Photo Of The Week — The Mayor’s Delegation For Recent Philippines Trip

Image courtesy of Mayor Billy Kenoi via Facebook.

Mayor Billy Kenoi and his delegation returned this week from their two-week trip to Ormoc, the Big Island’s sister city in the Philippines.  Depicted are those who took the trip:

Randy Kurohara, Director of County Research & Development (back left); Richard Ha and Wally Ishibashi of the Geothermal Working Group; Rose Bautista, County Immigration Specialist; Mike Kaleikini of Puna Geothermal Venture; Jane Clement of the Kona Visayan Club; Councilman Angel Pilago and his wife Nita; Jay Ignacio of HELCO; Paulette Cainglit, the Sister City coordinator; Dr. Bruce Matthews of UH Hilo; and Dutch Kuyper of Parker Ranch. Also in the delegation but missing from this photo was Will Rolston, County Energy Coordinator, and Dr. Sonny Genio of the Kona Visayan Club.

Postcards — Regarding Growth And Development; Ponder This Nightscape

 I snapped this photograph while in Denver, Colo., at the Renaissance Hotel recently.  I was standing out on the lanai, or balcony as they call it there, looking out at the view from our room on the seventh floor.  Imagine Kanoelehua Avenue with a few more lanes and, at the intersection of Maakala Street, either at the Ford dealership or the Hopaco Store, there is a hotel.  I had a flash of that as I looked out onto the nightscape and studied the big-box-store complex that was our view from that hotel lanai.  If you actually found any of the nationally recognized big-box stores appealing, you couldn’t just walk out of the Renaissance Hotel and walk across the street.  In fact, the whole area is not pedestrian friendly whatsoever.  You would have to walk a considerable distance just to get to a point where you can use a crosswalk at a signalized intersection.  Realistically, to get across the street, you would have to fetch your  rental car in the parking garage and find your way through a series of one-way streets.  Once your inside one of the big-box-store complexes, you better hope that you have entered the right one.  If not, you have to drive around the complex to find the exit and get back onto the street hoping you are going in the right direction to find the entrance for the other big-box-store complex that has the big-box store you are seeking.  It is such a series of big-box store mazes, just this scene of big-box store complexes alone.  There are, God, I can’t even venture to guess how many of these are all over Denver, all over the mainland, just plain all over.

There were a number of times on my recent vacation when I found myself in what I described as “strip mall hell,” lost in series of mazes that are big-box-store complexes.  There was nothing original about them, no sense of a neighborhood or a town whatsoever.  It was actually quite frightening.

While I was away on vacation, Target opened in Hilo.  You know where it is, right?  In the new big-box-store complex behind the Wal-Mart complex at the intersection of Kanoelehua Avenue and Makaala Street.  There are a number of my friends expressing excitement that Target has finally come to Hilo.  For some, that is considered progress.  But as I look at this picture I snapped from the balcony of Renaissance Hotel in Denver, I can tell you honestly that I don’t view Target coming to Hilo as progress at all.  People tell me “there is a lot of baby stuff” at the new Target.  You know what that means?  My friends who own baby stores in Hilo, like Moonsprout at 10 Lono Street or Bellies at the Hilo Shopping Center, might suffer.  God forbid they have to close down because their customers were more concerned about saving a couple of dollars at the big-box stores than supporting small business.  That’s what I think about when I drive into Hilo and get an impulse to go check out the new big-box store in town.  There really isn’t anything I need in there.

On another thread, we are talking about an upcoming meeting in which the planning director will make a pitch for amendments to the the land-use pattern allocation guide map in the General Plan  for the Pahoa area.  This naturally has me thinking a lot about land-use, planning, growth and development.  Our community development plans have mapped out areas around the island that are to be “regional town centers” or “village town centers.”  Pahoa has been described as a regional town center.  Those working on the community development plans have decided the maximum square footage for shops and stores to be in these village town centers and regional town centers.  I just have to wonder if the community greater than those who have worked on our community development plans have actually pondered  what it means for some place like Pahoa to be labeled a regional town center.  We have considered Pahoa a village, yet that is a misnomer according to the plan.  It is being considered a regional town center.  Technically, that means we could in the future have our very own mess of big-box-store complexes.  Is that really the greater community’s desire?

Postcards — From Serena, In Europe


Image courtesy of Steve Offenbaker

Remember Steve Offenbaker’s daughter Serena who was trying to raise $5,000 to participate in the People to People program as a student ambassador in Europe this summer?  We contributed to her cause, and here is her very sweet postcard thank you to us from Italy.  I’m so glad that she was able to raise the funds she needed.  I see great value in young people — anyone, for that matter — traveling and gaining a global perspective.  Right on, Serena! May you come back to Hawaii and accomplish many great things for your duration in high school and beyond!

Hilo News — Skateboarders’ Arrest Highlights The Need For Legitimate Place To Skate

(A version of this story appears in the June 8 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)

By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Six skateboarders face petty misdemeanors after being arrested last month in Hilo, highlighting what they see as a critical need for a legitimate place for them to skateboard.

Tadashi Erekson, 22, and Jacob Rouner, 27, said they were among four other skateboarders at the “Trench,” a flood channel near the Chinese Cemetery on Kapiolani Street, when police showed up and hauled them off to jail on what ultimately were charges of criminal trespassing and criminal littering. Police initially arrested them on a third charge of criminal tampering for a makeshift ramp out of cinder blocks placed in a flood channel, but could not get any of the skateboarders to say who actually built the ramp.

Erekson and Rouner said they will challenge the charges; Erekson asserted he wasn’t even in the flood channel, he was standing on a nearby bridge when police arrived; there aren’t any “no trespassing signs,” and he and his friends typically pick up litter or reuse found trash when they come across it, he said.

Both Erekson and Rouner noted they have commonly spoken with police in the months and years, respectively, that they have skateboarded in and around Hilo; never before have they been arrested for skateboarding.  Read more

Postcards — A Note On The Hunts’ Adventure

Pacific Coast Highway 1 southbound from Anchor Bay. Photos By Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Aloha, Big Island Chronicle readers: So sorry I didn’t get around to writing you any postcards while I was away.  I really was trying to be subtle about it, but those who read every comment posted on the site know that I have been off-island for two weeks.  I had posts scheduled for while I was away, and I also did some blogging while I was away.  For posts that required a photo or drawing, I relied on Bruce Albrecht to assist me.  Let’s give Bruce a hand for being the one and only person at the present time that I can count on as an administrator.

For those interested, my family and I spent our vacation in California.  We ventured from San Diego to Point Arena in Mendocino County, mostly on Highways 1 or 101. We rented a Chevy Astro Van from Lost Campers and had grand plans to spend a lot of nights in it.  Suffice it to say, at 22 weeks pregnant, I vetoed that plan after spending one night in the van in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  I was way too cramped and claustrophobic.  For the nights we didn’t stay with family and friends, I used to find us cheap deals in towns along the way.

My husband Jeff surfed in several spots on our way up the coast, despite the fact that Hawaiian Airlines damaged his board going to and coming from the mainland.

Courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines

That’s something I’ll never forget — waking up to him whisper-screaming profanities at about 5 a.m. the morning after our flight into Los Angeles International Airport, as he pulled his surfboard out of the board bag to go surfing. Clearly, despite the $100 fee, Hawaiian Airlines treated the board like baggage rather than the obvious, a surfboard.  The entire half of our first full day in San Diego was spent trying to find someone to do an emergency ding repair.  If you can believe this, we found a shaper to fix his board in 24 hours, who is actually a friend of a friend who lives here.

Among the breaks Jeff surfed was at Jalama Beach, which is not too far away from where the 19-year-old University of California-Santa Barbara chemical engineering student was fatally attacked by a shark.  If you can believe this, he surfed Jalama the same day that 18-foot great white shark attacked the bodyboarder! That definitely gave me the heebie-jeebies, hearing there was a shark attack not too far away from where my husband had been surfing.

Dennis the Menace Playground, Monterey, Calif.

For my daughter, among the highlights of our trip was the constant discoveries of playgrounds.  When we stayed at the Moonlight Beach Motel, we were a stone’s throw from a deluxe playground right on the beach.  While we waited for Jeff to have his session at Jalama, Coco enjoyed the playground there.  In Monterey, she got to play at three different playgrounds, including the Dennis the Menace Playground, which is definitely one of the most impressive playgrounds I have ever seen.  In Santa Cruz, she enjoyed the playground at a county park near Pleasure Point and all the rides for keiki her size at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  I realized, more so than ever, the value of providing recreational activities for our children here.  Not only does it satisfy the children, it satisfies the parents and caretakers as well.  The playgrounds are community gathering spots, they are so important and so worth their expense.

Being that this is election season, I really got a kick out of all the campaigns underway in the various communities that we passed through.  The TV commercials, the radio ads, the yard signs, the bumper stickers, they were all intriguing to me, being the political junkie that I can be.  I have to wonder how many pages the California ballots are, with all the propositions statewide and in the various towns and cities.  Of course, the most compelling race in California is the governor’s.  I thought the Charles Djou -versus-Colleen Hanabusa ad campaign was getting pretty negative, then I heard some of the ads between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown! Let’s see, what did I keep hearing? “Jerry Brown, he’s just a dead end!” Then there was that sign in Santa Cruz that made me laugh out loud, “She lied.  How can we trust her?! Paid for by the Campaign for Disappointed Republicans.”

Of all the signs that I saw on the roadsides, my favorite, I don’t know why, was in Lompoc.  “Stay on target with Steve Straight for School Board!” I don’t think there was an exclamation point, but that is how I remember reading it and how I’ve been repeating it ever since.  It cracked me up laughing, and made me come up with my own slogan for 2016: “The Hunt is over. Tiffany Edwards Hunt for County Council!”  Of course, you have to say it in the tone of voice that they use for all the television and radio ads, all dramatic-like and important.

I really enjoyed exploring all the cities and towns, particularly the historic downtowns.  I really appreciated the ones that had maps and booklets highlighting the businesses.  It became really clear to me what I personally can and should do in the Puna community and islandwide to encourage folks to dine and shop locally. It really is important for people to realize that locally owned restaurants, boutiques, and shops cannot survive and keep historic downtowns thriving without the support of patrons.  It is actually the responsibility of citizenship to buy and eat local. I know some of you will appreciate this, in Pacific Grove, the historic downtown includes a number of small parks and open spaces.  One city-block-sized-park had an archway entrance with a sign reading, “Open Space.” Another city-block-sized park had a sign reading, “Native Plants of Monterey County.”

For our road trip, we had a cooler provided to us by Lost Campers, so we shopped at grocery stores, Mexican markets, and roadside fruit and veggie stands.  I forgot, living in the Hawaiian Islands, how inexpensive food can be! The gasoline prices were about the same as here — actually it was between $3.15 per gallon and $3.45 per gallon, depending upon the town and the neighborhood.  But food, it was, on the average, half the amount we pay here.  Cheese, milk, juice boxes, honey, coffee, tea, fruits, vegetables, you name it, it was all cheaper than what we pay here, substantially cheaper. Eggs were $1.99 a carton. Boxes of crackers and bags of chips were less than $2.  I bought a huge basket of plums on the roadside for $2.  I bought a plump and juicy tomato for .64 cents. I bought a small container of honey for $2.50. One night in Santa Cruz, I spent an hour and a half in the grocery store, going down every aisle, studying in amazement all the prices and slowly filling my cart with goods for the trip and to bring back home.

We did eat out sometimes.  As a young girl, I ate fish and chips at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey.  When we arrived in the Peninsula, I was intent on my family having dinner there.  I’ll never forget the moment, sitting in that restaurant, our table lit by candelight, looking out at the boats anchored in the water, a few bites into my meal, realizing how much cod pales in comparison to ono, ahi and mahi mahi and how I’ve had better fish and chips in Hawaii.

That was the start of a growing desire to come back home.   I reached the point in which I fully appreciated my life back here and how much I value my home, business, and friends on the island.  Yes, we pay a lot for food, and, for the sake of budgeting, I have to figure out how to spend less per month on food.  But, overall, life is good here in so many ways.  I actually got to the point where I longed to be home, I longed to sleep in my only bed, a real bed, and a comfy one at that, not the futon in the back of the Chevy Astro Van, not someone’s couch, not someone’s guest bed. I guess that is the point of going on vacation.  You can’t wait to leave and, if everything goes the way it is supposed to, you can’t wait to get back home. I can’t emphasize enough, it is so good to be home.

Dispatches From Curt — Female Leaders In Judiciary And Anticipated Post Scripts

Hawaii Chief Justice nominee Katherine Leonard (L) and Gov. Linda Lingle.Â

By Curtis Narimatsu

Katherine Leonard will be the first female chief justice of the Hawai’i Supreme Court and the first to ascend to such position from UH Law School.   A centrist like Gov. Lingle, Katherine will steer clear of controversy.   Just the same, California will see the nation’s first Filipina/female chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, whose father toiled in the canefields of Hawai’i.  (See San Jose Mercury News report here.)

California Chief Justice nominee Tani Cantil-Sakauye

According to the news report, Cantil-Sakauye would also become the youngest member of the current court at the age of 50. She also may be the court’s first trained blackjack dealer, having worked such a job to pay for law school years back.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger chose Cantil-Sakauye to succeed Chief Justice Ronald George, who is ending his 14-year-career as California’s chief justice.  Cantil-Sakauye, a judge for 20 years, is a Sacramento appeals court justice.

(Curtis Narimatsu is a lifelong resident of Hilo who writes about the forgotten past such as the old plantation days & untold heroes.)

Postcards — Feeling The Patriotism At The World Cup

Image courtesy of Dr. Ed Gutteling

Attention soccer fans, and, yes, all you other proper wankers, too. Well, the USA finally exits the show. It was thrilling, but as happens in all things, it is now over. If you’ve been watching on TV along with another 1 Billion (that’s billion with a “B”) of your  brothers and sisters around the planet, then you know what I mean.

If you haven’t, well eggs-and-bakey, wakey-wakey, you missed an amazing world-wide spectacle and will now have to wait another 4 years to try again to cheer for your country (2014 in Brazil).

You must appreciate what its like to be an American, going to a foreign country, joining 20-30,000 other electrified American fans advancing on the stadium, with a similar number and kind for the opposing team, with 90%+ all decked out in their country’s colors and associated costumes. Our national anthem never sounded better, or was sung more fervently by so may of our countrymen. Nearly no one attends a game without flying their country’s colors, even if you are from a country not even playing that day.

The colors, noise, continuous cheering, and sheer excitement momentum is incredible, and it happens day after day after day until the cup is over. Read more

Postcards — Greetings From South Africa

Greetings fellow soccer fans, and all you other provincial tossers, also.
Your US National Soccer team has now played 2 games in the initial group
play round, and ended Friday’s with a 2:2 draw with Slovenia. The US (and
most everyone else also) had expected a US victory, but not this time. Our
boys came out to a sluggish start. I think we did not fully respect the
intensity and skills Slovenia could muster, despite being the smallest
nation in the Cup and the very last to have qualified from Europe. Maybe
we shouldn’t have over-looked that they had knocked out the impressive
Russia to get here.

We showed a porous defensive effort, and Slovenia scored early after just
12 minutes with a 20 yard powerful bullet shot when space was given,
quieting the prior feverish US half of the 70,000 fans at Joburg’s Ellis
Park Stadium. The US responded with a more intensive offensive effort, but
were vulnerable to the counter=punch attack late in the first half
with a through pass and standard power shot after again failing to cover
tightly enough. Read more

Guest Column — With Liberty And Justice For All, Hawaii State Legislature Should Pass A Civil Unions Bill This Session

Dr. Michael Ra Bouchard

Once again this year, the Hawai’i State Legislature is poised to vote on the matter of extending equal rights to all Hawai’i citizens by authorizing civil unions for same-sex couples.

Regardless of the outcome of this present vote, in the not so distant future, justice will ultimately prevail and equal rights will be extended to all regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.  In years to come, subsequent generations of Americans will look back at the current arguments and laws against legalized civil unions with disbelief and reproach.  History shall reveal present-day homophobic beliefs and prejudicial laws for the bigotry and discrimination they have always been.

Historical perspective today exposes other once popular but now reviled laws, such as those permitting slavery, denying women the right to vote, and forbidding inter-racial marriage, for the misguided and unjust policies that they were. As with these and other injustices from yesteryear, an enlightened awareness shall lay bare the flawed arguments and wrongful laws presently being employed against extending equal rights to same-sex couples through civil unions.

Civil rights should never be denied to anyone. Equal treatment under the law demands that same-sex couples be granted the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as those received in marriage by opposite-sex couples under state law. Despite whatever temporary legal setbacks civil unions may suffer in the coming months or years, liberty and justice for all requires of us to continue fighting the good fight against bigotry and discrimination. As a moral and just society, we must not quit until all forms of institutionalized discrimination are inevitably relegated to where they belong—forever cast upon history’s rubbish heap.

For further perspective on this topic, please read my series of articles entitled “Sexual Rights are Human Rights” by visiting this link:  To show your support and sign the petition visit this link:

(Dr. Michael Ra Bouchard is the founder and director of the Aloha Sexual Health and Happiness Counseling Center located on Maui and The Big Island of Hawaii. In private practice for over 25 years, he provides sex therapy and marriage counseling to clients locally, nationally, and internationally via local office visits and global telephone distance sessions. For more information, please visit his website at

Postcards — A Note From Mommy And Toddler Heaven, SadieDey’s Cafe In Oakland — Exactly What The Big Island Needs!

Those who follow me on Twitter know my toddler and I have ventured off to the mainland. I’m not sharing full details of my itinerary because I’m surprising someone at some point during this trip. I have scheduled articles to run on the blog, and will be using the computer now and then to catch up on what’s emailed and in need of posting. Plus, I’ll be writing you postcards. 🙂
This one is from SadieDey’s Cafe in Oakland, Calif. I kid you not, I feel like I am in mommy and toddler heaven. As I write, I am reclined on a purple vinyl couch, latte in hand. My daughter is, let’s see, where is she now? She was in a net playhouse full of balls and fellow toddlers. Now she is going up and down a plastic slide. The room is filled with an estimated 25 kids and about that many parents. Not only is there a slide and a playhouse full of plastic balls, there’s a jungle gym shaped like a car, a play kitchen area, a play castle with costumes, and toys galore everywhere. Every now and then, I remind my daughter I’m still here. She is in complete and total bliss, and could care less when I call her name. It’s so fun to just sit back and watch, and know that I can order us a scrumptious lunch and not leave any time soon.
Located at 4210 Telegraph Ave., this cafe is owned by Sue Older. It’s about four years old. It started out as a Tumble And Tea franchise, but Oldee branched off on her own after she wanted to not only create a kids’ play zone, but a community experience. That it is. Pearl Jam plays, moms breastfeeding babies, girlfriends gather for lunch while their children run around this room full of activities. There’s a cacophony of kids’ voices, laughter, screams, and cries, but it’s controlled chaos. There are “mommy helpers” walking around monitoring the children. There are “yuck buckets” for the toys that have been licked or bitten or otherwise yucked up. There are cubby holes for parents and nannies and toddler gear. There’s an area for stroller parking, gates to keep the tykes from wandering out, mirrors for them to check themselves out, and did I tell you, toys galore. As I write, one of the employees is announcing there is a masseuse in house charging a dollar a minute. When my father in law gets here, I’m so there. They really have thought of everything. It’s truly a parent’s dream this place — free wifi, paninis and wraps, cappucinos, Coldplay blasting. There’s even an opportunity for an artist to paint a portrait of your child here. As I write, Eric, one of the mommy’s helpers, is rounding up the kids for sing-along time. “Now it’s time to sing a-long, sing a-long sing a-long. Now it’s time to sing a-long with me!” This place is uber fun. I’m SO buying a t-shirt. It reads, “When momma’s happy, everybody’s happy. Make the world a happy place.”
A cafe like this is exactly what the Big Island needs. Older said she’d be willing to work with anyone willing to start a franchise in Hawaii. Anybody, anybody?! Call (510) 601-REST (7378).

Postcards — Wahine Toa Designs Featured At Miss Pearls Of Polynesia Pageant In Las Vegas

Nita Pilago with 2009 Miss Pearls of Polynesia Lucie Wilson

Nita Pilago with 2009 Miss Pearls of Polynesia Lucie Wilson

Nita Pilago’s Wahine Toa Designs were recently featured at the Miss Pearls of Polynesia scholarship pageant in Las Vegas.

The scholarship pageant took place in Tahiti up until two years ago, when the 2006 Miss Pearls of Polynesia Ravahere Allred Amo moved to Las Vegas with her husband and opened the pageant up to all girls of Polynesian, Tahitian, Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, or Maori descent.

Lucie Wilson, of  Laie, Hawaiʻi, was named Miss Pearls of Polynesia 2009. The pageant took place at the Nicholas Horn Theatre at the Cheyenne in Las Vegas,Neveda.  The contestants used Wahine Toa clothing for the casual wear segment of the competition.
The Tahitian publication, La Depeche, featured the 10 contestants wearing the Wahine Toa clothing that they wore in the pageant. Congratulations, Nita! Read more

Postcards — Greetings From The City of Angels; California Legislature Approves $143 Billion Budget

Aloha readers, I’m off-island visiting family members on the mainland, and my first stop is Los Angeles, well, Toluca Woods in Burbank, specifically. (This is one of the 90 neighborhoods that comprise LA.)

In a column Monday, I indicated that California lawmakers were unable to pass the budget and a layoff of about 20,000 state workers was imminent.  Faced with a $42 billion deficit this and next fiscal year, two days ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued 10,000 layoff notices to State of California employees.  

Today, after a five-day impasse, the California State Legislature on Thursday approved the $143 billion budget package proposing $12.8 billion in tax increases, $15 billion in spending cuts and borrowing $11.4 billion to balance its budget.   Read more

Postcards — Yangon, 2008; Aloha From Paula Helfrich In Myanmar

(Consider this the launch of “postcards,” a category for those cherished glimpses and reflections from afar, photographs and writings of off-island travel.)

Aloha from Myanmar (Paula Helfrich)

Aloha from Myanmar (Paula Helfrich)

This from Paula Helfrich in Myanmar:

“Life here is quite amazing.  You cannot imagine such poverty, or such genuine equanimity and good humor even in the face of adversity!    I teach english to 3rd and 4th graders, and then I teach Buddhist monks in the evening.  I work with the ecumenical food bank — Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu in Thingangyun’s huge sprawling slum.   I’m enrolled as a Master’s candidate in Archaeology and Heritage studies with the University of Leicester, Cambridge, and Yangon University (by stealth!)…”