Aloha, everyone,
    In the last few weeks, I thought it became apparent to everyone that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is seriously underfunded given its mandate to protect our land, water, cultural and natural resources, and Hawaiian sites for our people and future generations.

    I guess I was wrong! The state House of Representatives recently passed its budget bill, HB 500 HD 1, and eliminated or reduced funding for several important DLNR programs described below. HB 500 HD 1 crossed over to the Senate, where it will be heard by Ways and Means any day now. We hope critical funding for DLNR programs will be replaced by the Senate or House and Senate negotiators in conference committee.

    We Need Your Kokua Now!

    1. Please call both your state representative and your state senator as soon as possible, say that you live in their district, and politely urge them to restore drastic cuts to the DLNR’s budget in budget bill HB 500 HD 1. If you would like to provide specific information, ask them to include the following:

    * $13m for the Natural Area Reserve Fund, $6.8m in the Legacy Land Fund, and $6.3m in the Forest Stewardship Fund (all of which are supported by conveyance tax revenues that are at historic highs because of the booming residential and commercial real estate markets (which put added pressure on natural resources like fresh water);

    * $6m in general funds for Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council programs;

    * $750,000 for wildlife and emergency response equipment for DLNR;

    * Funding for the Division of Conservation and Resourc Enforcement, (DOCARE), DLNR for community fisheries enforcement units on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i

    * Funding for the Division of Aquatic Resources, DLNR, for the Humpback Whale Sanctuary State Co-Manager and for Community-based Subsistence Fisheries Area Planner and Marine Regulation and Policy Specialist to support community-based marine management like H?‘ena, P?p?kea, Mo‘omomi, Ka‘?p?lehu, etc.

    2. After you call your state representative and state senator, please email all representatives and senators at reps@capitol.hawaii.gov and sens@capitol.hawaii.gov and politely urge them to do the same as above.

    3. Share this Kokua Alert with others and ask them to contact their representatives and senators. Mahalo nui loa!

    FYI: Here is a summary of the drastic cuts to the DLNR’s budget in HB 500 HD 1:

    – Natural Area Reserve Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $13m spending authority; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 spending authority for the NAR Fund had been $8m)

    – Legacy Land Conservation Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $6.8m spending authority; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 spending authority had been $5.1m)

    – Forest Stewardship Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $6.3m spending authority; House reduced to $5m (the same level as the FY15)

    – Hawai?i Invasive Species Council programs – Governor’s FY16 request of $4m general funds; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 Legislature provided $5.75m to HISC programs)

    – Native Resources & Fire Protection – Governor’s request for $750,000 in general funds for needed wildfire and emergency response equipment was denied by the House.

    – DOCARE – NO funding included in the House budget for:

    o Community Fisheries Enforcement Units on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i

    o Makai Watch Coordinator

    – Division of Aquatic Resources – NO funding included in the House budget for:

    o Humpback Whale Sanctuary State Co-Manager

    o Community-based Subsistence Fisheries Area Planner and Marine Regulation and Policy Specialist to support community-based marine management like Haena, Pupukea, Mo`omomi, Ka‘upulehu, etc.

    Footnote: The NAR Fund and Forest Stewardship Fund use conveyance tax revenue to manage forest and watershed resources through the State Natural Area Reserves (mostly ceded land), Forest Reserves, Watershed Partnerships, Natural Area and Forest Stewardship partnerships with private landowners, and the Hawai‘i Youth Conservation Corps. The Legacy Land Fund provides State matching funds to purchase and protect cultural, natural, agricultural, historical, and recreational resource lands. The Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council provides funding for critical invasive species prevention, eradication, control, research, and education programs.

    House of Representatives Contact Information (To find your state representative, go to http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/findleg.aspx?street=Enter%20Street%20Name)

    –Marjorie Ziegler,
    Kaneohe, O`ahu
    Editor’s Note: Marjorie Ziegler is the executive director of the Conservation Council of Hawaii

  • 23 Mar 2015 /  Island Events, meeting notice, news

    Puna Geothermal Venture will hold a  community meeting on Tuesday March 24 at  6:30 pm  to 8:00 p.m. at the Pahoa Community Center in order to provide an update of drilling activities and an updated schedule.

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  • 23 Mar 2015 /  Public Service Announcement

    Hilo, Hawai‘i – March 23, 2015 – This April, May, and June, the general public can support the non-profit Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center by purchasing gasoline at any Ohana Fuels (Minit Stop) in East Hawai‘i.

    The participating Minit Stop stations include two in Hilo at the corners of Highway 11 and Puainako Street and Highway 11 and Leilani Street.  The third is located in Laupahoehoe on Highway 19, the fourth in Kea‘au on Orchidland Drive (off Highway 130).

     According to Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center’s press release, the center “empowers people to come together–to talk and to listen, to explore options, and to find their own best solutions.  To achieve this mission, Ku’ikahi offers mediation, facilitation, and training to strengthen the ability of diverse individuals and groups to resolve interpersonal conflicts and community issues. 

     For more information, visit www.hawaiimediation.org or www.ohanafuels.com.

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  • 23 Mar 2015 /  Energy, environment, meeting notice, news

    Those wishing to participate via free teleconference phone at the Army/Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting about depleted uranium at Pohakuloa and Schofield Barracks should call 888-957-9862 and give the following password:  4982130.  The call is toll free.

    Senior Project Manager Amy Snyder of the NRC has provided the following additional information about documents that the Army has provided the NRC and where to find them online:

    “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)

    “Draft Documents from Army Regarding March 24, 2015 Meeting on Depleted Uranium from the Davy Crockett Weapon System:
    ML15078A092 DRAFT National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document
    ML15078A099 DRAFT Decommissioning Funding Plan
    ML15078A114 DRAFT Programmatic Approach for Preparation of Site-Specific Environmental Radiation Monitoring Plans
    ML15078A115 DRAFT Proposed Amendments to Conditions of NRC SML # SUC-1593
    ML15078A118 DRAFT “Radiation Safety Plan for IMCOM Ranges Affected by M101 Davy Crockett Spotting Round Depleted Uranium.”

    “These documents are located in package No. ML15078A094…. The package No. is not declared- so please use the individual ML numbers provided above. They are now publicly available. The Army said that they will have one more draft document by Monday, March 23. The NRC staff may not have enough time to review this draft so the NRC staff may not be able to have a detailed discussion on documents received late- in which case we may be in the listening mode.”

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  • 23 Mar 2015 /  Uncategorized
    Dearest Mayor Kenoi,

    Sorry about another letter so soon, but I am hearing a lot of frustration from folks who have kids that are supposed to be going to school at Keonepoko or Pahoa.  As the man in charge of all things related to Act 111, you have got to know by know that our little kids are still crammed into some little pods in the parking lot at Keaau High School and other schools since being evacuated last year .  Did you know they make them line up and go to the bathroom all at one time?  How can that be conducive to learning?  Do you know where all the precious little kids get to eat lunch and try to play recess?  They share the same space as the high-schoolers do.  I’ve heard that armed police hang out there to keep the peace since teen rivals now attend same school.  Would you let your young impressionable kids be treated like this?  Even your older children?  Could you please use your supreme powers invested by Act 111 to insist the Department Of Education to do a bit better job, like let them go back to their own schools since the lava is pau for now, the lava drill is over.   I can guarantee it wouldn’t be done this way in Hilo or Kona.  Our lower Puna children deserve better.

    Very sincerely,

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

  •   The state legislature’s proposed annual budget is out, with its annual gift to the construction industry: the Capital Improvement Projects  (CIP) funding.  The biggest CIP allocations on this island are a $61 airport firefighters’ training facility at Kona Airport, $55 million in continued funding for the Judiciary Complex in Kona, and $8.5 million for a “multi-purpose workforce development processing facility.” Other big island projects include: 

    ·         $1.2 million for the plans and design of a new hospital in Kona

    ·         $2.35 million for the design and construction of a Kamuela post-harvest facility and vacuum cooling plant

    ·         $330,000 for improvements to the research campus in the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology Park

    ·         $30.212 for the construction of a new combined support maintenance shop complex for Hawaii Army National Guard at the Keaukaha military reservation

    ·         $1.675 million for Youth Challenge Academy renovations and improvements at Keaukaha military reservation

    ·         $2 million for the design of Building A phase 1 renovations at Hilo Intermediate School

    ·         $1 million for the construction of bleachers at Honokaa High School

    ·         $230,000 for the construction of drainage improvements and a raised covered walkway at Mountain View Elementary School

    ·         $450,000 for a new baseball batting cage at Waiakea High School

    ·         $1.58 million for the design of a new classroom building at Waikoloa Elementary and Middle School

    ·         $300,000 for parking improvements at Kealakehe Elementary School

    ·         $1 million for the design and construction for Pu’u Wa’awa’a structure improvements and dam compliance

    ·         $400,000 for the plans and design for improvements at the North Kawaihae small boat harbor

    ·         $600,000 for the land acquisition and design for a community center in Waiakea Uka

    ·         $200,000 for building renovations and improvements at the Paauilo slaughterhouse plant

    ·         $3.5 million for airfield improvements at Hilo International Airport

    ·         $1.425 million for physical modifications to improve navigational safety and operational efficiencies at Hilo Harbor

    ·         $3.6 million for Kohala Mountain Road drainage improvements by mile post 10.60

    ·         $8 million for the rehabilitation of Ninole Bridge along Mamalahoa Highway (route 11)

    ·         $15 million for repair and maintenance of feeder roads and alternate routes for Highway 130

    ·         $660,000 for land acquisition to extend the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from the Hilo terminus to the Queen Kaahumanu Highway

    ·         $1.5 million for the construction of portable trailers at Hawaii Community College

    ·         $350,000 to renovate the tennis court at Honokaa High and Intermediate School

    ·         $2.46 million lump sum for renovations at Hilo High School

    ·         $1.23 million lump sum for renovations at Konawaena Middle School

    ·         $780,000 lump sum for renovations at Kohala High

    ·         $4.99 million for photovoltaic projects for East Hawaii HHSC region

    ·         $3.492 million total for renovations at Kona Community Hospital

    ·         $750,000 for an 80 bed intake unit at Hawaii Community Correctional Center to address overcrowding

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  • 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


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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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