Consider this a snapshot of a moment in time here on Hawaii Island… 24 pages and I am scrambling for space for all the content to share with you. I apologize for the small font, I’ve been told some of you have to use a magnifying glass. If only I had the luxury of a larger font and more pages to fill with information to share with you.
I won’t waste any more space and will lead you through this edition, beginning with the letters. I’ve obviously received more than a couple letters. One of them was from Mr. Truth Be Had, offering allegations of some really nasty local politics and a challenge to take on “an 800 pound ape.” It would be irresponsible to print the letter without vetting the allegations. The problem is, the letter tells a pretty sensational story, but doesn’t offer any clues on how to verify some of the claims as fact. I am not at all opposed to taking on hairy beasts, I just need more proof than an anonymously written letter pointing fingers.
Mr. Truth Be Had wasn’t my only anonymous letter. I also received a four-page handwritten letter . This one I also believe, at this point, is not fit for print. It is subject to news, though, for its content related to the Brittany Jane Royal and Boaz Johnson disappearance.
Locally, Hawaii News Now and KITV News have mentioned the letter in nightly news casts, and at press time Dateline, Huffington Post, and People Magazine had picked up the story. If those news outlets choose to share details of the letter, so be it. I personally don’t think it would be responsible of me as a journalist to publish the letter. Names are mentioned, and I have no desire to unnecessarily defame anyone, and also some of the allegations made do not support facts that police have put on the record in court documents seeking search warrants.
Along with the letter received, I’ve been among the residents in Puna who have come upon mysterious posters related to the Brittany-Bo case. The first time I saw one I was walking my child to school, and came upon a poster nailed to a tree, across from Paul’s Repair and adjacent to the stairwell leading up to Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The poster was made of a photo album page and featured a depiction of the Mother Mary and baby Jesus with angels overlooking them. Next to the depiction was Italian writing describing the painting.
Underneath the depiction were the words in black permanent marker, “You Killed The Baby and Bo and Hui on the Lava. Confess to the Priest or Crimestoppers 961-8300,” and signed “C4J.” I shared a photo of the poster on both my Twitter and Facebook accounts, and learned that others had seen two more posters in Leilani Estates near the community center. Both were also signed “C4J.” One read, “They killed the BABY! They killed Bo on the lava flow” and had another depiction of Mother Mary and Baby Jesus with the accompanying Italian description of the painting. The other read, “Murderers killed Bo, + Hui + the BABY.” Those posters all went down, but a couple weeks after the three posters were discovered, I spotted another one in Leilani Estates, reading, “Who Killed Bo? And the Baby,” also signed “C4J.”
I obviously wonder, who created these posters, and why have they been posted in these areas in Leilani Estates and along Pahoa Village Road? Is this person, or these people, somehow in the know, or are they on a general mission for justice with a mere speculation on what happened to Brittany Royal and Boaz Johnson?
Since I cannot be certain, I will only share in this edition what has been posted publicly, depictions of the posters. As for the four-page letter, I’ll share with you a photograph I took of the envelope, in hopes that someone will recognize the writing and can help police with this case.
As you know, Brittany’s body was found in late May, floating in the waters fronting what was then the lava’s ocean entry point. Brittany was pregnant. Her boyfriend, with whom she had been camping out on the lava fields in Kalapana, has not been seen or heard from since. Police have said they consider him a suspect, but haven’t offered the public any information on their reasoning. Bo’s family, who reside in Alaska, have told the Big Island Chronicle they have no reason to believe Bo is alive and have not heard from him or seen him or heard from anyone who has heard from him or has seen him since Brittany’s body was found in May.
Beyond telling you about the letter and sharing the mysterious posters relating to the Brittany-Bo case, this edition also covers the highly controversial gay marriage legislation state lawmakers have taken up in a special session. At press time, the Senate had approved the legislation and the House was expected to vote… Thousands of people had testified on the matter. Our very own Alan McNarie opted to write a commentary about the issue. Since he spoke up and said something, I’ll just chime in by informing you that I was a reporter who covered the murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming who was beaten and left for dead in Laramie, Wyoming. (See a brief recollection on page 8.)
Matt’s story is a classic example of how horrifying hatred and intolerance can be. Through telling Matt’s tragic story and learning the motivations of his killers, over the years I have met people who have been touched so deeply by the case — people who have their own stories about being discriminated against and persecuted for their sexuality.
Anyone who doesn’t see this gay marriage debate as an equal rights issue, well, I just have to express my profound disappointment. If you disagree with me, and you are bothering to read any further, I would just plead with you to expand your mind beyond the Old Testament of the Bible and remember that that Jesus that you pray to and ask for forgiveness everyday for whatever sins you inevitably have committed has also called upon you to have love in your heart.
There is an entire segment of the population that is currently being denied the basic tenets of the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My gay friends should be able to get married if they choose to, and, as an officiant — I am one, I hope you know — I should be able to marry them without getting any grief.
Meanwhile, flipping through this edition, you’re going to also find that we have taken up the issue of sustainable living. McNarie mentions the alternative building code legislation that is stalled in the County Public Works. I’m fully supportive of a major overhaul to the building code, and I find it really unfortunate that Zendo Kern’s bill is stalled, and that he isn’t speaking about it to the press. Actually, he doesn’t seem to be speaking to anyone much about anything. In fact, Zendo has canceled all of his previously scheduled talk story meetings in Puna, he was a no-show for the Puna Community Medical Center public meeting on the draft environmental assessment, and he has deactivated his Facebook account. He also has apparently declined to participate in the Pahoa Holiday Parade. I mentioned in a previous editorial that he had gone phantom on us, I’m just really dumbfounded at the degree. Do you have any evidence to the contrary, reader? I obviously went from a Zendo cheerleader in the last campaign to someone with a furrowed brow on the sidelines, observing him in public office with little regard for the public. Please, by all means, write in and offer any political hope you might have for this guy.
In the meantime, I have been asking around about potential candidates for the Council District 5 seat for this election season that is upon us. Steven Araujo, a trash hauler who sought the newly redistricted District 5 seat in the last election, said he won’t run again — well, actually, his wife gave an emphatic no when I ran into her at KTA Super Stores; Marlene Hapai, who ran for State House in the last election, when I ran into her, also at KTA, said she has aspirations to run for mayor; Barbara Lively, the legislative aide who Zendo recently let go who ran for County Council in 2010, said she is thinking about it. Stay tuned. The 2014 campaign season will surely be interesting. Both council members Brenda Ford and J Yoshimoto have reached their term limits, so their seats are guaranteed to be taken over by newcomers. Any ideas on who is eyeing those seats? By all means, do share.
Also in this issue, you’re going to find coverage on both sides of the genetically modified organisms (GMO) debate. I don’t know where you stand, I actually don’t exactly know where exactly to stand on this one. I’ve always been somewhat of a granola’ girl, and always prefer organic. But I can see both perspectives in the debate. I really wish I was better educated on genetic engineering. I figure, by presenting both sides here, I’m helping to educate all of us to be more informed.
Along those lines, I have presented to you in this edition focused on debunking geothermal myths. I spoke extensively with Mike Kaleikini, who heads Ormat’s Puna Geothermal Venture, and Heidi Bethel, of the Reno, Nevada-based Ormat, and got all kinds of details about the geothermal process, sorting out the fact and the fiction that has circulated widely since the geothermal debate was sparked last election. There is so much more on the geothermal subject to cover, including details of steps the County is taking to implement recommendations listed in a recently completed getohermal health assessment. I am going to have to follow up on that for the next edition.
In these 24 pages, you’re also going to find my attempt to expand coverage, offering more than just the Puna perspective. I, of course, have offered business features in Pahoa, since there is plenty to talk about, and also because I have a huge group of merchants and business owners in Puna who are providing advertising dollars. But I also sought to tell you about Savio Realty, which like Big Island Chronicle, wants to expand coverage. I told of one Hilo business that has changed ownership recently. In next month’s edition, I will give you details on Downtown Hilo Improvement Association’s project with Benjamin Moore Paints to give buildings on Hilo Bayfront a facelift. I wrote a story about that for Hawaii Business Magazine, so it needs to be printed in that publication first.
As we move to a close of this year and look ahead to 2014, and as we head into the 2014 campaign season, you’re going to see Big Island Chronicle widen the coverage to other areas of the island and you’re going to find BIC in new locations — It helps that I’m also distributing real estate guides to the pay the bills. I can be the double-duty circulation manager 🙂
Since this won’t get into your hands until the holiday season is well upon us, I just want to take a moment to invite you to the Pahoa Holiday Parade on Dec. 7. The road will close by 9 a.m., so get in to the village and find your spot on the side of Pahoa Village Road before then. Be sure to dine and shop in Pahoa and help the village thrive. We are going to open up the farmer’s market behind Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant and Akebono Theater for arts and crafts and food vendors. It’s going to be an awesome day to enjoy the eclectic village of Pahoa.
If you don’t make it, I understand. We’re all so busy. I guess, in parting, I would urge you to read, among others’, Dena Smith’s column about slowing down and enjoying what the season offers. It’s a time to contract, to retreat, to reflect, to plan ahead. And it’s also a time to be with loved ones and friends and express our appreciation for those meaningful relationships in our lives. As always, I would like to express my appreciation for your readership. Being November, I should emphasize my THANKFULNESS. Who knew I’d be putting together Issue 13! What a blessing. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. I cannot wait to start on the last edition of this year. Until then, enjoy every word of this and please pass on the edition to another, knowing there is only 6,000 copies printed for this big, fabulous island.
Happy Thanksgiving, reader.
— Tiffany & Co.