Commentary: What I want in the Next DLNR Chairperson

by Sen. Laura Thielen

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when we look back everything is different. —C. S. Lewis.

Dan Boylan has a column in this week’s Midweek asking what is needed in the next DLNR Chairperson. Here’s my two cents.

  • Hawaii is the Endangered Species Capitol of the world. We have decimated entire populations of life, and are rapidly continuing to do so;
  • Polluted waters running off land has killed our near shore estuaries and brutalized our reefs, decimating fisheries and marine life;
  • Invasive species are killing our native forests, reducing the waters that can reach our aquifers and choking our reefs – the two essential foundations for life on land and in our oceans
  • Developments stretch along our coast lines and uplands, blocking traditional practices and public access to beaches, ocean and forests – the public spaces where we practice religion, go to for sustenance, recreation and spiritual refreshment.

None of these things happened because of one, 10 or even 20 events. They happened because of thousands upon thousands of decisions over years.  Seemingly little decisions, like:

  • We can’t adopt regulations to reduce pollution running into the ocean – it’s too expensive.
  • We need a new hotel along this coast – its jobs and the backbone of our economy. People can still access the beach down the way.
  • Yes, its Conservation land, but the owner has the right to put it to a higher and better economic use, so we’re reclassifying it as “Urban.”

During this time, day by day, nothing seemed different. One by one these decisions are rationalized as necessary because each one has “little” impact on our natural and cultural resources.

But when we look back and remember what our islands were like when we were kids, we realize immense changes have happened. We realize that these thousands of decisions have permanently altered our state over the last 50 years.

The changes that took place in our islands since 1965 – the last 50 years – will be dwarfed by the changes that will take place over the next 50 years.

  • The impacts Japanese investments had on our economy in the 80s – a country with 130 million people – will be dwarfed by the rapidly growing investments from China – a country with nearly 1 ½ billion people.
  • The impacts climate change will have on our resources – including our water supply, our reefs and marine life, our beaches, and our watersheds – will be formidable.
  • The never-ending drive for economic growth built upon our old model of sprawling development will continue to erode our culture, our “sense of place” – the intangible essence of what makes Hawaii “Hawaii.”

Yes, we need a Chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission of Water Resource Management who understands business, development, and economics. Yes, we need to develop to meet our population’s needs.

But we also need a DLNR Chairperson who understands that the seemingly innocuous decisions made day by day are not innocuous. They are cumulative.

And unless they know that in their very heart and soul, and can explain it to the people who fight for the short term profit over the long term vision, and convince our public and civic leaders that we must follow a new path where development does not come at the expense of our environment and our culture, then we stand to lose at an escalating pace that which we cannot afford to lose.

Our Hawaii.

Editor’s Editor’s Note: Sen. Thielen chairs the Senate Committee on Land and Water, and was one of the key figures in defeating Governor David Ige’s nomination of lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Chic Eco — Hawaii Recycling Glitch

RecycleLogoby Delia Montgomery

I’m sooo into recycling — especially with bottles! So much that I often share artistic creations.

My bottle-writing purpose is to encourage others to do the same. And because of my bottle-art passion, I pay attention to how our municipal public works recycles. Not just bottles, but all recyclables.

This story is actually a query derived from my attempt to redeem beer bottles and old cans mid July. Soon after, I saw the Hawaii Tribune Herald headlines dated July 23rd. The featured front-page headline was Big Island Recycling Proceeds Trimmed.

My bottle collection story began 2009. Not ready to build artsy walls or sculptures admired, I decided to simply place beer bottles upside down around my trees as a border. I preferred green and brown glass, and liked the way the labels would wear off so the colors would shine. Being mostly banana trees, moving them around was necessary. Sometimes I would end up with extra bottles and occasionally redeem them for pocket money. By 2011 my bottle stash was mounting and so I visited the Pahoa recycling center more frequently. No problem cashing in a mix of new and old bottles with worn labels. I did this until mid July 2013. Read more

Chic Eco — Ever Heard of a Seed Bomb?

Seed Bomb Bag

By Delia Montgomery

You may be familiar with seeded cards, invitations, table favors, and even seeded hang tags that ethical designers adorn their fashions with. But what about seed bombs?

Seed bombs are “it” for so many good reasons. And with wedding season approaching, these natural gems are on my mind as guest favors. Here’s the scoop …

Typical ingredients are a mixture of non-invasive, all-region suitable wild flower seeds, organic compost and powdered clay. The compost and clay hold moisture and nutrients to help germination. That protects the seeds from wildlife eaters too.

Read more

Chic Eco — Fabric Made from Coffee?

Do you know that coffee fabric is made in Taiwan? Yep, SINGTEX® is an admirable company fixated on R&D. They came up with S.Café®  — a patented process that converts the coffee grounds into yarn. From yarn, they manufacture knitted and woven fabrics, as well as soft-shell fabrics.

Singtex clients are Hugo BossPatagoniaNike, and North Face brands. Benefits are fast drying, anti-odor properties, and UV-protection.

Read more

Hughisms — A Historical Perspective Of Hawaii County’s 2012 Election

By Hugh Clark

There is a strong temptation to treat 2012 as re-run to 1976 when angry voters largely displaced the county council in one of the biggest ballot box upsets in Big Island history.
There are some parallels and many differences but come the first Monday of December a major overhaul will have concluded with fewer incumbents and more newcomers to be sworn at Hilo civic, just like 36 years ago.
The similarities are behavior of the current council and that of 1972-1976. Plenty of ornery debate, threatening and juvenile conflict and with separate leaders each two years and acrimony that seemingly never would end.
Council critics, including those who think nine makes for an unwieldy, costly body, may seek a more focused approach to county governance but agree that are sharp differences based on geography and locale. (California counties with many more residents and equally large territory employ five supervisors. Nevada’s Cark County (Las Vegas) has just three supervisors.)
All council members were elected at-large in the 1970s, though six were required to be from the traditional districts – Ka’u, Puna, Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala and Kona. Members now come from narrowly confined districts based on the latest reapportionment still being debated by some. A mere stop sign or the centerline of a street now can define boundaries
On primary election eve 1976, a somewhat unknown Waimea taxpayer protester named Muneo “Moon” Sameshima shouted from the Mo’oheau Park podium: “throw the rascals out.”
The time-honored Hawaii phrase was aimed not only at his own opponent who once was council chair but the whole body. The crowd, much larger than those today since the council became nonpartisan, roared with laughter.
Few took it all serious except for a young reporter for the Star-Bulletin who expressed no surprise. Sure enough the aforementioned rascals were largely out. Read more

Politics — Three Veterans, Three Newcomers Would Be Mayor

By Alan McNarie

Nobody can say that there isn’t a broad choice of candidates for mayor this year.  They include three veteran politicians; a small-town baker; a well-known marijuana advocate and a futurist who wants to move the island’s population to a floating city.

The Incumbent

Billy Kenoi has much to be proud of.  He’s presided over the opening of West Hawai‘i’s Ane Keohokalole Highway, the county’s West Hawai‘i Center and Pahoa’s new police/fire station; his administration has renovated county transfer stations, made improvements to parks and gyms, opened emergency shelters and housing projects, and equipped many county facilities with photovoltaic systems that made them virtually energy-self-sufficient. He’s purchased the county’s first electric vehicles. He’s opened the state’s largest agricultural park to local farmers in Hamakua (albeit only after much prodding from council chair/mayoral rival Dominic Yagong.)

“We are very proud of the fact that we did all of those projects while at the same time reducing the size of government for four straight years,” he says, noting that the county budget has shrunk from 403 million when he took office to 365 million now. He also takes pride in having preserved the county’s AA- credit rating, and in having  the “first balanced administration in the history of the island in terms of working islandwide,” with a vastly increased county workforce in West Hawai‘i.

All those construction projects have also kept big campaign donors happy. Kenoi’s most recent available campaign spending report, filed last December, showed that he’d already raised over $150,000—much of it from the executives of legal and engineering firms that often bid on county contracts.  A search of contracts on the county’s Web site showed no particular pattern of favoritism toward those contributors, but obviously they feel confident in Kenoi’s ability to keep the county money flowing toward their industries in general.

So why, with all those bragging rights and that formidable campaign war chest, does Kenoi still have five challengers?

Well, there are a few things he hasn’t accomplished.  The county has passed out lots of construction contracts, but it also has had to cut costs by implementing the infamous “furlough Fridays,” when all but the most essential county personnel stay home. Kenoi’s administration renovated and expanded some solid waste transfer stations, but it also cut back transfer station hours. And the administration’s “balanced” budgets were finally achieved, in part, by deferring millions in payments to the county’s pension funds.

And there’s the long-festering problem of the Hilo Landfill, which was supposed to have closed years ago. West Hawai‘i residents were outraged recently to learn that the county’s solid waste division, without notifying anyone, had been shipping East Hawai‘i garbage to West Hawai‘i. The County Council slapped Kenoi by passing an ordinance forbidding cross-island garbage trucking.

Kenoi explains that the trans-island garbage shipments were a pilot project to “verify” a recommendation from independent contractor R.W. Beck that shipping to West Hawai‘i’s Pu‘uanahula Landfill was the most efficient way to handle the problem.

“We have three solutions,” Kenoi says. “We either expand the Hilo landfill or build a new landfill, truck to Pu‘uanahulu, or implement waste processing technology [such as gasification or incineration].” He notes that he’s not the first mayor to face the landfill dilemma. “The reason people have struggled with this for 20 years is it’s a difficult decision,” he maintains. Even putting in a new Hilo landfill, he says, will be expensive, because Hilo’s rainy climate will probably necessitate a liquid waste processing plant just to handle the leachate seeping out of the landfill. Read more

Politics — New Faces To Represent West Hawaii On Council

By Karin Stanton
Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Of the seven candidates vying for the three West Hawaii council seats,
only one has experience as a county lawmaker. And that candidate could
become one of two senior council members.

Brenda Ford is the sole council member in West Hawaii seeking
re-election. After last year’s redistricting, Ford now resides in
District 6, which includes most of the southern end of the island –
from Kealakekua to Mountain View.

“It is possible that the entire west and south sides of the island
could have representatives who have no council experience at all,”
Ford said. “It’s going to be very important to have the kind of
experience and leadership I can bring.”

Ford, like J Yoshimoto of Hilo, is running for a fourth and final term. Read more

Politics — Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: Backbone Of The Island

By Le’a Gleason

The race for Hawaii Prosecuting Attorney has just three candidates, yet all three carry a big punch. The outcome of this high-stakes race has the potential to shape the island’s legal system in a new direction, and comes as the first election since log-time prosecutor Jay Kimura resigned. Kimura was with the prosecuting office since 1979.

Attorneys Lincoln Ashida, Paul Dolan, and Mitch Roth are vying for the position, each with a host of experience and a long history of successful convictions and contributions to the community.

Among the three, Dolan faces a unique challenge as a “rural” attorney. He works out of Ocean View, where he refers to his efforts not as grass roots, but as “lava roots”.

“I’m really upset that they closed all the rural courts. It wasn’t thought through. That separates me from the people. They get tickets driving on the way to Kona to court,” said Dolan.

However, Dolan feels that serving from a distance could work to his advantage.

“People want someone outside the loop, outside Hilo, who can be honest to the voters, who can be forthright. I’m not afraid to prosecuting anyone who’s committed a serious crime,” he said.

In order to prosecute these “serious crimes”, Dolan feels that the court systems need to first be cleared of congestion.

“Four years ago the people told the police to have cannabis be the lowest priority, and that is being completely ignored. I just can’t understand why people would vote for someone who ignores what they want,” said Dolan, citing an overload of marijuana cases clogging the court system.

“I think once the court houses are cleared out we can key in on these really bad people. Crystal meth dealers and cocaine dealers.  We’re gonna get them and we’re gonna kick them off this island forever,” said Dolan.

Opponent Mitch Roth has been a successful prosecutor for 19 years. What sets him apart is an unmatched dedication to serve.

“I have a passion for what I do. This is not just a job…it’s a calling,” he said.  Read more

Politics — Five Vie For State Senate District Two

By Le’a Gleason

Senate District Two is a large land area, stretching from Keaukaha to Kalapana and along the coast to Punalu’u. It includes communities from Kea’au to Pahoa to Pahala and everything in-between, making this an important race for five candidates: Bob Herkes, Daryl Lee Smith, Russell Ruderman, Wendell Ka’ehu’ae’a, and Gary Safarik.

Russell Ruderman, owner of Island Naturals Market and Deli, located in Hilo, Pahoa, and Kona, feels that his knowledge of both business and politics makes him a strong leader.

“One of the things I’ve learned along the way is how to work with a wide variety of people. I strive to form partnerships. You need to create situations where everyone involved wins. I learned a lot about consensus building,” he said.

Ruderman, who considers himself an environmentalist, feels that there are several key issues on people’s minds: local food, supporting agriculture, the need for jobs, and the need for food.

“We have been pushing hard to create the amount of local food we have,” Ruderman said.

Little known about Ruderman is his “pilgrimage” to the island.

“I sailed here from the west coast to Hilo in a small 25-foot wooden sail boat. [I] Spent 25 days on the water. It felt kind of like a pilgrimage. I sort of earned my way here,” he said.

Opponent Gary Safarik, meanwhile, said, “my strengths are collaboration with my colleagues, [and] my investigative and initiative [skills] that provide a strong background for me when I’m making my decisions.

“I would say that my confidence is based on my understanding of the people that I serve,” he said, also nothing that he is “good at getting to the root of the problem.”

And it isn’t all seriousness for Safarik. “I have a dry sense of humor, and I find levity during stressful times,” he said.

In another corner, Bob Herkes boasts 16 years of experience in the State Senate, among other credits, including a background in the hotel industry.

“My whole career in the hotel business has been they always gave me the toughest assignments, the hardest hotel to run, and that’s what I do best,” he said. Read more

Politics — Keiko Bonk Running For State House On Oahu, Challenging Speaker Say

By Peter Serafin

When artist, activist and musician Keiko Bonk was elected to represent District 6 (Puna, Ka’u, South Kona) in 1992, she became the first Green Party candidate in the United States to win office. After serving two terms, including a stint as Council Chair (1995-96), Bonk ran for mayor. She narrowly lost to incumbent Stephen Yamashiro in 1996. She ran again in 2000, and for much of th

Politics — What You Need To Know About Voting In Hawaii County

 By Cheryl King
The State and the County of Hawaii are pulling out all the stops in an effort to increase voter turnout by making registering to vote and voting in the primary and general elections as easy and convenient as possible.

The primary election will decide which partisan candidates will go on to represent his or her political party in the general election.  The winner of a race for a non-partisan contest will be determined if a candidate receives 50% plus one of the votes.  Otherwise, the top two candidates will face off in the general election.

Registering to Vote

There are no requirements to have lived in Hawaii a certain length of time to be able to register, but the voter must be a legal resident of Hawaii with the intent of making Hawaii his legal residence.    Pre-registration is allowed for those who are at least 16 years old.  They must be 18 by Election Day to vote.  Contrary to popular belief, convicted felons may vote provided they attach a letter from their parole officer to the registration form stating they have completed their sentence and probation requirements.

It is essential that all those registering to vote give adequate contact information on the form.  A friend’s telephone number or an e-mail address may be used in the telephone space on the registration form.   Voter registration may be rejected if the Elections Office cannot clarify needed information.

Hawaii residents must re-register if they have had a change of name, mailing, or residence address.  Otherwise, registering to vote is permanent for all elections.  First time Hawaii voters must have registered by July 12 to vote in the primary and by October 8 to vote in the general election. Read more

Food — Got Culture?

By Sofia Wilt

Big Island Chronicle’s Kitchen Diva

A recent culinary trend favored by restaurants, nutritionists, artisanal food products as well as the home cook is a return to a practically forgotten means of food preparation: fermentation. Prior to refrigeration, pasteurization and other industrialized methods of food production, people were innovative with storage their food to last them to the next harvest or prevent spoilage of valuable foods like meat, fish or milk. Sauerkraut, kim chi, pickles, miso, yogurt, and gravlax are a few examples of traditional fermented foods. Inspired by necessity, our ancestors learned something pretty amazing from the fruits of their labor: without exactly intending to, they created foods that had new and exciting flavors and textures. Better still, they had enhanced and multiplied the foods nutritional value.
To clarify, fermented foods are different from vinegar pickles. Vinegar pickles, while delicious, do not have friendly probiotic bacteria nor enhanced enzyme and vitamin content as found in ferments. The proliferation of friendly bacteria, or lactobacilli, in fermented foods enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels, notably vitamin C and various B vitamins. Read more

Guest Column — An Introduction To Chinese Acupuncture

By Janice Dauw

How exciting to have a new alternative islandwide newspaper.  Similar to Chinese medicine, a hot off the press newspaper is old school.  This is very true for Chinese medicine as it dates back over 3000 years.  Chinese medicine is often referred to as TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and includes acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, exercise, and massage. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine and is used to diagnose, treat and prevent illness. There is only speculation regarding how acupuncture first came about but we do know that early acupuncture needles were made from both bone and bamboo.  Many people are finding Chinese Medicine to be a safe and affordable alternative and/or supplement to conventional Western medicine.

Huang Di, aka the Yellow Emperor, first recorded Chinese wisdom and how it relates to health and well-being.  Read more

Guest Column — Virus Or Bacteria, Antibiotics Or Not?

By Dan Domizio

There are many points of confusion with regard to health/ wellness and disease; how to treat problems; what to do and not to do; what a person should worry about, when they can relax. This article focuses on an issue that causes concern every day when someone becomes ill; what is a VIRAL problem, what is BACTERIAL? And, less frequently, when is some other type of “bug” involved, parasites, for example.

Without getting too technical or too simplistic, we will try to shed some light on the heart of these issues, and hopefully make your at-home clinical decision less stressful.

Some really important basics: most VIRAL illnesses are “SELF Limited”.  That is to say they require no specific treatment to make them go away.  They will resolve on their own.  Yes, they may make us feel miserable with fevers, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, but there are no medications we can take to make them go away. Our eyes may get red and irritated, our children may break out in a rash, but the medications we take for these are only to make us FEEL better. We can knock down the fever; we can clear up a stuffy nose or help with a cough; we can make our eyes bright and feel less irritated, but the bottom line is we cannot KILL viruses, the way we can with bacteria; antibiotics are useless with viral illnesses. Read more

Guest Column — Regarding War, Oil, Climate Change And Geothermal

By Rob Tucker
At the first large geothermal meeting in Pahoa, organized by Steve Hirakami of HAAS (and others), there was an exercise where everyone’s concerns were posted on the wall and the public was invited to put three colored stickers next to their priority of concern.  It was taking a public measure of everyone’s concerns.  I would like to thank Steve Hirakami for the format. It was useful.   I had my three little colored dots and hesitated for a while and eventually went and put all three of mine on a concern written: “it’s not oil”.  Not thought out deeply but that was my instinct.  All three dots. Read more