Commentary — Reminder: Council Members To Take Up Bryson’s Cinders Development Tuesday

Those of you who live in and are interested in Puna might want to take some time off from your job or stray from your routine tomorrow. At 9:30 a.m., council members will take up Bills 119 and 120 at Planning Committee level. I will be heading down to Council Chambers to testify that council members should tighten up the conditions of the proposed legislation to make way for the new shopping and medical center development where Bryson’s Cinders is located. I want the State of Hawaii to follow through with its promises to improve the intersections of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130 and Kahakai Boulevard and Highway 130, which were made when legislation making way for Woodland Center passed through council members hands. As you know, those intersection improvements haven’t been made, despite those promises, and I don’t believe we should be allowing any more development until we see the improvements. I urge you to join me in testifying tomorrow. If you cannot get away from prior commitments, please email your thoughts to council members at counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us. I know for sure that our Kona council members, our Hamakua councilwoman and our Kohala councilwoman are reading the fine print and have noticed the condition that allows this development to precede the intersection improvements. It is imperative that the legislation be amended. I am hopeful the Council majority will do the right thing and look out for the public safety of the Puna constituency… Still, I want to take the time to be at the meeting tomorrow to put my plea on the record and actually watch them do the right thing. I also hope that Puna Councilman Zendo Kern will take my advice and recuse himself from voting on the legislation. He accepted campaign funds from the developer’s consultant. When I testified and put this on the record a couple of weeks ago, he made a big deal about the fact that it is not against the Ethics Code for him to accept campaign funds and vote on the measure. I say, council members should change the Ethics Code to state that those who receive campaign funds from developers or individuals should recuse themselves from voting on legislation related to those developers and individuals. Yeah, it was $200 the developer’s consultant donated to Zendo, and some might think of that as a cheap date, but there is an appearance of impropriety for him to be voting on this legislation having accepted the campaign funds — especially if he votes in favor and does not introduce any suggested amendments tightening up the conditions to ensure public safety first. This is my opinion, and others may think differently. But this is what I will be putting on the record.

Letters — Seeking Background On The Big Island’s Shift To Voting By District

My name is Jonathan Jay, and I have a public affairs call-in radio show at KKCR 91.9fm (Kaua`i Community Radio, www.kkcr.org).  I am doing research about district elections for Kaua`i County Council.

Over here on Kaua`i, our County Charter Review Commission is taking a look at moving from away from at-large voting for county council to voting by district as a way of electing our County Councilmembers. Kaua`i is considering a district plan much like the one Big Island adopted back in the 90’s — equal population districts for all of our Council members with one vote per voter.  Since you now have over 15 years experience in the real world with actual districts on an island community like what we are contemplating hypothetically, we now turn to you for some answers 🙂
1) What were the motivations at the time for BI to move equal population districts? Why the push to move to districts away from the previous 6 residency districts/3 at-large council?
2) Can you recall if there was debate at the time re: other solutions vs. the solution you eventually chose?

3) When did Big Island move from At-large to voting by district?  What year was this?  How did it occur?  How close was the vote?
4) What were elections like before, in terms of cost-to-run for council, and how have they changed since then?  Is running in a smaller district vs the whole island less costly to do?

5) Kaua`i has seven seats on our council; one of the options Kaua`i is considering is 5 districts with 2 at-large seats, another is 3 districts with 4 at-large seats and the third is 7 equal-population districts with no at-large voting.  Based on your experience on Big Island, can you comment on any of these options?

6) Have district elections been well-received by the voters?

7) What are some examples of changes having districts has brought?  Pros/Cons
8) Has having districts made it easier or harder for new faces to run for and win office?
9) Has having districts made it harder or easier for council members to come together for the good of the island (has districts fostered a more insular/provincial perspective where council members seem to only care about their district, and not the good of the whole island? ‘Horse-trading’ has been voiced as a concern about districts vs. at-large) ?
10) Is there an important point you would like to make about districts vs. at-large I have failed to ask?
Thank you for your time and any daylight you can provide.
Regards,
Jonathan Jay
808.212.7686

Puna News — Papaya Crop Destruction In Kapoho

(Media release) — Hawaii Island police have initiated a criminal property damage case in connection with the destruction of papaya trees at a farm in Puna.

Sometime between 5:30 p.m. Thursday (September 26) and 6:30 a.m. Friday (September 27), 100 papaya trees were cut down in Kapoho off Highway 132 near the 4-mile marker. The trees were 3- to 4-feet tall and valued at $3,000.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call Officer Cala Arnold at 965-2716 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 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.)

Puna News — Manslaughter And Negligent Homicide Charges For Siaku Aholelei

user5252-1380508132-media1_8ddcbf_192_240_PrsMe_(Media release) — Hawai?i Island police have charged the driver of a pickup truck involved in a fatal vehicle-bicycle crash Friday (September 27) in Puna.

At 8:30 a.m. Sunday, police charged 27-year-old Siaku L. Aholelei of Mountain View with first-degree negligent homicide and first-degree manslaughter. He is being held at the Hilo police cellblock in lieu of $275,000 bail pending his initial court hearing scheduled for Monday (September 30).

At 11:56 a.m. Friday, Aholelei was was traveling south at a high rate of speed on Highway 11 near the 8-mile marker in Kea?au when he lost control, crossed the grassy median and struck a bicycle traveling north on the shoulder of the road.

The bicyclist, 66-year-old Cenon Tranquilino A. Visaya of Kea?au, died at the scene.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Hilo News — Educational Forum on the Jones Act Reform Friday

The Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and the Conservative Forum for Hawaii are co-sponsoring an educational forum on the Jones Act,
Friday October 4, 6:00pm, at the Naniloa Hotel Crown Room in Hilo.
This event is free and open to the public.
Two distinguished speakers will be presenting:
Dr. Keli’I Akina, president of the non-partisan free-market think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, will talk on the economic aspects,
Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers Council, will talk on the national defense issues involved.
The Jones Act is a 1920 federal shipping law which affects nearly every product brought in to or out of Hawaii, by requiring all shipping between American ports be on American built, flagged and crewed vessels only. It has been haled as preserving a key American marine resource and sea-lift capability as a national defense supplement, and criticized as a 93 year old outdated law that increases the cost of living for every citizen substantially and unnecessarily.
Hawaiian politicians have lined up on both sides of the issue. In favor of preservation have been the majority of Hawaiian national legislators, including both our present Democratic US Senators and Congresswomen, and former Republican Governor Linda Lingle.
In favor of reform are former Governor Ben Cayetano (D), Congressmen Ed Case (D) and Charles Dejou (R). A recent bi-partisan Hawaii House Concurrent Resolution for reform was co-sponsored by Representatives Clifton Tsuji (D), Chair, Economic Development & Business Affairs, John M. Mizuno (D), Vice Speaker, and Cindy Evans (D), Chair, Committee on Water and Land, and Gene Ward (R), Minority Leader Emeritus and Lauren Kealohilani Cheape (R), Minority Whip.
All are invited to learn more about this non-partisan issue of great importance to every citizen.
For more information contact Conservative Forum president Walter Moe 966-5420, forumhawaii@gmail.com,  or Portuguese Chamber president Joseph Marsh 935-1865,  jmarsh@bisihi.com

Letters — Be On The Lookout For Honda Stolen Near UH Hilo

Aloha Friends,

I just had the misfortune of having my 2000 Tan Honda Civic stolen from in front of my house in Hilo next to UH Hilo. It would have happened after 7pmlast night and 11am today.  Please keep an eye out for it.

License Plate # HCS 839
VIN # 1HGEJ6671YL004760
It has small body damage around the passenger side headlight- pic attached.
Mahalo,
Justin Avery

Hawaii News — The Christies To Have Change-Of-Plea Hearings Friday

cannabis raid02

Image courtesy of Tim Wright

Change of plea hearings are set for Roger Christie and his wife Share Christie on Friday, Sept. 27, at U.S. District Court in Honolulu.  Share Christie on Thursday did not want to share specifics of her and her husband’s plea deals.

In 2010, the Christies and 12 other people presumably associated with Roger’s THC Ministry were indicted by a federal grand jury in Honolulu  on marijuana possession and drug trafficking charges.  Since  his July 8, 2010 arrest, Roger Christie has remained incarcerated and has been repeatedly denied bail.  The 13 others involved in the case have been released, pleaded to lesser charges or have had charges dismissed.

Puna News — Trees To Be Cut In Opihikao

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Arthur Johnsen art

Regarding Mark Evans’ recent plea for help saving trees from being cut in Opihikao, Evans met with Puna Councilman Zendo Kern last Friday, and Kern reportedly told Evans he believed there was a violation.  However, according to Evans, the County Planning Department, and DLNR, determined that landowner Ed Schroeder is not in any violation for cutting down trees on his property and can proceed with the tree-cutting.  Apparently, Monkeypods are considered invasive species, and are not listed in the Hawaii County Code as exceptional trees and in need of preservation.

Missing People — Richard Gomez Last Seen Entering The Water In Hilo With A Kayak Sept. 20

thumbs_richard-gomez_0(Media release) — Hawaii Island police are searching for a 48-year-old Hilo man who was reported missing.

Richard Gomez entered the water in Hilo in a rowboat at 10 a.m. Friday (Sept. 20) and has not been seen since. He may be headed for South Point.

He is described as 6-feet-tall, 175 pounds and bald with green eyes.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Hawai?i Fire Department are assisting in the search.

Police ask anyone with information on Gomez’ whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or the Coast Guard Command Center on Oahu at (808) 842-2600.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona.

(Submitted by Hawaii Police Department via Nixle.)

Health And Wellness — Help Yourself, Help The World

Scott Lee greyLocal Acupuncture Treatments Help Fund Global Medical Assistance

(Media release) — Scott Lee, R.N., L. Ac., master of acupuncture and oriental medicine will donate 100% of the cost of acupuncture treatments for Big Island residents to International Medical Relief (IMR). International Medical Relief is a non-profit medical relief organization based near Denver, Colorado, which provides medical, dental and surgical care to under-served communities around the world.

Scott Lee was invited by IMR in June 2013 to practice acupuncture during a recent medical mission trip to a group of villages outside of Delhi, India. He and the IMR team provided medical service to 2,500 pa- tients during a one-week period. Mr. Lee hopes to treat enough patients in Hilo over the next few months so that he can participate in the upcoming medical mission trip to Cambodia in December 2013.

Mr. Lee has held a successful private practice in Hilo, Hawaii for over 20 years. He will provide acupuncture treatments at a reduced rate of $50 per session. Coupons are available for purchase in any amount and are good for one year as well as are transferable. Read more

Letters — Colorful Commentary On A Recent Letter To The Editor

'drug culture'Notice the commentary on a recent letter to the editor published in the local daily newspaper.  This is posted on the bulletin board outside Pahoa Cash and Carry and attracting a lot of attention.  The handwriting states, “The ‘puna-tics’ get on the taxpayers welfare-food stamps-crazy pay, live in vehicals (sic) or under tarps.  A lot of the Puna-tics hang out in Pahoa Village. Hilo side is stuffed, with dare-a-licks (sic), bums-un-dires (sic), low life. Hich hikers (sic) go back to mainland.”

 

Hilo News — BISAC To Host Garage Sale to Benefit Hawai‘i Island United Way

(Media release) — The Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC) will be hosting a garage sale with proceeds going to the Hawai‘i Island United Way on Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 297 Wai?nuenue Ave.

BISAC is also inviting the community to donate items for the garage sale.  “It’s really a great way to get rid of some of those unwanted or little used items laying around the house and really support the Hawai‘i Island United Way,” said BISAC CEO, Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita.

Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse.  They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field.

“We’re so grateful to be able to host the garage sale and do something that supports an organization that does so much good work in our community like the Hawai‘i Island United Way,” said Preston-Pita.

To find out more about the garage sale or how to donate items contact Erin Sheppard-James at 854-2827.

(Submitted by Andrew Arakawa.)

Letters — A Request For ‘People To People’ Fundraising Help

  arielAloha!! My name is Ariel Morris. I am 14 years old and attend Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science.  I have been living on the Big Island for 10 years.  During the summer I received a letter from People to People Ambassador inviting me to interview to become a student ambassador. The mission of People to People is “to bridge cultural and political borders through education and exchange, creating global citizens and making the world a better place for future generations.”  I received recommendations from two of my teachers and one family friend. I had my interview and a week later I received the call that I had been chosen.  I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to have been accepted.  The trip that I will be going on is, the European Discovery, heading to Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland.  This trip will be my first time outside of the United States and the longest I will be away from my family.  I am looking forward to learning about different cultures and experiencing the world outside of Hawaii.  I think that this trip will benefit my future and open doors for me when I start to look at colleges.  I do need to raise $7,000 to pay for my trip.  I am asking for help from my community by way of donations or any type of fundraising opportunities.  I am motivated and dedicated to see my way on this trip, which will also, be a lesson for me to learn.  Thank you for your consideration and any help you can give. Any monetary donation will be applied directly to my Ambassador account. I can be reached at robandnikimorris@hotmail.com.

Ariel Morris

***Commentary*** About Those Pahoa Intersections, And The Politics Surrounding Them

images-1By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Well, the sign I donated to council members this week raised some controversy and, hopefully, more importantly, public awareness about the need to ensure Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130 intersection improvements are made before we proceed with more development in the area.

On Oct. 1, when council members again take up Bills 119 and 120 at Planning Committee level, I haven’t decided whether to donate another sign or to go out and sweep the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road (like I did in 2010), and bring in the accumulated car parts from all the crashes that occur there on a regular basis.  There are quite a few piles of pieces of car parts accumulating at that intersection, which would make effective illustrations of the problem that we would not further compound before fixing the problem.

In case you weren’t aware of this, Kuwahara LLC, or Bryson’s Cinders, is pushing forward with a proposed Pahoa Town Center development on the property mauka of the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard.  This area is within a thousand feet of the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road.  The legislation to rezone the land and change the land-use designation is cleverly worded to state that the occupancy of the development won’t occur until the governor releases funds for the intersection improvements at Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road.  I do not believe that condition is sufficient to ensure that the improvement is made before occupancy.

If you have been following politics for a while, and particularly politics in Puna, you know what happened with Woodland Center a few years ago.  If you need a refresher, let me tell you what I recall.  Paul Ogasawara of Paul’s Repair hired the very shrewd Jon McElvaney to guide him through the rezoning process for his Woodland Center development.  The Metcalf brothers, who own Pahoa Auto Parts, retained Tom Yeh to represent them in raising their concerns about the proposed rezoning.  Myke Metcalf followed the legislation from Planning Commission to full Council level and, with some members of the community like myself catching on and joining him along the way, was able to convince council members to bring in the state Department of Transportation and get them to make some deals in order for Woodland Center to proceed.  You can thank the Metcalf brothers for getting council members to call for Kahakai Boulevard to be opened up at the intersection of Highway 130.  Otherwise, that whole area was set to have been a cul-de-sac! 

Jiro Sumada promised that the egress to Highway 130 from Kahakai Boulevard would be immediate — Ogasawara was willing to pay for it — and the state Department of Transportation promised to come in and put a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 130 and Kahakai Boulevard.  They were going to use that roundabout as a test to determine whether or not a roundabout should be installed at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130.

Council members have access to the minutes of those meetings in which this was promised.  I hope that they will take the opportunity to seek out those minutes.  I’m no so confident in our Puna Council representatives, but I do believe that, after what I witnessed at the Sept. 17 Planning Committee level, other council members like Brenda Ford, Margaret Wille, Valerie Poindexter, Karen Eoff and Dru Kanuha are going to look out for Puna.  Thankfully, during the Sept. 17 lunch break, they caught on to the subtle catch-22 wording in the proposed legislation making way for the Kuwahara development.

In any case, promises were made that both intersection improvements would be made at Kahakai Boulevard and Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130, as a result of the Woodland Center development.  And, as you can see, those intersection improvements haven’t happened. We got Kahakai Boulevard opened up at Highway 130, and we got rid of the phantom lane at Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road (Remember that nonsense?! Click here or here to jog your memory.)

Now, we have this Pahoa Town Center development being pitched. And we have really weak wording in the legislation being proposed, which, having seen what happened with Woodland Center and with other developments that have made their way through the County Council over the years, won’t ensure the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road is fixed before shops and stores have their grand openings.

Already friends of the developer are trying to confuse the public and detract from the issue at hand by using the word “jobs.” We all know there is a need for them in Puna.  I’m not saying the development shouldn’t occur.  I have publicly stated I don’t oppose the proposed development.  I do oppose shortchanging public health and safety, in order to put a development on the fast track. Kuwahara can make millions of dollars in Puna, and McElvaney, who, mind you, donated to Councilman Zendo Kern’s campaign, can get his cut from the new development just like he did with Woodland Center.  But let’s make sure we look out for the health and welfare of the citizenry, first and foremost.

So, there is plenty of buzz now that I delivered my sign suggesting the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130 is the “deadliest” in the state.  People are actually nitpicking the sign, and downplaying our community’s problems, suggesting I should have used a different adjective on the sign. The deflection is totally irresponsible, and just really pathetic.

Beyond the sign, imagine what that intersection is going to be like when the new development opens without the improvements being made at Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130?  To borrow a response from a friend in recent days, “say a prayer before crossing this intersection!” is what the sign should read.  If you trust in government so much to believe that the condition in the proposed legislation is sufficient, well, prepare to be hoodwinked, that’s all I have to say — just like we were with Woodland Center.  You want to know why? The developer’s consultant and the folks that drafted that condition in the proposed legislation know that the community isn’t completely on board with the roundabout idea.  There is still some hashing out to do regarding that intersection.  And, based on what I gleaned at the Sept. 17 meeting, the state hasn’t crossed all its t’s and dotted its i’s, as far as getting the necessary permits, in order to proceed with construction.  The governor could release funds for the improvements to be made, and the community could be still going back and forth about whether or not the State DOT should proceed with a roundabout, or should just scrap the plan and go with a signalized intersection.

I’m concerned that the general public — who are too busy working, paying bills, and caring for children to notice the subtleties of local politics — doesn’t know what truly is going on, and will only catch wind at the tail end of this, and the rezoning and land-use designation change will occur without ensuring that intersection at Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130 are made before occupancy of the new development occurs.

It really shouldn’t be a problem to tighten up the condition in the proposed legislation, if people, including the State DOT, are going to follow through and actually do what they say they’re going to do.  I mean, the intersection improvements could be made while the proposed new Pahoa Town Center development is being built, and it shouldn’t be a problem to suspend occupancy until that intersection is complete.

Why is that too much to ask? Ask yourself. And read between the lines when anybody opposes such a request.

I would suggest that council members use Bills 119 and 120 to truly gauge the public’s wants for that intersection at Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130.  Perhaps council members could hold a public hearing out in Pahoa, or use some of their contingency relief funds that they allocated for themselves in the last budget cycle to send out a mailing to the people  — that was also a suggestion made by Madie Greene, who has declared her candidacy for Council District 4. Council members should do whatever they can to ensure there is plenty of public awareness about the plan for Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road and, within a 1,000 feet away, at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130.

The other day I was on a school field trip talking with one of the moms about this legislation making its way through the Council level, and the fixation on the wording of the sign I donated.  This woman, who commutes to Hilo everyday for work, asked me for details on how the State DOT would fix the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road.  This is how I explained it to her:

The State DOT is going to close off Highway 130 at the palm-tree-lined island where the Pahoa sign exists.  The County of Hawaii will install a signal light at the intersection of Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road.  People will enter and leave Pahoa Village and Lower Puna beyond that point on Pahoa Village Road, where that barricade in front of Pahoa Marketplace exists now.  “How am I going to get home to Hawaiian Beaches?” she asked.  I explained that she would go down Pahoa Village Road and then turn left on to Kahakai Boulevard, as if heading into Woodland Center (where Long’s Drugs is located).  Then I caught myself, envisioning the intersection of Highway 130 and Kahakai Boulevard.  There isn’t a roundabout at that intersection.  There is a right-turn only at Kahakai Boulevard and Highway 130, and directly across from that intersection is a left-turn lane into the makai portion of Kahakai Boulevard.  Legally, I don’t think you can come out onto the highway and get into that left-turn lane.  There will need to be some sort of reconfiguration of that intersection in order for that to legally and safely occur.  Until that happens, anyone going to Hawaiian Beaches or Hawaiian Shores from the Hilo direction would actually need to go down to Post Office Road, or what is known on the map as Nanawale Homestead Road.  Have you seen that road?  It’s substandard, to say the least, and it is not equipped to handle the traffic that is going to be redirected there when the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road are in construction mode.

With all of this heavily on my mind,  I’ve been traveling through the area of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road, trying to imagine what would be a common-sense solution.  I don’t understand why the State DOT doesn’t just use the existing island like a roundabout, and put in a signal at the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road?  Why does another island need to be created?  Why didn’t a roundabout get installed at the intersection of Highway 130 and Kahakai Boulevard?  They spent $500,000 on painting to new lines and installing new deflector poles that, in order to ensure people don’t break the law when they try to take a shortcut and jut across the highway at Kahakai Boulevard, are going to have to be taken out and reconfigured? It’s so maddening to envision how much money is being wasted not truly fixing these profound problems.

images-2Forgive me for the expression, but this is a shit show! I truly hope that our council members can help sort through this mess and ensure that no more jerry-rigging occurs on the guise of more “jobs”!  In the meantime, if you live in Pahoa or Lower Puna and you use these intersections that I have referred to above, don’t forget to say your prayers when you cross through them.

If any of this compels you to testify on Bills 119 and 120, they will be taken up again at Planning Committee level on Oct. 1 at a time to be announced.  The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at 25 Aupuni Street.  In the meantime, you can submit testimony via email to counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us.