.

The 2012 Kona Surf Film Festival will benefit the Kona Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and N? Kama Kai.

The film festival will take place at  the Pavilion at The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, Kohala Coast, Hawaii. Ticket details: Adults $20 door/$17 pre, Groms (kids 14 and under) $15 door/$11 pre, Little Ones free. Two day passes available for $30 and $20 for groms (online only). Online sale at www.konasurffilmfestival.org ends Dec. 4.

Bring your own beach chair and blankets for films shown under the stars, and bring a sweater as it may get a little chilly!

Barbecued meals and beer available for purchase.  No coolers please.

Take advantage of Mauna Lani Bay’s exclusive Kona Surf Film Festival room rates starting from $185 per night. Contact (800) 367-2323 or visit  www.maunalani.com

Founded in 2003 by Campbell, the Kona Surf Film Festival celebrates the art of surfing.  Campbell, a surfer, filmmaker and editor himself, has always held a passion for film-making and the surfing lifestyle.  He wanted to use that passion to bring the community together to participate in the long-held tradition of surfers watching surf films on the big screen.

(Submitted by Bree Dallwitz.)

Island Events — What’s Going On In Volcano In The Next Month

(Editor’s note: Following are activities and events slated for Volcano Art Center Gallery and Volcano Art Center Niaulani Campus in the next month.)
Mondays, December 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31  9:30AM
Niaulani Nature Walk – Free Guided Rain Forest Tour in Volcano. This one-hour nature walk travels through a lush portion of an old-growth Hawaiian rain forest on an easy, 1/7-mile loop trail. The walk introduces individuals, families, and groups to the native plants and birds of Volcano. Guides focus not only on the biological, ecological, and geological features of the area, but also the cultural usages of flora and fauna by native Hawaiians. Offered every Monday at VAC’s Niaulani Campus, 19-4074 Old Volcano Rd. in Volcano Village. Free; donations welcome. Call (808) 967-8222 for more information.

Fridays, December 7, 14, 21, 28  11:00AM – 1:00PM
Aloha Fridays. Every Friday, a free hands-on demonstration lesson is given in a cultural craft that will vary from week to week. Held at VAC Gallery porch in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. All events are free (donations welcome); park entrance fees apply. Call 967-8222 for more information.

Saturday, December 15   10:30AM – 11:30AM
Na Mea Hawai`i Hula Kahiko Performance presents Kahula `O Nawahine Noho Pu`ukapu under the direction of kumu hula Ana Nawahine Kahoopii.
This outdoor presentation takes place rain or shine at the hula platform located near VAC Gallery. The audience is encouraged to bring sitting mat and sun/rain gear. On the same day, there are hands-on cultural demonstrations from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm at VAC Gallery porch. Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. All events are free (donations welcome); park entrance fees apply.

(Submitted by Sarah Ferreira, Paradise PR.)

Hawaii News — Eight People Face Federal Charges For Illegal Gambling

(Media release) — The Hawaii Police, IRS, and FBI arrested seven Big Island residents this morning without incident on federal charges relating to an alleged illegal gambling business.
Arraignments are tomorrow in Honolulu U.S. District Court.
“The FBI would like to acknowledge the Hawaii Police Department and the IRS for their outstanding investigative actions that led to today’s arrests,” said FBI special agent Tom Simon.
Those arrested were Eric Ford, Marlo Banasan, Matthew Phillips, Kendale Limahai, Robert Bland, Jonah Yardley, and Trevor Carter. Barbara Ford was served a “penal summons” to appear in Federal Court for her arraignment on the charges in the indictment.
“The Hawaii Police, the IRS and the FBI remain committed to dismantling organized crime on the Big Island for the greater good of the local citizens,” Simon  said.
“This case began with some great investigative work from the Hawaii Police, and we were proud to supplement their efforts with federal law enforcement resources,” he said.

Talking About The New Puna Chapter Of Royal Order Of Kamehameha And Their Showcase In The Pahoa Holiday Parade Saturday

Puna News — Puna Pono Alliance To Host Geothermal Related Meeting Thursday

(Media release) — The Puna Pono Alliance invites the general public to attend another exciting and informational Community Meeting on Thursday, November 29 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Akebono Theatre, 15-2942 Pahoa Village Road, Pahoa.

We have a few great speakers scheduled and are expecting another large turnout, so get there early to make sure you get a seat. The focus of this meeting will be to discuss protecting Puna from further geothermal exploitation and industrialization.

Speakers include:

Palikapu Dedman, President of The Pele Defense Fund will speak on the impact of geothermal development on Hawaiian Religious Beliefs and Cultural Practices, Act 55, and some of the other issues we are facing.

Harry Kim, former mayor and long time civil defense director, will talk about Act 97 which repealed the geothermal sub zones and stripped the county of geothermal permitting. All permits to drill are now granted by the state; the county has been taken out of the loop. Harry will explain what that means and how it affects us. The Puna Pono Alliance is investigating how this can be repealed or changed so that the community protection given in the establishment of the sub zones can be restored. He will also speak on Act 55 – Whats happening with the PLDC and what the community of greater Hawaii can do about this.

Dominic Yagong, current Chairman of the Hawaii County Council will speak on Bill 292 the Drilling Ordinance, the health study proposal he put forward at Puna Pono Alliance request, the PLDC, and the importance of home rule for the county.

Sydney Singer,  a medical anthropologist will speak about the health impacts of Low Frequency Noise and Vibroacoustic Disease and how geothermal may be involved.

We will also discuss Peter Adler’s panel to determine what additional studies need to be done if any, and the Dec. 6th Windward Planning Commission hearing regarding rules for the Geothermal Asset Fund.  We will open the meeting up to questions from the community after the speakers finish their presentations.

This will be the last Puna Pono Alliance meeting for the 2012. Please join us!

For more information, contact  Barb Cuttance, telephone  808 339 4344 or email punapono@gmail.com.

 (Submitted by Barb Cuttance.)

Guest Column — About The Nov. 19 Board Of Ethics Hearing

(Editor’s note:  Following is a detailed account of the Nov. 19 Board of Ethics meeting.  The author of this article submitted one of the petitions and sometimes contributes to Big Island Chronicle.  As such, she does not claim to be writing an impartial account of the proceedings and has also taken the liberty of commenting on them.  The author also commented on an ethics complaint brought forward by the editor and publisher of this newspaper against the Hawaii County Clerk.  For additional information and to hear testimony given at the meeting, go to the links to videos of the meeting, newspaper account, county ethics commission minutes, and ethics code posted at the end of the article.)

 

By Cheryl King

Attending were Commission Chair John Dill and Vice-Chair Bernard Balsis, Jr. and Commissioners. Arnie Henricks, and Glen Hisashima.  Also present were Corporation Counsel Attorney Rene Schoen and Ethics Commission Secretary Mary Fugio.

The Hawaii Island County Board of Ethics dealt with three matters at this meeting.

Petition  2012-05:  Conflict of Interest: Electrical Supervisor / PV side business

The first was a request by an electrical supervisor (no name ever stated)  who was seeking the Board’s opinion as to whether or not his side business that “does wholesale, retail design, and installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems for family, friends and referrals” poses a conflict of interest.  Although he asked for a “closed” hearing, this request was denied by the Board with two commissioners abstaining and two voting no.  No reasons were given by the commissioners for their decision.  Because the commissioners denied his request for a closed hearing, the petitioner withdrew his request for an opinion and said he would seek legal counsel instead.

 Commentary:  The supervisor did the right thing by seeking an opinion on this.  On the surface, without knowing more about this, it might appear to the average person that there could easily be a conflict of interest if the electrical supervisor’s or other county department needed to approve plans developed by the side business.  Although I can understand why he might have wanted to keep his business conflict private in a closed hearing, as a member of the public or a county worker with a similar dilemma, I would have wanted to know what the Commission decided and why.  As it is, this supervisor, for whatever reason, was not able to get the advice he needed.  I cannot help but wonder if more members on this commission might have provided a different outcome.  With two members abstaining (for personal conflicts I assume) and two voting no, he did not receive adequate consideration of his request.   It seems that the fifth member of the commission, former Vice-Chair David Heaukulani, resigned at some point.

 

Many of us wondered why the Commissioners didn’t give reasons for abstaining.

Petition 2012-03  Campaigning on County Time
An article in West Hawaii Today by Nancy Cook-Lauer prompted this complaint when I  (Cheryl King) learned that county workers reported that they had attended a “Union informational” meeting, sometimes in county buildings, and that Article 15, Section 2-83 of the County Code specifically prohibited campaigning on county time and in county buildings.  Although I was aware that the Union Contract allowed workers to attend Union meetings on county time and that the State had decided on their level that it was legal (but unethical said their Ethics commissioners), they did not have a clause prohibiting the campaigning.  Because the county did, I had hoped that the Commissioners would try to put a stop to the practice.  Unfortunately, they did not.

On the grounds that it was “legal” for the Union to have whatever kind of “informational” meeting it wanted and that the county workers did not know they were going to a meeting at which campaigning would take place, the Board voted  in favor of dismissing the complaint.  With his dissenting vote, only Ethics Commission Chair John Dill did not swallow that argument.

He stated “This board has no jurisdiction over union activities.  However, county employees who are subject to the county code of ethics and are union workers must abide by the county code of ethics.”

 

Commissioner Bernard Balsis, Jr. suggested that perhaps the League of Women Voters, which issued testimony in support of enforcing the Ethics Code at this complaint’s initial hearing, and others might put pressure on the Union to end this practice.  He also suggested that when the current UPW and HGEA contracts run out, the county negotiate to bring them more in line with those of the police (SHOPCO) and fire fighter unions which prohibit campaigning.

Commissioner Henricks offered no personal opinion as to whether this practice was unethical, steadfastly saying, as he did in the initial hearing, that this was a Union matter and that they had no jurisdiction.

 

Commentary:

I was obviously disappointed at the outcome and that the Ethics Commission as a body did not seem inclined to lend their personal efforts toward ending this practice in the future.  Just because they were advised that it was legal, does not make it ethical.    A forceful statement to that effect would have been a deterrent to those union endorsed candidates for office who agree to attend these Union sponsored events on county time.

I was disappointed that the Commission and its Corporation Counsel did not explain why they decided to follow the state rulings on this matter, given that we do have a clause in our ethics code prohibiting campaigning on county time and the state did not.  Given the paucity of information that was presented to the audience in the discussions, this was not a good learning experience.
One reason I was finally motivated to file my complaint was that most of the people I queried as to their opinion on the matter were vehemently opposed to this practice.  However, there was one who shrugged it off and commented, “This is Hawaii”.  I had hoped to prove him wrong.

Although the Board of Ethics ruled against this petition and we lost this battle, I think we can win the war by demanding that our political candidates adhere to the county code of ethics or face our censure.

Sound level:  When I commented that the audience was having trouble hearing the commissioners, the Corporation Counsel asked the Commissioners if they could hear, rather than the audience.  Curious!    We can only assume that the commissioners have not had the same practice as the county council members ,who use the same equipment,  in making their voices audible.

Petition # 2012-04
Tiffany Edwards Hunt, Editor of the Big Island Chronicle, submitted this petition, saying that a county officer “has been very selective in dissemination of public information and showed preferential treatment to certain reporters” (while stonewalling others) “in violation of Section 2-83(a)(3) of the Code of Ethics, that all persons shall be treated in a courteous, fair and impartial manner.

Hunt’s petition gave a detailed account of these instances which have already been chronicled on BIC and dealt primarily with her not receiving election related press releases or having access to the County Clerk for election information due to a variety of circumstances.   These complaints are detailed in testimony at the Ethics Commission meeting of Oct. 10 and recorded word for word in the minutes.
http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/1/doc/63207/Page1.aspx

Ernie Henricks, the retired judge on the Commission, felt that individuals (i.e. the County Clerk) had a right NOT to speak.  He focused on whether or not Hunt felt she was being singled out personally by such treatment and if so, felt they would have a duty to look into it.   However, Hunt commented that Sherry Bracken and Dave Corrigan had received similar treatment, although she did feel she had been singled out too.  Mr. Henricks indicated that he was looking for a pattern of unfair treatment directed specifically at Hunt and that whatever happened to her, had been done to others.

Hunt commented that she respectfully disagreed with Henricks’ comments -that public officials “can’t just say you aren’t going to deal with them” (the media).  She felt “they at least should be given someone else to speak with-that that is just part of being in public office.”

 

Jamae Kawauchi, the County Clerk, testified that she did not feel she had singled Hunt out and that she was now receiving press releases, which Hunt confirmed.

A motion was made to dismiss this complaint and the remaining commissioners voted in favor of it.  (Dill had left the meeting during the discussion of Hunt’s petition.  He had recused himself from this discussion and voting the last time, and presumably this time, because he personally had sought an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office into Kawauchi’s operation of the county Elections Office.)

Commentary:

 

Although this issue was not discussed, it appears to me as though the county needs to accept that on-line media sources, including local news blogs, are an important source of information on an island which has no daily television news or comprehensive local radio news of significance (correct me if I am wrong-I am unaware of any.)   The on-line sources and blogs provide an immediate source of information for many of us.  These sources may not always be as “professional” as the traditional media, but they are emerging as a readily accessible, prime source of information for many of us and should not be dealt with lightly.  It is to be hoped that the county now recognizes this and that requests for information from the county departments will not be ignored.  I would hope that a single media form, filed with the mayor’s P.R. staff, would suffice to get media information from all departments.  It is counter productive for every department to have its own submission process.

I found it puzzling that it would be considered wrong to single out one person for treatment that was not appropriate, but that it would be ok if a public official treated others like that.  I was surprised that it was Commissioner (retired Judge) Henricks who told Ms. Hunt that this was the issue, and not the Corporation Counsel.  Was this advice given by Corporation Counsel in the Executive Session held after the testimony and before the rulings were issued?  Is that advice sound?  I don’t know.

LINKS TO VIDEO, NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, AND COUNTY ETHICS CODE

(Kerri Marks of OccupyHawaii filmed the procedings)
Pt. 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1IYDV624Ck

Pt. 2   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqnpHH9Te7M

 

http://westhawaiitoday.com/sections/news/local-news/union-contracts-trump-county-ethics-code.html

 

Minutes of the Ethics Commission meetings (word for word)

http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/Browse.aspx?startid=7513&dbid=1

County Code /County Code of Ethics Article 15   See section 2-83 (Fair Treatment, campaigning, etc.)
http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=32314&dbid=1

(Cheryl King lives in Kona.)

Meeting With Royal Order Of Kamehameha, About The Organization And Being In The Pahoa Holiday Parade Saturday