• Aloha Tiffany!

    The Lions of East Hawaii need your help!  We have received Federal approval for the Big Island Lions Foundation as a 501(c)(3) public charty and we are holding our first fund raiser on March 26 at the Palace. 

    It promises to be a fantastic night with generous performances given to this event by some of East Hawaii’s great performance artists. 

    ·         Kawaimaluhia and Nani Naope & Friends

    ·         The Masoe Family

    ·         Merahi, the award winning Tahitian dancers

    ·         Ke Ola Makanio Mauna Loa Halau

    ·         Ben Kaili & Friends

    ·         Special Guest Diane Aki

     The Kamehameha Chorus will perform in the lobby before the show!

     Please help spread the word!  If you would like tickets to sell, I am glad to be able to help you.  Tickets are $20, available at my office or at the box office the night of the show.

     This year, the East Hawaii Lions introduced cameras to our vision screening for school children.  The cameras make the process faster and more accurate, allowing us to work with more children.  The best feature is that we can now do younger preschool children because the cameras do not require the children to have developed speech and social skills.  It relies on the reflection of light from the inner eye.  The vendor has allowed us to work with a demonstrator but now we need to purchase at least two cameras for our work.  Each camera costs $5,800.

      Come out to enjoy the fun and do something special for our keiki!

    Nancy Jean Kramer

    Pahoa

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  • 20 Mar 2015 /  Big Island Press Club, news

    Tired of being misinformed, and want to do something about it? The Big Island Press Club (BIPC) is offering five scholarships for eligible students pursuing higher education in journalism or a related field: the $1,500 Robert C. Miller Memorial Scholarship, $1,000 Bill Arballo Scholarship, $1,000 Marcia Reynolds Scholarship, $600 Yukino Fukubori Memorial Scholarship and the $500 Jack Markey Memorial Scholarship. Last year, BIPC divided $4,600 among five Hawaii Island students.

    The BIPC Scholarship Committee determines who gets the money, based on the following criteria: applicant must

    • Have residential ties to the Big Island;
    • Express a clear interest in and aptitude for a career in journalism or a related field;
    • Be pursuing a degree in journalism or a related field and enrolled full time at an accredited college or university;
    • Maintain a strong record of academic achievement.

    Go to  www.BigIslandPressClub.org or to your high school counselor for application forms and instructions. Applications for the 2015 scholarships must be postmarked by April 18.

    For more information, email scholarships@bigislandpressclub.org or phone
    Phone: (747) 444-BIPC

  • Big Island Chronicle has received a note from Amy Snyder at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, saying that the time for the meeting with the Army on depleted uranium at Pohakuloa  has been changed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST (3 a.m.-10 a.m. HST) to 11:00 a.m. -5:15 p.m. EST (5 a.m.–11:15  a.m. HST).  She noted that other topics besides the Hawaiian DU were on the agenda, and that discussion of the Hawaiian sites would “begin at 1:30 p.m.  eastern time” (That’s 7:30 Hawaiian time).

    She said that the discussion would specifically address the Army’s proposal to add additional DU contamination sites to those already listed, and noted that “currently there is no licensing review or licensing action.  This meeting is a pre-application submission meeting.”  Since the meeting time had changed, she said, she was in the process of obtaining a new toll-free phone number for teleconferencing.  As soon as that number is sent to us, we will print it on this site.

    Documents that will be discussed can be reviewed at the links below beginning Friday, March 20:

    View ADAMS P8 Properties ML15078A094

    Open ADAMS P8 Package (Draft Documents from Army Regarding March 24, 2015 Meeting on Depleted Uranium from the Davy Crockett Weapon System)


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  • 19 Mar 2015 /  Energy, letters

    Dear Governor Ige:

    The Case For (Non-Profit) Municipal Power (MP) In Hawai’i. The impending sale of Hawaiian Electric (HE) to NextEra Energy must not be allowed. The time has come for a different energy model in Hawai’i. Corporate HE (not individual workers) is unresponsive, or at best sluggish, to the economic and environmental needs of the people of Hawai’i, and for good reason, HE is not egalitarian, it’s a privately owned power monopoly motivated by profit. HE charges the highest electric rates in the United States. These high rates, the steady drop in renewable energy costs, and the effects of carbon fuel pollution on the planet, have permanently altered the energy landscape, and have made energy sources like roof-top solar a great economic and ethical choice for residential energy consumers. Unfortunately, HE discourages roof-top solar because it’s not profitable for them . Allowing the change of ownership, of a for-profit power monopoly, from HE to out-of-state NextEra, delivers the company to individuals having no endemic connection to Hawai’i. It allows NextEra to control the energy fates of all Hawaiians, the sun, wind, tides, and Pele herself, all for the profit of NextEra. These energy resources are a public trust, belonging to the current and future generations of Hawai’i, not to any private entity. Your obligation as Governor is to uphold this public trust, and I therefore petition you to municipalize HE instead of allowing its sale to NextEra Energy.

    Some people will be shocked by the proposition of MP, claiming it’s unworkable or untried. Others will call it Socialism, wagging their tongues about the free market, the word Capitalism spilling reverently from their lips, and they will tell you that competition is the best solution. And some will caution that MP is just “big government” intruding into our lives. Well… to those who are shocked, or wagging, or afraid of government, the truth is simply eye-opening. MP is an old idea, beginning in America as early as 1917, and widely accepted all across this country. MP got its start because, “Many [Americans in the early 1900’s] believed privately owned power companies were charging too much for power, did not employ fair operating practices, and were subject to abuse by their owners (utility holding companies), at the expense of consumers.” Indeed, Americas exploitation of power resources is an older story than MP. A recent example of this exploitation happened in 2000, in the Southern California energy market, which was manipulated by energy traders, who under the guise of the “free market” caused an 800% jump in energy costs, all the while promising that competition would bring the price down. The only SoCal energy provider that did not raise its rates was the LA Municipal Power Authority. The truth is, in the United States, MP is a well tested and continuing success, with “251 publicly owned electric & gas utilities,” and “44 State and Federal” utilities . The entire RED state of Nebraska is a municipal power State . And to erase any doubt, in the State of Hawaii, the “Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC)” has the following information on their web site :

    “(KIUC) is a not-for-profit generation, transmission and distribution cooperative owned and controlled by the members it serves. Headquartered in Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, the cooperative currently serves more than 32,000 electric accounts throughout Kauai. Committed to reinventing how Kauai is powered, KIUC is
    aggressively pursuing diversification of its energy portfolio to include a growing percentage of hydropower, photovoltaic, bio-fuel, and biomass.”

    “Goals in the plan include:

    • Reducing the average residential energy bill by at least 10 percent over the next 10 years even as petroleum fuel prices are forecast to rise 35 percent. The amount of the reduction could be greater or less depending on the actual price of oil and assumes that KIUC completes its switch to at least 50 percent renewable power generation.
    • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from KIUC operations to 1990 levels by 2023. That would eliminate about 52,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
    • Holding operations budgets at or below the inflation rate, something KIUC has done since 2010, while maintaining system reliability.”

    Municipalization is the legal process whereby the State, County, or City forms its own non-profit utility company. In Hawai’i, this could be done Island by Island, County by County, or State wide. Municipal conversions have been successfully accomplished all around the country, and are the less expensive alternative to for-profit monopoly power. Recently, the City of Boulder Colorado took its for-profit power company municipal, a movement that started with people who wanted to make a positive change in Boulder.

    There is a long list of good reasons to implement Municipal Power in Hawai’i:

    1. Moral Obligation – Renewable energy resources (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal) are a public trust, belonging to the current and future generations of Hawai’i and not to any private entity. The sun, wind, tides, and geothermal energy are everyones. To be a free people, we must collectively own these resources.
    2. Lower Electric Rates – Based upon the existing examples of MP Cities and States, rates will decrease and service will increase. This will especially help Hawai’i Island where rates are $0.45/KWhr, the most expensive in the nation by 3 to 5 times.
    3. No Longer Under The Thumb Of A For-Profit Monopoly – NextEra Energy is an out-of-state for-profit company that will hold a monopoly on electric power in most of Hawai’i. They will determine the fate of renewable energy in Hawai’i for the foreseeable future. Promises of lower rates, and a move toward solar, which NextEra has tended to develop in large industrial farms (more profitable for them) rather than roof-top installations, are hollow promises that disappear the minute oil prices increase or their profits are in jeopardy.
    4. Accountability & Transparency – A for profit company has no obligation or accountability to the State, or the people of the State, and is not transparent in its spending practice or resource allocation. When creating the MP authority the State can mandate “sunshine” laws.
    5. Potential Of Renewable Power In Hawai’i – Of all the US States, the Hawaiian Islands and particularly Hawai’i County have the most potential for renewables. Hawai’i State has limitless quantities of sun, wind, tidal, and on Hawai’i Island, geothermal.
    6. The Climate Perspective – To moderate the effects of global warming, renewables are the answer. In a warming world the continued reliance on extractive carbon based energy, or even biofuels is foolish.
    7. Future Energy Costs – Oil and natural gas costs only promise to increase. Renewable energy is free. After the initial investment in panels, inverters, windmills, turbines, and geothermal wells, the cost is only in maintenance (which has identical cost counterparts in traditional power plants), but the energy s free. I repeat, no fuel cost, free!
    8. Fuel Transportation Costs – There are no transportation costs for renewable energy. Oil and gas have to be brought to Hawai’i, and as the transportation cost of fuel increases so will the cost of the fuel, and so will the cost of electricity.
    9. Sustainability and Continuity of the Energy Supply – If there’s catastrophe, a natural disaster, a war, a fuel oil fire, a long freight strike, if power plants are bombed or exploded by terrorists, this will disrupt the carbon energy “pipeline” into Hawai’i. Solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal power are endemic to Hawai’i.
    10. Distributed Power Is More Reliable – Especially in the case of roof-top solar, the energy source is distributed, not a point source like a power plant. Distributed sources tend to be more robust than point sources because it’s impossible for any disaster to shut down all roof-top solar panels.
    11. Save Existing Electric Utility Jobs.
    12. Create New Jobs – From new services that a MP utility can provide.
    13. Use Low Cost Green Energy to Attract Industry to Hawai’i – Following the model of Iceland (a country that generates 100% of its energy from green sources (geothermal and hydroelectric), energy intensive clean industries could be attracted to Hawai’i by our low cost green energy. This will generate long term, sustainable, higher paying jobs, and end Hawaii’s dependence on boom or bust low paying tourism sector jobs, the military, and real-estate and building trade jobs, which are dependent on the economy, states of war, and the development of the precious little land that is Hawai’i.
    14. Energy Efficiency – Use the MP authority to advertise energy efficiency, and establish a grant program for home owners to receive money to insulate their homes (lower AC cost), convert to solar hot water, electric cars, etc. The Counties could use grant money to purchase LED street lamps, or convert to electric powered or solar fueled (hydrogen) vehicles (which will again lower our dependence on imported oil).
    15. Power the HART Train System – Instead of building another oil fired power plant to supply power to the new train system, use the MP authority to encourage roof-top solar to such a degree that one of the existing oil fired power plants is freed-up to supply power to HART. By utilizing rooftop solar, the foot print of the new power plant will be ZERO, no land, no ugly plant, no noise, no fuel delivery system, no atmospheric or oil spill pollution.
    16. Include the Geothermal Plant on Big Island in the MP Authority – MP on the Big Island can be used to stop the excesses of Puna Geothermal (PG), which continually vents H2S from its well heads, doesn’t effectively monitor the H2S releases, and blights the land where it sets up or abandons wells. A fund could be set up in the MP system to reclaim the blighted lands, monitor the H2S, end noisy night-time well drilling, and buy out property owners that are too close to wells, giving these land owners the opportunity to move to a home farther from the geothermal wells. Geothermal is a vast resource that should belong to the Hawaiian people and not Ormat.
    17. Create Municipal Broadband – By using the power poles to run fiber optic cable, or using the power wires for broadband-over-power-lines, bring high speed Internet to Hawai’i, at speeds comparable to the rest of the developed world but rarely found in the USA. This would encourage information technology (IT) companies to move to Hawai’i (as it has in Chattanooga, TN, and Santa Monica, CA), and change Hawai’i from an IT back-water into the high tech hub of the Pacific. Current average Internet speeds in the USA are 10 Mb/S, at costs from $19.00 to $40.00 per month. The Internet of much of the rest of the developed world runs at speeds of 0.5 Gb/s, at costs of $5.00 per month, with faster speeds up to 1 Gb/S for $35.00 or less per month (depending upon the country).

    Renewables are the energy of today, not the energy of the future, because without green energy humanity may not have a future. The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world in implementing renewable (non-carbon, non-nuclear) energy. As Americans struggle to change energy sources, we face propaganda from the extractive carbon energy companies, who promise energy independence, who say there is no climate change due to carbon dioxide, who not admitting carbon is an environmental problem promise “clean carbon technologies,” who have historically blighted the land, polluted the air, rivers, lakes and oceans, and who understandably want to profit from every single drop of oil. We also have to face our own familiarity and acustomness to the carbon economy, and have to confront the problem humanity has with making large long-sighted systemic changes. Quoting Tyson Slokum , “We can do a lot more for cheaper if we focus on how to get off of oil and become more energy efficient. And what we need to be doing is looking at ways to more easily and affordably get alternative[s] like electric vehicles into the market, to invest in ways to make our buildings more energy efficient, [and] to focus on getting 20 million roof top solar panels installed in the next couple of years. These are all the kinds of initiatives that are actually going to lead to affordable energy and energy independence. But of course, the big money in terms of electoral politics is not in roof-top solar, it’s in maintaining the monopoly status of oil industries control over our economy”

    In the world outside the United States there are many countries who are successfully moving off carbon and nuclear energy. The country Denmark just announced its pledged to be a totally renewable society by 2050. Germany, the most successful economy in the world, is already 25% renewable energy. Iceland is a totally renewable energy country, deriving power from approximately 80% geothermal, and 20% hydroelectric power from glacier melt.

    None of what I’ve proposed is new. Every idea has been gleaned from successes in the USA and the world. As a new governor, not elected by a majority of the electorate, at a time when the population does not trust and is disconnected from government, a government that most assiduously serves the rich and exiguously serves the poor, you need a people’s issue. If you said to your fellow Hawaiians, we have tried a for-profit power monopoly and it did not work, so now we are creating a non-profit Municipal Power Authority to substantially lower your energy bills and enrich the State, well… that’s big Aloha. To do this you must eliminate the profiteers, uphold the “public trust,” and for the “collective good,” return the sun, wind, tides, and Pele herself to the people of Hawai’i.

    I look forward to your response, and your action on Municipal Power.

    Best Regards,
    Larry Pollack
    Hilo, Hawai’i

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  • 19 Mar 2015 /  feature, news, politics

    Jody Leong

    While the brouhaha over Governor David Ige’s failed appointment of Carlton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources played itself out, Ige has continued to fill out his administration with other, less controversial appointments. In the process, he’s narrowed the gender gap in his administration–though he still has some distance to go.  The eleven appointments and nominations he’s announced on his Web site since the beginning of this month included seven women and four men.  Since assuming  office, his official Web site has  announced the appointments of a 34 men and 24 women.

    Among his recent appointments are  two former former anchorwomen who will be joining his communications team.  Jody Leong, the Director of Communications for the University of  Hawaii and a former KITV and KHNL weekend news anchor, will become Ige’s Deputy Director of Communications and Press Secretary.  Yasmin Dar, who left a job at KITV as a traffic and social media reporter to become an evening news anchor in Eugene, Oregon, is returning  to Hawaii to serve as Ige’s Digital Media Director.

    Lynn Fallin

    Ige has also appointed three women to senior posts in the Department of Health  this month.  Veteran government bureaucrat Lynn Fallin, whose 25 -year career has included cabinet posts in Oregon and Hawaii,  has been appointed Director of Behavior Health.  Terry Byers has been appointed Director of Executive Office on Aging. Danette Wong Tomiyasu has will become Deputy Director for Health Resources, and Helena Manzano has been tapped as Executive Director of the Office of Language Access.

    Cathy Ross, a 14-year public service veteran,  has been named  Deputy Director for Administration at the Department of Public Safety.

    Audrey Hidano

    Most of these women come with ample credentials and a minimum of controversy; in general, aside from the newswomen, they’ve earned their chops within the departments they’ll be leading.  But Audrey Hidano, named to serve as Deputy Director of the Department of Accounting and General Services, could be an exemplification of the notorious “revolving door” between the public and private sectors: she’s served in high state posts with departments involved in contracting and construction and is co-owner of a contracting firm and a construction firm.  Ige’s press release spins Hidano’s career as “a wealth of experience in government leadership positions and in the private sector. She has twice served as Deputy Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, and most recently she was the Deputy Director at the Department of Transportation. Hidano also co-founded Hidano Construction, Inc., a general contracting company that specializes in residential and light commercial construction, and is the co-owner of Rim-Pac, Inc. a construction company that specializes in solid surface work….”

    Ulalia Woodside

    Ige named Ulalia Woodside to the Board of Land and Natural Resources, where she’s already serving as an interim member. Woodside has also worked both sides of the governmental/corporate divide, though she’s served in conservation/management roles on both sides.   Shes’s currently  currently the regional asset manager for natural and cultural resources at Kamehameha Schools’ Land Assets Division. Prior to that,  she worked for  Wilson Okamoto Corporation, The Hallstrom Group and the DLNR.

    Darrell T. Young

    Ige also appointed two men to the BLNR: surfer Keone Downing  and former Hawaii County Planning Director Chris Yuen, who had been the Big Island’s representative on the board in the  1990s. Ige named veteran sheriff Shawn as Deputy Director for Law Enforcement at the Department of Public Safety, and veteran political bureaucrat Darrell T. Young from his post as Deputy to the Chair at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to become Deputy of the Department of Transportation’s Harbors Division.  Before his DHHL post, Young served as chief of staff to Honolulu Councilman Nestor Garcia.

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  • The public can participate via teleconference at a meeting between U.S. Army officials and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff about the Army’s plans for dealing with, or not dealing with, depleted uranium shells left at U.S. Army firing ranges at Pohakuloa  Training Area on the Big Island’s Saddle area and at Schofield Barracks on O`ahu.  But you’ll have to get up early.

    The meeting will take place in Rockville, Maryland, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST (3 a.m.-10 a.m. HST) on March 24. On the agenda is the Army’s proposed “pre-license amendment application submission” for a permit after the fact to have DU at the sites; participants will “discuss various topics related to the Army’s approach to add the remaining sites containing depleted uranium from the Davy Crockett munitions to Source Materials License No. SUC-1593…. The NRC staff understands that the Army intends to provide drafts of specific portions of its license amendment application for discussion.”  The NRC says it will release “All handouts and specific portions of the Army’s draft license amendment application that the Army plans to discuss at this meeting” in a “public meeting announcement in advance of this meeting.”

    The Davy Crockett was a tactical nuclear artillery piece deployed during the Cold War; it was  designed to lob  nuclear bombs at massed Soviet armor in the event of a war in Europe.  Those nuclear shells were never fired, but to approximate their weight, practice shells of depleted uranium (DU) were used at sites such as Pohakuloa, and remnants of those shells have been found on the firing range there.  Some members of the public claim to have taken elevated Geiger counter readings at sites such as Mauna Kea State Park, and suspect that dust from pulverized DU at Pohakuloa may be to blame.  The Army has denied that the shells constitute any danger to the public.

    Members of the public who wish to participate in the meeting via toll-free teleconference should contact Amy Snyder at
    or e-mail her at amy.snyder@nrc.gov.  The docket number for the meeting is 04009083.

     

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  • The end, when it came, took the form of a one-sentence letter for from Governor David Ige  to Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and members of the Senate.

    “I hereby respectfully withdraw the nomination of Carleton Ching as Chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.” it read.

    The governor’s letter apparetly arrived just minutes before the full Senate was scheduled to vote on the nomination. Ige reportedly pulled the nomination after learning that he didn’t have enough votes in the Senate to win approval.  Ching’s nomination was advanced to the Senate last week with a negative recommendation from the  Senate Committee on Water and Land, after the committee heard testimony that ran 9-1 against confirming Ching, a lobbyist for developer Castle and Cook. Since then, senators reportedly have gotten a flood of calls from constituents protesting the nomination,   and senators  coming to the capitol this morning were greeted with a  rally protesting the nomination. Opponents cited Ching’s lack of experience in conservation and preservation issues and his close ties to developers, including his involvement in the pro-development Land Use Research Foundation, which had lobbied for the weakening of conservation and preservation laws.  Governor Ige has until April 6 to submit a new nomination if he wants the Senate to approve a new DLNR head this session.

    As  of 6 p.m. this evening the Governor’s own Web page still had no announcements or press releases about the withdrawal of Ching’s nomination.

     

     

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  • 18 Mar 2015 /  BULLETINS, Closures, news

    From the Hawaii Police Department:

    A Kansas man suffered a shark attack today,  (Wednesday, March 18) at Hapuna Beach Park, forcing  swimmers out of the water.

    According to the Hawaii Police Department, “A 58-year-old man from Overland Park, Kansas, had been snorkeling with family at the south point of the beach when a shark bit him on the arm. He was assisted to shore and taken to North Hawai?i Community Hospital, where he was treated for severe lacerations to his left forearm and injury to his left thigh.”  The attack occurred shortly before noon.

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  • The Big Island Press Club’s annual Lava Tube and Torch of Light awards are out. The Torch of Light, given to “an individual or organization which brightens the public’s right to know.” is shared this year by the two dozen scientists and staff at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory for their efforts in keeping the public informed about the ongoing lava crisis in Puna. The Lava Tube, which the club uses to shine a light on a person or group who’s done a notable job of keeping the public in the dark, goes this year to  state Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago for his lack of communication during the 2014 Primary Election.

    Nago’s sins were illuminated in the club’s press release on the awards:

    “Because of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Iselle, an estimated 8,000 voters were either without electricity or in some cases physically unable to get to the polls for voting on Primary Day, Saturday, August 9. In addition, two polling locations at Hawaiian Paradise Park and Keonepoko Elementary School were closed, with only a small handwritten sign at the entrance informing voters the poll was closed.

    “When the initial announcement was made of the poll closure on Friday night, August 8, at a televised press conference, the state’s Attorney General said makeup voting for those who should have voted at the closed polls would be by mail, within three weeks.

    “Three days later, Nago announced voting for only those people whose polls were closed would be by walk-in voting on the following Friday, August 15, 2014. That decision was to be communicated to affected voters via mail–at a time when many people still had no electricity, trees were still down, and in some cases residential mailboxes were inaccessible.

    “When asked how he would ensure that voters were informed of the change, Nago said it was in the hands of the U. S. Postal Service.

    The release also noted that many residents from other areas in the district, aside from Keonepoko and HPP, were also unable to vote because of storm conditions, but got no chance to vote afterwards.
    Nago’s response to the storm “
    denied their opportunity to have a say in local, state, and the nationally important election for United States Senate.”

    The Torch of Light Award came from the response to Puna’s other great crisis of nature last year: the lava flows that repeatedly threatened to inundate Pahoa and cut off much of lower Puna. “The team at HVO has worked tirelessly to keep updated and accurate information available to the media and to residents,” noted the club’s press release.While they are skilled and dedicated scientists, they are not typically tasked with working so closely with the public. Working alongside county, state and federal agencies–including the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency–team members managed to take a complicated, unpredictable situation and provide easy-to-understand information that helped relieve residents’ stress.  They provided HVO staff members as featured speakers at daily media briefings and weekly public meetings…. BIPC members noted the scientists repeatedly went above and beyond their job description, sharing their knowledge directly, plainly and with candor.

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  • 16 Mar 2015 /  news

    Press release from ACLU-Hawaii:

    Honolulu – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i and the law firm of Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Kane & Carr sued Hawai’i County in federal court on Monday, March 9 on behalf of Rebekah Taylor-Failor, a Kailua-Kona woman who is about to begin working for the County.  After giving her a conditional job offer, the County required her, as it requires all its prospective employees, to submit to a urinalysis and an invasive medical examination.  She asked the Court to allow her to start working (as a Legal Clerk II – a typical desk job) without submitting to a urinalysis; on Friday, March 13, the Court granted that request, ruling that “the urinalysis would violate Taylor-Failor’s Fourth Amendment rights[.]”

    Until now, the County of Hawai’i required its prospective employees to submit a urine sample, which the County would subject to analysis that could reveal sensitive private medical information – such as whether an individual is diabetic or has a urinary tract infection – regardless of the physical duties the applicant would perform on the job.  The ACLU of Hawai’i and co-counsel Adam Wolf asked the Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the County from obtaining this private information from Ms. Taylor-Failor’s bodily fluids, citing constitutional protections from suspicionless searches.

    In an attempt to avoid litigation, the ACLU of Hawaii reached out to the Hawaii County Department of Corporation Counsel in 2013, explaining that the County’s policies and procedures were unconstitutional; the County responded – incorrectly – that its policies were valid.  But siding against the County, the Court ruled in its order that “the County has proffered no explanation as to why it is entitled to search Taylor-Failor’s urine before she may begin employment in her light duty, clerical, non-safety-sensitive position….  Employment requirements cannot stand where they violate rights of a constitutional dimension.”

    Mr. Wolf said, “The Constitution protects government employees from such invasive medical examinations.  The County of Hawai’i has no need to demand that its clerks reveal whether they have a urinary tract infection or diabetes.  Today’s ruling is a historic step toward reforming pre-employment medical tests so that they comply with the constitution.”

    Rebekah Taylor-Failor said, “I’m eager to start working for the County, and I’m glad that the Court is allowing me to do so without having to sacrifice my constitutional rights.”

    ACLU of Hawai’i Legal Director Daniel Gluck said, “We are glad the Court has recognized that the government does not need to perform invasive searches of bodily fluids to determine whether an office worker can perform her job.  Medical data is some of our most privately held information, and it is critical that we protect it from government overreach.” 

    The mission of the Hawai’i affiliate of the ACLU is to protect the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide. The ACLU is funded primarily through private donations and offers its services at no cost to the public. The ACLU does not accept any government funds.

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  • 15 Mar 2015 /  Global News, Island Events, news, politics

    From Jim Albertini, Malu ‘Aina:
    “Hawaii had a a very spirited protest against TPP on Sat. March 15th from 11-1PM at the Waikoloa Marriott Beach Hotel. More than 60 people gathered on the highway fronting the hotel property and held signs and banners against TPP for the first hour and leaflets were handed out to passing vehicles at the traffic light. (Leaflet below). People came from all over the island and included Native Hawaiian leaders, ILWU Union members, peace, environmental and anti-GMO activists, etc. Signs and banners included: “Secret meetings taking place here.” “NO TPP –Backroom deal -License to Steal,” TPP Kills Jobs, Kills Nature, Kills Home Rule.” “Stop TPP Fast Track –People Before Profits.” There were even signs in Japanese against TPP. The response from those passing by in vehicles and on foot was very positive.
    “At 12 noon, about 30 people moved from the highway to the King’s trail area near the King and Queen marketplace areas of the resort complex to continue the protest and hand out leaflets to TPP delegates passing by on the sidewalks to and from the nearby restaurants and shops. The King’s trail is a public trail where free speech rights must be recognized within resort private property. Some delegates passing by wanted their pictures taken next to a protest vehicle truck with magnetic signs that read “No TPP: People Power Not 1% Rule.” and “No TPP –No License to Steal.” Hotel security were upset that the truck was parked in the parking area clearly marked “King’s Trail Parking Area.” They wanted the truck removed but protesters stood firm.
    At the King’s trail, several county police eventually arrived and I heard one of the officers falsely assert that the trail was private hotel property. But he protests continued.
    “Another dozen protesters went to walk the public shoreline area carrying protest signs and offer informational leaflets to people on the beach fronting the resort. Hotel security again tried to dispute people’s first amendment rights on the shoreline and the legal definition of the shoreline which is “the high wash of the high seasonal surf,” not the low or high tide mark. When protesters turned their cameras on to record the encounter, the security supervisor refused to say another word and left the area.
    “No arrests were made throughout the day. The protest was peaceful. Still, people’s rights of peaceful protest need to be clarified and respected by hotel security and police on Hawaii’s public trails and shorelines. And of course corporations, and things like TPP, trampling on peoples rights and destroying the earth need to be stopped by united global citizen action.”
    Jim Albertini for Malu ‘Aina

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  • The members of the State Senate Committee on Water and Land almost unanimous think that Carleton Ching is a “nice guy” and an “honorable man.”

    “If you are not confirmed, I really do hope we can find a way for you to serve us, because your skills are very much needed.” noted committee member Maile Shimabukuru, and O`ahu Democrat.

    But like most of her fellow committee members, she doesn’t think he’s the right man to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The committee has voted 5-2 against Governor David Ige’s nomination of Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The nomination now goes to the full senate with a negative recommendation.

    Voting “Aye” on a motion “to NOT ADVISE AND CONSENT to the nomination”—in other words, to oppose it—were Committee Chair Laura Thielen and Sens. Shimabukuro, Russell Ruderman, and Gil Riviere; voting “aye” with reservations was Sen. Les Ihara; “nay” (supporting the nomination” were Committee Vice Chair Brickwood Galuteria and Sen. Sam Slom.  Ruderman (D-Puna) was the only Big Island senator serving on the committee.

    The committee heard two days of testimony in which opponents, especially conservationists and environmental groups, questioned Ching’s lack of experience in conservation, his work as a lobbyist for developer Castle and Cook, and his position with the Land Use Research Foundation, or LURF, which has lobbied for the weakening of environmental protections and historic preservation. The criticism grew so vociferous that Thielen actually apologized to Ching’s family for having to sit through it. But that didn’t prevent Thielen, herself a former DLNR chair, from grilling Ching, or from expressing her negative impressions of Ching’s responses. She especially focused on Ching’s professed ignorance of some of the anti-environmental stands that LURF had publicly espoused, including LURF’s support of the Public Land Development Corporation, the short-lived government organization that would have sponsored “public/private partnerships” to develop state lands, but which died due to massive public opposition. As Ruderman noted, about 90 percent of those testifying opposed Ching’s nomination, and those who favored it came almost exclusively from the development community.

    “It seems irresponsible for someone who was on a Board of Directors for nearly a decade to be completely unfamiliar with repeated lobbying positions taken by his employees over that entire period of time,” Thielen wrote on her Facebook page at the end of the first day of testimony. “It’s worrisome that he wouldn’t be familiar with the public concerns about allowing developments to bypass zoning and land use laws, when that was such a big debate recently. But the most discouraging part to me was that he didn’t understand that the very development permits that he supported eliminating are the exact permits that our Supreme Court ordered the State and counties to make sure that traditional and cultural gathering rights are protected, and public rights to access public beaches are protected. If you don’t have these permits, then there is no way to ensure that coastal developments can’t cut off access to shoreline for surfing, gathering, swimming, or spiritual refreshment for our many residents who are jammed into lower-rent housing in our inland areas.”

    When testimony was over, Thielen recommended against affirming the nomination. She began her statement by quoting Article 12 of the State Constitution, which enshrines native Hawaiian gathering and access rights.

    “To me, Article 12 and the other article on the public trust doctrine for our state lands and our private lands in our state is the very essence of what makes Hawaii unique,” she said, noting that the article established “not just Native Hawaiian rights, but the right of the public to access public lands.” She cited a court ruling that established that hotels could not shut the public out of public beaches.

    “If the public beaches are public lands, then we have the right to access them. These rights are not a balance. These rights should not be compromised,” she maintained. “…The chair of the Dept. of Land and Natural resources makes many, many, many, many decisions within that agency that never reach the board, that never rise to the level of attention of the governor. Every day they are approached by people who are competing for the immediate use of resources for their immediate gain or personal desires. They are the one voice in the cabinet, often arguing with the governor, often arguing with the other member of the cabinet, to speak to the fiduciary obligation…to future generations and their rights to access those resources, their rights to have open space.…”

    After listening to him, she said, “I just didn’t see that commitment and understanding on these constitutional rights and on the rights and values of the resources just in their natural state and how to weigh that against the demands of private property owners for the immediate profit at the expense of the long term resources.”

    Even Galuteria and Slom acknowledged that they had problems with some of Ching’s responses. “Some of the things that were revealed in this particular process for me were rather curious,” admitted Galuteria, including “The obvious question of your LURF participation.” But he took Ching at his word that he could transfer his loyalties from Castle and Cook to the state. “You’re being portrayed as a company man, someone who will do the bidding of the company. If confirmed by the full Senate, you will be THIS company man…We will expect that loyalty of you for the state o f Hawaii.” And he noted that previous DLNR chairs had come from corporate backgrounds and succeeded, though they hadn’t to deal with such organized opposition—or “advocacy,” as he called it.

    Slom, the Senate’s lone Republican, also acknowledged the strength of that organized opposition.

    “We have very strong and positive environmental laws. We have very strong and positive environmental organizations. If this person is confirmed, you are not going to let him get away with anything.”

    Slom noted that he had opposed the PLDC and some of the projects that Ching had advocated as a Castle and Cooke lobbyist. But he also said he was “a businessman. I’m proud of it,” and maintained that businessmen, not the government, were needed to rescue the state from its economic doldrums.

    “When a nominee comes before us…and we ask him questions and give him a colonoscopy as we have with this nomination, you have a choice. You can believe what the nominee says, or not. You can believe what the governor says, or not,” he said. He chose to believe Ching and the governor.

    Ruderman spoke at greater length than any senator aside from Thielen. While he acknowledged that Ching was “A very nice man, an honorable man with obvious integrity, very likeable,” he felt that his nomination “will harm the future of our state…. Not just potential harm to the environment or our precious resource, but the certain harm to our trust in public government..”

    “I accept in some cases I may not politically like a nominee but they still may be qualified, but that is not the case here,” he maintained, observing that Ching had “no real experience or aptitude for the mission.” He called Ching’s nomination “The PLDC issue times ten: instead of a branch of the DLNR devoted to development, we’re now looking at refocusing the at entire department through the lens of development, instead of stewardship and preservation.” And he echoed a DLNR employee’s testimony that “The nominee’s entire career track has been the polar opposite of DLNR’s mission.” Like other committee members, he was troubled by Ching’s “effort to distance himself” from LURF’s activities. He was also troubled by Ching’s repeated referenced to land as “a piece of dirt” – phrase that he found indicative of Ching’s attitude.

    “If there are no better qualified applicants, then the answer is to cast a wider net,” he said, and suggested promoting someone from within the DLNR itself.

    Riviera was also unimpressed by Ching’s answers, which he thought were often evasive, and with Ching’s lack of knowledge of environmental law. “The lens you see things through….ultimately was a deciding factor,” he told the nominee. “We’re almost asking you to come to DLNR and act against your own instincts.”

    Oddest of all was Les Ihara’s commentary. A fence sitter to the last, he said he would oppose Ching’s nomination in committee—“with reservations,” but support it on the Senate floor next week—also “with reservations.”

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  • 11 Mar 2015 /  commentary

    by Alan McNarie

    That rumbling that many of us have been hearing over the past couple of days hasn’t all been thunder.  Apparently our Air Force has been using using the Army’s controversial  bombing range at Pohakuloa to practice with one of its most expensive toys: the B-2  long-range stealth bomber, which has been flying here all the way from Whiteman Air force Base in my home state of Missouri to drop high explosives in the lava fields. The B-2 is a strategic bomber, designed originally to replace the aged B-52s in carrying nuclear bombs to countries such as Russia–a job that, quite arguably, could be done far more efficiently with nuclear missiles.  But the U.S. has been finding other uses for it ever since, as a tactical bomber in conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq, for which it’s been waaaaay overqualified. It’s quite arguably a weapons system that should never have been built, but now that it’s there and we’re trying not to have a war in Iraq and Afghanistan any longer, we apparently have to keep its pilots in practice by bombing Hawaii.

    This brings back memories of a journey I took back in 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I was going to Missouri to visit my son, who was then still living with his mother.  But given what had just happened, I decided to take Amtrak from L.A. to Jefferson City, Missouri to see if trains, at least on the mainland, were still a viable alternative to airliners that, as 9/11 had made abundantly clear, were potential flying bombs themselves.   One result of that trip was an essay called “The Amtrak Diaries,” which I still think may be one of the finest things I’ve ever written.

    Only an hour or so from the end of my journey back then, I watched two giant B2s from Whiteman fly over the train on their way to bomb Afghanistan.  The passage describing that encounter is given below.  You can read the entire essay here.

     

    Near Knob Noster, Missouri, passengers stare in awe at a different sight: two B-2 stealth bombers, taking off from Whiteman Air Force Base on their way to Afghanistan. One flies almost directly over us. It casts a shadow like an enormous black bat.

    “Boy, that’s a big plane,” remarks the middle-aged farmer behind me. “I hear they fly about 900 miles per hour.”

    He’s wrong. The B-2 is supposed to be sub-sonic. But these planes are enormous, with wingspans larger than those of most commercial airliners and a payload capacity of 20 tons of explosives. Each plane costs approximately 1.3 billion dollars. Those two planes up there represent more money than the entire estimated annual gross national product of Afghanistan.

    Those planes are flying literally halfway around the world to bomb one of the world’s poorest countries. Figure in the cost of fuel–even cheap fuel–pilot and crew training, depreciation, maintenance, and $20,000 smart bombs, and each mission probably costs tens or hundreds of times more than anything it destroys on the ground. And the other side has learned how to kill thousands of Americans with only a few hate-filled lives and some box openers….

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  • 10 Mar 2015 /  food, news, Uncategorized

    Thanks to a fund grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS) will  provide a number of  farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with free electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment to process Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

    According to a DHS  press release, “The program is available only to SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers that were authorized before November 18, 2011. If the applying farmers and farmers markets receive approval, the FMC will cover the costs of purchasing or renting SNAP EBT equipment and services (set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees) for up to three (3) years. Though transaction fees will not be covered, the selected farmers and farmers markets can choose their own SNAP EBT service provider from a list of participating companies.  The Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program is a first-come first-serve opportunity, and the program ends when the funds have been distributed.

    But other farmers’ markets may be eligible for SNAP EBT equipment through another program called  MarketLink. For details, see www.marketlink.org.

    Big Island markets accepting EBT cards include the Hawi Farmers’ Market in Hawi, the Kino`ole Farmers’ Market and Hilo Farmers’ Market in Hilo,  The Keauhou Farmer’s Market in Kailua-Kona,  the Hilo Coffeee Mill Farmer’s Market in Mountain View, the Maku`u Farmers’ Market near Pahoa,   and the Volcano Farmers’ Market in Volcano.

     

  • 10 Mar 2015 /  letters
    Hello Windward Hawaii Friends. I am writing for some help in an unexpected and difficult situation. As some of you many know, Donna Keefer is at Queen’s Hospital getting chemotherapy and in serious condition.Before she knew this was going to happen, she invited for five weeks her longtime friends Keni and Kathie Inoue, who had recorded many timesat Donna’s late husband Rick’s SeaWest Studio. That’s where I met them, and, over the years, I’ve toured in Japan with them quite a bit.

    Now Donna’s  family is gathering in Honolulu at the hospital, and they aren’t sure they want Keni and Kathie for the five weeks at Donna’s house. Keni and Kathie have already paid for their plane tickets, so they are in kind of a fix. They will arrive April 1 and leave on May 7.So here’s my solution, which could be a win/win for the Inoues and the island:

    Kathie and Keni make wonderful reggae, Hawaiian, Tahitian and Okinawan music, and I’ve seen them lift the spirits of every audience before whom we played. So, I am looking for places that might LOVE to have an event with live music and give them a week (or more) of lodging in exchange.

    They are very loving, caring, positive people. I’ve spent a lot of time with them. For me, they are like family. They’ve been married for decades, and live in Japan. Keni’s Japanese and Kathie is half-Japanese, half American, raised in Southern California and Hawaii. Both speak and write English, but Kathie’s completely fluent.

    I have already written a note to Richard Koob at Kalani Honua Eco-resort, but there must be other places that could or would be happy to have music in exchange for lodging. I recall there is a yoga retreat center in Puna, but I don’t know anyone there to call.

    They could play for a fundraiser, at a private party, or at a school or church.Here are three videos of the Inoue Ohana Band performing:

    An original song “Touch The Sun”
    http://lover.fm/video.php?id=KLWOSm1tNGo&keyword=Kathie%2520and%2520Keni%2520Inoue:

    An Okinawan song at Roots Coffee Shop, a club in Ishinomaki, the town that was partially destroyed by the tsunami of March 11, 2011:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L3DDXwK4zQ

    “Sweet Reggae Music”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvdPC-oR-Ak

    If you have any leads, please email me at aliciabaylaurel@gmail.com.

    Many thanks in advance!

    Aloha Pumehana to the Windward Hawaii community,

    Alicia Bay Laurel
    Phoenix,  AZ

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  • 06 Mar 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Businesses and residences along Wai?nuenue Avenue, Komohana Street, lower Kaumana Drive and most side streets in between are without water today while the Department of Water supply works to replace a broken 16-inch main valve. The Department of Water supply expects the repair to be finished by about 5 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 7. The DWS said affected customer could expect some problems with “turbid and/or discolored water” and air in the lines after the line is reconnected.

    “Affected customers are asked to take any and all precautions necessary to protect the customers’ property and facilities including, but not limited to, disabling electrical power to pumps and/or any other devices whose normal operation may be dependent on water pressure and/or water supply, and which might be harmed if automatically energized during the water shut-off,” noted a DWS statement.
    Those with questions should contact Carl Nishimura, District Supervisor, at 961-8790.