Letters–Incinerator, Again?

Just having returned from a month-long mainland trip, I found that the waste-to-energy controversy has reached a boiling point.  I just read recent commentaries by Hunter Bishop and Nelson Ho; like them, I too worked for the Dept. of Environmental Management during the Kim administration.   If nothing has changed in the incineration world, why are we even having this conversation?   In case anyone forgot, the County of Hawaii has a standing Zero Waste Resolution adopted in 2007.  A previous County Council voted down incineration because of its forever money-sucking maintenance issues. So, why is our mayor, if he truly loves the Big Island, insisting on shoving an incinerator down our throats?

 As a County worker I learned that companies selling waste-to-energy burners get island communities to buy into them because once installed the company can garner huge fees year after year.  While in County employ, I spoke to a representative of the Cayman Islands where one of these burning beasts was pedaled.  She stated how much it costs them and wished they had gone a more sustainable route.   Incineration is old technology. Island communities are special worlds; the Big Island being more so since we already have a natural chemical emitter, the volcano.

 The Big Island has a chance to show that a Zero Waste approach to deal with our disposables as resources works.  Everywhere I traveled, people are thinking sustainability.  Communities are recycling more as they see the value in metals, mulch, paper and plastics, to the point that old landfills are being mined to get these resources.    Voters, educate yourselves on where the current candidates for County Council stand on this issue.   The Council will decide the fate of our waste issues, not Mayor Kenoi.

Linda Damas Kelley

Hilo

Puna News — $22.3 Million Pahoa District Park Groundbreaking

image(Media release) — The biggest single investment in recreational opportunity in Hawai‘i County history is coming to Lower Puna, following a groundbreaking ceremony this morning for the $22.3 million P?hoa District Park.

Mayor Billy Kenoi, several councilmembers and County officials joined members of the Puna community to kick off the project, which will provide more recreational opportunities than ever before to the fastest growing region of Hawai‘i Island.

“We are committed to giving the families of Puna access to first-class recreational opportunities,” said Mayor Kenoi. “The facilities in this park will be safe places for our kids to learn good sportsmanship and teamwork, and to stay active and healthy.”

imageThis $22.3 million, year-long project to deliver a district-level park to Lower Puna will include a covered playcourt building, two baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas. Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site immediately.

“This wonderful sports facility is going to really, truly benefit our children,” said Kel Lee, president of the Puna Panthers Pop Warner Football Association. “It’s a dream come true for P?hoa.”

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing facilities that include the P?hoa Community Aquatic Center, P?hoa Neighborhood Facility, P?hoa Senior Center, and P?hoa Skate Park.

image

“This park will be a place for our community to play, bond, and build memories for generations to come,” said Councilmember Greggor Ilagan, who represents District 4 (Puna Makai).

The Puna Community Development Plan, adopted by the Hawai‘i County Council in 2008, identified the need for a district park in Lower Puna. A comprehensive planning process involving the community, the County, and project designers WCIT Architecture began in 2012 to ensure these new facilities reflect the recreational needs of Puna’s residents.

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Commentary: Stephens Media Folds the Big Island Weekly.

by Alan D. McNarie

The rumors are true. In the E-mail this morning. “This will be the last edition of Big Island Weekly. Stephens Media, which publishes Big Island Weekly, launched the publication in 2006 as a way to offer readers and advertisers a free, alternative newspaper. The company has decided to cease publishing BIW in order to shift resources to other Big Island publications, some of which will be launched in the near future.”
I have mixed emotions about this. Several years ago, we had a thriving alt weekly called the Hawaii Island Journal, of which I was proud to be the Senior Contributing Editor. Stephens Media repeatedly tried to buy the Journal. Then owner/editor Lane Wick and owner/publisher Karen Valentine refused to sell it to them. When Lane and Karen eventually retired and sold the Journal to the owner of the Honolulu Weekly, Stephens Media started up an obvious copy-cat paper, the Big Island Weekly, to compete directly with the Journal and siphon off some of its ad sales. The strategy was eventually successful; I blame the demise of the Journal as much on miscues by its new Honolulu owner as I do on the Weekly’s competition–and the burgeoning Web probably also played a role– but the Journal did eventually fail, strengthening Stephen’s stranglehold on the island’s print media.

For a while, I wrote for the Weekly, since it was pretty much the only game in town for investigative journalism. Under then-editor Yisa Var, the Weekly and I did some good work. But Var eventually left, and Tiffany Edwards Hunt started a true alt paper again–the Chronicle–so I left the Weekly to throw in my lot with her. Meanwhile, Stephens continued to consolidate its empire, sacrificing jobs and journalism for efficiency: firing union activists, eliminating the press at the Tribune-Herald and printing it at West Hawaii Today; placing the editorship of both papers under David Bock, consolidating the editorship and offices of Big Island Weekly with that of the chain’s North Hawaii paper. I’m saddened by this latest move, but not surprised.
Saddened, because the Weekly, whatever else it was, did give an outlet and voice to a number of decent freelance writers, who are now going to be missing those little paychecks. And because, as a journalist, I now feel a little more alone this morning. The Chronicle welcomes any of the Weekly’s advertisers who want to keep an alternative voice alive on this island; if we can increase our shoestring budget, maybe we can even hire some of those disenfranchised columnists. But we’ll soldier on, regardless, and try to keep journalism by journalists for the community, rather than by MBAs for their stockholders, alive on the island.

Letters — A Tone Different From The Anti-GMO Crowd

Aloha Tiffany

I went to a Western Region Association of Public Land Grant Universities a few weeks ago. In attendance were the deans of western ag schools as well as the heads of each institutions, research, extension and teaching functions. Also invited were the western region representatives of the Council on Ag Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) . There are 50 CARET reps nationwide. I was appointed by Dean Gallo to be Hawaii’s representative.

At the meeting I took the opportunity to ask some of the attendees their opinion about GMO issues. In the link above I asked Dean Burgess of the Univ of Az, College of Ag and Life Sciences, several questions about GMO’s. I think you may find the answers interesting. The tone is so different from the anti GMO crowd.
http://hahaha.hamakuasprings.com/2014/07/interview-is-roundup-safe.html.
As a real farmer, who has produced more than 100 million pounds of fruits and vegetables during the last 35 years, Dean Burgess makes common sense to me.

Richard Ha

Hawaii News — Watch ‘Murder In Paradise’ Saturday

(Media release) —
On Saturday, August 2 at 10/9C, Investigation Discovery is featuring the Hawaii homicide of Brittany Royal on the season 2 premiere of Murder in Paradise.

Free-spirited 20-something Brittany Royal of California is pregnant, in love, and living in paradise. That is, until her lifeless body is found floating in the waters off Hawaii’s Big Island, and her lover is nowhere to be found.

This episode includes interviews with:
• Julie and Ted Royal, Brittany’s parents
• Zack and Schuyler Royal, Brittany’s brothers
• Ruth and Sarah Johnson, Bo’s sisters
• Mitch Roth, prosecutor
• Tiffany Edwards Hunt, Big Island Chronicle
• Cherl Collamore, lava tour operator
• Henry Pomroy, lava tour operator
• Bruce Gowan, tourist
• Bill Duff, Big Island resident

Please note that the network’s name is Investigation Discovery, not Discovery Channel or Discovery ID. To check local listings, visit our channel finder:

http://investigationdiscovery.com/channel-finder/

Hawaii News — Family Fun Fest Set

(Media release) — The County of Hawaii in partnership with Destination Hilo, Young Brothers, Hawaii Explosives, Hilo Jaycees and the State of Hawaii are proud to present the “Family Fun Fest 2014”, an end of Summer Celebration on August 23rd at the Mo’oheau Park and Bandstand at Hilo Bayfront. Festivities for the day will include children’s games /activities and entertainment that will culminate with a Fireworks Exhibition set to blast off at 8pm that evening.

On stage at the Bandstand beginning at 3pm will be Braddah Waltah & Friends, Randy Lorenzo & Friends, the Michael Strand Band and “Girls Night Out” all coordinated and presented through the generosity of Pepe Romero and CJ Promotions.

In an effort to make the Bayfront Shoreline accessible for prime fireworks viewing, the Bayfront Highway will be closed from 6pm to 10pm on August 23rd. Gates at the Mo’oheau Bus Terminal, Mo’oheau Park Ball Field and adjacent Soccer Field will be opened to allow access to this area during the fireworks exhibition.

After the Fourth of July unanticipated “Fireworks Fizzle”, Don Pascual of Hawaii Explosives & Pyrotechnics, Inc offered the company’s most sincere apologies to the people of Hilo and assured us the skies above Hilo Bay will light up with a fireworks show that will be specifically designed for their beloved Hilo. As he said, “Stay tuned; the best is yet to come.”

The Hilo Jaycees and Destination Hilo would like to express their appreciation to the many individuals who contributed their time and money to help fund the Fireworks Show and a special mahalo to Councilmember, Jay Yoshimoto who generously contributed $10,000 of his discretionary funds.

In addition, The Hilo Jaycees are busy preparing for the upcoming Hawaii County Fair set for September 18 – 21, 2014 at the Ahfook Chinen Civic Auditorium. Proceeds derived from the Hawaii County Fair are used to fund Hawaii Island High School Scholarships, “The Biggest Easter Egg Hunt”, “Adopt A School Day” programs and other service projects to the community throughout the year.

On behalf of the County of Hawaii, we invite the public to come celebrate the end of summer at the “Family Fun Fest” on August 23rd at the Mo’oheau Park in Hilo. Let’s all pay tribute to family, fellowship and sparkle!

The “Family Fun Fest” is an alcohol, drug and litter free event coordinated in partnership with private enterprise, community organizations and government.

More information can be obtained by calling the Culture & Education Office at 961-8706.

County Council District 6 Election Questionnaire: Richard Abbett

Here in Hawaii County, we already have the ethic. Part of our ethos is water and energy conservation.

What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?
Returning tax dollars to the citizens to provide them with services and not increasing their taxes, but providing them with the services for the taxes that they pay. In Ka’u we’re underserved to put it mildly.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?
Retention of the health of the natural environment and its economic productivity. As the last part of wild Hawaii, it deserves special attention. We need sustainable economic activities and opportunities. We need to provide for our children the education and the job opportunities so that they can continue to live on the island.
I would like to have a training program for emerging technologies and renewable energy technologies. To work with vocational training programs, union apprenticeships and higher education to create a learning center to provide a pipeline into those job opportunities and careers in those areas.
Biofuel plant: I think that is an attempt to do typically centralized activities and I think that there are numerous ways to utilize our agricultural base that have less impact and more potential for economic growth and job opportunities.
They never seem to materialize. They utilize public funds to make proposals using scarce monies and resources and they often do not materialize—they often fail. They are short-term compared to the long-term needs in rural agriculture.

If not covered above, what are your views on:
Energy
1. Do you believe the island should increase its use of geothermal energy?

I believe that geothermal technology has potential with the applications of developing technologies as research goes forward. I am not satisfied with our current efforts in addressing the public’s concerns.
2. If so, what can be done at the county level to address community concerns about geothermal safety?
More research and development of technology that’s able to produce energy safely and cost-effectively without public health and safety concerns. Continue to put the public’s health and safety first while putting attention on addressing our own island energy needs.
Address the health and safety of our residents and require cleaner technology. It seems that after construction and at a tremendous cost of infrastructure for the conveyance of that electricity off island, that fewer jobs are produced than proponents claim.

3. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for local power generation and/or transportation?
There are intriguing possibilities in the future now that the state has allowed hemp research and development.

4. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for off-island use?
No. That is not its highest or best use.

5. Do you believe an undersea power cable should be built to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu? Why or why not?
No, I do not. We are not currently in need of additional electrical capacity here. We are in need of cheaper electricity….The issue is a need for continued increases in the capacity of electricity in Oahu. Geothermal and wind power could be in that mix. But new facilities should be on island. I support solar development of residential and commercial structures and support large-scale solar production facilities where appropriate.
We need to continue to upgrade our transmission conveyance system to handle increased solar production from residential and commercial buildings as opposed to centrally located high-capacity generations requiring large amounts of capital. That’s the approach we used in the last century. The future of energy and water resources collection and distribution are local, including windmilling, catchment ponds and small hydro, …however, developers are responsible for electric and water and need to continue to work with the County to provide it. The vision of community development plans should reflect that.

6. What can be done to allow the county and its population to use less energy?
Here in Hawaii County, we already have the ethic. When you produce your own power from solar and battery storage, efficient use is required. Part of our ethos is water and energy conservation. I have always been a champion of the conservation of energy, especially when produced by non-renewable resources that contribute to climate change. Renewable energy sectors supported by local small businesses are more effective at creating economic growth and job opportunities. That is why, here in Hawaii, solar has become so popular.

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Food
1. What can the county do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
Expand the community shares program…by participating, you get shares of local produce. A person puts in $20 a month, and that provides some capital for local business so that they can provide organic produce on a monthly basis.

2. Do you support the regulation, at the county level, of genetically modified crops? Why or why not?
Yes. The county has the responsibility to assure the health and safety of its residents.

3. Do you support increased regulation, at the county level, of agricultural pesticides? Why or why not ?
Yes. The county has the responsibility to assure the health and safety of its residents.

Housing, employment and homelessness
1. How can the county encourage the building of affordable housing?.
I think that the number of developments that have had considerations for affordable housing need to be increased.

2. For decades, economic debates have centered on creating jobs, and jobs were often assumed to be employment with large companies or the government. But efforts to create jobs with large corporate endeavors have often met with fierce local resistance on this island—Oji Paper, the Ka’u private prison, and various proposed resorts come to mind. And Hawaii Island’s economy has always included thousands of people making their livings in other ways, such as self-employment and even subsistence fishing, hunting and farming. Entire communities, such as Holualoa, Hawi, and Honoka`a, have little corporate presence but many locally-owned businesses and home-based entrepreneurs. Given this context, what can the county do to promote more livings of all sorts on this island?

Large projects have reliance upon local subsidies and large amounts of capital from outside that also results in the profits going off-island. We need to have a sort of rural renaissance. Allowing agricultural lands to develop rental housing on available lands.
We need to concentrate on developing and utilizing markets of our own island.
We have the same access to electronic technology and the information age as anywhere else on earth.

3. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the county do to put people and livings closer together?

Provide less impact, less centralized tourist activities in under-utilized areas, particularly the underserved market of international tourists who like outdoor recreational opportunities, not merely resort-based. This is a large and growing demographic that we can provide quality recreational experiences to.

4. How can the county do to get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?

First of all they’re symptoms of a social condition similar to a malaise. Communities without faith and trust experiencing economic deprivation become mired in hopelessness. Preventing homelessness comes first. Secondly, having an adequate safety net for those experiencing personal misfortune or expensive health-related conditions are often forced out of their homes. It’s much easier in the long run to assist people retaining their homes and being re-trained or recognized as potentially contributing in their own manner to the community. 3rd step: once you have homelessness conditions, the community as their larger family needs to provide transitional housing and refuge from the streets, combining those aspects with non-profits., charitable and religious organizations can provide the resources in finding ways for families and individuals to remain productive citizens.

Crime and prison reform

1. Would you favor the building of a privately-owned prison on the Big Island?
No.

2. What can the county do to reduce domestic violence and promote domestic harmony on the island?
Combine those things that I said before to improve the quality of life, so that the stresses of everyday life combining education and support up front as well as for victims of domestic violence. First of all, we want to have a society or a culture that allows for job opportunities and improved quality of life, generation after generation. Involving all in the American dream is the first step, but on the other end, having adequate service for victims of domestic violence, needs to be addressed.

3. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana?
I support the end to the war on our own people over marijuana.

4. What else can the county do to reduce crime and/or lower the number of incarcerated island residents?
Address the real drug problem: ice, not pot.

Transportation
1. What is the biggest transportation need in your district and what can be done to meet it?

Reliance on public transportation and the need for it because resorts and towns are so far away. Create economic opportunity and development opportunity closer to, and not regard it as the prerogative of bringing in large projects from corporations that have to export the profits for their shareholders.

2. How can the county reduce the amount of driving that its citizens must do?
Allow for the creation of housing, jobs and services closer to home. We can’t put a resort in everybody’s town.

Waste and recycling
1. Do you support Mayor Kenoi’s plan to build a waste-to-energy conversion plant in East Hawaii?

Unfortunately, at this point in time, the RFP will be moving forward, and I did not support that. I flatly do not support an incineration approach that undermines our zero-waste policy of the County.
Quote from Volcano Rotary Candidate Forum – “There is a good reason they haven’t been built for 20 years,” he said. He called incinerators “an all around outdated idea.” He also said that the RFP requirement that the chosen technology for processing waste for Hawai`i County have a minimum 15-year history elsewhere is “an excuse to use old technology.” He said an incinerator “would completely erode” the county’s zero waste policies.

2. What can be done to reduce the amount of solid waste created in Hawaii County?
We already have, because we’re on an island, a history of recycling and reusing material in innovative ways for other purposes. That can be built upon with aggressive implementation of our existing zero-waste policy with an education and outreach component that includes green waste collection. Reducing packaging by reducing imports and using more local agriculture is another way. We’re already adapting to the change in plastic bags in grocery stores and in our retail outlets. The earth didn’t stop turning when we did it. That’s a good example of the changes that we can make that have an immediate impact. Banning Styrofoam packaging is a next step.

Politics
1. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?
Redistricting has changed the lines and I have accepted a donation from a past resident. I do not accept contributions from political action committees or off-island sources.

2. Do you support publicly funded elections?

Yes.
And finally, is there any issue that you feel strongly about but which is not covered above? If so, tell us about it.

In closing, we can embrace new technologies and new ways of doing things without sacrificing our shared values and spirit of aloha.

 

Senate District 4 Election Questionnaire: Malama Solomon

 

What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?

My district embraces 28 distinct communities with very diverse priorities and concerns but every single resident is harmed by the cost and environmental impact of current energy and agricultural practices.

If we can slow down the export of billions of dollars annually for oil and food, we will have the money needed to invest in diversifying our economy and protecting Hawai’i’s natural resources, and also to provide the programs, services, facilities and opportunities our communities deserve.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and what would you do about them?

See above.

If not covered above, what are your views on:

Energy
1. What can the state do to make the island’s power grid more compatible with solar energy?

PUC must mandate HELCO upgrade its energy grid. This would allow HELCO to allow more customers to install solar systems.

2. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for the military?

Yes if local farmers are going to benefit from this production.

3. Do you believe biofuel production for civilian electricity and transportation should be expanded on the Big Island?

My priority is lowering energy costs to consumers, period. If biofuel production can achieve this without subsidies or surcharges on consumers, then I’m in support because it could reduce exporting billions of dollars for fossil fuels.

4. Do you believe geothermal production should be expanded on the Big Island? If it is expanded, what can the state to do make geothermal production safer?

I support geothermal energy because it is a natural resource that belongs to all the people of Hawai’i and the production of this resource will reduce our cost of energy substantially, and it qualifies under federal law as a baseload power. It is with the combination of geothermal energy with solar, hydro, wind and ocean thermal that the State of Hawai’i can become energy self-sufficient and electrical vehicles an affordable reality. Use of state-of-the-art geothermal technology ensures safety.

5. Do you believe the state should invest in an undersea power cable to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu?

I believe our priority is to address affordable energy self-sufficiency for the Island of Hawai’i first, and only then should the state invest in an undersea power cable providing the cost-benefit can be passed onto all consumers statewide.
6. What can be done to make the state, as a whole, use less energy?
No comment

7. Do you accept campaign contributions from HECO, HELCO, petroleum companies or other companies with a commercial interest in energy?

I have received contributions from green energy companies.

Food
1. What can the state do to encourage more local food production for local markets?

The State Department of Agriculture needs to be restructured to focus on regulation, invasive species and customs inspections, and the Agricultural Development Corporation has a more entrepreneurial responsibility to expand food production whose focus is to build more capacity in the private sector.

The State also needs to provide infrastructure funding, which I have supported, to make water and land accessible and affordable for agricultural production. The legislature must also continue to support the research efforts of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and its food science laboratory.

2. Do you support the labeling of genetically modified foods?
Yes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Solomon has opposed attempts to regulate and label GM foods at the state level.  In other forums, she has said that she supports GM labeling at the federal level.

3. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of genetically modified seed production?
Yes as it applies to pesticide use.

4. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of pesticides?
Yes if needed.

5. Do support regulation of pesticides and/or gm crops at the county level?
This issue is now in the courts.

Housing, employment and homelessness

1. How can the state encourage the building of affordable housing?
Yes.

2. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy
sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between more affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the state do to put people and jobs closer together?

The state should provide more incentives to the private sector to encourage more affordable workforce housing for purchase and rentals.

3. How can the state get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?

The State must give the Counties more legal authority and funding to deal with the issues of homelessness.

Crime and prison reform

1. What’s the best way to relieve the overcrowding of Hawaii’s prison system?
Securing funding to focus more on prevention and rehabilitation rather than incarceration, and also giving more discretionary prerogatives to judges to recommend alternative sentencing.

2. Do you favor the building of a privately-owned prison in Hawaii? Would you support the building of such a prison on the Big Island?
Yes and Yes.

3. Do you favor the establishment of a Pu`uhonua with a program based on ho`oponopono within the state correctional system? If so, should that program be limited only to kanaka maoli or open to all prisoners?
Yes – and it should be open to all prisoners based on a judges recommendation. I co-sponsored a resolution about this during 27th Legislature that passed.

4. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?

I favor legalization but only if we can grow it so that we control the product from beginning to end. Also, laws applicable to alcohol use must apply to marijuana.

Politics

1. Do you support the current House and Senate leadership, or would you favor a change?
A change of leadership in the State Senate is inevitable as elected officials are running for other offices and some have opted for retirement.

2. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?
Yes.

3 Do you support publicly funded elections?
I strongly support the public financing of campaigns. I was a co-sponsor of SB391 SD2 HD2 (26th Legislature) which provided for a pilot program in Hawai’i County for public funding for elections.

4. If elected, on which committees would you most want to serve?

Water-Land, which I currently Chair; Higher Education, Tourism and Ways And Means.

 

County Council District 2 Questionnaire: Margarita “Dayday” Hopkins

What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?
Hawaii County’s economy, including in District 2, is still struggling. Well–?paying jobs for our current residents are scarce. Our children and grandchildren, even those with college degrees, have very little opportunity to stay on our island. Brilliant minds that could contribute to creating a vibrant economy are forced to leave rupturing the ties that bind our extended families together. This is the sad reality even though our island is endowed with numerous unique resources. Jobs creation requires a strong economy and that requires a healthy and safe environment in its broadest sense. County Council must recognize its limitation and focus on local issues. We are a small place in the middle of a big ocean – Council must unite and work together with our private citizens and businesses to provide job opportunities. We need to:

Promote job opportunities in partnership with the private sector;

Work with farmers to increase our local food supply;

Work to reduce homelessness, particularly in downtown Hilo;

Seek improved road safety and access;

Advocate for community–?wide affordable alternative energy;

Make decisions on the fate of the Hilo landfill.

Support the University as a major component of our economy.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii and
what would you do about them?
The most important issues for District 2 (see preceding question) are the same
for the entire County.

If not covered above, what are your views on:

Energy

1. Do you believe the island should increase its use of geothermal energy?
Yes

2. If so, what can be done at the county level to address community
concerns about geothermal safety?
Better transparency and expansion of the fund to buy-out geothermal neighbors who want to move. And pay them a modest premium for their inconvenience.

3. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce
biofuels for local power generation and/or transportation?
Yes, if it is economically viable and adequate soil conservation practices
are required. Land is one of our resources that can be used to increase
our self-sufficiency.

4. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce
biofuels for off-island use?
Yes, if it is economically viable and adequate soil conservation practices are required. Land is one of our resources that can be used to provide jobs for our children and grandchildren, as few of them have the benefit of trust funds and income from outside the island.

5. Do you believe an undersea power cable should be built to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu? Why or why not?
I have not made up my mind one way or the other and do not engage in knee-jerk Oahu bashing, even though it feels good. There are both benefits and potential costs to our island. Our electrical stability should increase because energy can flow from Oahu to here, not just the other way.

Energy generation here provides jobs.
The key is how the energy will be generated and the impacts of that generation on our island.
I need to see much more concrete proposals.

6. What can be done to allow the county and its population to use less energy?
Decrease the reliance on fossil fuels byIncreasing public transportation. The “free” bus was a great idea but it needs to service more area and be more convenient.
Add and improve bike lanes
Encourage more electrical charging stations
Support the proposed research on hydrogen-powered buses.

Decrease electrical consumption by
Requiring LEED certification for all new County buildings
Continue to support a County energy coordinator to monitor energy use within County government and explore newtechnologies to reduce energy consumption. Revise building codes to allow greater use of alternate, yet safe,building methods that reduce energy requirements.

Food
1. What can the county do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
Work with the farmers to collaboratively meet key infrastructure needs (that can not be met by the private sector alone because of economies of scale). For example,
o Mobile slaughterhouses
o Feed mill
o Consolidation and storage facilities
o Improve information collection and distribution re: markets, prices,
etc.
Work with the University, USDA and HDOA to rejuvenate the agricultural extension service that has been gutted in recent years.
Encourage use of locally-produced foods by schools and government facilities.
Expand and simplify the County seed-grant program for innovative agricultural technologies
Support all types of farming, not just the organic methods preferred by some Council members. Whether they like it or not, organic farming is small with conventional farms providing 90 to 95% of our food.

2. Do you support the regulation, at the county level, of genetically modified crops?
No, because the County does not have the expertise nor the authority to do so. We are being used as pawns by both the large environmental organizations and the biotech industry. And all the County has accomplished is wasting time and resources on attorneys. That being said, I am not opposed to standardized federal regulation requiring labeling of GMO foods and medicines.

2. Do you support increased regulation, at the county level, of agricultural pesticides?
No, because the County does not have the expertise nor the authority to do so. Again, we are being used as pawns by both the large environmental organizations and the biotech industry. And all the County will accomplish is wasting time and resources on attorneys. That being said, I strongly support education campaigns to reduce the usage of pesticides, including in urban settings.

Housing, employment and homelessness
1. How can the county encourage the building of affordable housing?
Speed up the building permit process
Encourage new, more cost-efficient, building technologies
Reduce subdivision requirements when lots are large enough (2 or 3
acres?) so that impacts on neighbors are minimal
Require a bond for affordable housing when new developments are approved and then actually, enforce the housing requirements or collect the bond and use it for affordable housing.

2. For decades, economic debates have centered on creating jobs, and jobs were often assumed to be employment with large companies or the government. But efforts to create jobs with large corporate endeavors have often met with fierce local resistance on this island—Oji Paper, the Ka’u private prison, and various proposed resorts come to mind. And Hawaii Island’s economy has always included thousands of people making their livings in other ways, such as self-employment and even subsistence fishing, hunting and farming. Entire communities, such as Holualoa, Hawi, and Honoka`a, have little corporate presence but many locally-owned businesses and home-based entrepreneurs. Given this context, what can the county do to promote more livings of all sorts on this island?
This is the most important problem facing our community. The County should support all types of business. But there are no magic bullets. At present, County Council does not support job creation, it impedes it. It is paralyzed with indecision and uses the precautionary principle and a need for “perfect information” as excuses for doing nothing except hiring more consultants. Council is very adverse to controversy and strives for consensus.
Unfortunately, consensus is impossible to achieve as the “CAVE” people do exist, have found a way to live in their paradise, and will be opposed to any change. They are very vocal and have the time and resources to lobby Council. But Council must look beyond them to the vast silent majority who do not have the luxury of trust funds, fortunes made elsewhere, nor inherited lands. Council must evaluate each project regardless of type based on its economic and environmental merits, particularly its potential for creating well-paying jobs. Council should politely listen to our citizens but it must stand up to the bullies who have little regard for the less fortunate, often minority communities.

3. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the county do to put people and livings closer together?
Any new major project should be required to build or finance affordable housing within a short commuting distance (10 or 15 miles?).

4. What can the county do to get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?
The reality is the County only gives lip-service to the homeless problem. The County lost a great opportunity to convert the old Hilo Hotel into a homeless shelter but did not provide the required financial support. There are numerous strategies and organizations working to address this problem but they all need money. We must support them.

Crime and prison reform
1. Would you favor the building of a privately-owned prison on the Big Island?
No

2. What can the county do to reduce domestic violence and promote domestic harmony on the island?
Collaborate with and support the organizations that are active in providing services to address this issue.

3. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?
Yes. Because prohibition has been counter productive. That being said, distribution to minors and driving under the influence must be severely punished. Programs to provided factual education about marijuana’s effects and misuse are necessary and must be funded.

4. What else can the county do to reduce crime and/or lower the number of incarcerated island residents?
Increase police presence, particularly in high crime areas and encourage and support neighborhood watch programs.

Transportation
1. What is the biggest transportation need in your district and what can be done to meet it?

Better public transportation by increasing both the coverage and frequency of bus services

2. How can the county reduce the amount of driving that its citizens must do?
Increase the number of County Services that can be accessed through the internet and mail including payment by credit card. Provide County Services on a scheduled basis at the various Community Centers around the island.

Waste and recycling
1. Do you support Mayor Kenoi’s plan to build a waste-to-energy conversion plant in East Hawaii?
The County has been dithering over this issue for many years while the cost has sky-rocketed. Many highly qualified persons support waste-to-energy after recyclables have been removed. Let’s accept that we will never have perfect information and make a decision based on all of the consultants’ reports that are already crowding County shelves!

2. What can be done to reduce the amount of solid waste created in Hawaii County?
Make recycling easy. Restricting types of wastes to be recycled coupled with limited hours of operation and few recycling sites is counterproductive.

Politics
1. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?

Yes. When you are not the anointed one, you should use whatever resources are available to you as long as there are no strings attached. My supporters from outside the district support me because of my positions.

2. Do you support publicly funded elections?

Yes. But, unfortunately, the public has not provided adequate funds for this (required by the existing system). Thank you for this opportunity to respond to a very well thought-out set of questions.

A Better Choice — Plan, Prepare, Enjoy!

PattiH_HeadShot

By Patti Hatzistavrakis

One thing I think every person on the planet can agree with is the shear busyness of life. Life pulls us in all sorts of directions; some people work to provide for themselves and their families, some stay home to care for children or an elderly loved one. But one thing is true; we all need to take care of ourselves if we are to live long, happy, productive lives.

When I began the journey to change my eating habits from mostly prepared foods to 90% homemade, I realized that the planning and preparation of food was taking up most of my free time. Now, three and half years later, I’ve come to learn that this food fuels my life and that planning and preparing food is something that cannot be hurried. It takes time, practice and commitment.

Taking a few minutes to plan and prepare before cooking can save time, save money, build cooking skills and increase the healthiness of meals. All of which can enrich life in so many ways. I’d like to share some of my tips for planning and preparing healthy homemade foods as efficiently and as easily as possible.

I find it most time effective to shop for groceries once a week, so I visit my local farmer’s market and favorite grocery store to get everything on my list. Purchasing a variety of in season fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats and eggs, as well as whole grains allows me to quickly pull meals together all week by simply mixing and matching the ingredients.  Read more

Winespeak — Wines For Summer; Anything But Chardonnay

By Selene Alice Wayne

 

It’s the middle of summer and it’s hot. Big rains did come but heat has been the big player. The last thing I want to bring to the campfire or picnic table is red wine. Even a light and fruity Beaujolais seems too heavy in this weather. That’s when I reach for a white wine.

The realm of white wine is vast, yet the space devoted to chardonnay seems to rival all other varietals combined. If a producer makes white wine, the first one was more than likely a chardonnay. Now, there’s nothing wrong with chardonnays, there are quite a few I actually like for not being a fan. There are just so many other whites that are more interesting, I’d rather reach for something refreshing, uplifting, sassy or citrusy.

The choosing-the-right-bottle battle remains the same. With colors ranging from almost clear to yellow to almost green and plastered with labels touting words like minerally, grassy, stone fruits and zesty, the decision seems as easy as picking the winning lottery ball from the barrel. Just like learning about red wines, once you demystify the words describing white wine, the search is easier and more fun.

Stony and minerally roughly equate to the earthiness of reds. Instead of sponging through a mossy forest full of mushrooms, imagine sitting on a rock by a gravelly stream cut through layers of shale and schist, and it’s windy so you can taste the air. Somehow that’s minerally and stony. Whereas red wines are filled with fruits like red raspberries, cherries and strawberries, the fruitiness of whites lie in peaches and nectarines (stone fruits), melons and citrus, including grapefruit and lime. Grassy is one of the more unlikely describing words. Unbelievably, it tastes exactly as it sounds and it’s great with fish and salads. When whites are sweet, they can be rich like honey or have just the sweetest accentuation of the fruit flavors already present. A floral presence in wine seems odd, but hints of a light perfume can boost dishes like jasmine rice or summer rolls.

Outside of chardonnay, the most recognizable white wines are pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and riesling. Pinot grigio is a nice entry level white because it is usually on the dry side, can taste anywhere from stony to fruity but hardly ever are the flavors startling or overpowering. Pinot grigio is also very food friendly. Most of the time, a sauvignon blanc is stony, minerally, grassy or citrusy. They are uplifting and leave your mouth refreshed rather than coated. When presented with a riesling, my first thought is that it is sweet but, in fact, there are many that are dry. Rieslings can be quite the chameleon on the table since they pair wonderfully with hot and spicy but also spices like cinnamon and still yet desserts like bread pudding and cheesecake.

Selene Alice Wayne jpgThere are also quite a few lesser known white varietals that should also be considered in hot weather. Albariño is a more elegant sauvignon blanc. Torrontes and viognier can have that floral quality present. Vermentino and falanghina are fun to say and just as tasty. Chenin blanc, Soave, moscato, the list goes on.

Heavy meals aren’t what’s for dinner this season, so why should you keep reaching for those winter wines that keep you warm inside? These two whites offer a change from the typical chardonnay and give your mouth a welcome lift on a hot day:

Matanzas Creek Saugvignon Blanc: After just one sip, I wanted to eat some “stinky” cheese like blue or gorgonzola. It was melony but grapefruity and there was a hint of sweetness on top of just a bit of mineral. I gladly drank what was left the next night.

Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino: This beautiful wine is from Sardinia off the coast of Italy and made by a father and twin son team devoted to keeping Sardinia’s wines and vines native. Full of citrus and tropical fruits with a touch of honey, this wine would be a perfect complement to Asian fusion foods and other summer seafood fare.

Thanks again to Ryan at Kadota Liquors for supplying ideas on both subject matter and which wines to experiment with.

Selene Alice Wayne writes from Puna.

 

State Representative District 5 Questionnaire: Randy Ruiz

What do you think are the most important issues for your district, and what would you do about them?
Many residents of Representative District 5 earn a living directly or indirectly from Tourism and Hospitality. Our residents commute long distances to the resorts in Kona and Kohala. We need rest stations with modern, clean sanitary facilities to serve our residents and visitors alike.
Once past Manuka State Wayside there is not another public restroom for 30 miles (at Kealakekua Ranch Center in Captain Cook, if it is OPEN) and 16 miles to Waiohinu Park, which although a blessing for local residents, is not really up to standards for our tourists.
Medical services are sparse, with Kona Community Hospital servicing both North and South Kona and Ka’u. Our CMHC (Community Mental Health Center) remains unstaffed by a psychiatrist. My constituents worry that if a new hospital is developed for North Kona that vital services at the Kealakekua location may be lost. It is important to preserve these services so that our residents are not forced to drive to Hilo, or fly to Oahu.

What do you think are the most important issues for the Island of Hawaii as a whole, and what would you do about them?
Quality educations for our children, along with viable career opportunities, are of paramount importance. As a DOE high school teacher I have seen firsthand what is referred to as a “brain drain”. Our keiki, after graduating from university are not inclined to return to our district but opt rather to live in more inviting and exciting locations that offer opportunities not found here. In the next few years many of our local doctors will have retired. We are already desperately short of these professionals.
Even though our state senator and our state representative are M.D.s, I do not believe that they have done enough to procure doctors for our district.

If not covered above, what are your views on:

Energy
1. What can the state do to make the island’s power grid more compatible with solar energy?
Solar is very important as a source of alternative renewable energy and a source of employment. The state should require HELCO to work with residents so that everyone is treated fairly. Owners of solar panels that provide HELCO with energy should be paid a fair rate for the electricity they provide to the grid and not be taken advantage of by the “monopoly”. It seems as if our “monopoly” electric company is reluctant facilitate solar and work with its customers. They already charge some of the highest KW rates in the nation.

2. Do you believe that Big Island farmland should be used to produce biofuels for the military?
NO. When I moved here in 1987 I wrote letters to the Editor of West Hawaii Today opposing the proposed rocket launching facility (supported by Mufi Hanneman, Bob Herkes, and Malama Solomon) as incompatible with our local lifestyles and our tourist industry. I feel the same way about biofuels.
Our farmland should be put into the production of food for the residents of the State of Hawaii. We already import massive quantities of food and fuel, but perishable items like fruits and vegetables would be fresher and healthier than those that spend many days being shipped for all over the world. “Freshness” is not a factor that affects fuels at all.

3. Do you believe biofuel production for civilian electricity and transportation should be expanded on the Big Island?
I do not support the $400 million Biofuel plant proposed by Dr. Chiogiogi’s consortium. It is incompatible with our local lifestyles, tourism and ecotourism, and would be located in the middle of Volcanoes National Park, the #1 visitor destination in the state. However, I do believe that we should recycle the massive amounts of cooking oil used commercially by restaurants and hotels and blend it into biodiesel for use in transportation.

4. Do you believe geothermal production should be expanded on the Big Island? If it is expanded, what can the state to do make geothermal production safer?
Expansion of geothermal would lessen our dependence on imported oil, diesel, which HELCO currently burns to generate electricity. Geothermal does not produce the pollution now being emitted by HELCO’s diesel generators.
Although some groups are opposed to geothermal it is a viable and renewable source of energy that lessens our dependence on imported petroleum products. Buffer safety zones need to be maintained so that no neighbors are not in close proximity. The state needs to have regulations in place mandating safe practices, and then follow this up with meaningful inspections by qualified professionals. (I once worked for James Pflueger, whose dam broke on Kauai. I feel that the state was negligent in inspecting that dam. If they had done their jobs correctly lives would not have been lost.)

5. Do you believe the state should invest in an undersea power cable to transport Big Island-generated energy to O`ahu?
NO. It does not seem practical or cost effective. Until we stop all burning of fossil fuels on the Big Island we will need as much alternative energy as possible here on the Big Island.
O’ahu’s H-Power plant (garbage to energy) produces 8% of O’ahu’s electricity. Instead of sending them electricity, we should consider shipping them our garbage to fuel their H-Power plant and thus reduce what we have to now haul to our landfills.

6. What can be done to make the state, as a whole, use less energy?
The state should ban or tax heavily inefficient technologies that waste energy. I have heard that halogen lamps are very wasteful, to the point where they have actually cancelled out any gains made from the use of efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs.
7. Do you accept campaign contributions from HECO, HELCO, petroleum companies or other companies with a commercial interest in energy?
No. I would consider accepting contributions from alternative renewable energy producers. In District 5 we have a wind farm near South Point. I believe solar electricity farms could provide us with additional electricity for our homes and businesses.
Food
1. What can the state do to encourage more local food production for local markets?
Small businesses are the engine that propels our economy. My next-door neighbor has an organic aquaponic farm that runs efficiently while conserving water. Establishing tax credits for farmers who invest in the necessary infrastructure would help to develop this type of operation. We should discourage “mono-crop” production and encourage diversity. My family in Waimea raises heirloom tomatoes and peppers which they sell at local farmers’ markets.

2. Do you support the labeling of genetically modified foods?
Yes. And I vote with my wallet by purchasing foods that are labeled “Non-GMO”. But many foods certainly contain GMO’s without our knowledge. For instance, we all love Best Foods Mayonnaise, but I am fairly certain that the soybean and other oils used in its production are GMO. Without labelling, who knows?

3. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of genetically modified seed production?
Yes. Monsanto and other huge corporations can afford to pay any price for farmland thus pricing our local farmers out of the market. In addition, on the mainland and in Canada these corporations have been very heavy-handed when their GMO pollen has “infected” neighboring farmland and they have vast resources to sue small farmers and effectively drive them out of business.

4. Do you support increased regulation, at the state level, of pesticides?
Yes. Pesticide, insecticide and herbicide application has increased dramatically in past decades, along with overall cancer rates. These new classes of chemicals are now water-soluble and much more concentrated than previous products. Honeybee populations have been decimated by the use of neonicotinoids which are concentrated in the pollens that they collect and consume.

5. Do support regulation of pesticides and/or gm crops at the county level?
Yes.

Housing, employment and homelessness
1. How can the state encourage the building of affordable housing?
The state was in the “subdivision” business and that was deemed illegal (the state turned over their development in Kona to the DHHL). The state should encourage the development of small, comfortable, energy efficient homes. This is an issue that is quite important. I myself would like to purchase an affordable house with county water! There certainly is no shortage of million dollar homes but there is definitely a shortage of homes for the average working resident.
I believe that the county is the driving force and that they should develop some formula that would create attractive affordable housing for our ohana and not just developments for billionaires…
2. Historically, planning for housing and jobs on this island has not been conducted with energy sustainability in mind, as evidenced by the long commute between more affordable housing in East Hawaii and jobs at the resort nodes in West Hawaii. What can the state do to put people and jobs closer together?
I worked at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel in 1987 and I was one of the first employees to live at La’ilani, a large apartment complex that the developer of the hotel agreed to build as a condition when they developed the resort. Although it was still 30 miles from the resort, this affordable housing was in a desirable area, close to stores and recreational activities in Kailua-Kona. More agreements like that one would help employees live closer to their jobs.

3. How can the state get more homeless people into housing without taking their things or putting them in prison?
It is true that the homeless in Hawaii are treated quite badly and rather than receiving help they are often the subjects of laws and regulations that seek to make them “disappear”. I believe this to be more of an issue at the county level, and mainly on Oahu. The state could do more to find these people housing and do more to address the mental illness and drug addiction that many suffer from. I mentioned previously that Mental Health Services in District 5 are nearly non-existent due to a lack of doctors.
Crime and prison reform…

1. What’s the best way to relieve the overcrowding of Hawaii’s prison system?
Non-violent offenders who committed victimless crimes should, whether through parole or probation, be released to their `ohana if possible, or to some other community based program. Rehabilitation and re-entry into society should take priority over our current strategy of merely punishing offenders and then turning them loose on our streets.

2. Do you favor the building of a privately-owned prison in Hawaii? Would you support the building of such a prison on the Big Island?
This has been proposed before and my constituents in District 5 have opposed any such facility. They do not want prisoners from the other islands incarcerated here.

3. Do you favor the establishment of a Pu`uhonua with a program based on ho`oponopono within the state correctional system? If so, should that program be limited only to kanaka maoli or open to all prisoners?
This seems to be an excellent way to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them to be productive members of society. More prisoners would be served if it were open to all offenders since Kanaka Maoli account for only a fraction of those incarcerated.

4. Do you favor the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?
I do favor the legalization of marijuana and recognize it as a potential for state revenue akin to beer and wine.
I believe that countless lives have been ruined due to the criminalization of marijuana. Precious resources have been squandered prosecuting and imprisoning our citizens for what is a victimless crime, not to mention the costs associated with helicopter-based eradication efforts. Prior to 1933 marijuana was legal, and the push to criminalize marijuana was actually a form of racism directed at Mexicans residing in Arizona.

Politics
1. Do you support the current house leadership, or would you favor a change?
I am running as a non-partisan. Although I do favor change, given the Democratic “super-majority”, I am not optimistic that any meaningful change is forthcoming.

2. Do you accept campaign contributions from outside your district?
I have not yet accepted a contribution from outside of my district.
I will accept contributions from Residents of Hawaii outside of my district, especially from my ohana here on the Big Island. I asked my cousins in Waimea, who raise heirloom tomatoes, to support me. I am from an old kama’aina family. My grandfather had 9 brothers and sisters, and my grandmother had 9 brothers and sisters. So, I have hundreds of cousins from my 18 great aunts and uncles who I hope will contribute to my campaign.

3. Do you support publicly funded elections?
Yes. If I can raise $1500 from residents of Hawaii the state will contribute $2712 to my campaign. This will help me to purchase signs and other campaign materials. In order to receive those funds I have agreed to campaign spending limits, which for District 5 is just over $18,000.00.

4. If elected, on which committees would you most want to serve?
The committees of most importance to District 5, in my opinion, are:
Tourism Committee
Agriculture Committee
Ocean, Marine Resources, Hawaiian Affairs Committee
Water & Land Committee.
I would be honored to serve on any one of them