Guest Column — About The Shield Law, Which, After Today, Is Considered Dead

397971_2500467157608_735509950_n(Editor’s note: University of Hawaii professor Gerald Kato originally wrote the following about House Bill 622 for a Facebook group discussion labeled “Hawaii Shield Law Coalition.” His update is being republished here with permission.)

By Gerald Kato

Some thoughts on today.

The endgame for the shield law played itself out in the state Senate and House today after efforts to extend the life of the law failed.

The Senate passed a draft bill authored by Sen. Clayton Hee by a vote of 16-9. But the House hours earlier amended that bill to eliminate changes and extend the life of the shield law by two years. The net result is that there are now two different bills, and that means the bill dies Thursday.

Without legislation extending its life or making it a permanent part of Hawaii statutes, the shield law will sunset June 30, 2013. It will die a victim of Hee’s visceral disdain for the media and the failure of political will in the state Senate.

House leaders Scott Saiki and Cynthia Thielen courageously worked to amend the bill in the House to extend the existing law for two years to give parties time to take a closer look at the issues. The Senate knew of the House action but ignored pleas from shield law supporters to consider an extension amendment to reconcile the bills and keep the existing shield law alive. Instead, Hee pushed through his bill to define journalists and journalism in a narrow way, eliminate protection for non-traditional journalists and digital media publications. Hee’s bill was nothing more than an effort to replace a good law with a zombie of his own creation.

Nine senators stood against Hee’s bill. They were: Laura Thielen, Michelle Kidani, Roslyn Baker, Sam Slom, Russell Ruderman, Les Ihara, Willie Espero, Josh Green, and Clarence Nishihara.

There was a lot of fingerpointing back and forth and scratching of heads by senators about why an amendment to extend the life of the shield law never came up on the floor of the Senate. A lot of unaccountability politics in the kabuki of the Senate.

While it’s true that nothing is ever dead at the Legislature until everyone leaves the building, and maybe not even then, it is unlikely that there will be an extension to the existing shield law.

We’ll have a lot more to say about this in the days to come. But it is a shame that Hee’s antics wins out, and he kills one of the best shield laws in the country. We will have no shield law, but we must continue to have the collective will and desire to defend the First Amendment.

(Gerald Kato is a professor in the School of Communications at University of Hawaii.)

Guest Column — From IDG, making a case for geothermal

Brandt Bio Pic

Patricia Brandt

(Editor’s note: The following guest column by Patricia Brandt, of Innovations Development Group (IDG) ran in issue 6 of Big Island Chronicle, dated April 2013. Submit a viewpoint via email at

By Patricia K. Brandt

With the community and for the community. That’s the big difference with the opportunity to develop geothermal that is facing Big Island residents right now.

Over the past two years, my colleagues and I at the Innovations Development Group (IDG) have spent countless hours in discussion with members of the community. We have met over coffee in private homes, gathered in meeting rooms for pupus and drinks with tired workers at the end of long days and tiring commutes. We have held public meetings promoted in advance through advertisements, radio announcements and press releases.  The turnout, community interest and participation have been encouraging and have strengthened our resolve to tap the great gift Tutu Pele has left us in such a way that the entire community benefits.  In the Hawaiian way, where the kupuna (elder) cares for the mo’opuna (grandchild).

Broad outreach, high interest

We have been invited to speak with people at churches, to talk story with labor union members and Native Hawaiian groups, present to Rotary Clubs and Chamber of Commerce meetings. At each of these meetings, large or small, we took the pulse of the community. We listened carefully to their concerns. We listened to our kupuna explain what they still hope for and why some still worry and have doubts. We listened to the hopes and dreams of small entrepreneurs and young people who want to stay on the island and earn a living at jobs that allow them to make a contribution to the community and support their families.

The question we kept encountering was: “What will be different this time?” Read more

Hilo News — Celebrate the 2nd anniversary of ‘Stairway to Art’ Friday

images-2Stairway to Art’s 2nd Anniversary Gathering will be held at Stairway to Art gallery  at 336 Kamehameha Ave in Hilo, Friday, May 10th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Art lovers are welcome to this free event. Meet and talk story with Stairway to Art artists, including Tomàs Belsky, Ken and Rebecca Charon, Tim Freeman, Don Hirleman in spirit, Kerrie Ligatich, Steve Parente, Ria Razzauti, Catherine Robbins, Shelby Smith, Linda Stevens  and Barry Wilkinson. Art presentations and refreshments provided. — Art Farm

Transportation — Another Crash On Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road

car crash

There was yet another crash at one of the state’s most deadly intersections today. Recognize it from the photograph? That would be the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130. Hawaii Department of Transportation Hawaii District Engineer Sal Panem could not be reached Monday.  His assistant, Sterling Chow, did not return a phone message before press time. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Letters — About Monsanto and the State of Hawaii and the Tribune-Herald not publishing submitted letters

unpublishedOn Saturday, April 20th, I e-mailed the following letter to the Tribune-Herald; apparently they won’t publish it.  Hmmm:

Two weeks ago I e-mailed a timely letter (April 16th) still unpublished.  Hmm…could be a ‘menage a` trois’.  It went like this…

Is the State and MySaint (MonSanto) an item?  Beginning to look that way.  First: the State Legislature anonymously kills GMO labeling in committee.  Second: when Hawaiian activists organize a march against GMOs in Hawaii, cars are, for the first time, ticketed for parking on the grass around the Kamehameha statue. There was no other parking:   Third: Now there’s talk of evicting these activists and destroying the fine food gardens they’ve planted where there was only poorly maintained grass.

Am I alone in seeing a pattern developing?

Update: Eleven Hawaiian activists arrested:  Hawaiian food garden for the people destroyed.  All this on ceded land (not State land), during Merrie Monarch week, when we should be celebrating our cultural heritage.  The King would just cry…

Ole’ Fulks

Letters — To Mayor Kenoi, About Campaigning On County Or State Time


Dear Mayor Kenoi:

The Union of Public Workers and some units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association are currently involved in negotiating their new bargaining agreements with the state and county.

I ask that you use your authority as the “employer” of the Hawaii County workers to insert a provision in the bargaining agreement which will prohibit  UPW and HGEA from inviting county workers to “informational meetings” on county time during which campaigning takes place.  According to HRS Chapter 89-6, you have the power to do this.  “Each employer may negotiate, independently of one another, supplemental agreements that apply to their employees.”

This practice of allowing campaigning on county or state time is not an appropriate use of the taxpayer dollar nor is it ethical as it does not provide a level playing field for all candidates.

Because the state has no legislation prohibiting this this practice, it was upheld by the courts in 2010 and deemed to be legal as part of the union contract which specifies that workers are to be released for “informational meetings”.

On the other hand, Section 2-83 (b)(3) of the Hawaii County Code of Ethics specifically states that “Using County time, equipment or other facilities for private business or campaign purposes” is an example of an employee attempting “to use his position to secure or grant unwarranted privileges.., treatment.”

When it was learned that county workers were released with pay to attend a  UPW informational meeting” at which campaigning by union endorsed candidates took place, an ethics petition was filed about this practice with the Hawaii County Board of Ethics.  In its decision of Nov. 19, 2012, the Board dismissed the petition based on the state ruling and said that it was “legal” and that “county employees didn’t know they were going to a campaign event.”  Only the Ethics Commission Chair dissented, saying “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.”  Another commissioner commented that the county should negotiate with UPW and HGEA to bring them more in line with those of the police (SHOPCO) and fire fighter union (HFFA) which prohibit campaigning.

According to HRS Chapter 89-6,  you are considered to be “the public employer” of the Hawaii County workers in bargaining units.   This code also states that “each employer may negotiate, independently of one another, supplemental agreements that apply to their employees.

I ask that you work to enlist the support of the governor and other mayors to insert a clause prohibiting campaigning on county and state time in bargaining agreements.   At the very least, please negotiate a supplemental agreement with UPW and with HGEA units who have not yet signed their contracts with our County to forbid this practice and state a penalty if it happens.

I believe that it is your responsibility as Mayor to ensure adherence to the County Code.  Otherwise, we may see yet another embarrassing headline “Union contract trumps county code”.

I would appreciate a prompt reply.  I have tried to schedule an appointment over the past several weeks to discuss this with you, but now realize it is not going to happen.

Sincerely yours,

Cheryl King

Letters — From Sen. Josh Green, About Medical Marijuana In Hawaii


The medical marijuana program is important to many people in Hawaii.

I support medical marijuana, as a physician and legislator.

The program has been greatly improved in the last 48 hours with the passage of 2 bills, HB668 and SB642.

The Governor, the Chair of House Health committee, the director of Health and Director of Public safety, the Senate Public Safety and Human Service chairs and all the conferees I spoke with are all very pleased with the measures that have passed. They moved unanimously.

Access will not be diminished and in fact, has expanded greatly.

Effective 1/1/15 the program will be run by the DOH rather than the public safety department. This fundamentally changes the approach to MM… It is clearly medically focused now. It will be better embraced by physicians without the historic public safety sword of Damocles hanging over it. Read more

Letters — About Sen. Josh Green and The Marijuana Related Senate Bill 642

e5e38070ef8ef85b32e1760c2f462c99I hesitate to call him a “Doctor” because of his blatant disrespect for the medical cannabis patients in Hawaii.  To refuse to hear the bill last Friday without making these awful changes takes us back to the dark ages, and is criminal.  Hippocratic oath sir!  You are hurting people with your uncompassionate insistence in these changes.  We have been waiting 13 years for some meaningful legislation and we do not want to wait another year to start over again.

You as a doctor should know that we lack primary general care physicians in Hawaii, and most of the ones we do have are AFRAID to get involved because the Narcotics Enforcement Division’s negative treatment of cannabis recommending doctors and the amount and hassle of dealing with the paperwork involved.  Another reason is, for example, if you have Bay Clinic as your PCP, they are partly federally funded, and they are not allowed to prescribe cannabis to their patients.  If you want to keep doctors from out of state recommending cannabis, SAY THAT, don’t just generally change the laws or you will have 10,000 patients angry at you, then what will you do?

Secondly, your insistence on putting addresses on blue cards is dangerous to the patient.  We already know that NED released all patients names several years back. Now, if a sick person accidentally lost their card, whoever found it would know their address.  There is a reason the bill was written the way it was, to make up for the errors of the past.

Finally, enforcing the raising of the fee 30% is an outrageous extra taxation, aimed to penalize medial marijuana patients even more than they already are.

Please reconsider your stance on SB642, take out those changes, or if you do not, the bill is worthless and should not be passed as it is at all.  I am asking all medical cannabis patients to contact their senators and representatives, the information is located at:


Sara Steiner

Letters — To Our Legislators From Alan McNarie, Regarding HB 622

defend our free pressDear Senators and Representatives:

As a veteran freelance journalist who’s been writing for “alternative” publications for two decades, I’m appalled at the mess that Sen. Clayton Hee and and his supporters have made out of Hawai`i’s shield law. The proposed new shield law, HB 622 in its current incarnation is not fair, it’s not honorable, it’s not equitable and it’s not in the public interest. In fact, it shows a basic misunderstanding of how journalism works in this state.  You need to vote it down and start over next session.

HB 622 pretends that advertising-based  free publications such as Honolulu Weekly, the late Hawai`i Island Journal (for which I was Senior Contributing Editor) and the Big Island Chronicle (for which I now write), as well as online news  sites such as Honolulu Civil Beat and the Hawaii Independent, are not “real journalism” and don’t merit shield law protection. But in reality, such publications and Web sites have historically done a disproportionate share of the investigative journalism in this state. There are two reasons for this. First, daily newspapers, by their very nature, have to concentrate on quickly written stories about late-breaking news; the weeklies and monthlies for which I’ve written, in contrast, have time to concentrate on in-depth reporting. Second, most dailies in this state are under constant cost-cutting pressure from parent corporations that are trying to make back leveraged investments; these papers are hence perpetually understaffed and under pressure to produce maximum sales with minimal costs. Most alt publications and Web sites, in contrast, are locally owned, and their owners started them not primarily to make a profit, but because they perceived a community need that was not being met. They’ll go after an important story even it’s not cost-effective, because the community needs to know.  Read more

Letters — From Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, Regarding Kohanaiki


I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some factual background information and to update you on the status of the Kohanaiki Shoreline Park, which will soon be dedicated to the County of Hawai‘i.

The park has been completed and the bathrooms and showers are now open to the public.  A new public access suitable for vehicular use has been completed from Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, and then continues laterally along the shoreline going south to and beyond all the popular surfing spots and camping beaches.

Road and Parking:  The roadway and the parking areas are constructed according to a “Good Faith Agreement” negotiated in 2003 and under the direction of DLNR, the Army Corps of Engineers and the SMA permit.  The jeep trail was specifically required by DLNR to be converted to pedestrian access once the park road was complete to protect the beach and oceanfront from the negative impact of vehicular use.  Public access continues along the entire shoreline, with vehicular access to the turn-around south of the main bay, and from there, pedestrian (and bicycle) access to the National Park border along the Ala Kahakai trail.

Read more

Hawaii News — Kohanaiki: Is the battle over?

kohanaiki 1(Editor’s note: The following story was the main story in Big Island Chronicle’s most recent print edition.  Issue 8 is currently being circulated. Photos courtesy of Janice Palma Glennie.)

By Alan D. McNarie

Sometime within the next month, the County of Hawai`i will open its newest park. Kohanaiki–also known as “Pine Trees,” because someone, long ago, thought a clump of mangroves resembled pines— on the Kohala side of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park on the Kona Coast, has been a popular surfing and camping spot for generations. Zoned in the 1980s for mega-resort including 800 high-rise hotel rooms and 1000 condos and homes, which were bitterly resisted by the community, the coast is now becoming a park as a result of a 2003 compromise agreement brokered by the administration of former Mayor Harry Kim.

kohanaiki 3Under the agreement, the developer will deed 108 acres of land along the coast (part of which will actually be under the new golf course) to the county and construct a park with restrooms, showers, camping for up to 80 people a night, and a new access road system to replace the rugged jeep trail that has supplied public access for decades. In exchange, the developer gets to build a much-scaled-down community called Kohanaiki Shores, with and a golf course, club house, swimming pool-spa and a maximum of 500 homes on one-acre lots After some long economy-related delays, those plans are now coming to fruition: the park restrooms are now open and the company has begun selling lots. kohanaiki 2Kim recently got a call from County Councilor Karen Eoff—who, like her predecessor Angel Pilago, first came into the public eye for their efforts in fighting the original Kohanaiki resort—inviting Kim to attend the formal signing over of the park to the county. Kim said he was told that was likely to happen at a County Council session in Kona around the first of May. Eoff, when contacted by the Chronicle, was less specific. But she said the signing ceremony was likely to take place within the next month, with a formal park dedication following soon after. Read more

***Commentary*** — On The Quest To Find Diamonds In The Poop

glossary_brilliant(Editor’s note: The following editorial was written for the latest print edition of Big Island Chronicle, issue number 8, which is being circulated now.)

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

The last time I wrote, I was my professing my newfound philosophy to find diamonds out of the poop.  I had more problems with publishing even after I wrote that editor’s note. But still I prevailed and was able to put together Issue 8. I took a lot of time last edition sharing every detail of that arduous journey.  Suffice it to say, each edition, and especially the last, is a personal triumph.  My great uncle Glen was a clay pigeon shooter who had two sayings pasted to the dashboard of his GMC Suburban. “Always do what you say you’re going to do” and “Keep your eyes on the target.”  UnknownThose are personal mantras to me, with my uncle Glen’s twang ringing in my ears as I recall them. In the time since I last wrote I have lost of a couple of advertisers, one of them more significant than the other.  I’ll tell you one of them — HELCO cried poverty.  “Tiffany, There have been new developments since we last advertised with your publication.  Due to a combination of the high cost of energy and a continuing poor economy which has strained the budgets of our customers, in an effort to contain costs HELCO is embarking on an austerity program in which we are cutting all non-essential expenses in 2013. Unfortunately, informational advertising is one of those areas where we are pulling back,” Curt Beck wrote on March 11.  Then there is the significant advertiser, which is another story.  And some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, I don’t know, I guess it’s not really fit for print.  That’s part of the lesson I’m learning.  In the time since I ventured from reporter to publisher, first on the web and now with the addition of print, I have had the uncomfortable occasion of dealing with upset advertisers.  Actually, come to think of it, it’s mostly been this one particular advertiser who has given me the most grief.  There was someone several years back who decided to pull his ad off the website because he didn’t like that a certain company had also opted to support Big Island Chronicle.  I think that is the reason why this significant advertiser has taken a walk — he hasn’t bent my ear on why exactly, but my hunch is that it has to do with the geothermal related advertising and the fact that I have not taken a definitive stance as a publication against the technology.

All this gives me pause for thought about my views views and how advertisers should or should not affect content.  I recognize that I have a reporter’s mind.  But it is a whole different world trying to be the editor and publisher dealing with the business side of printing a newspaper. A reporter is trained to be a critical thinker, and to always seek objectivity. Naturally, we are human and have subjective tendencies, but the craft lies in setting aside personal views in order to properly report on a subject. Occasionally one’s views cannot be set aside and that either calls for walking away from a story, or being honest with readers and properly labeling the writing as an opinion or commentary. Advertising and marketing is in a whole different realm of newspapering. And historically the advertisers and reporters aren’t to mingle.  So, to be the editor and publisher that has to handle all aspects of newspapering, it is extremely difficult to wear the different hats.  Read more

Letters — From Harry Kim, Seeking ‘Independent Research’ On The Varying Geothermal-Related Positions

Aloha Ms. Tiffany Edwards,

I would like to thank you for your in depth coverage of the many issues concerning Hawaii.  Your April issue which contained my comments on Act 97 regarding the governance of geothermal development for this state was well done and very appreciated.  The response and comment by Mililani Trask was also welcome as a countering viewpoint.  The issue of geothermal I believe is a very important and critical one for Hawaii’s people.  Miss Trask’s comments on my letter pointed out her interpretation of the information I provided.  Her comments stated various areas that my information was not of truth.  Rather than my responding to her and placing your readers in confusion as to what is truth, I am asking that you as editor of the Big Island Chronicle do independent research as to the points of differences.  This is so very important to do because as stated, the geothermal issue will continue to become an even more important one in the future, and people’s position should be based on an objective interpretation of information.  I do believe that most if not all of the points Miss Trask has pointed out are available online and are recorded, and especially those relating to legislative actions.  I do have copies of my testimonies and will gladly provide them to you if needed.
Thank you for considering this request, to do this for Hawaii.
Much aloha,
Harry Kim