Viewpoint: Of Garbage and Terrorists

(Ed. Note:  This weekend, while working on stories our new print edition of the Chronicle. I ran across this essay, which I wrote over a decade ago in the Hawaii Island Journal.  The stories I’m working on are  about the future of recycling on the Big Island, the influence of the real estate construction industry on government  and two proposed laws that would make it easier for people to live near their jobs. This piece is relevant to all three issues–and, sadly, just as pertinent now as it was then.  We still need to learn these lessons. –AM)

 

by Alan McNarie

This edition  contains yet another piece about waste and recycling by Alan D. McNarie.  Over the years since I first began writing for the Journal’s predecessor, Ka’u Landing, I’ve written tens of thousands of words on the topic – so many articles that I’ve lost count, and have sometimes referred to myself, jokingly, as “Mr. Garbage.” Frankly, I’m rather sick of writing about the subject.

But it’s a topic that just won’t seem to go away, especially on an island forced to cope with mainland living habits in a limited space. The issue of what to do with East Hawai‘i’s garbage, especially, is one of the toughest, most intractable problems that the Kim administration faces – partly because of the previous administration’s inability to face it creatively, and partly because of the current council’s own inability to form a cohesive policy or to agree with the Mayor’s. Despite that, the island has made some significant progress, opening the Kea’au recycling center and steadily increasing the amount of recycling diverted from the island’s landfills. And  our neighbor island of Maui has made some even greater, highly innovative strides.

But even on Maui, they’re only diverting about a third of the waste stream into recycling; they recently had to cap off their own landfill and start another. Recycling is never going to be the total answer. Nor is burning garbage to produce power; just look at the mountain of clinkers outside the Pepe’ekeo power plant, if you think it is. That cinder pile is quite likely the second-largest man-made artifact on this island, after the Hilo landfill. There will always be stuff that won’t burn, or that isn’t safe to burn, and there will always be ashes left after burning.

We haven’t even begun to address the real issue, which is that we simply create too much waste. Changing that is going to be the toughest job of all, because it involves rethinking something that many of us summarize with a sacred phrase: the American Way of Life.

Since the dark days after 9-11, our president and his minions have repeatedly said that we were going to war to defend the American Way of Life. It’s a catch phrase that our leaders use almost as much as “defending freedom.” But the American Way of Life is almost certainly the most extravagant and wasteful society ever conceived by humankind: a society shaped by three hundred years in which we solved our problems by grabbing more land and materials, until we’d expanded clear across a continent and halfway across the Pacific, gobbling up millions of years’ worth of resources — oil, coal, metals, timber, fossil groundwater, topsoil — in a mere twelve or so generations. In Minnesota, we turned an entire range of hills into a vast holes in the ground to extract iron; in Appalachia and the Western U.S., we’ve taken entire mountains for coal and copper. Now we’re starting to run out of nearly everything from oil to old-growth timber, so we’re buying or seizing everyone else’s resources. There are only 250 million or so of us, and over 6 billion people worldwide, yet we consume about 20 percent of the world’s energy.

America’s westward expansion has shaped our culture in other ways, as well. The ability to seize new lands helped to form the original American Dream: instead of waiting to inherit your father’s farm or business, you went out and started your own. And frontier life no doubt helped shape our extraordinarily heightened cultural values of independence and self-reliance.

Some time in the past fifty years or so, the American dream morphed from owning one’s own farm or business into owning a house in the suburbs — and still more recently, into owning a home or condo next to a golf course, inside a gated subdivision. But our encultured values of independence and self-reliance still drive us to occupy incredible amounts of space and use up incredible amounts of resources. We drive to work everyday in our own cars, burning up incredible amounts of gasoline. We drive to shopping. Each family home houses maybe two generations –the parents and their kids, until the kids turn 18, when they’re encouraged to “find their own place.” Each household must have pretty much everything it needs to function, from power tools and lawn tractors to eight place settings of dishes and flatware for entertaining guests. Very few Americans would survive if all their possessions were piled on top of them.

Or if their waste streams were piled on top of them, either. We generate mountains of garbage. Some of it’s just worn-out stuff, but most of it is green waste (caused by our desire to own a little patch of land, like the vestige of a family farm, but not enough to support a sheep, so we buy steel sheep that burn gasoline and don’t digest what they eat), paper products and petroleum products — much of the latter two in the form of cardboard and plastic packaging. Instead of getting our hams from the family smokehouse, we get just enough meat for a couple of people; it’s wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam, and generally shipped from a packing plant miles (in our case on this island, often thousands of miles) away.

Ironically, this drive for personal independence has left us, as a nation, incredibly dependent. Not only have we used up most of our own resources; we’ve created a lifestyle that’s so expensive that we can’t compete for jobs with the much of the rest of the world.

Other cultures have more-or-less tolerated our resource-hogging, so far, because they know how to live comfortably on much less. I saw this first-hand when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Thai families lived perfectly happily with at least three, sometimes four generations in each home. Middle-aged men living with their parents were common; a young man who got married often moved his wife into his parent’s household. And families lived within walking distance their work; teachers lived in housing supplied by the school; factory workers lived in housing supplied by the factory; shopkeepers lived over their shops, and farm families lived on their farms. Nearly every farm was located within bicycling distance of the nearest village. For rare occasions when a trip to the city was necessary, there was plenty of cheap public transportation. Nobody needed a car.

And everyone shared what they had. I’ve often pointed to the example of the bicycle pump that I owned. I was living in a factory-worker’s house behind a furniture factory, since the school’s housing was full. All the factory workers borrowed my bicycle pump, whenever they needed one. Sometimes I would have to go looking for it when I needed it, but eventually it always came back. And of course, one doesn’t need a bicycle pump all that often.

The pump was a sturdy iron thing, weighing six or seven pounds, with a three-foot length of hose. By sharing it with twelve families, I saved at least 72 pounds of processed iron and 36 feet of rubber hose, and all the energy required to mine, harvest, manufacture and transport those resources. And all those families saved the money required to purchase their own bicycle pump.

Multiply those figures by the scores of such objects that the average American household has. The resource and financial savings are pretty staggering.

That was only the beginning of the resource conservation inherent in Thai society. A typical Thai toilet, flushed by dipping a bowl into a tank and throwing the water into the toilet bowl, required only a quart or two of water to flush. Instead of a dozen different cleaning products, Thais generally bought a big box of what Americans would call laundry detergent, and used it for everything from dish washing to scrubbing floors. Goods in stores seldom came in packages, if that could be avoided. Paper bags, when they were needed, were made from glued-together magazine pages. All of the paper at our school was recycled: thicker, looser stuff than American paper, but actually easier on the eyes because it wasn’t glaring white. Nobody used incandescent bulbs in their homes or businesses; every light was fluorescent. Most food came from local farms, which sometimes used chemicals that were banned in the U.S., but which also engaged in what, in the U.S., would be called permaculture. When I stayed with a host family during my Peace Corps training, I was surprised to discover that every tree in the “forest” surrounding my family’s house produced something edible. The family wasted little food, and generated relatively little trash–and most of that was composted.

I have lived the American Way of Life and the Thai Way of Life. I can testify that Thais are no less happy, and probably are generally happier than Americans.

In the global economy, we are now competing directly with the Thais, and the Chinese, and the Mexicans, and dozens of other cultures that have learned these hard lessons of conservation and sharing. The whole world cannot afford to live the American Way of Life, nor can it afford to let us keep turning its resources into mountains of garbage. Eventually, it will stop letting us do so–if not by bombing us, then by selling us things until it has all our money and owns all our assets.

Ronald Reagan was fond of saying that there really were simple solutions, there just weren’t easy solutions. In this case, I agree with him. If we don’t want to truck garbage across the island, and if we don’t want foreigners hating us so much that they fly airplanes into our extravagant skyscrapers, then the solution to both problems is simple, but very hard: we must change our way of life. We must stop demanding that the world support our lifestyle; we must learn to share and conserve, and develop social institutions that allow us to do so.

This may be easier to do in Hawai‘i than on the Mainland, because many island residents already have roots in cultures that knew better, and many Hawai’i residents of American ancestry came to these islands in search of an alternate way of doing things. In Hawai‘i, we don’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, typical Americans. We can choose the best of American culture – its emphasis on human rights and democracy, for instance — and the best of our other root cultures as well. Perhaps Hawai’i can forge a way of life that the Mainland can imitate. But we need to get started. The landfills are overflowing, and gasoline is over $3 a gallon

 

 

 

UH-Hilo Events Celebrate Black History Month

From Michael Marshall:

The month of February has been designated as Black History Month (BHM) in the effort to raise awareness about the African American experience in the USA and create cultural connections between the diverse populations of the UH Hilo community.

The Civil rights movement,which benefited all under-represented minority groups, evolved from the aspirations of African Americans and need for this population to be recognized and included as vital members of society. In spite of this, the future that was envisioned by civil rights leaders and their communities has not materialized or reached a level of equity among these groups which is reflected in the ongoing institutionalized racism and discrimination that occurs in every corner of the nation.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo (UH Hilo) in collaboration with Hawai`i Community College (HawCC) is planning events for Black History month. The following events will be featured throughout the month of February:

• The Loving Story: Film Documentary
Thursday, February 5, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Location: UCB 100
Free
Q & A to follow with Deloris Guttman, Historian from the African Am. Diversity Cultural Center of HI

• Eric Bibb – Blues Guitar
Wednesday, February 11, 7:30pm
Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
Fee: $12/$17 Students

• Prince Ea: Award winning Rapper, & You Tube sensation from St Louis
Tuesday, February 17, 6 p.m. Life Performance
Opening Acts include: Quadaja Herriot, Spoken Word Poet and
Zach Street, Slam Poet
Location: Campus Center Plaza
Wednesday, February 18, 12:00 p.m. Talk Story Session
Location: Campus Center 301
Free

• El Hajj Malik Reading: Chronicles the life of Malcom X
50th Anniversary of his assassination
Thursday, February 19; 12:30 p.m.
Location: UH Hilo Dining Room in Campus Center
(will feature soul food on the menu)

• Kyle Abraham; Abraham.in.motion Dance Co.
February 24; 7:30 p.m.
Location: UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
Fee: $15/$20 Students

• Donald Suggs; Publisher & Executive Editor of the St. Louis Am. Newspaper
February 25, 2:00-3:30 p.m.
Location: UCB 127
Free

The committee that planned these events is comprised of faculty, staff, and students. Sponsors include UH Hilo Art Dept, MAAP, Student Health & Wellness; various student organizations including UHHSA, SAC, BOMB BOSP; and HAWCC History Dept. and Student Council. Each of these groups has dedicated their time and resources in their own special way to make the events for this memorable month a success.
For more information please contact the MAAP office at 932-7461. For disability accommodations, call 933-0818 (V), 933-3334(TTY).

Two Children Die in Holualoa Fire

From the Hawaii Police Department:

Hawai?i Island detectives are at the scene of a fatal fire in H?lualoa.

At 1:56 a.m. Thursday (January 29), Kona Patrol officers responded to a residential fire on the 76-5200 block of Old M?malahoa Highway.

When they arrived, the one-story house was fully engulfed in flames. Fire Department personnel extinguished the fire.

Two adults and two children were able to exit the house. Two other children, tentatively identified as an 11-year-old boy and a 6-year-old boy, died in the fire. Their identity is being withheld pending positive identification.

Police and Fire Department personnel are jointly investigating the cause of the fire.

Police do no suspect foul play. An autopsy will be scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.

For full details, view this message on the web.

Hawaii News — Police Sergeant Facing Charges For Domestic Violence, Threatening Fellow Officer

http://s3.amazonaws.com/nixle/uploads/pub_media/user5252-1422593990-media1

Troutman

(Media release) — A Hawaii Police Department sergeant has been arrested and charged with four offenses in connection with an early morning incident in Kapa?au.

In response to a 1:50 a.m. call, officers responded to a home on Kynnersley Road, where it was reported that 62-year-old Marvin Kelly Troutman had pulled the hair of a 55-year-old woman and then threatened her and an 18-year-old man.

When police responded, Troutman reportedly threatened a 44-year-old police officer.

He was arrested and taken to the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Juvenile Aid Section, which is responsible for domestic abuse cases, continued the investigation.

At 3:35 p.m. Thursday (January 29), Troutman was charged with abuse of a family/household member and three counts of terroristic threatening. His bail was set at $4,000.

In addition to the criminal investigation, police have initiated an internal administrative investigation into the incident. Troutman, a sergeant in charge of the Area II Traffic Enforcement Unit, has been placed on administrative leave.

Bills to Watch, Part 3: Women’s Caucus Endorsements

The State Legislature Women’s Caucus released its endorsements of the following bills today. The links below that begin with “HB” lead to the House versions of each bill; the “SB” number following is the Senate companion version of the same bill. The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bills by following the links or by logging onto the Capitol Web site.

 

IMPROVING REPORTING & ENFORCEMENT PRACTICES RELATED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT

HB446/SB384, relating to the Confidentiality Program, Confidentiality Program Surcharge Fund and Confidentiality Program Grant Fund
Establishes the Address Confidentiality Program to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault relocate and keep their addresses confidential. Creates the Address Confidentiality Program Surcharge Fund.

HB447/SB390, relating to domestic abuse, Department of Human Services and Family Court
Removes certain unnecessary and redundant reporting responsibilities of the family courts and the Department of Human Services in cases where temporary restraining orders are sought for alleged domestic abuse involving a family or household member who is a minor or incapacitated person.

HB448/SB386, relating to domestic violence fatality reviews and Department of Health
Requires the Department of Health to conduct reviews of domestic violence fatalities, near-deaths, and suicides. Requires the DOH to enter into a memorandum of understanding to develop procedures for obtaining information relating to near-deaths resulting from intimate partner assaults. Requires reviews to commence within one year following the death, near-death, or suicide. Requires information and recommendations from the review process to be compiled for system reform efforts.

HB453/SB391, relating to psychologists continuing education, ethics and domestic violence
Amends the continuing education requirement for psychologists to include at least three credit hours of ethics training and at least two credit hours of domestic violence training.

HB452/SB393, relating to statewide sexual assault services, the Attorney General, base budget and appropriations
Appropriates funds to increase the base budget of the Department of the Attorney General for statewide sexual assault services for fiscal biennium 2016-2017 to $2,380,000 per fiscal year. Beginning with the 2017-2018 fiscal year, requires the base budget of the Department of the Attorney General for statewide sexual assault services to be at least $2,380,000 per fiscal year.

REDUCING VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULTS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

HB451/SB387, relating to affirmative consent and the University of Hawaii system
Requires the University of Hawaii system to establish and enforce an affirmative consent standard for all policies and protocols relating to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking as a condition of receiving state funds for student assistance.

ENSURING ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

HB455/SB385, relating to the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, the Department of Health and appropriations
Appropriates funds to the Department of Health for the breast and cervical cancer control program.

ADDRESSING HAWAII’S HIGH COST OF LIVING FOR WORKING FAMILIES

HB454/SB392, relating to the income tax credit and low-income household renters
Amends income tax credit for low-income household renters to adjust for inflation. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015.

RESTORING PUBLIC TRUST WITH TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY OVER POLICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES

HB449/SB388, relating to county police departments, domestic violence policies and standards of conduct
Requires each county police department to post its policies relating to domestic violence, officer-involved domestic violence, and standards of conduct on its official website.

HB450/SB389, relating to police commissioners, county police commissions, composition and requirements
Amends the composition of the county police commissions to require that three commissioners on each police commission have backgrounds, including equality for women, civil rights, and law enforcement for the benefit of the public.

 

Parks and Rec Declares War on Fire Ants

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation has received a $50,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to eradicate little fire ants, and it’s wasting no time putting the money to use.  The department only announced the grant yesterday, but today it announced that Hilo’s Kawamoto Swim Stadium would be closed on February 5 to treat it for the tiny stinging pests.  Future ant-eradication targets for the program include Richardson Ocean Park, Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo an Gardens and Liliu`okalani Gardens.

Little fire ants are considered to be one of the worst invasive species worldwide. In recent years, they have spread to tropical environments around the world, from Florida to Israel to Papua New Guinea.  The ants are about as long as a penny is thick, but their sting can cause a burning rash as large as a human hand. Unlike many ant species, little fire ant queens do not fly; they spread mainly by “hitch-hiking” in potted plants and in transported soil and soil amendments.  For more information about them, see the Hawaii Ant Lab’s Web site.

Letter: Police Pooh-Pooh Sex Assault

Dear Editor,

When Honolulu police Captain Rade Vanic was interviewed about the inconsistencies of the Robert Allenby case, he told a reporter that victims sometimes fabricate stories, such as in sex assault cases. (“Golfer’s ‘stupidity’ led to his wounds, man says,” Star-Advertiser, Jan. 22).

The federal Justice Department estimates false reports at 2 percent. Vanic’s statement illustrates the bias that survivors face when reporting an assault.

Survivors of sexual assault already have concerns about being believed by law enforcement in the criminal justice system. Is it any wonder that sex assault continues to be under-reported?

Jeanne Y. Ohta
Co-chair, Hawaii State Democratic Women’s Caucus

New Study: Nationwide, the Recovery was Only for the Rich. But in Hawaii, Less So….

Hawaii has a reputation as a  posh place where movie stars and Internet moguls  have their multimillion-dollar hideaways.  But according to a new study by the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the gap between the rich and the poor here is one of the narrowest in the country.

The study, released under the title of  ‘The Increasingly Unequal States of America,  the study does a state-by-state analysis of the generally increasing gap between the United States’ least prosperous and most prosperous citizens. It noted, for instance, that the largest  Not surprisingly, it found that over the last three decades, income for the very wealthy has risen much faster over-all for the very wealthy than for the country as a whole. “Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent took home well over half (53.9 percent) of the total increase in U.S. income. Over this period, the average income of the bottom 99 percent of U.S. taxpayers grew by 18.9 percent. Simultaneously, the average income of the top 1 percent grew over 10 times as much—by 200.5 percent,” it notes.

But the state-by-state breakdown yields some surprises, especially where Hawaii is concerned. Nationwide, for instance, it takes $385,000 in annual earnings to be among the nation’s top one percent in income.  But to be a member of the top one percent in Hawaii, you only need to earn  $279,000  Only seven other states–mostly in the South– have lower bars for joining the One Percent Club.   But the news gets even better when you compare the average annual  per capita income with the per capita  income of the state’s One Percenters.  Expressed as a “ratio of income inequality,” Hawaii’s is the narrowest gap in the country, at 14.6 to one–in other words, a One Percenter here earns about 14.6 times as much as the average guy on the street.  That may sound bad, until you compare it to Connecticut, to which many executives and brokers drive home after a long day on Wall Street: the average One Percenter there  makes 51 times as much money as the average Joe–the biggest gap in the country. New York is only slightly less unequal, at 48.4.

Of course, it could be that many of  Hawaii’s billionaires are “snow birds” with their official residences in states with lower tax rates.

On the downside, the average wage-earner in Hawaii is seeing his or her income growing at a glacial rate. Since 2009, when the economic recovery officially began after the Great Recession, personal income in Hawaii has grown by only 3.5 percent. But that growth has been shared pretty much across the board, though it’s growing slightly faster for the elite: the poorest one percent of Hawaii wage-earners saw their income grow by an average of 3.4 percent, while One Percenters’ income grew by 4.2 percent.

The slow personal income growth of Hawaii’s 99 percent is is still better than that of the  nation’s as a whole. Nationwide, the study concluded,”income growth has been lopsided since the recovery began, with the top 1 percent capturing an alarming share of economic growth. Over this period, the average income of the bottom 99 percent in the United States actually fell (by 0.4 percent). In contrast, the average income of the top 1 percent climbed 36.8 percent. In sum, only the top 1 percent gained as the economy recovered.”

–Alan McNarie

Bills to Watch, Part 2: Ruderman’s Proposed Election Reforms

In addition to the bills he’s co-sponsoring with Rep. Laura Thielen, which the Chronicle covered in an earlier piece,   State Senator Russell Ruderman is sponsoring a suit of his own bills related to elections, sunshine laws and good government.  A number of these were inspired by the problems that occurred when elections were held in the wake of the Tropical Storm Iselle last year.

All of these bills have already passed first readings and have been assigned to committees. Constituents can track the bills and file testimony related to them at  URLs linked below:

SB 317RELATING TO THE HAWAII BUSINESS CORPORATION ACT. Would require corporations to notify shareholders before engaging in political activities.

SB577: RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Requires any fees assessed by the campaign spending commission to be deposited into the Hawaii election campaign fund. Requires that general funds, rather than moneys from the Hawaii election campaign fund, be used for the operating expenses of the campaign spending commission. Authorizes the campaign spending commission to use moneys from the Hawaii election campaign fund for investigation expenses.

SB578: RELATING TO ELECTIONS.  Enables the Hawaii State Office of Elections to implement elections by mail in any interested county, beginning with the 2016 primary election. By 2018, requires all federal, state, and county primary, special primary, general, special general, and special elections to be conducted by mail. Enables absentee walk-in voting to continue prior to election day. Ensures limited polling sites in each county remain open on election day for absentee walk-in voting and to receive mail-in ballots. Appropriates funds for the implementation and administration of the election by mail program.

SB597:  RELATING TO ELECTIONS.  Requires the chief election officer or county clerk to exercise existing powers to postpone an election in affected precincts when the right to vote is substantially impaired due to an emergency or natural disaster. Prohibits the distribution of results from any precinct, whether or not designated for postponement, until after the final closing of the polls for an election postponed due to an emergency or disaster.

SB599:  RELATING TO ELECTIONS.  Authorizes the elections commission to remove the chief election officer by a majority vote of a quorum at a meeting of the commission. Provides the chief election officer with a period of notice of the removal before it takes effect.

SB602: RELATING TO PARTIAL PUBLIC FINANCING  [of election campaigns]. Amends the partial public financing laws to amend the maximum amount of public funds available in each election to a candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, or mayor to not exceed 50 per cent of the established expenditure limit for each election; and increase the matching contribution amount from the State from $1 for each $1 of qualifying contributions to $2 for each $1 of qualifying contributions in excess of the minimum qualifying contribution amounts. Makes an appropriation to increase funds available to candidates participating in the partial public funding program.

SB603: RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Creates a public funding program for elections to the state house of representatives. Excludes from the partial public financing program candidates for the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, state senator, and state representative pertaining to campaign expenditure limits, maximum amounts of public funding, and minimum amounts of qualifying contributions. Appropriates funds for the implementation of the public funding program.

 

 

 

 

Open Letter to Mayor Kenoi: Stop PGV’s Night Drilling

Aloha Mayor Kenoi:
We ask you to support requiring Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) to comply with
County law. In 2012 the County Council passed and you signed Bill 202 that became Ordinance
12-151, effective December 5, 2012, subsequently codified as Hawai`i County Code § 14-113.
The law prohibits geothermal well drilling at night within a mile of a residence. PGV has
announced it will begin drilling a new well, identified as KS-16, and further says that it will
disregard the requirements of Hawai`i County Code § 14-113.
When PGV drilled well KS-15 in 2012, the drilling work caused continual disturbances
of nearby residents and complaints about noise, light, dust, fear of toxic exposure, etc. As a
result of community concerns, the County Council passed the ordinance that resulted in the law
providing “Geothermal resources exploration drilling and geothermal production drilling
operations being conducted one mile or less from a residence, shall be restricted to the operating
hours of 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.”
Although PGV has said the drilling of KS-16 is not affected by the night drilling ban,
nothing in the law supports such an opinion – Code § 14-114 is a simple and unambiguous
prohibition with no exceptions.
Hawai`i Administrative Rules (HAR) Chapter 13-183, entitled Rules on Leasing and
Drilling of Geothermal Resources, regulates geothermal activity in Hawai`i, such as well
drilling, for purposes that include “[m]inimizing or preventing degradation of the environment”
and “[p]reventing injury to life and property.” HAR § 13-183-1(c)(3) and (4).
PGV operates its facility in Pohoiki pursuant to Geothermal Resources Mining Lease No.
R-2 dated February 20, 1981. Paragraph 11 of the Lease requires that PGV obey local “laws
and regulations pertaining to the leased lands and Lessee’s operations hereunder, now in force or
which may hereafter be in force ….” (Emphasis supplied.) HAR § 13-183-26 provides that a
mining lease may be revoked if a lessee fails to comply with any terms of the lease, law, or rules.
HAR §13-183-65 requires PGV to obtain a DLNR permit prior to drilling any well. PGV
obtained a DLNR drilling permit, issued on December 16, 2014, for well KS-16 that includes, in
paragraph 3, a requirement that PGV must comply with County law.
We have requested that the Board of Land and Natural Resources require PGV to show
cause why its drilling permit should not be revoked. HAR § 13-183-65(d) provides that after
notifying PGV to appear to show cause why the permit should not be suspended or revoked, the
Board may order revocation or suspension of the KS-16 drilling permit if drilling “is not being
done in accordance with conditions of the permit or these rules….” (See attached letter.)
PGV’s drilling at night in violation of Code § 14-114 accords with neither the permit
requirement that PGV must comply with County law nor the HAR § 13-183-54(b) requirement
that PGV must comply with all county “requirements, laws, rules and regulations … pertaining to
the use of the premises or the conduct of the operation.”
Because PGV has announced its intent to violate the drilling permit and applicable rules,
we ask that you please endorse our request pursuant to § 13-183-65(d) that BLNR order PGV to
show cause why the permit should not be revoked for that reason. Because our membership
includes community residents that would be affected by PGV’s violation of the law, we will
continue to pursue an appropriate resolution of PGV’s disregard of County law.
We will be happy to provide any further information you may wish and would appreciate
an opportunity at your first convenience to meet with you in person about these matters.
Sincerely
Robert Petricci
President
Copy: Chair Carty Chang
Gov. David

Pahoa Lava Viewing Area Closing Jan. 31

From Jason Armstrong at Hawaii County Parks and Recreation:

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation will stop operating the P?hoa Lava Viewing Area at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 31.

Located at the P?hoa Transfer Station, the free viewing area is being shut down so the facility can be converted back to its original use as a public trash-collection site.

It also is closed today, January 27, and will be closed again on Thursday, January 29, so schoolchildren displaced by recent lava activity may take field trips to the viewing area and see the stalled front.

Pahoa Pool Closed Evenings for Now

After offering evening swimming hours at the Pahoa Pool for a few days, County Parks and Recreation has abruptly shut down the program for now.

“Until further notice, Monday, January 26 will mark the last of the nighttime open-swim sessions offered at the P?hoa Community Aquatic Center. Lighting and other safety enhancements are needed before the pilot program will be reinstated,” read a Parks and Rec press release, in part.

Earlier this month, the  County had instituted evening hours, keeping the pool open until 8 p.m. three nights a week.  Starting immediately, it will begin following the previous normal operating ours of 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (4:30 closure on weekends).

The main reason for the change, according to department spokesperson Jason Armstrong, was that the pilot evening program had revealed lighting problems in some areas of the pool.

“The lifeguards have be able to see the patrons in order to ensure their safety,” he said.

Armstrong said that he knew of no specific incident that had provoked the sudden stop of the program.

“We just implemented the program this month. We tried it out, and we saw some areas that needed to be improved upon” he said.  When it was discovered that certain areas were inadequately lighted, “Rather than continue with those problems in place, we thought we’d stop and fix the problems.”

When the evening hours can resume will depend on how fast the department can find funding for the extra lighting.  Armstrong said he couldn’t estimate how long that would take.

“We’re looking for the money and we’re hopeful of finding it. We’re about halfway through the through the fiscal year and this is not something we’d budgeted for,’ he said. “We’d have to figure what the cost is going to be, find funding and then go through the procurement in order to obtain the improvement. “

Ka-Ching!: Ige Nominates Castle & Cooke PR Head to Lead DLNR

Governor David Ige has nominated Carleton Ching, Castle & Cooke Hawaii’s Vice President of Community and Government Relationships, to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. But the nomination, only announced last Friday night, has already spawned joint opposition from a broad coalition of groups ranging from the Sierra Club to community associations, and an anti-Ching online petition that has garnered over 5,000 signatures.
“Stewardship of Hawaii’s unique resources is one of the most critical tasks of State government, and Carleton Ching has the heart, knowledge and skills to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. No one understands better the complex issues this Department handles and how to balance the needs of our environment and our residents,” Ige said in his announcement of the nomination. Ige noted that “early on” in Ching’s career, “he spent a decade with the Hawaii Housing Authority where he specialized in building affordable homes. From his time at the Authority he is best known for his role in facilitating a resolution to the contentious conflict between the Waihole-Waikane Community Association and the state.”
Ching’s account on LinkedIn, a popular social medium for business networkers and job seekers, lists his skills as “Marketing, real estate, first time home buyers, investment properties, residential homes, public relations and budgets.” But it makes no mention of any skills related to public service, land management or conservation practices—an omission that over eighteen organizations latched onto in a joint statement blasting the nomination, noting that “He has no demonstrated expertise in managing the cultural and natural resources that fall under the department’s purview, including but not limited to endangered species, iwi, ceded land, water resources, forests, beaches, coral reefs, fishing and hunting resources, historic sites, and state parks.”
The statement was endorsed concurrently by Sierra Club, The Outdoor Circle, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends, Life of the Land, Friends of Lana‘i, Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i, Earthjustice, Defend O‘ahu Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action, Hui Ho‘omalu I Ka ‘Aina, Kupa‘a No Lana‘i, LOST FISH Coalition, MANA (Movement for Aloha No Ka ‘Aina), Maui Tomorrow, Puna Pono Alliance, Wailua-Kapa‘a Neighborhood Association, West Maui Preservation Association, and ‘Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition.
The Hawaii State Sierra Club took its criticism farther, pointing out Ching’s close ties to the real estate/construction industry. In a release about the nomination on the club’s Web site, club spokesperson Anthony Aalto  noted that Ching has “lobbied for developer Castle and Cooke, [has] served as a director on the Building Industry Association of Hawai`i and as vice-President of the Land Use Research Foundation, which according to its Web site is ‘devoted exclusively to promoting the interests of the development community.’ Both organizations have consistently lobbied to weaken laws that protect the state’s cultural and natural resources.”
The Land Use Research Foundation has not updated its list of officers on the organization’s Web site since 2010, when Ching was listed as a “Vice President.” But the site still lists Ching as Castle and Cook’s contact for the Foundation, whose membership is comprised of at least 25 major landowning and development companies and trusts including Alexander and Baldwin, Kamehameha Schools, W. H. Shipman and Hokulia developer Oceanside 1250.
As Castle and Cooke’s PR man, Ching as taken the point on such controversial projects as Koa Ridge Makai, a “master planned community” in Wahiawa, which has been stalled for over a two decades by opposition from the Public Land Use Commission, the Hawaii Sierra Club, the Mililani Waipio Neighborhood Board and other organizations. Sierra Club is still collecting donations to continue an advertising campaign against Koa Ridge. Ching also served as spokesman and sometime defender of Castle and Cook’s sole owner, California-based mogul David Murdock, in the latter’s closure of the island of Lanai’s pineapple plantations, its development into luxury hotels and real estate, and the island’s sale to Internet billionaire Larry Ellison; in one article, he reportedly opined that “Murdock has had his critics, but he [Ching] believes Lanai would be worse off had Murdock not stepped in.” Before his current job, Ching worked for now-defunct developer Westloch, Inc., Castle & Cooke Kunia, Molokai Ranch and engineering firm SSFM International.
The governor’s announcement of the nomination put its own spin on Ching’s career.
“Ching has devoted much of his career to creating communities for Hawaii’s residents,” it said, and described Ching’s activities with Castle & Cooke thus: “he supports the organization’s real estate, agricultural and renewable energy initiatives.”

 

–Alan McNarie

Lava Watch: Pele on the Move Again

After several day’s hiatus, Pele is advancing again. Hawaii County Civil Defense announced this morning that the north-side breakout had advanced about 50 yards since yesterday morning, reaching a point about..36 miles above Highway 130 west of the Pahoa Police and Fire Stations. Hawaii Volcano Observatory noted that “Breakouts along the margins of this lobe are also widening the flow” and that breakouts one to 1 1/2 miles upslope “remained active but have not advanced significantly. Additional active breakouts within the flow field and along the flow margins were also noted and smoke from resulting fires was evident in HVO Webcams.”

Civil Defense reported that smoke conditions were “light to moderate,”  blowing southwestward from the flow area.

 

Bills to Watch, Part 1: Thielen Proposes Sunshine, Good Gov’t Laws

Oahu Senator Laura Thielen says that when she  polled Hawaii voters recently about issues for the legislature to tackle,  “The issue with the highest popular support was to increase reporting on the money in and around politics – by elected officials as well as appointed ones.”

To address that concern, Thielen, Puna’s State Senator Russell Ruderman and others have  sponsored a set of five bills, described below.  Voters can testify on and follow the progress of these bills  at the links given below, and can find and track other bills of interest at www.capitol.hawaii.gov, the state legislature’s official site.

SB505 Ethics; Financial Disclosure; Client Disclosure; State Executives RELATING TO FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE STATEMENTS. Requires the governor, lieutenant governor, members of the legislature, governor-appointed executive of each principal department, president of the University of Hawaii, superintendent of education, administrative director of the State, administrative director of the courts, and the administrator of the office of Hawaiian affairs to disclose any income of $1,000 or more received from a business or service, the name of the person or business from whom the income was received, date the income was received, and a description of the services or goods rendered.

 

SB506 Lobbyists; Statement of Expenditures; Reporting RELATING TO LOBBYISTS. Requires lobbyists and specified individuals to file two additional reports to the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, including one report on the second Friday of August and one report on the first Monday of November in general election years, similarly to the filing frequency that candidate’s and the treasurer of candidate committees are required to file pursuant to section 11-334, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

 

SB507 Ethics; Disclosure; Lobbyists; Contractual Relationships RELATING TO LOBBYISTS. Requires lobbyists and persons, including a corporation, union, association, firm, sole proprietorship, partnership, organization, or committee, to file a report to the state ethics commission to disclose contractual relationships between the lobbyist or person filing the statement and a member of the legislature, a governor-appointed executive of a principal department, or a mayor-appointed county cabinet member.

 

SB508 Campaign Finance; Elections; Noncandidate Committee Preliminary Reports; Filing Date RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE. Requires noncandidate committee preliminary reports to be filed on October 1 of a general election year, rather than ten days prior to the general election.

 

SB509  Attorney General; Statement for Proposed Constitutional Amendments RELATING TO PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS. Requires the attorney general to prepare a statement for each proposed constitutional amendment in plain English that indicates the purpose, limitations, and effects of the proposed amendment. Requires the attorney general to distribute each statement to the state office of elections and all county clerks for further distribution. Requires the office of elections and county clerks to make each statement available to the public in all physical or online sites where they make proposed constitutional amendment questions available to the public.