• 21 Feb 2015 /  Economics, Energy, environment, news

    (From our print edition)

    ,by Alan McNarie

    Late last month, Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration withdrew its Request for Proposals for a garbage-to-energy plant. Department of Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd told the Chronicle that Kenoi didn’t intend to revisit his decision during his term in office. But the question remains: what to do with all that garbage?
    In killing the incinerator, the administration cited the decreasing cost of oil, which has dropped from over $100 per barrel to less than $50 in recent months. It also noted the uncertainty about the future of the Hawaii Electric Light Company, which may be bought out by a Florida corporation named NextEra Energy. The administration did not cite the heavy grassroots opposition that had gathered against the proposal, spawning Web sites, Facebook pages and at least two online petitions that had gathered over 2,000 signatures. Opponents criticized the project’s estimated $100 million price tag and its proposed location on Hawaiian Homelands in Keaukaha. They also argued that the county simply didn’t produce enough garbage for the plant to operate economically.
    “Since the County does not produce enough garbage to meet its quota, it will be required to pay off the incinerator company for the garbage it cannot produce—to [the] tune of millions of dollars per year!” contended one petition, in part.
    According to Councilmember Margaret Wille, that drain could have been compounded by the county’s contract with Waste Management, Inc., which requires the county to pay for a minimum tonnage of garbage tipped per day at West Hawaii’s Pu`uanahulu Landfill, whether it generates that much trash or not. The incinerator, Wille told the Chronicle, would have made “two things that we’re on the hook for forever.”
    The incinerator announcement came in the wake of headlines, only days before, that the county had cancelled $100,000 contract with the nonprofit Recycle Hawaii to conduct recycling education. County officials denied allegations that the cancellation was a retaliation against incinerator opponents; the administration claimed it simply had other uses for the money. Leithead-Todd told the Chronicle that her department had experienced some “expenditures that were not in our budget,” for instance, including the need to haul green waste from certain areas of the island to Hilo in order to avoid contaminating coffee-growing regions with an invasive beetle, and the need to evacuate, then re-occupy, Pahoa’s transfer station/recycling center because of nearby lava. While the county hoped to recoup some of its volcano-related expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she said, “I can’t count on getting that money from FEMA this year.”
    Buklarewicz said the county had renewed Recycle Hawaii’s contract to run the County’s recycling centers for another year.
    With the incinerator dead and the county’s Hilo landfill years overdue to close—although the County also hopes the federal Environmental Protection Agency will grant permission to extend the landfill’s life yet again by steepening the slopes allowed for the landfill’s sides—it still appears that some sort of recycling/waste diversion program will be vital to the county’s future. Both Buklarewicz and Wille are pushing for an educational component in that program. Buklarewicz hopes to renegotiate a contract, possibly with an emphasis on zero-waste school programs similar to one already underway at Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy in Waimea, where garbage from the cafeteria, for example, is turned into compost for gardening. Wille has written a resolution urging the Mayor to issue a new request for proposals for one or more recycling education contracts. As of the deadline for this article, that resolution was scheduled to receive its first hearing on February 17.
    “In my opinion, the zero waste programs that fail are the ones that don’t have a strong education component,” Wille believes.
    She’s also introducing a “whole package” of waste reduction bills at the Council on March 3. Within reasonable transition periods, she hopes to get all plastic foam and green waste diverted from the landfill to recycled uses. Other bills would require contractors to provide recycling services and give the Director of Environmental Management more leeway to divert waste from the Hilo Landfill to the Kona side—something now allowed only in emergencies, but which Wille believes should be possible in other circumstances, such as to avoid penalty fees.
    “I don’t want to be paying penalties where if we brought another seven tons over there, there wouldn’t be penalties,” she contends.
    Leithead-Todd is also working on new diversion measures, including a “multi-year contract to do composting,” which may include using a portable tub grinder that could be moved around to various locations to grind up the mulch and compost in place, instead of trucking it to a composting center. The county will also be establishing another geen waste mulching facility in May at the Waimea Transfer station. It will pay for these new green waste services, in part, with a new $21.25 per ton tipping fee that will begin on March 1 for green waste from commercial operators at the Hilo and Pu‘uanahulu landfills which will be the only places that accept commercial loads of greenwaste, though residents can continue to drop off non-commercial greenwaste for free at Hilo, Pu‘uanahulu, Kealakehe, Ke’ei, Puak?, P?hoa and Kea‘au. The county currently pays more than $1.6 million a year to recycle green waste—organic matter such as cut grass and tree branches—into mulch.
    Another huge component of the county’s waste stream is consumer packaging: all those brightly colored, advertising-covered boxes, cartons, cans, bottles, bags and wrappers that fill retail shelves and cross fast-food counters.
    Bularewicz notes that over the years, county diversion programs have been pulling a greater and greater variety of materials from that waste stream. But he also acknowledges that most of that material now goes to China for reprocessing—burning fuel and aborting potential U.S. jobs. Wille talks about providing “incentives” and “disincentives” such as tax breaks and fees to make companies take responsibility for the costs of their packaging. Some big companies, such as Wal-Mart, are already taking back their cardboard shipping boxes—but not consumer packaging. Others, such as McDonalds, are switching from plastic packaging to biodegradable paper—McDonalds has even started using 100 percent recycled paper napkins. But many local drive-ins are still passing out plastic foam. Hawai’i’s HI-5 program and bag ban have made significant inroads in the waste stream—but persuading mainstream companies to convert to bulk bins, such as local natural food stores use, and reusable containers like the glass bottles that local soda companies once distributed seems a more distant goal.
    But perhaps a goal worth pursuing. Getting garbage out of the waste stream could be easier if less garbage was coming in.

  • 20 Feb 2015 /  politics, State Legislature

    One of the most intractable of problems, in a state where campaign contributions are dominated by the real estate and construction industries, is affordable housing.  State Representative Mark Hashem (D-O`ahu) who chairs the House Committee on Housing,  notes that 40 percent of the state’s homeless are working people who simply can’t afford housing–no surprise, he says, since  “In 2011, a study prepared for the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) noted that 50,000 new units will need to be built between 2012 and 2016 to meet the demand generated by changing demographics and economic conditions”–a challenge, he says, that the state has been “woefully inadequate” in addressing.

    But this year it’s been members of the State Senate who seem to be taking the lead on this issue, with Hashem often the sole introducer of House companion bills for the Senate Initiatives. At least 22 bills related to housing and homelessness  have been introduced, from routine funding authorizations to a bill, sponsored by Puna Sen. Russell Ruderman, that would make it easier to build housing for agricultural workers, to a measure co-sponsored by Big Island Senators Lorraine Inouye and Mark Nakashima, that would legalize, for the first time, trailer parks in the state. While some county measures, especially on O`ahu, have been criticized for criminalizing homelessness, the state bills generally emphasize promoting more affordable housing–although one make it easier for the state to confiscate property of public housing tenants, especially if they’re evicted for some reason.

    By far the most active of Big Island legislators in this area is Sen. Josh Green, whose deep pockets from medical industry contributions may make him  less susceptible to pressure from the real estate industry.  Green has introduced or co-introduced no fewer than nine bills in this session’s “Joint Package of Bills to Address Affordable Housing and the Homeless.”

    Below are the bills officially tagged as part of that package, along with Big Island legislators who’ve placed their names on the bills as introducers. To follow or testify on any of these bills, click on the underlined links.


    Priority Bills

    Bill Number



    Relating to Affordable Housing
    Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and the appropriation of funds for deposit into the rental housing trust fund and the dwelling unit revolving fund to finance affordable rental housing development and infrastructure development. Appropriates funds for the construction of micro apartment housing units. Appropriates funds to the department of human services to continue to administer housing first programs for chronically homeless.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green


    Relating to Public Housing

    Appropriates funds for the plans, design, construction, and equipment to develop, upgrade, or renovate public housing facilities in the State.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Lorraine Inouye.



    Relating to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority
    Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for the redevelopment, design, and construction of the Hawaii public housing authority administrative offices, the creation of public housing and affordable rental housing, and the development of a small commercial space at the Hawaii public housing authority’s North School street location.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green



    Relating to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority

    Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds to the Hawaii public housing authority to leverage funds for the redevelopment of the Mayor Wright Homes property. Requires dollar-for-dollar matching with private or federal funds before appropriations shall be made available.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green



    Relating to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority

    Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for the redevelopment, design, and construction of the Hawaii public housing authority’s Kuhio Homes and Kuhio Park Terrace low-rise properties.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green


    Relating to Rental Housing

    Allows a portion of conveyance tax revenues dedicated to the rental housing trust fund to be monetized to increase the amount of funding for the rental housing trust fund. Authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds to finance the rental housing trust fund.

    No Big Island sponsors.


    Relating to Mixed-Use Residential Projects

    Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and the appropriation of funds for the planning, design, and construction of the juvenile services center portion of the mixed-use project at 902 Alder street, Honolulu, Oahu.

    No Big Island sponsors.



    (Women’s Caucus)

    Relating to Housing

    Amends income tax credit for low-income household renters to adjust for inflation. Applies to taxable years beginning after 12/31/2015.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Lorraine Inouye; Reps. Cindy Evans, Joy SanBuenaventura, Nicole Lowen



    Relating to Taxation

    Imposes a conveyance tax on the conveyance of a controlling interest of an entity that has an interest in real property in the State. Applies to conveyances occurring after 06/30/2015. Effective 07/01/2015.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green



    Relating to Farm Worker Housing

    Allows one or more employee dwellings to be built on an agricultural park lot or non-agricultural park lot that is leased by a long-term lessee with lease terms of at least thirty-five years and a lot size of at least five acres, with restrictions. Appropriates an unspecified amount from the general fund to be expended by the department of agriculture to develop farm worker housing.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Russell Ruderman

    Other bills:

    SB156/HB274Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for the rental housing trust fund and new public housing redevelopment.

    Big Island Sponsor: Sen. Josh Green

    SB478 - Establishes 30 permanent full-time equivalent multi-skilled worker civil service positions in the Hawaii public housing authority to assist and support public housing operations statewide.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Lorraine Inouye

    SB972 – Makes permanent the exemption from state civil service persons hired or contracted to repair and maintain vacant state housing units. Effective June 30, 2015.

    No Big Island sponsors.

    SB124/HB768 – Expands the Hawaii Public Housing Authority’s authority to dispose of property seized, abandoned or remaining upon eviction in and around federal, elder or elderly, or state low-income housing projects.

    Big Island sponsors: Sens. Gil Kahele, Russell Ruderman

    SB123/HB767 – Clarifies trespassing in the second degree at Hawaii Public Housing Authority housing projects as a nonresident who enters or remains unlawfully or without authorization on the property. The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is required to post signs notifying trespassers of illegal entry.

     Big Island sponsors: Sens. Josh Green, Gil Kahele, Russell Ruderman

    SB971 – Ensures that certain eligible housing projects will remain affordable for certain minimum periods in order to be certified for exemption from general excise taxes.

    No Big Island sponsors

    SB974 - Authorizes the rental housing trust fund (RHTF) to be used for spaces for public uses within mixed-use residential developments in which the residential component consists of rental housing units. Establishes a separate mixed-use residential development subaccount within the RHTF to make loans or grants for the development, pre-development, construction, acquisition, preservation, and substantial rehabilitation of spaces for public uses within mixed-use residential developments in which the residential component consists of rental housing units. Clarifies that assistance from the RHTF may be made for new construction, rehabilitation, or preservation of spaces for public uses in mixed-use residential developments. Makes appropriation from general fund for deposit into the mixed use residential development account.

    No Big Island sponsors

    SB975 - Adds a preference for rental housing trust fund project applicants that receive federal low-income housing tax credits. Takes effect on 1/1/2016.

    No Big Island sponsors.

    SB155/HB766 – Making an appropriation for the construction of micro apartment housing units.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Josh Green

    HB765 - Appropriates funds to the department of human services to continue to administer housing first programs for chronically homeless individuals.

     No Big Island sponsors.

    SB763/HB1265 – Requires and appropriates funds for the department of land and natural resources, in consultation with the department of human services, to establish mobile home parks throughout the State for individuals whose family income is no more than 250 per cent of the federal poverty level. Allows private sector to develop mobile home parks.

    Big Island sponsor: Sen. Lorraine Inouye, Rep. Mark Nakashima

    SB1362 – Restricts the ability of the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation to use the rental assistance revolving fund for projects relating to affordable rental housing.

    Big Island sponsors: Sens. Josh Green, Lorraine Inouye, Gil Kahele.


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  • 20 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Lynn DeCoite, who was appointed by Governor David Ige to complete the current term of the late Mele Carroll, will be sworn in during the regular session of the House at noon on February 20.  She will represent District 13, which includes Haiku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku and Paia on Maui, and the islands of Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai and Molokini.  A brief ceremony will be conducted by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

    DeCoite, a Molokai farmer and rancher, has has been praised by Ige for her roots in the community but has been criticized for leasing land to Monsanto for the growing of genetically modified seed–see the story below.

  • Governor David Ige, already under fire for choosing Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources,  has made two more controversial appointments. The day after State Representative Mele Carroll (East Maui, Molokai, Lanai) passed away from cancer, Ige has nominated Maui rancher and farmer Lynn DeCoite to take her place. DeCoite owns L&R Farm Enterprises and R.J.’s Snacks and co-owns the V-8 Ranch on Molokai; she’s served as chair of the Farm Service Agency (Maui County) and president of the Molokai Homestead Farmer’s Alliance, and is a former board member of the Molokai Planning Commission.

    “I’m confident Ms. DeCoite knows the issues facing the district and will listen to her constituents to address their concerns…She has deep roots in the community and is committed to overcoming the challenges by forming partnerships and working collaboratively,” Ige said in his press release about the nomination.

    Carroll had resigned her House seat on February 1 due to her worsening medical condition.  DeCoite was one of three names suggested to the governor by a Democratic Party committee to fill the vacant seat.

    But the nomination has already drawn fire from the anti-GMO organization Babes Against Biotech.

    “We have been aware for some time that L&R Farms, owned by Mrs. Decoite, is under contract with Monsanto to grow seed corn. Lynn herself confirmed this to our Maui Chapter Coordinator over an extensive phone conversation in March of last year; it is not something she is ashamed to admit,” pointed out a statement from Babes Against Biotech, which called her nomination “another political powder keg. This nomination would create an even larger firestorm of public criticism and discontent, than his highly contentious nomination of Carleton Ching to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources.”

    Also yesterday, the Molokai News reported that Ige had nominated Glenn Hong, president of Hawaiian Tug & Barge Corp. and Young Brothers Ltd., to the state’s Board of Agriculture.  A fair percentage of the cargo that Hong’s companies haul consists of meat, eggs and produce imported from California, Chile and elsewhere.

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  • 19 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    (Media release) — Marking 20 years of celebrating Hawai‘i’s local products and the people who produce them, Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range is Friday, Oct. 9 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Attendees will enjoy delectable dishes using pasture-raised beef, pork, lamb, goat, mutton and wild boar — plus a cornucopia of fresh island fruit, veggies, honey, spices and beverages.

    While confirmations are still coming in for the nearly 40 invited restaurants and their chefs, the culinary lineup already reads like a who’s who of good eats. Headliners for the Taste evening gala to date include Bravo’s “Top Chef” Fan Favorite Sheldon Simeona of Maui’s Migrant Restaurant; Kevin Hanney of Oahu’s 12th Avenue Grill, the 2015 Hale Aina Best Restaurant of the Year; and the host of TV’s “Family Ingredients,” Ed Kenny of Honolulu’s Town Restaurant.

    Hawaii Regional Cuisine founders Roy Yamaguchi and Peter Merriman will lead the pre-gala’s educational offerings, which are open to the public. Chef Yamaguchi of Roy’s instructs the 2015 edition of Cooking Pasture-Raised Beef 101 at 3 p.m. while Peter Merriman of Merriman’s Restaurants offers an informative presentation geared for college culinary students at 1:30 p.m.

    The time for this year’s Taste gala is 6-8 p.m. and the annual agricultural showcase will again sprawl both inside and out of the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Culinary adventure seekers can taste and enjoy all the cuts of pasture-raised beef— everything from tongue to tail — prepared expertly by Hawai‘i chefs.  Enjoy familiar cuts like sirloin tip and ribs, plus beef cheek and the infamous “rocky mountain oysters” or bull testicles.

    While “tasting,” attendees can meet Hawai‘i’s food producers at booths and talk story with the ranchers and farmers who make a living growing our food. They can also enjoy exhibits presenting topics related to local agriculture and food sustainability, including the University of Hawai’i’s Mealani Research Station—where Taste began!

    Anniversary festivities will include honoring the event’s 20-year participants and others who have been major Taste supporters.

    “We had 16 participating restaurants at the first Taste,” shares Dr. Russell Nagata, event chairperson and administrator of Hawai‘i County Extension Services for the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). “We invited all of them, who are still in operation, to participate in our anniversary event.”

    Pre-sale tickets for Taste are $45 and $60 at the door. Entry to Cooking 101 is $10 while the 1:30 p.m. class is free. Tickets go on sale in July at island-wide locations and online. Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

    For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

    Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in this event should contact Russell Nagata at 808-969-8228 no later than Sept. 7.

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Editor’s note: The Hawaii State Legislature is taking up a number of medical marijuana bills this session, including those that would establish dispensaries in the islands to ensure safe access to marijuana for medical users. Following is one user’s open letter pressing the Hawaii Department of Health’s position against such legislation.

    Dear Department of Health,

    I am a bonafide medical marijuana patient on the Big Island.  Pahoa Family Health Center (Bay Clinic) has been my “primary care provider” for the last 30 years if I needed one.  I began experiencing back pain about 12 years ago and increasing, finally diagnosed as degenerative disc disease through an MRI in 2010.  At that time I asked my doctor to recommend cannabis, as I did not want to be exposed to side effects from the hydrocodone and other codeine type pain killers.  I was informed that they were not allowed to recommend because they accept federal funding.  Read the rest of this entry »

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Roger Christie after prisonRoger Christie after prison greyEditor’s note: Roger Christie, founder of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, spent 50 months in federal prison for commercial promotion of marijuana, after authorities raided his ministry office and arrested him, his ultimate wife, and others said to be associated with his ministry on Hilo’s Bayfront on July 8, 2010. Christie spent two months in a halfway house last fall, reuniting with his wife Share Christie at their Puna home in time for the holiday season.  He remains on probation pending an appeal of his case to the Ninth Circuit Court expected to take place sometime later this year.  (TEH)

    By Roger Christie  

    Hello Tiffany and Chronicle friends,

    Welcome to my poetry — it gets inside my brain.

    I want to show you more of me and hope something you’ll gain.

    This is one way to frame my thoughts – I’m sharing what is true

    It’s free to have a look around, I hope it’s fun for you.

    Some say that hemp’s the ‘devil’s weed’ – I’ll bet that God’s offended.

    We know that it’s the ‘tree of life’ and He’s to be commended.

    Freedom to farm all green plants is such a basic right,

    Even Page 1 of every Bible defines it -TWICE – there in the light.

    The ‘burning bush’ was very clear for Moses in his sandals,

    but Rabbis, Popes and Presidents treat holy herb like vandals.

    Fifty months locked-in the pen – outside the sky was blue.

    We still wonder how to win this case, what should smart people do?

    We call upon the one called God to guide us through the fog

    like the blind walk safely with their trusty seeing-eye dog.

    Religious freedom’s part of our appeal, we know that it can fly.

    The only way the feds can win is keeping-up their lie.

    For forty-three years the feds have said that hemp is worse than ‘meth’,

    So far all judges went along – what chance they’ll fix this mess?

    Congress says marijuana has “no accepted medical use” that they can really see,

    but 23 states now have medical use, plus Washington, D.C.

    Big pharma wants a secret piece of hemp’s real luscious pie.

    They say the plant is of no use, so cut it down and die.

    Behind the scenes they’re working hard like busy bees make honey.

    We know the cannabinoids they find are worth ton$ and ton$ of money.

    What must we do for the change to happen on this Earth?

    Billions of hungry people are anxious for the birth.

    Every night we hear the news – the dollar keeps on falling

    and politicians everywhere are really good at stalling.

    Pretending they can’t see this herb – martini firm in hand

    while bankrupsies and foreclosures sweep across the land.

    Remember in the ’80’s before the crackdown came?

    Cash-flow was really flowing – Hawaii led the game.

    Crime was so much lower – smiles were everywhere,

    even all the welfare Moms hardly had a care.

    But “Operation Wipe-Out” lived-up to its name.

    It reduced the pakaloha – we can prove it was to blame.

    Eradication of the herb caused ‘meth’ to take its root,

    And ve$ted interests like the cop$ say that “the point is moot”.

    The ONLY study ever done to ask what caused meth’s troubles – was soon suppressed – We wonder why? – and then the troubles doubled.

    For ‘black-ops’ coke and heroin the C.I.A.’s on-top.

    We’ve given-up on Congress to ever make that stop.

    Talk about “conspiracy” … our government’s the best.

    They tell the very biggest lies and pretend it’s all in jest.

    Making war on “we the people” – our Constitution calls it TREASON; the war on hemp’s exactly that – a FRAUD pretending to be reason.

    But politicians have it made in no reporter’s spotlight.

    They both feed on the charade – even tho’ it’s not right.

    Most herb people in the world know hemp is sacrament,

    and many of us wonder, where our freedom’s went.

    More important is to ask, “How do we get freedom back?”

    because the herb we want to grow and get ourselves on track.

    Do you know the juice made fresh with leaves of the ganja tree?

    Just watch * LEAF * on the YouTube and healthier you will be.

    Fresh, fertile hempseed is the one, the healthiest food of all;

    It’s got Edestin protein and essential oils – have you gotten on the ball?

    For ‘burning bush’ and holy oil some ‘fragrant cane’ is needed.

    The elixir of vitality’s made with milk and bud that’s seeded.

    Just grind ‘em up together, strain-out the chewy parts;

    then drink it fresh and instantly you will up your smarts.

    Try make some holy anointing oil, the recipe’s for the masses.

    It’s found in Exodus 30:23 – let’s teach it in the classes.Christian means “anointedone” but most preachers still deny it.

    Look it up for yourself and soon you’ll want to try it.  Christ means “anointed”, don’t ya know?  We think it’s a literal thing.

    Anoint your crown with holy oil and hear the angels sing!

    How about calamus root – do you know its herbal power?

    Just eat a pinch with honey, or smoke with ganja flower.

    Green, green gold’s worth much more than the kind inside the ground;

    can harvest every 90 days – RENEWABLE wealth you have found.

    We call it “ganja-nomics – nature’s economic plan”.

    It’s the best kind of a ‘stimulus’ to be found across the land.

    Imagine all the wealth to be around the world this year?

    If only we would stand our ground, the hemp would re-appear.

    Presidential Executive Order 13603 says HEMP is an emergency “food resource”

    With Puna markets closed and drug stores, too let’s grow massive amounts of course!

    I followed spirit and my heart to bring me what is new.

    I found adventure, romance and politics … all on the ‘isle of view’.

    But life’s not at all just what I think – it’s what I feel that’s fine

    I know that I have had it great – it’s really been da kine.

    Many nights I wondered why that prison was my path;

    Now fortunately I’ve been able to re-do the math.

    I am convinced that I have found a way to conquer hate.

    I bless most any bummer by saying, “God that’s great!”

    It makes me smile and feel I can avoid the beaten road

    I re-frame all of my troubles and lighten-up my load.

    I’ve also found a solid way to redeem all of my faults.

    It proves that gold is really more than just what’s in the vaults.

    I confess to all my sins – forgiveness is the grace.

    When gratitude and love is had we then can win the race.

    No one did we cheat or steal, or shoot or lie or rob.

    I am convinced now even more it was an “inside job.”

    Yes, ‘they’ say I broke the law that got me on the ride, but living like I had it made my fall was caused by ‘pride.’

    I organized the Ministry – it really was superb.

    We helped much more than you could see with TLC and herb.

    We did our best to follow bliss; smoked pot and smiled a lot, but I was loose and having fun and prison’s what I got.

    I was caged for many years just thinking what to do.

    I had a surprising education and now it’s time to think of YOU.

    I hope you’re well and feeling fine, best wishes all around.

    I’d like to call and hear your voice, and linger with the sound.

    I’ve gotta stop with all these words, they’re flowing’ out my brain.

    I’m typing fast as I can think – it’s coming down like rain.

    Holy Moly, stop me now! – I’m sure you’ve gotta go –

    there’s other things we’ve both to do, but now you’re in the know.

    I tried to stop – it’s hard to do – my mind needs time to mend.

    “Come-on!”, I say, “Put on the brakes!” – this poem has got to end.

    It wasn’t then, although I tried to hit the key and send it, but

    I’m sitting here and ready now – it’s really time to end it.

    First roll a joint and pass it ’round like hippies did before.

    We still can learn a lot from them – “Make love and don’t make war.”

    After all these lines of rhyme, and all the things I see –

    The most important of them all?  My future’s up to me.

    For what is life and who are we in the great BIG cosmic scheme?

      ” … merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily … life is but a dream.”



    Read the rest of this entry »

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Begin C of C_si Alan Lakritz is a member of the Rotary Club of Pahoa, a long time Hawaii Island resident and has been practicing photo journalism in Hawaii since his arrival in the late 1960s. These past few years have been spent photographing the details of Pahoa Village and other Puna District places of interest. View his online photo gallery at Flickr.com under “Alan L.”

    End of the Road grey

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized
    Pahoa Village walk_2.5.15

    Alan Lakritz photo

    “Pahoa is one of the beautiful villages found on Hawaii’s Big Island,” so goes a Best Choice Reviews article naming Pahoa in the 26th spot in the list of the 50 best small town downtowns in America. “Located near the larger city of Hilo, Pahoa has a unique small town vibe. There are many eclectic shops and boutiques, eateries, art galleries and much more. The retro feeling of the town is a short distance from dried lava fields and under an hour from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The small town is an excellent place to both live and visit.”

    Lahaina, Maui is another Hawaiian town listed among the best small downtowns.

    To see Pahoa’s kudos and the other towns listed, visit /www.bestchoicereviews.org/50-best-small-town-downtowns-in-america/

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Hearing the news about the partial West Coast shipping shutdown recently, I couldn’t help but think of Thailand.

    According to local economics writer Howard Dicus, the West Coast strike specifically exempts shipping from there to Hawaii. But that apparently hasn’t stopped the hallowed Hawaii tradition of the toilet paper stampede. Every time there’s any sort of perceived threat of interrupted maritime commerce—a hurricane, a strike, a terrorist attack on a Charmin factory—local stores experience a run on toilet paper.

    Unlike my fellow island residents, I don’t experience TP Panic. That’s because, in the late 80s and early 90s, I did a stint with Peace Corps in Thailand. For two years and three months, I pretty much did without posterior tissue, and it was no particular hardship. Thais have this really simple substitute for the TP roll.  It’s an aluminum bowl and a tank of water. When you go to the loo to do number two, you throw water on your butt afterwards. It really gets you cleaner than TP does, and it doesn’t require cutting down trees and burning lots of energy and using lots of nasty chemicals to turn wood into soft white stuff. Back in the states again, I’m afraid I’ve reverted back to my nasty American TP habit. But I know I can do without if I need to, and I’d probably be better off.

    Thailand’s been on my mind a lot recently, because of the stories I’ve been covering. I keep thinking, “If I was in Thailand in 1989, this wouldn’t even be a story.” That’s because using H20 instead of TP was only one of many advantages the Thais, at least back then, had over Americans.

    Here on the Big Island, we’ve been on a decades-long crisis because the Hilo landfill is over-filled with garbage, much of which started as packaging or goods somewhere overseas. Thais generated trash, too, but not nearly so much. Yes, they recycled: the bags in stores were made from glued-together magazine pages, and the paper at school was grayish recycled stuff that was actually easier on the eyes than our blinding white sheets of bleached tree pulp. But mostly, they just didn’t use as much, because they had another huge cultural advantage over Americans: they knew how to share.

    My favorite example of that is the bicycle pump. Thai teachers usually live in housing supplied by the school, but at the first school where I was assigned, the school’s housing was full, so a local factory owner gave me a house that he usually reserved for his workers. While I was staying there, I owned a bicycle pump. I left it on my front porch. Whenever anyone in the twelve families who lived at the factory needed a bicycle pump, they came over and used it. Sometimes I had to go looking for it, but it was no major inconvenience; how often do you actually need bicycle pump?

    In America, with our strong traditions of independence and self-reliance, every family has to have their own bicycle pump. Multiply that times the hundreds of items in the average American household. Do you begin to see why Asian countries are winning the trade war, and our landfill is overflowing with stuff made over there? Read the rest of this entry »

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    Well, I’m back in my comfy writing saddle, after spending many months sitting on my fingers engaged in self censorship.

    As you may  know, I ran for office last year.  That meant a writing hiatus.  And what torture that was.  I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to put my thoughts into words and share them with the public.  If nothing else, running for office was an incredible exercise in self restraint.

    If you picked up this newspaper and actually read through it before you line a bird cage or cat litter box, chances are you are one of those people in Hawaii County who pays attention to local politics.  I like to think that all 6,000 of the newspapers I publish are going into the hands of the likes of you.

    But the reality is, there are too few people who have the time or interest in who is running for a seat on the Hawaii County Council or in the Hawaii State Legislature as a senator or representative.

    For those in the know, please indulge me while I get those unfamiliar up to speed.  I ran for the Puna Council District 5 seat that Zendo Kern won in 2012.  Having briefly served as Kern’s campaign manager, to say I was disappointed in his representation is an understatement — but I’ll leave it at that.  When I turned in my nomination papers, I thought I would be challenging his bid for re-election.  Turns out, Kern thought he did so well in one term, he opted not to seek re-election.  By the time we reached the candidate filing deadline, there were seven candidates vying for the Council District 5 seat.  I’m partial, but I think it’s an honest assessment as a journalist that the District 5 seat was a hot race.  It really was hard to predict the outcome.  On the inside of that race, though, it felt like a circus, with some pretty colorful clowns.

    One of them was recently arrested for disturbing the peace at a community meeting on geothermal drilling.

    That same individual verbally attacked me at a candidate forum and helped drive a smear campaign suggesting I was a carpet bagger, at the same time she quietly tried to cover up her own voter registration mess. The daily newspaper jumped on the bandwagon, defying ethics in publishing one of the smear articles the day before the Primary Election.  The most colorful of the characters in my race spent endless hours on the Internet, finding camaraderie in a forum dominated by crazies I’ve encountered over the years as a journalist.

    They had hatred for me in common and conspired to do what they could to break my spirit, going so far as to attack my late father’s decorated military career and defaming my late mother, suggesting that because she was a Las Vegas showgirl she had been a “whore.”  What was striking to me was the team of haters was led by women.  And for them to attack my mother who, of all people, embodied her womanness, well, it was proof that they don’t know how to be ladylike, or sportsmanlike, for that matter.

    In any event, there was plenty of fiction written about me online, and I did all I could to avoid reading any of it. If you did, I’m sure you’ll agree the online commentary defines dissociative behavior and the Online Disinhibition Effect.

    If you can believe this, one of my stalkers went into the Election Division to obtain my voter registration history and ‘inadvertently’ got my date of birth and social security number! I found out when the County Clerk and Election Division administrator called me on speaker phone to each personally apologize.  That same day they sent out a courier with a pamphlet detailing how to respond to identity theft! Months later, I’m still fuming that my personal information went to a truly disturbed individual who has an obsession with me.

    There was another deranged woman who harassed me over the course of my campaign, calling and emailing me with insults, and publicly referring to me as the “Cunt for Puna.” Meanwhile, I had an ungodly amount of campaign signs stolen.  This woman ended up being caught on somebody’s video surveillance in Pahoa stealing my signs. The footage, along with an account of a supporter in Ainaloa catching her in the act of stealing a sign, was turned over to authorities.  Maybe she’ll get prosecuted.  But at least the sign theft mystery was solved.

    I cannot say I have ever done anything more grueling than running for public office.  Read the rest of this entry »

  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    jill raznov wedgwood(Editor’s note:  Following is the correct version of Jill Raznov Wedgwood’s article entitled, “Disaster Recovery — Tropical Storm Iselle and Pu’u O’o Lava Flow.”  Big Island Chronicle inadvertently published an earlier flawed version in the latest print edition.  BIC regrets the error and will republish the following article at our earliest convenience.)

    By Jill Raznov-Wedgwood

    About a week after my return from a mainland trip, as I was settling back in to my routine, I learned that hurricane Iselle was headed straight for Hawaii Island’s East Side. Downgraded to a tropical storm by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center just before making landfall on August 8th, Iselle’s impact was, nevertheless, felt sharply by residents, farms and businesses from storm surges, downed trees, heavy rain and winds, and power outages.

    Earlier this past summer, new vents opened on the northeast flank of Pu’u O’o crater on Kilauea leading to a continuously advancing and retreating lava flow which has caused many serious disruptions and changes to the lives of the people and businesses of Puna Makai and the vicinity.  As people continue to confront their changed and changing lives after Iselle and from the continued lava inundation, many legal questions have arisen, several of which are further discussed here.

    1) What types of damages does my homeowner’s insurance cover? An insurance policy is a binding contract, however, there is no one size fits all approach. Each policy is different in terms of amounts and types of coverage and may extend beyond just the residential dwelling and its contents to other appurtenant structures, personal property, loss of use or any other coverage, which you have chosen and for which you pay monthly premiums. It is important for you to know and understand what property and types of damages are covered under you policy, as well as the amounts of such, and your deductible, so as to better negotiate with the company in case of a claim and also so you are not taken by surprise if something you thought was covered turns out not to be.  If you cannot locate your policy, make a written request to your insurance company for delivery of a copy of your policy (declarations page, which includes the above personalized information, as well as the entire policy explaining coverage types, exclusions, how to make a claim, etc.), within a reasonable time period (usually within two weeks) from receipt of the letter.  Mail your letter certified, return receipt, and keep a copy for your records.  If your insurance company denies coverage or offers only partial coverage for your damage, consider negotiating with the agent.  Be aware that insurance policies are considered “contacts of adhesion” (where the company has all the bargaining power and uses it to write the contract primarily to its advantage), and therefore, any ambiguity in its terms will be construed liberally in favor of the objectively reasonable expectations of the insured or other layperson and against the insurer.  United Policyholders (http://www.uphelp.org), a non-profit organization informing, educating and guiding consumers on insurance matters and through the claims process (including Hawaii consumers during its recent disasters), is an excellent resource for tools and assistance to better negotiate a claim with an insurance company.  Another helpful resource is the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (Hilo #933-0910; Honolulu toll-free # 947-4000, ext. 74272#, or http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/consumer-complain)

    2) Does it matter whether Iselle was classified as a tropical storm or a hurricane?  Both of these weather occurrences are known as cyclones, but whether classified as a hurricane (wind speeds in excess of 74 mph) or a tropical storm (wind speeds between 39 mph to 73 mph) will impact an insurance claim.  Wind and rain damage from a tropical storm would normally be covered under most standard homeowner’s policies. But damage caused by a hurricane would require a separately purchased hurricane policy.  However, the majority of standard Hawaii homeowner’s policies include a 72-hour rule, which triggers hurricane coverage at the time the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or a warning, remains operable 72 hours thereafter, and excludes the availability of standard homeowner’s coverage for storm damages caused during the operable time frame.  This explains why so many Big Island homeowner’s, having only standard homeowner’s policies and no separate hurricane policy, could not recover for Iselle storm damages, where the National Weather Service did not lift its hurricane status, declared on August 6th, to a tropical storm until August 8th, excluding the availability of standard homeowner’s policies for another 72 hours, or until August 11th, when all the damage had already been done.  Thus, it may be wise to review your policy more carefully, if confused talk to your agent, the Hawaii insurance commissioner or contact United Policy Holders, and make changes to your policy if desirable.

    3) How do I recoup damages caused by downed trees? Although much has been said about the Albezia trees (many other tree types also came down), some important areas are worth re-stating.  If your own property’s trees caused your damage, make a claim with your homeowner’s insurance.  If your neighbor’s trees caused the damage, request the name of his insurance company / agent and contact them to make a claim and request a copy of the policy.  If the property is vacant, check the Hawaii Real Property Tax Office website (http://www.qpublic.net/hi/hawaii/) for the name and address of the owner and contact him or her in an attempt to recoup your damages, either through mediation, litigation, or via a claim with their homeowner’s policy, if applicable.  If you do sue, whether in small claims court ($5,000 claim limit), district court ($40,000 limit) or circuit court (claims greater than $40,000), you must demonstrate that your neighbor knew or should have known that the trees presented an imminent threat of harm to persons or property and did cause such harm, which amount must be specified.

    4) How do I deal with the still standing dangerous trees on neighboring lots?  Consider making a formal written demand to your neighbor to cut, trim or remove the trees in a letter, including: a) all facts demonstrating that the standing trees present an imminent threat of harm to persons or property; b) identifying the specific trees and location in relation to both properties; c) a cost estimate to cut, trim and remove the trees; d) a deadline for the neighbor’s response; and e) a statement of intent to cut, trim or remove the trees at the owner’s expense, to be recouped in a later lawsuit, if he or she fails to timely respond. The leading case in Hawaii on this issue (Whitesell v. Houlton, 2 Haw. App. 365) found the neighboring property owner liable for damages caused by his trees to the plaintiff’s property and also for the plaintiff’s costs to trim the trees after the neighbor failed to do so after being notified.  You might also consider reporting the dangerous tree(s) to the Department of Public Works (http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pw-complaint/), which is responsible for enforcing Hawaii County Code, Chapter 20, Article 2 regarding the reporting and removal of “unsafe flora”.  This ordinance was enacted in late 2013 and shifts much of the burden to address this issue from the affected landowner to the County.  It does not, however, actually require the County to remove the unsafe flora.  But, the good news is, if the County is able to notify the owners and does remove the tree(s), it will bill the owners or place a lien on their property, saving you the trouble and expense.

    5) Can my insurance company cancel my policy or fail to renew it? Under Hawaii’s Insurance Code, an insurer is not required to renew once the policy terminates at its specified expiration date (HRS §431:10-226).  Cancellation during the policy term, however, except for failure to pay premiums, is unlawful.  Several months ago, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) sent a letter to companies that sell homeowners’ insurance in Puna to remind them that it is contrary to Hawaii law to cancel policies midterm unless for failure to pay premiums.  The DCCA also reminded insurers, although it is legal to not renew a policy, to “be good neighbors.”  If your insurer cancels your policy, it must give written notice not less than ten days prior to the effective date of cancellation.  For policy non-renewal, written notice must be given no less than 30 days prior to the effective date of non-renewal. If your insurer cancels your policy for any other reason besides failure to pay premiums, consider making a written request for justification of the cancellation and identification of the specific authorizing policy section.  Also consider making a complaint with the Insurance Commissioner, Insurance Division, DCCA (http://cca.hawaii.gov/ins/) in case of any ambiguity or possible bad faith cancellation. 

    ** Jill Raznov-Wedgwood lives in Puna and works in Hilo as Of-Counsel with the Law Offices of Yeh & Moore, where she practices in the areas of commercial litigation, insurance defense and real property matters. She may be reached at jdraznov@gmail.com. The information in this article is not intended to substitute for consultation with a Hawaii licensed attorney.


  • 18 Feb 2015 /  Uncategorized

    BIC FEBRUARY 2015Pick up Big Island Chronicle’s February 2015 print edition at the following locations:

    All KTA Super Stores in Hilo
    Island Naturals in Hilo & Pahoa
    Abundant Life Health Food Store
    Mo’oheau Bus Terminal
    KapohoKine Adventures
    Palace Theater
    Keaukaha Market
    UH Hilo Bookstore
    Foodland in Kea’au
    Kea’au Natural Foods
    Lemongrass Restaurant in Kea’au
    Orchidland True Value
    Longs Drugs in Pahoa
    7-Eleven in Pahoa
    Paul’s Repair (both Pahoa stores)
    Black Rock Cafe 
    Sirius Coffee
    Jeff Hunt Surfboards
    Bookbuyers in Pahoa 
    Pahoa Home Video
    Boogie Woogie Pizza
    Pahoa Museum 
    La Hiki Ola kava bar
    Tin Shack Bakery


  • 17 Feb 2015 /  BULLETINS, Crime, Missing People, news

    Shaniya Das-Lauro

    Police are seeking help in locating a missing Pepe`ekeo teenager.

    Shaniya Das-Lauro was last seen in Hilo on January 10. She is described as Hawaiian, 5-foot-2, 105 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.  Police ask anyone with information on her whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

    Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

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  • 17 Feb 2015 /  BULLETINS, Closures, news

    Hawaii Electric Company reported at 11 a.m. today that it had restored power to about 800 more customers, and that it was working on restoring power to  approximately 300 remaining households in  Nanawale, Leilani Estates, Ainaloa and “a few pocket outages in the Puna area.”  It expects to have power restored to all households “by tomorrow.”

    A bulletin from Hawaii County Civil Defense this morning advised that some lower Puna a residents could expect continued outages “through this week” because of extensive damage caused by what it termed “last week’s wind event. ” The Pohoiki Road will be closed to local traffic only to allow for HELCO and other utility crews to work to restore lines and poles. Motorists are advised to exercise caution in the area and to use alternate routes if possible,”  it announced.



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  • 17 Feb 2015 /  Public Service Announcement

    From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

    NOAA’s Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, part of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, is seeking applicants for two seats on its advisory council.  The council ensures public participation in reserve management and provides advice and recommendations to the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries regarding the reserve.

    “Community representatives on our advisory council are an extremely important part of our team,” said David Swatland, acting superintendent for Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument.  “Their input is an integral part of managing this special place.”

    The reserve is accepting applications for the following seats: Native Hawaiian elder (alternate) and Native Hawaiian (alternate).

    Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations, and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Applicants who are chosen as members or alternates should expect to serve a two-year term or until a different advisory body is created pursuant to Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument’s management plan.

    The advisory council consists of 15 primary and alternate members representing a variety of public interest groups, including conservation, education, research, and ocean-related commercial and recreational activities, as well as the Native Hawaiian community. It also includes 10 governmental seats representing: Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, Department of State, Marine Mammal Commission, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Science Foundation, U.S. Coast Guard, Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

    Applications are due March 31. To receive an application kit, or for further information, please contact Hoku Johnson, acting deputy superintendent, via email at hoku.johnson@noaa.gov; by phone at ; or by mail at Hoku Johnson, NOAA Inouye Regional Center, NOS/ONMS/PMNM 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu HI 96818. Application kits can also be downloaded at: http://www.papahanaumokuakea.gov/council/.

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