Puna News — HELCO Goes Back To Drawing Board With Geothermal RFP

After careful review of all geothermal bids, Hawaii Electric Light has determined that none of the submitted bids sufficiently met both the low-cost and technical requirements of the Geothermal RFP. We are currently working with the Independent Observer to develop a request that will be sent to the bidders. The request will give the bidders the opportunity to provide additional information so that we can make an informed decision that is in the best interests of our customers and residents and that meets the goals of the Geothermal RFP. These goals include lowering customer bills, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, allowing for continued integration and management of intermittent renewable resources, maintaining reliability of service, and protecting the health and safety of the public and environment. We appreciate the efforts the bidders have made to date and look forward to working with them and the Independent Observer on next steps.


Hilo News — Bell Choir To Perform At Church Of The Holy Apostles Wednesday

(Media release) — Hilo’s Church of the Holy Apostles will be hosting the bell choir from the Church of the Holy Cross on Wednesday Dec. 18, at 5:30 p.m. at 1407 Kapi‘olani Street, Hilo.  The bell choir will do three numbers during Church of the Holy Apostles’ Eucharist service.

The origins of handbells in the United States are unclear.  Some historians argue that it was circus promoter P.T. Barnum that first brought a bell choir from Wales to perform across the United States.  Bell choirs gained popularity in the early part of the 20th Century on the circus and vaudeville circuits before becoming more deeply associated with churches and performances in some of the biggest venues in the country.

“We’re so grateful to have the group from Church of the Holy Cross come and perform for us.  The bell choir is an outreach ministry that is reaching across denominational lines to spread the joy of the holiday season to all,” said Reverend Moki Hino, Rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles.

For more information about the Eucharist service, the open and affirming Church of the Holy Apostle community and the bell choir performance call 935-5545.

(Submitted by Andrew Arakawa.)

Guest Column — A GMO Ban Post Script

By Richard Ha

Someone suggested that my change of plansre: putting 264 acres into preservation land smells of sour grapes – that I made a knee-jerk decision because I was upset that the anti-GMO Bill 113 passed.

But that’s not the way I make decisions. I am always looking five, 10 and 20 years ahead and planning what we need to do now to get where we need to be. Suddenly the future of farming on this island looked different, and I needed to be sure we have some flexibility at the farm.

Since I last wrote about this, though, I spoke with the USDA and found an option I didn’t previously know about. We can do a conservation easement that is less than the entire parcel. This will allow us to have a few small parcels that future generations could use for safety valve purposes, and still put land into the conservation easement. We will probably do this.

On Tuesday, the Hawai‘i County Council will decide whether to form an ad hoc committee of council members to analyze GMO issues and give the council recommendations for action. Otherwise, the mayor will do the analysis in-house.

It is no secret that I would have preferred for Mayor Kenoi to veto the anti-GMO Bill 113. But the reality is that the mayor did not have the votes to support a veto, and in this set of circumstances, I support the mayor over the council. He signed the bill, rather than wimping out and letting it pass without his signature. He was concerned about the rift in this community, and he assured the farmers that they would not get hurt.

And most of all, I know the Mayor is fact- and data-driven, something that is sorely missing from our current county council.

What I know about the county council is that its members have proven that they cannot separate fact from fiction, and therefore they are unqualified and unable to prepare us for the future.

In the recent Bill 113 debacle, our county council called Jeffrey Smith as its premier expert. This is an individual who has self-published two books about GMO foods but has zero scientific credentials and has been thoroughly debunked as any sort of credible GMO expert. He specializes in yogic flying (a kind of cross-legged hopping done in hopes of reducing crime and increasing “purity and harmony” in the “collective consciousness”). They allowed Smith to testify about GMOs for more than half an hour.

Three University of Hawai‘i experts on GMOs, on the other hand, were given a total of three minutes, between them, to testify. This averages out to one minute each.

If we are taking science into account, theSeralini study – which linked genetically modified maize and the herbicide RoundUp as having an increased cancer risk, and which was always widely pointed to as proving GMO foods were unsafe – was recently retracted by the scientific journal that published it, and rejected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for having serious defects and failing to meet scientific standards.

County Councilwoman Margaret Wille made a very inflammatory remark in a comment following a Honolulu Civil Beat article written by University of Hawai‘i professor Michael Shintaku. In her comment, she accused Professor Shintaku, as well as Dr. Susan Miyasaka and Dean Maria Gallo (also of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture), of being “unmistakeably caught in the predicament of becoming the mouthpiece for the GMO biotech industry that provides much of the funding for their employer.”

Michael Shintaku responded with a polite comment that detailed how she was incorrect. Many scientists voiced outrage at the inaccurate and flippant comment that impugned their integrity.

It seems, unfortunately, to be par for the course for some who are anti-science and anti-GMO. Have they made up their mind without regard to truth? Have they dug in their heels, refusing to ever even consider new evidence?

I haven’t. If suddenly there was real science that showed harm from GMOs, I would cross that off my list and move on to the next best solution that would help our island. To date, though, there has never been any such science, not anywhere.

Our county council clearly does not understand farming. Councilwoman Wille likes to show how many letters she has in favor of banning GMOs, but the smaller stack from people opposing the ban was from the farmers who produce more than 90 percent of the calories grown here on the Big Island.

Why is she listening to the gardeners and not the farmers? There is such a difference between gardening and farming. I compare it to cooking turkeys. Cooking one turkey is easy – you just turn the dial for the right time and temperature, and then poof! It’s perfect. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Cooking one turkey is similar to gardening.

Farming, on the other hand, is like cooking 20 turkeys an hour every hour. They cannot be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. And they must be ready on time or your customers lose money. And every so often the power goes off or the house blows down and you have to start all over again. Farming is much more complicated than gardening.

Some anti-GMO people proclaim that we should all just eat organic. But have a look at Table 2 on page 19 of this Baseline Food Sustainability chart from the county.

Based on that table, we compared prices between a Kona supermarket and a Kona natural food store. The annual budget for a family of five at the Kona supermarket was approximately $20,000, while at the natural foods store it was slightly more than $42,000.

We did a similar comparison in Waimea, and the results were substantially the same. It is clear that most folks cannot afford organics.

Senator Ruderman, who owns a natural foods chain, claimed our price comparisons are wildly inaccurate, but they are not.

A few days ago, we learned that the Florida citrus industry, which has lost more than a million acres to citrus greening disease, may have found a GMO solution.

Although anti-GMO folks like to say they are on the side of farmers, if citrus greening disease makes it to the Big Island and we are not legally allowed to use the Florida GMO solution, it is only homeowners and small farmers who will be hurt.

Read this link for a sample of what some of the people who testified on the anti-GMO/County Council side of the argument were doing in the background. It is mean-spirited and it’s not who we in Hawai‘i are. There is no aloha in this

(Richard Ha is a farmer on the Hamakua Coast.)

Letters — Mahalo For GMO Ban

Dear editor,

How many stars can you name…how many phases of the moon? Is the tide rising or falling? Name the birds, insects, and plants that live near your home and the food crops that would grow there.

What have we lost? Where are our connections to the land, water, and sky…that show us how to breed plants adapted to local conditions, rotate crops, reduce pests and disease by planting a variety of crops, use plants that repel pests, compost…

We’ve lost our connections partly because of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs promise quick fixes and big profits…but slowly destroy connections and the foundations of life.

Troubling studies show GMOs impact the health of humans, animals, and even vital organisms in the soil. GMO pollen drift can contaminate neighbors’ crops and shut down organic, sustainable farming. GMOs can spread till they are unstoppable…like albezias, mongooses, and coqui frogs. Seed-sharing builds connections…but if you share GMO seeds, you can be sued by multi-million dollar corporations.

If banning GMOs is a mistake, it’s easy to undo. But if allowing GMOs is a mistake, that may be impossible to undo.

Many mahalos to Mayor Kenoi and our County Council for making the difficult but wise decision to ban further GMOs on Hawai’i Island.

Cory Harden

Letters — Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s Response To The Passage Of Bill 113

Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s response to passage of Bill 113:

Thank you Mayor Kenoi for signing Bill 113. Together we can, and today together we did, take an important step towards preserving and protecting our precious island –  malama ‘aina.

And as we share a common destiny, thanks to all who participated in this important island-wide conversation – regardless of the position taken,  These past six months by way of the Bill 113 council legislation, we together took a big step towards sculpting our island’s future. We are clearly moving in the direction of environmentally sensitive community based farming with respect for the health of our soil and with respect for our watersheds and coastal waters, in a way that is pono and respectful of each other.

Our federal and state government officials have been lax. In 1992 our federal government established the absurd agricultural policy that GMO foods and crops are “substantially equivalent” to the corresponding non-GMO crops. The result was no requirement of any pre-market health studies for GMO crops and foods. Likewise there has been no requirement to assess the adverse impacts of the cultivation of GMOs on the health of neighboring property owners and on the health of our people especially those most vulnerable – the keiki now and those of future generations.

And to date our state legislators have followed the lead of their federal counterparts, and have not regulated these ag-chemical GMO corporations.  And instead our state government has catered to these seemingly all-powerful multinational corporations.

For this reason the last defense here and around the country, has been that of municipalities and counties taking a stand, based on the precautionary principle, to protect their people and their lands from becoming just one more GMO industry dominated location.

For these reasons our state legislators should take heed of the Kauai and Hawaii county legislation addressing the cultivation of GMO crops and related toxic pesticides. Rather than seeking to undermine these neighbor island efforts, our state should set an example by embracing the wisdom and farsightedness of these efforts.

With much aloha, Margaret Wille, Hawaii County Council, District 9 (North and South Kohala)

Hilo News — Police Seek Man Accused Of Running Over His Girlfriend

Media release — Police are investigating a domestic violence incident that was reportedMonday night(December 9).A 41-year-old Hilo woman reported thatbetween 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday, she was involved in an argument with her boyfriend, 35-year-old Justin Lee, at their Hilo home. As the argument escalated, he reportedly ran over her with a car and then fled on foot.

The victim was taken by private vehicle to Hilo Medical Center with serious injuries and then transferred to a Honolulu hospital for further treatment. Her condition remains unchanged.

Lee is described as a bald local male, 5-foot-8 with a heavy build, brown eyes and a tan complexion. He has a mole on the left side of his chin and numerous tattoos on the back of his head, neck and arms as well as large words tattooed where his eyebrows should be.

In addition, Lee has three outstanding warrants for his arrest, including a no-bail warrant.
Police ask anyone with information about this incident or the suspect’s whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311or contact Detective Jefferson Grantz at 961-8810 orjgrantz@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or329-8181 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.

Letters — The Silence Of 59

Dear editor:

For those who are more accustomed to the temperate world, the notion of winter in Hawaii may seem like something inconsequential, as its warmth and sunshine surely pales in comparison to northern winters – filled with nothing but seemingly-endless, frozen nights,bone-chilling winds, and countless hours of shoveling snow just to get the car out of the driveway.  There may not be four seasons here, but there are two (“hot” and “wet” in the Hawaiian reckoning) and although these seasonal differences are subtle, they are present nonetheless.

In the lowlands of Hawaii, just a few times each wet season, there will be some clear nights – with no blanket of clouds to warm us – and the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is when something magical happens.  The invasive Coqui frogs (pronounced “kó-kee”) that are normally so loud throughout the night are suddenly silent – the two-tone, incessant mating call of the male frogs simply vanishes.  Apparently, the rare chill puts a damper on their habitual nighttime plans for romance.  After hearing, “Ko-kee! Ko-kee!” every night, their silence is a welcome reprieve.  I have always imagined them screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!”, or perhaps the letters pee and iabove might be replaced with a few other choice letters – ones that more aptly describe their natural urges.

For me, winter has always been a time of quiet reflection, and on those rare tropical nights, I am instantly taken back to the serene and snow-hushed winter nights to which I was so accustomed.  If, by chance, one of these 59-or-less nights be lit by a full moon, I can almost imagine the moonlight as if it were a soft dusting of snow that covers even the coconut palms – while pulling up a blanket for once, instead of just a sheet.

I have always appreciated stillness and longed for more of it, amid the busyness of my life.  Could it be that the Coquis’ silence is there to remind me to take a pause from my usual pursuits, and take a deeper look and reflect upon my life?  Am I not always screaming, “I want! I want!”, when all I really need is to pause; take a breath; and recognize that everything I need is within me and all around me?  Maybe the cursed Coquis have a purpose to serve after all.

The morning comes, and I find myself once again weed whacking and forcing back the jungle, machete in hand, racing to beat the heat of the day, even in December – I am in awe at how a little tropical chill, and the gifts it brings with it, makes winter just as beautiful as italways was way up there in that land of ice – now so far away.

Jason Riessland

9. December 2013

Puna News — Puna Geothermal Venture Meeting This Week

As a continuation of PGV and Ormat’s ongoing commitment to provide regular educational outreach, we have scheduled our next quarterly meeting as follows:


Logistical details:

Date:     Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time:     5 – 7 PM

Place:    Pahoa High School Cafeteria


Topics being reviewed:

  • 2013 year-in-review
  • Facility update
  • Support and participation in the Geothermal Health Assessment


There will be some time set aside for a question and answering session.


Hawaii News — Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill Banning GMOs

(Media release) —

Mayor Billy Kenoi today signed Bill 113. Below is the message he sent to the Hawai’i County Council:


Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:


On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.


Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.


The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.


We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.


With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.


Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.





William P. Kenoi


Puna News — The Kea’au Holiday Parade Is Dec. 14

(Media release) — LAST CHANCE TO BE A PART OF THE FUN by participating in the 10thAnnual Kea`au Village Lighted Parade on Saturday, December 14, 2013.  This year’s theme is “A Very Green Christmas – Think Green: reduce, reuse, recycle”.

The Kea’au Lighted parade starts at Kea`au High School at 5:30pm, and continues on Kea`au -Pahoa Road through the village and the Grand Marshal is Mayor Billy Kenoi.  The deadline to submit a participant packet to be a part of the parade is  tomorrow so don’t delay,   get your packet today to join the 10th Annual Kea’au Christmas parade.

Parade participant packets can be picked up at Keaau Village Market, or by emailing info@whshipman.com.   For more information, call 966-4853 or 895-6288 that’s 966-4853 or 895-6288.