Commentary: Kama’aina Blues

by Alan McNarie

Kama’aina: someone who’s been here long enough to look at a place in the present, see it as it once was, see it as it will be, and care deeply about all three.  I just spent two days on the Kona side for the first time in years–met my lady friend Kersten’s brother and his wife for the first time and enjoyed the visit, but that enjoyment was tempered by Kama’aina pain. They’d rented a time-share in Waikoloa. I took them to see Kalako-Honokahau National Historic Park, one of my favorite spots on the island: one of the few places left in the islands where, in the past, I’ve seen not just endangered species such as ae’o (black-necked stilts) and ‘alae ke’oke’o (Hawaiian coots), but whole flocks of them. Yesterday, though, all I saw were a single ‘alae ke’oke’o and a few sandpipers. On previous visits I’ve seen dozens of green sea turtles, either hauled out to sun or grazing on algae in the tide pools; yesterday I only saw three or four. I’m hoping that the birds and turtles were just displaced temporarily by the storm, and will return…. Yesterday evening, while Kersten nursed a migraine at our darkened room, I went snorkeling with Kersten’s brother at Anaeho’omalu. We saw only two yellow tangs; almost all 0f the few fish we did observe were small, drab species–probably thanks to the damned aquarium trade.

But one thing was getting more abundant on the Kona Coast:  shopping centers. New developments seemed to be sprouting like fungi all along Highway 19 from Waikoloa to Kailua-Kona. The whole North Kona Coast, which was the home mainly to feral donkeys, a few beach parks and the ruins of ancient Hawaiian villages when I first got here, appears to be on its way to becoming a strip city….

I’m sure many or most of the tourists who sunbathe and play golf at the Waikoloa resorts don’t share this kind of temporal migraine, this painful triple vision; they just see the luxurious cocoon of the resorts, without seeing how much the land is changing. The only glimpses they get of the past may be the petroglyphs along the golf course trails, the romanticized biographies of Hawaiian royalty on the plaques in the King’s Market, and the bowdlerized and inaccurate  “Hawaiian luaus” where they feast on roast pig and pineapple while “hula dancers” shake their hips furiously to the wild rhythms of Tahiti. I think Kersten’s brother and his wife are probably more sensitive than many to these conflicts of place and time; they edit a newsletter for their own community in Arizona, where some of the same conflicts must be happening.  But how could they know that the very place where they came for a happy getaway was arousing such deep conflicts in their resident relatives?  How can they guess that, when our smiles fade too quickly, the smile at seeing them is genuine, but the sadness comes from seeing the land? How can they possibly discern the difference between what we feel about this place and what we feel about them?

How many other visitors notice the tired scowls and forced smiles of the wait help, who likely caught the Hele-On from Puna or Ka’u in the wee hours of the morning in order to reach their minimum-wage jobs? How many of them realize that once, all along this coast, every bay and cove held a Hawaiian village instead of a luxury hotel or subdivision?  How many of them glimpse the pain of what was lost, and will be lost, to give them their few days in an artificial “Paradise”?

And yet it’s not their fault.  They’re trying to get away from their own troubles in their own homes in far-off places, and paying dearly for the privilege.  So we hide our pain and we smile, and some of us get a few dollars from the resorts’ corporate owners to help maintain the illusion.

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the day that I first stepped off the plane in Hilo. Since that day, I’ve worked first as a teacher, then as a paralegal helping the victims of family violence, then as a journalist, giving people information that they needed to know and might not have learned otherwise. I’ve celebrated local artists and local culture, have tracked off-island money in local elections, and have helped to provoke at least four full-fledged grassroots rebellions with the stories I’ve reported. I like to think that I’ve given enough back overall to earn my place on this island that I love so much, though sometimes I wonder.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve been joking that I was “almost a kama’aina”–and would be until the day I die.

I’m going to stop saying that now.  I’m at least a novice kama’aina.  It hurts too much, now, for me to think I’m anything else. But I know that what I feel is only a scratch compared to the pain of those with older roots. How magnified would my sadness be, if my ancestors had lived in one of those vanished coastal villages–if they’d toiled for generations, piling the rocks of those mighty fishpond dikes at Kaloko-Honokahau? What would I feel if my great-great-grandmother had left my great-grandfather’s piko in one of those holes pecked in the pahoehoe beside what is now the seventh green, but I’m only welcome to come to visit that spot, now, if I’m a corporate employee or the guest of one of the guests? How would I feel if my ancestral village  lay under the foundation of a time-share condo?

There is too much pain, too much sadness deep in the bones of this beautiful island. Kama’aina are the ones who are gifted to feel it.

 

Letter: More on the Roundabout

Dear Russell, Gregor, Joy, Daniel, Billy, Gov. Ige (DOT and Editors),

I am sorry to be a big pain in the ass, but I think you as our elected officials are making a big mistake by not actively trying to stop this or at least force the original 2-lane design (without crosswalks of any type) so we are increasing the size of our one road in and out of Pahoa and not adding pedestrians to the mix.  

As our elected representatives of the residents who will be impacted by the Roundabout, I am asking you to please truly look at the DOT plans and not let politics get in the way of safety. Mr. Sniffin told community members at that last meeting they are installing the one-lane roundabout first, they are not allowed to install the 2-lane, because they don’t know if it [roundabout] will work.  

There should be no experimentation done with our only road.  We as a community already have been squeezed for years and we have the potential for live lava flowing in the area at any time.  We finally get a crosswalk – and it is in the middle of our roundabout???  The crosswalks needs to be by Hawaiian Beaches and Post Office Road.   We need to be able to get in and out of Pahoa without waiting for pedestrians needing to cross the street and 3 inputs of traffic merging in circles.  

What happens when there is an accident and rescue personnel are trapped inside Pahoa with an ambulance needing to get to Hilo hospital?  We can’t wait for 2 hours for someone to unlock the gate in Nanawale.  You are all being notified again that this is an wasteful and unsafe plan to build some roundabout speculating that it might work.  This should be unacceptable to you.

Thank you for your concern for the people of Pahoa and not shmoozing with fancy shirts on this.

Sincerely,

Sara Steiner

Letter: Another Take on the TMT

The debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope has become extremely divisive for our community. I’ve lost several long time friends because I support this telescope project. This has spread to the community at large. These ongoing protests segued from protecting Mauna Kea to a debate over the restoration of the Hawaiian Kingdom and questioning the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii. The lack of enforcement by Hawaii County and the State of Hawaii isn’t helping matters. Governor Ige’s administration is the prime culprit for the latter. His administration is afraid taking on the protesters head on and waiting for the courts to do the dirty work for them it seems like. The Hawaii Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments on August 27th, 2015 for one of these lawsuits. It’s questioning the legality of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s conservation district use permit.. In addition, the Hawaii Supreme Court has a pending decision involving the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which may have legal ramifications for the Thirty Meter Telescope. The problem with this course of action is two-fold. The TMT has legally binding permits to start construction now. The lack of enforcement on the part of the State of Hawaii shows they’re catering to the whims of the protesters. This has given Hawaii huge black eye on the world stage. Why would anyone want to invest in Hawaii? The State of Hawaii has shown its content with siting on their hands instead of enforcing the law. This doesn’t bode well for Hawaii’s future. We need to diversify our economy away from unsustainable industries, such as tourism, real estate/construction, and the military. I strongly believe we all need to take a long hard look at what Hawaii’s future should look like. The latter is being completely ignored by the anti-TMT protesters. They’re hell-bent on stopping this telescope project, but haven’t stated any economic alternatives to improve the future of Hawaii. Aaron Stene Kailua-Kona

Letter Roundabout Runaround.

Dear Department of Transportation,Concerned Elected and Emergency Officials, News Editors,

I tried to attend the informational meeting on the Pahoa Roundabout last evening but had to leave once the announcement was made Pahoa has no choice in the matter.  Perusing the roundabout design, I fail to see how one lane circling is a safe exit for Pahoa and lower Puna in general, much less in an emergency.  To be clear, the DOT is telling us, the residents of Pahoa, that they are spending multi-millions of dollars on our safety?  

Look at what is being proposed.  As it is now, at least we have separate lanes coming and going, a turn lane, and a merge now at Malama.  In the event of a disaster you all are are expecting an orderly evacuation on that one lane cattle-chute roundabout?  Just one accident and the cars are going to be pinned in a circle, backing up very quickly, and the emergency responders won’t be able to access, they will have to walk in and no one will be able to get out of town.  Eventually the roundabout gets increased to two lanes…

Pahoa can’t wait for eventualities anymore.  It is time to help Pahoa with modernizing the entrances to Malama, Woodland Center, Hawaiian Beaches and Post Office Road immediately.  You can use the money for the roundabout to accomplish all those projects.  We have been waiting for years and years to get our fair representation and a decent road for Pahoa.  Do we have to file more civil rights complaints to get fair treatment?  I’d like an answer to this letter at your earliest convenience.

Very Sincerely,

Sara Steiner

Commentary: “Safe and Accurate” Food Bill Isn’t What it Seems

Editor’s Note:  Rep. Mark Takai has sent this letter out to constituents on his e-mail list.  We pass it on to you.  –AM

Aloha Friend,

This week, the House will consider H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.  Under the guise of consumer protection, this bill would do nothing more than limit the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products.  While it includes vague language regarding voluntary labeling, it would also nullify current state laws that regulate GMO foods.  I simply cannot support this bill. 

The people of our nation deserve to have consumer clarity, and be able to make their own decisions on the type of food they buy.   In order to meet this goal, I have joined with Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) to cosponsor legislation that will return transparency to the food labeling process.  Along with many of my democratic colleagues, I support H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  This legislation would enhance GMO labeling by creating a national standard to label food products developed by the FDA.

To date, our nation does not have a uniform system in place that allows consumers to make educated decisions. For nearly 15 years, we have had voluntary labeling; however, standards often differ and lead to variances in the definition of natural and GMO products. Clearly, this process must be improved. 

 Enacting legislation like H.R. 913 would harmonize U.S. policy with the 64 other countries that require the labeling of GMO foods, including countries possessing some of our largest agricultural markets.  This would make it easier for producers, processors, and packagers to comply with labeling requirements, and in turn help export our products around the world.

 If you have any questions regarding my stance on GMOs please feel free to contact my office  here .

Mahalo,

Mark Takai

Meeting July 29 to Discuss Pahoa Roundabout Plans

Letter: Cultural Practitioners’ Access to Mauna Kea Restricted

To:  Interested Parties
From:  Lanny Sinkin, Ali’i Mana’o Nui, Kingdom of Hawai’i

On Thursday, July 2, I received an email informing me that Office of Mauna Kea Management Rangers were allowing those engaged in spiritual practice on Mauna a Wakea to ascend the Mountain only at 1:00 p.m. each day, limiting the number of people that could ascend to ten, and requiring a Ranger be present to accompany the practitioners.

Meanwhile cars and trucks of non-practitioners traveled up and down the Mountain with no restrictions.

I went to the 9,000 foot level and interviewed various Protectors who confirmed what I had been told.

I had no question that the restrictions amounted to an unconstitutional restriction on the rights to religious practice guaranteed by the First Amendment and that the allowing of non-practitioners to ascend the Mountain constituted discrimination against the spiritual practitioners in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equality before the law.

I discussed the situation with the Kahuna of the Temple of Lono.  He agreed to pursue legal action to stop the latest instance of persecution of the traditional faith by the State.  I prepared pleadings to request a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the unconstitutional restrictions.  The Federal Court in Honolulu was closed on Friday through Sunday, so I came to Honolulu today to file the action.

Attached are the cover letter to the Attorney General and the pleadings I filed today.  United States District Court, Honolulu  CV 15 00254.

Judge Watson did not have time to address the TRO today.  I am expecting to hear from him tomorrow.

 

–Lanny  Sinkin

An Open Letter to the Governor re Mauna Kea

 

Dear Governor Ige,

Because we are Hawaiian Cultural Practitioners and are fairly well-acquainted with Mauna Kea, on April 8, 2015, Paul Neves and I guided you and your party to the summit of Mauna Kea. I have made pilgrimages to the summit a few times since that momentous trip up there with you.

One of my primary activities of my cultural practice is to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors – and i have walked over many parts of Mauna Kea, including having my cultural hiking group – Huaka’i i na ‘Aina Mauna – in 2002 – hike from sea level at Koholalele Landing, at Kukaiau, on the Hamakua coast, to the summit of Mauna Kea, following the Umikoa Trail, then descending the Skyline Trail, crossing Pohakuloa Training Area and following the Kona Highway to the vicinity of Pu’uAnahulu, then hiking the Pu’uAnahulu-Kiholo Trail back to sea level at Luahinewai, at Kiholo Bay on the Kona coast.

I am desirous to ascend Mauna Kea again – but I hear that you have illegally placed certain restrictions on cultural practitioners (such as me) to be able to go up the Mountain only at 1 p.m. on a daily basis in a group of less than 10.  And I understand that the reason for this restriction is that you have declared the road to be unsafe, making it a public safety issue.  But what I don’t understand is that the observatory people have access to go up and down the Mountain.- with no limitations.  It seems to me that if the road is unsafe for cultural practitioners, that it would be unsafe for astronomers and the public.  Do they sign disclaimers or something of that sort – to be able to do what they are being allowed to do?  If so, I’m willing to sign a disclaimer too.  In other words, I’m willing to disclaim the risk of using the road that you have declared to be unsafe.  However, I hear that there are no restrictions for cultural practitioners who are willing to hike.

Well, back to my wanting to ascend the Mountain.

Despite having a hypertensive condition, and suffering from a side effect of gout, I thought I’d visit the summit area on Sunday, leaving the HalePohaku Visitors’ Center area at 5 a.m.  As you are a relatively young man compared to my being 79 years old – I would love to have you share the hike up the Mountain with me.  We can do this by ourselves – and you can give your bodyguards the day off – as there won’t be any of those “unruly,” young Protectors on the road that is being restricted to them.  And since they will be escorted up the mountain by one of the Mauna Kea rangers when they can come up at 1 p.m., things should be quite secure.  And since there will be just you and me – we’ll be able to enjoy the spirituality and serenity of the Mountain in peace and quiet.  Lake Waiau should be at its shimmering best.  Even if we take our time moving at a leisurely pace, going up to an altitude of 13,000 feet, we should be back to the Visitors’ Center before 10 p.m.

There is only one problem – and that is that if my feet swell excessively because of my medications and subsequent water retention – that I’ll have to abort any further ascent at that point – and start down.  Will that be OK with you?

Can I look forward to your timely appearance at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning as we engage in this wonderful cultural (we don’t have to call it religious) activity?  Please make sure, though, that you have good hiking boots, some energetic food and snacks and warm clothes (in case the weather should turn a bit cold).

Thanks.  I’m looking forward to spend a very nice and pleasant day with you.

ku ching

Letter: New Coalition Opposes those who “Blunt Progress.”

Dear Editor:

The purpose of the Big Island Community Coalition is to work towards reduced electrical energy costs on the Island of Hawaii – where we pay up to four times the national average for our power.  We are particularly sensitive to electric power rates as very high rates serve essentially as a regressive tax on our population while greatly reducing the probability of generating jobs in any sector that is dependent on electricity.

There are occasions when events are so alarming that groups such as ours feel compelled to move beyond our primary task.  This is such a time.

We have observed with increasing alarm as our community has taken steps that inexorably blunt the forward movement of our economy and even move us backwards.  These include:

1.     Anti-Geothermal activists encouraged County government to ban nighttime drilling, effectively stopping expansion of a major source of renewable and inexpensive electric power beyond already-existing permits.  This action was taken despite the existing plant meeting all applicable noise standards.  It appears that government officials took this action without first going to the site to verify that the noise was disruptive.  Once they did go to the site, some years later, government found that the noise was less than other environmental sounds (i.e., coqui frogs) and essentially no more than typical background noise.

2.     Anti-GMO activists lobbied to stop any new GMO products from being grown on the island – despite the fact that the vast majority of scientific, peer-reviewed studies found such products to be as safe, and in some cases more nutritious, as their non-GMO counterparts.  Legislation even prohibited GMO flowers – not consumed by anyone – from being grown on the island.  Thus family farmers lost the most effective new tools needed to reduce pesticide and herbicide usage while increasing productivity needed to keep their farms competitive.

3.     Now we have anti-Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) activists taking steps to stop construction of the most advanced telescope in the world.  If successful in stopping TMT, despite its sponsors following every legal requirement over a seven-year period, we will lose our world leading advantage in understanding the universe.

All of these actions share similar characteristics:

·      The arguments used to justify such actions are consistently anti-scientific.

·      “Anti” groups often obscure the lack of scientific evidence to support their position by using emotional pleas intended to incite fear.

·      The only “win” for many of these groups is to completely stop, thereby making them completely unwilling to consider any facts that refute their position or to make any reasonable compromise.

·      Long-term consequences are significant both culturally and economically.

Cultures that survive and thrive embrace new technologies carefully, thoughtfully and steadily.  Cultures and economies that thrive are innovative beccause they generate ideas and solutions, solve problems and take calculated but careful risks.

Cultures that fall backwards are those that fear advancement, fear change and cling to a mythicized view of yesteryear.  The net result is loss of their brightest and most hard working youth.  Those youth that remain find fewer and fewer jobs – those jobs having greatly diminished economic value and lower wages.  The downward spiral becomes inexorable.

As we look to tomorrow, we need to ask ourselves whether we wish to give our children the exciting and invigorating job market typified by Silicon Valley or a job market that is much closer to the poorer regions of third world countries.  It is up to us to point one way or another.  Driving TMT out will be one more major step to cultural and economic poverty.

Signed,

Big Island Community Coalition

Richard Ha, President,

David DeLuz Jr., Rockne Freitas, Michelle Galimba, Wallace Ishibashi, Noe Kalipi, H.R “Monty” Richards, William Walter

Commentary: Sen. Lorraine Inouye on the Future of Renewable Energy

On the Island of Hawai‘i, where I live, I have witnessed the best of what renewable energy has to offer – geothermal, wind, water and sun. I was a member of the State Senate when the original statute on the renewable energy portfolio standards, Act 272, was approved in 2001. At that time, we were the only state to propose such a program. As the recently appointed Chair of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, I look forward to learning what other technologies and resources are available to help wean ourselves off fossil fuels and to showcase to the world that the state of Hawai‘i is a leader when it comes to embracing the power of clean energy.
That is why I was encouraged when Gov. David Ige last week signed into law with great and well-earned fanfare House Bill 623 (Act 97), which sets new targets for Hawai‘i’s renewable energy portfolio standards. These standards were strengthened in 2004, 2006 and 2009. The new law now takes the standards to a more aggressive goal of 100 percent by the year 2045. Hawai‘i, once again, is blazing trails when it comes to setting targets that are good for the environment and good for the state overall.
I commend all State Legislators including the bill’s sponsor, Representative Chris Lee and Senator Mike Gabbard, for shepherding the legislation through the process. These are aggressive goals and the right thing to do.
But then I learned of a bit of irony.
Within a couple of days of the signing of the bill, the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took adverse action against eight solar farms – one was denied and seven were deferred. These projects are designed to add 240 megawatts of clean solar energy to the grid. But the PUC’s decisions put these projects at risk of going away. That’s 240 megawatts of solar energy — which could get us 6 percent closer to the goal — that could simply disappear.
Why? Did the PUC think these projects were not worthy?
Not at all.
What the PUC signaled in its orders was that Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) did not do its job in addressing the commission’s questions and concerns regarding costs and benefits to the state. In other words, HECO’s unresponsiveness to the PUC was holding us back from achieving our renewable energy goals.
I am glad that the PUC took the steps necessary to hold HECO accountable, and the good news is that the PUC’s efforts seem to be working. Subsequent filings by HECO provide the analysis necessary to show these 240 megawatts can help us achieve our renewable goals and help lower HECO’s electricity rates at the same time.
Things are heading in the right direction but we need to keep moving. Any further delay will place our renewable energy future – and projects like these – in jeopardy. A dire consequence of a delay: missing a critical deadline by the end of 2016 in order to qualify for federal tax credits. The tax credits are what allow the projects to offer unprecedentedly low prices to HECO’s customers. If the projects aren’t started in time to meet the deadline, they might never be started.
Not to mention, Hawai’i’s business reputation will be tarnished when investors wanting to help finance clean energy projects will simply go somewhere else. This puts a chilling effect on future investment. Companies wanting to come here could again say, “It’s too difficult to do business in Hawai‘i.”
Also at stake: hundreds of local construction jobs. This means less money in the pockets of carpenters, electricians, heavy equipment operators and other construction workers. This is the cash they use to pay mortgages and rents, food and other bills.
With the higher renewable portfolio standards, we need to send a strong message that we welcome more clean energy investment to the state — especially when the investment helps lower and stabilize our electricity rates. That’s why I’m asking the Commission to move quickly. Let us start by giving the green light to solar projects that will move Hawai‘i forward towards a more sustainable future.

State Senator Lorraine R. Inouye represents Senate District 4, which includes Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa and Kona. She is the chair of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

Hugh Clark Passes On

Hugh Clark, former Big Island bureau chief for the Honolulu Advertiser and, later, columnist for the Chronicle, passed away from cancer this morning. He was 73.

Clark, who reported for the Hilo Tribune Herald for five years before before joining the Advertiserand staying for over three decades, was a old-fashioned hard-news journalist. Although he could and did write passionately about sports, he was most in his element when covering a court case or dissecting a political race.

“He was an old-school newspaperman, a mentor and a friend, and he will be missed,” wrote Tribune reporter John Burnett, announcing the death on the Big Island Press Club’s Facebook page.

Clark “trained himself to remember arcane details of news stories and personalities, and what he couldn’t remember was contained in a remarkable filing system that half-filled his second-floor walkup office in the century-old Hilo Drug Building overlooking Hilo Bay,” wrote Advertiser reporter Jan TenBruggengate when Clark retired from the paper in 2002. “He is a journalist of the old school, and held out against computer technology for as long as he could, comfortable in the days when bureau reporters pounded on clattering teletype machines, a telephone cradled on one shoulder and a pencil behind the other ear.”

“I am not a techy, and really have no desire to become one,” he once admitted in a letter to the editor.

But Clark couldn’t get the ink out of his blood, even in retirement, even in the electronic age. He began writing his “Hugh-isms” column for for the Chronicle’s Web site in 2012 and learned to exercise a talent that he had kept carefully in check over his reporting years: a knack for expressing strong personal opinions, often with an acidic wit. Comparing the 2012 county elections with those in 1976, for instance, Clark noted that both elections featured “Plenty of ornery debate, threatening and juvenile conflict and… acrimony that seemingly never would end.” In another column, Clark groused that the Transportation Safety Administration had “done far more to terrorize American travelers than any Muslim group.” In an open letter to New West Broadcasting’s Chris Leonard, he wrote, “Just read you have fired [conservative commentator Rush] Limbaugh. I always liked you and now I know better why.” Commenting on an attack by the Tribune-Herald on alocal politician, he remarked, “Did (Hawaii Tribune-Herald editor David) Bock have the decency to forewarn you guys he was going to declare war? Or was this a Pearl Harbor event?”

Cancer has finally stilled that curmudgeonly, honest voice. Rest in peace, Hugh.

 

–Alan McNarie

Letter: Marijuana Dispensary Bill is “Insidious”

Dear Editor,

I’d like to congratulate the powers that be on Hawaii’s insidious medical marijuana dispensary bill!  We have made it so restrictive that we are discriminating against over 13,000 people.  This is a bad law, and all in the legislature have shown your true colors, besides Senator Ruderman.

It is amazing and apparent how the lobbyists and police control the legislature, and the only thing we can hope is the Governor vetoes it as being bad for the people of Hawaii.

The overburdonsome regulations will bite you in the okole!  Oh wait, I forgot that is your plan to keep it as illegal as you can to generate crime, unaffordable prices are sure to be the norm, as is the continuation of the black market.

Good Job (NOT),

Sara Steiner
P.O. Box 2011
Pahoa, Hawaii 96778

Open Letter to our Legislators: What’s Wrong with the Medical Marijuana Bill

Dear Senator Espero, other Legislators,

The reason you are having so much trouble with the dispensary bill is it is not good for the people of Hawaii. To tell you the truth, the amendments ruin it, and make compliance unaffordable and discriminatory for all but multimillionaires with health licenses.

For one, the definition of a “person” needs to be an actual person, not some shady LLC set up to steal profits from Hawaii residents. One license for one aspect (grow, manufacture, dispense) for one person. Give as many Hawaii residents (not big mainland growers, dispensary owners, pharmaceutical or tobacco companies) a chance to make a good living and people and the State of Hawaii will benefit from your aloha.

Two, if you feel in your heart that sick cancer patients on chemotherapy deserve a bit of chocolate or brownie to take their medicine, then give them the “edibles” from SB 682.

Three, throw away all the amendments (both House and Senate) and revert back to the original HB321. We can’t handle the overkill in compliances, there is a higher price for every unnecessary and burdensome requirement.

Unfortunately, the police, judicial system and NED are still in the grip of “reefer madness,” a self-perpetuating industry of prison for profit and stealing peoples assets through property forfeiture. Remember, the police and narcotics enforcement divisions should be focused on the extreme problems of ice, heroin, cocaine, meth, and other actual crimes like theft, robbery, assault: crimes with actual victims, not the cannabis plant. Please also remind yourself they are not doctors, and they have no business lobbying against laws aimed at giving people access to an allowed plant of their choice.

You as our law makers have got to rise above the money hungry crowd, and do what is right for the 13,000+ medical cannabis patients in the State of Aloha!

Thank you for your attention to this matter!

Sara Steiner
Pahoa, Hawaii

Letter: The Public Had the Their Chance on the TMT

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope
project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district. In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards
to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.
This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites. However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes
should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033. This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation into something uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Press Release: OHA Facilitates Mauna Kea Meeting

HONOLULU – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has arranged for a meeting tomorrow (April 24) for representatives from the Governor’s office, the University of Hawai?i, the Office of Mauna Kea Management, the Mauna Kea Hui, the Mauna Kea ?Ohana, and OHA to discuss the thirty-meter telescope planned for Mauna Kea.

“We are glad that the Mauna Kea ?Ohana will participate in the discussions to convey their own positions and perspectives. With the different parties coming together in shared conversation, we believe this will bring greater understanding for everyone—an important first step in efforts aimed at finding resolution,” said OHA Chairperson Robert K. Lindsey Jr.

“All parties are genuinely interested in hearing from one another and connecting he alo a he alo, face-to-face. The in-person communication allows us to convey more than just information. You can see and sense a lot in the presence of others—such important things as honesty, commitment, respect, and aloha. These are vital for problem solving,” said OHA Chief Executive Officer Kamana?opono Crabbe.

The OHA Board of Trustees are calling a special meeting to discuss its position on Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope on April 30.

The trustees had originally filed an agenda with the Lt. Governor’s office scheduling the meeting for May 7. However, after discussion by the board of trustees, Chair Robert Lindsey, Jr. agreed to move up the date of the meeting to April 30.

Commentary: We’re Back

Aloha. Our apologies for the lack of posts this week. It’s been a lonnnnng four days.

On April 20, our Web site crashed. Bruce, our Webmaster, has been working tirelessly since then but with only glacial cooperation from our Web host, a company called hostgator.com. At the end, we solved the problem and then dumped the ‘gator. Now we’re back with a new, local host–and a new sponsor.  Say hello to Netcom Enterprises.

Now, if we have a problem, we can just call Jeff Gray in Kea’au–and we always like to support local businesses anyway, so it’s great to have found an alternative so close to home.

Thanks for getting us up, Jeff.

We haven’t been idle in the mean time.  Look for a new print edition of the Chronicle out soon, with a long piece about the mess on Mauna Kea–it’s NOT just about science vs. religion–and lots of other good stuff.

–Alan McNarie