***Commentary*** Plenty of Food, Wine and Laughs At Press Club Xmas Party





holiday cheer

holiday cheer

There was plenty of food, wine and laughter on Sunday when retired Honolulu Advertiser reporter Hugh Clark and his family hosted the annual Big Island Press Club christmas party at their Kaumana home.  

At our press club Christmas party every year, we vote for our board’s officers.  We had our Russian ballots like we do every year, with just one person proposed for each position.  I just went down the ballot with my pencil, checking off the names absentmindedly.  I had to ask someone later who I voted for.  No, seriously, I want to congratulate Peter Serafin, the former Hawaii Island Journal editor, for stepping up to be president of our club in the next year.  Also, congratulations to Stephanie Salazar, the KHBC newswoman, who will be the vice president.  Where were you both?  I had a big laugh at the fact that we were celebrating your victories without you.  Actually, I understand that Peter had to miss our holiday party because he was in Honolulu with his daughter, who was taking a Japanese proficiency exam.  Nevertheless, we had a good time without our newly-elected president and vice president.  Wayne “the Big Dog” Joseph, who ran against Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole in the Primary election, was at the party.  He will serve as our press club’s secretary.  Also present was Hunter Bishop, the former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter-turned-blogger who now works as the public information officer (PIO) for Mayor Billy Kenoi.  He was the recipient of jokes about jumping the fence from “hack” to “flack.”  Marcia Reynolds, the former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter who worked as PIO for Stephen Yamashiro, said Bishop is the fourth in our press club to go from journalist to mayor’s PIO.  Before him, it was Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Janet Snyder who went to work for Mayor Harry Kim; Marcia who went to work for Mayor Yamashiro; and then Ken Hupp, of New West Broadcasting, who went to work for Mayor Lorraine Inouye.  

More laughter came with discussion about my new blog life, and Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter John Burnett’s talk of his his hillbilly past and his latest crime story involving Cynthia Lynette Edwards, the fugitive from florida who has been hiding out in Puna for 20 years.

There was some heaviness, too, and I’m not talking about the red wine and pupus.  Yes, we had our all-too-common talk about how poor the work conditions have become at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. Gene Tao, who served as editor of the publication for 15 years (1985-1990) said several times, “Work conditions aren’t good at the paper.”  It really is pretty grim here on the island for journalists, with the only show in town for journalists, newspaper-wise, being Stephens Media, which is more content with the bottom line and busting the Tribune-Herald’s union than ensuring that its employees love coming to work everyday.  

I guess that makes camaraderie and blogs like this all the more important.  

Those not present at Sunday’s press club Christmas party who I especially missed:  Peter Serafin; Steph Salazar; Chris Loos, the former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter who now works as a PIO for the Hawaii Police Department, and former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter Dave Smith. 

The press club’s annual meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 2009 at the Coconut Grill. Organizers are hoping to line up a representative from the 30 [meter —  edited 12/10] telescope for the speaker. A hui hou.

***Commentary***In Memory of Toa


Toa, November 18, 2008

Toa, November 18, 2008

On November 18, 2008, a couple we are friends with lost their baby boy in childbirth at the North Hawaii Community Hospital.  This morning we had a memorial for the late Toa Leon Romeo Rivera at Pohoiki.  A large group paddled out on the First Bay side of the beach park, where his ashes were strewn.  What a sad, sad day.  Throughout the ceremony, I couldn’t help but ponder why the universe can appear so cruel.  Why do we get to have our baby and our friends cannot have theirs?  I said this aloud to someone at the memorial, and she reminded me that some spirits only make a touch-and-go landing in order to remind those of us who get to stay awhile that this life is temporary, and we can go at any time. And, so, as macabre as it may seem to post a photo and mention the death of this little boy, may it serve as a reminder of our own mortality and how sacred it is to be living and breathing.  After you read this, please go hug and kiss your family and friends.  

Truly appreciate what fragile little ecosystems we are.



***Commentary***Still waiting for Mayor Billy Kenoi’s Department Head Picks

It’s been a week today since Mayor Billy Kenoi was sworn into office, and he remains undecided on the top administrators for the departments of Planning, Parks and Recreation, Research and Development, Data Systems, Housing and Environmental Management.  

Hunter Bishop, the public information officer for the Mayor’s Office, said today that Mayor Billy is “still evaluating candidates for permanent appointments” and added reassuringly, “In the meantime, each of the departments has a capable interim director.”

Hunter did not expect an announcement on department head appointment picks to come today.

Puna Public Service Announcement: Nanawale Community Association to Host 2nd Holiday Decorating Contest


Joseph Ramos, one of last year's winners for the Nanawale Community Association's Holiday Decorating Contest

Joseph Ramos

(Pictured is Joseph Ramos, one of last year’s winners of the Nanawale Community Association’s Holiday Decorating Contest)

Nanawale Community Association invites all Nanawale Estate homeowners and renters to enter its 2nd Annual Holiday Decorating Contest.

There is no charge for admission, but an admission form must be filled out at the Nanawale  Longhouse by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17 for organizers to know which homes are entered and their locations.

Judging will take place the evenings of Wednesday, Dec. 17 and Thursday, Dec. 18, with prizes to be awarded at the Nanawale Christmas party beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Longhouse.

Prizes include gift certificates from KTA Supermarkets (for $100, $50 and $25), from Luquin’s Mexican Food and Ning’s Thai Cuisine restaurants ($25 each) and gifts from Jeff Hunt Surfboards. Tiffany Edwards Hunt will serve as one of the judges. Other judges and prizes are still being arranged.

There are two catergories of competition: Best Homeowner Display and Best Renter Display. Judging will be based on best overall appearance of property, best use of lights, most consistent theme (any and all religious themes are eligible), most creative and most original.

Displays must be visible from the street as judges will not walk about the property.

For more information and to fill out an application, stop by the Nanawale Longhouse between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays or call 965-8080.

Hilo Public Service Announcement: Free Sample Class Wednesday at Balancing Monkey Yoga Center

Balancing Monkey Yoga Center, located at 65 Mohouli Street in Hilo, will be offering a free yoga class at 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 10.  Heather Heintz wants to add a few new teachers with unique styles to the yoga schedule for 2009, but she’d like your feedback beforehand.  The free yoga class on Wednesday will be Swasthya yoga, which is described as “the codification of pre-classical yoga” that was rediscovered in India by Master teacher DeRose and brought to Brazil where he resides.  Not your typical yoga practice, each Swasthya yoga class presents eight parts, or Angas, including:  Mudra (hand gestures); Puja (offering of energy); Mantra (vocalization of sounds); Pranayama (breathing exercises); Kryia (purification exercises); Asana (physical postures); Yoganidra (relaxation technique); and  Samyama (concentration, meditation).  For more information about the free class or the Balancing Monkey Yoga Center, call (808) 936-9590, email yoga@balancingmonkey.com, or visit the website at www.balancingmonkey.com.

***Guest Commentary*** Andrew Plack: Proposed Grading and Grubbing Ordinance Is No Solution to Concerns Over Flooding and Natural Resources Depletion

By Andrew Plack

Edited By Tiffany Edwards Hunt

(Editor’s Note:  Big Island Chronicle welcomes any and all opinions regarding the proposed Grading and Grubbing Ordinance.  Consider this guest commentary an initiation of an important discussion regarding the revision to Chapter 10 of the Hawaii County Code that is currently underway.)


Currently looming is a proposal created by a small group of engineers and public works employees. It is just a proposal and should have your input at Council level if we are all to dodge this bullet.

    Proposed are changes to Chapter 10 of the Hawaii County Code ( Chapter 10 pertains to grubbing and grading includes movement of rock and soil).

  In a nut shell, the proposal is that all grubbing (scrap off the grass, plowing tilling farming vegetables), and all grading ( leveling a house pad prior to construction, changes land contours), any activity that touches the ground, should be supervised by a civil engineer, permitted by the Department of Public Works and paid to that government agency.

  The Department of Public Works has taken a court mandate regarding protection of historical Hawaiian sites as an opportunity to grab beaucoup power and money from the small scale general public. Their rationale is you might hurt the environment with your activities, and so they should be paid first.

New laws will only affect the little guy. Big development already has these rules. Your new starter home will cost $20,000 more.  Think of your kids! Your local farmer will not be able to afford to till one acre of land, because he will have to hire a civil engineer and a survey crew to make an erosion plan, and continue to supervise the entire length of duration of activity.

      This bill will not save one tree from being cut down. This bill is not a zoning regulation, and therefore will not keep houses from being built in the forest. This bill is akin to raising taxes and is essentially a huge enlargement of the scope of government and regulation.

      Want to grow some kalo on your house lot? If you remove the grass from a15,000 square foot parcel ,(2/3 of one acre), without permits and engineers,  you can be fined $1000 a day and one year in jail, for each day of infraction.   This is all  for daring to grow food without the okay of the government.

Is this what you want? Like many bills, it has lost all of the original purpose that initiated its conception.

      It does not change  what is graded, it just taxes you and takes away your personal freedom.  This bill actually keeps us from taking care of the land. A huge disincentive to plant trees, farm, and build. Lets all just do nothing and sign up for welfare. Any politician who supports this has either not read it,  or wants to control us all. How much will they have to grow government to enforce this? This bill is NOT environmental. It is an affront to sustainability and self sufficiency.

Please read this proposal if you think these words are an  exaggeration of the facts. I actually left out many horrific details because I do not want to rant too much. I urge anyone with any concern about their personal liberty and any concern about their environment to sign our petition.

The petition is a request to study the effects this legislation would have on farming and small house construction.  Read the facts, write your council people, and insist that stopping gross large development negligence should not mean an end to sustainability, affordable housing  and personal property rights. That is not a solution, but a worse alternative.

Waimea Public Service Announcement: Dinner To Benefit Merriman’s Scholarship Fund


Kamuela, Hawaii–A 100% Island-Grown Dinner and celebration will be held Fri., Dec. 12, as a benefit to the Merriman’s Culinary Scholarship Fund, a non-profit program that annually offers scholarships to Big Island students pursuing careers in the culinary arts.

The event, at Merriman’s Waimea, will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Hawaii Regional Cuisine and the opening of Merriman’s Waimea 20 years ago, on Dec. 21, 1988.  The Waimea restaurant is now widely recognized as the flagship home of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, the island-based culinary movement that has garnered worldwide acclaim.

Chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman worked closely with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen to create Hawaii Regional Cuisine, which showcases fresh and local produce, meats and fish.  Needing a home base for this growing endeavor, Merriman opened the Waimea restaurant and since that time, Merriman’s Waimea has consistently earned top honors for its outstanding menu and service, including the Hale ‘Aina Award as Best Big Island Restaurant by Honolulu magazine for 13 consecutive years; Award of Excellence, Wine Spectator, for five consecutive years; and the Ilima Award for Best Hawaii Island Restaurant by the Honolulu Advertiser for 11 consecutive years.

Merriman’s 100% Island-Grown Dinner will feature a varied menu that showcases local farmers and ranches, including Kahua Ranch, Honopua Farms and Loeffler Farms.  The menu will be created using all Hawaii-grown vegetables, meats and cooking products–from the macadamia oil and salts used during the cooking process to freshly picked produce and hormone-free range-raised beef and lamb.

Specifically, Merriman and Executive Chef Neil Murphy have co-created a menu that features:

  • Sweet Corn Flan, Chowder and Crepe;
  • Fresh Waimea Tomatoes, Fried Green, Peeled and Stuffed;
  • Wok-seared Ahi, Mahi Mahi Ponzu and Kona Kampachi with Abalone;
  • Kahua Ranch Filet Mignon with Cheek and Marrow, served with Garlic Spinach, Swiss Chard with Lemon, Smoked Eggplant and Braised Escarol with Mushrooms; and
  • Kahua Ranch Braised Lamb and Roast Leg.

Two special wines by the glass will accompany the menu, Grgich Hills Fume Blanc and Porter Bass Zinfandel, both produced from biodynamically farmed, organically grown grapes.  Each wine will be offered at a discount by either the glass or bottle.

***Commentary***New Legislative Aide Seeks to Get Puna Councilwoman to the People’s Inaugural Ball

Roxanne “RJ” Hampton, who replaced me as the legislative aide for Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole, is seeking my help to get Emily to the People’s Inaugural Ball.  

Earl Stafford, a religious businessman from Virginia is hosting a million-dollar People’s Inaugural Ball, where 1,000 homeless, battered, disabled, and terminally ill people will spend three days at a luxury hotel close to the White House to commemorate Barack Obama’s inauguration.

RJ sent me this email this morning:

“Aloha Tiffany,

I saw this in the paper on Thursday. I was hoping you could help us get Auntie to DC to participate in this event she so wants to go and we think she has a chance if we move quickly. I acknowledge your gift of persuasion through the printed word and was hoping you could put it together so it will fly.

the link below give an idea of whats going to happen. We want her son to go too.

Its the trip of a lifetime and she sure does deserve it.

She knows nothing so if it happens it will be a big surprise.

It’s 6AM and I am off.

Good seeing you at the parade.




Dear Mr. Stafford:

Aloha from Hawaii. We would like to introduce you to Auntie Emily Naeole, Hawaiian, mother, grandmother and Puna District Councilwoman of the Island of Hawaii. What is so special about this woman is that she has been homeless, hungry, a substance abuser and she has turned her life around and now is working to provide food, shelter, rehab, and education for her community.She has been praying to find a way to make this historic trip to Washington DC ever since she one re-election and appeared on the front page along with the president elect Barack Obama.


Councilwoman Emily I. Naeole


This woman embodies the meaning and essence of Hawaii and Aloha. She was described as “the heart and soul” of Hawaii by U.S. Rep., Daniel Akaka in 2008. She is in demand as a public speaker to address graduating classes of public, charter schools and substance abuse programs. She is candid about her “wild” younger days, poverty, homelessness, and the circumstances it took to choose another path. She is living proof that making a choice, working at it everyday and a close relationship with Ke Akua (GOD), can make anything possible.

Puna has been historically the most under served community in all the Hawaiian islands. Since Auntie Emily has entered the body politic it has become standard operating procedure for government and social service agencies to visit rural communities periodically to solicit their concerns. Emily is one of the few island legislators addressing the island’s hungry and unsheltered and doing something about it.. It is easy for her because she has been doing it for the past 30 years. Her entry into the world politic upgraded her resource pool from that of an active community volunteer providing a home for her family of six, by winning two terms to the islands legislative body, She chairs the Human Services and Economic Development Committee and is able to channel money to support local community activities.

A tireless worker, she attends meetings, family gatherings, graduations. Auntie is here, there, everywhere. Sometimes the job is not easy and financially unrewarding yet she continues to serve with love and joy. Her dedication and devotion apparently irritates some of her constituents but she tries to find solutions that will serve everyone, Hawaiian style.”It is all good”, she says “It is all in God’s hands.”

Auntie Emily is loved across the island and across the State. She is the embodiment of Aloha. We think she is a perfect representative for the under served. She is bringing new values and vision to our Island.

We are hoping you will select Auntie Emily and her son Kora (It’s Kopa) a senior in high school to participate in your wonderful event she has been praying to find a way to make this historic trip to Washington DC.’ “

RJ, you are now Emily’s right-hand woman.  If this is what you consider to be Council District 5 business, I must remind you that you are an assistant who reportedly has arranged to have, not just one assistant, two assistants.  I should hope that one or all of you would be able to make contact with Mr. Earl Stafford, of Virginia, on Emily’s behalf.

***Commentary*** Rock N Roll Bands On Wheels and Candy-spewing Volcano Floats, Pahoa Holiday Parade As ‘Puna’ As Ever


Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole

Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole


Tiny Miss Pacific Island Princess Ke'alohilani Jones

Tiny Miss Pacific Island Princess Ke

As it is every year, the Pahoa Holiday Parade was filled with creativity and color, from our ostentatious Puna Councilwoman bedecked in the signature red and gold of the ali’i to the hula hoopers and marching weiner dogs.  We had it all marching down Pahoa Village Road on Saturday: people wearing cardboard boxes denoting various Pahoa businesses, Salvatore Luquin on horseback accompanying his famed Mexican restaurant’s float, a pearly, white 1953 Chevrolet corvette and other eye-catching vintage cars, a woman passing out refreshing melon water to call attention to her new spa in Pahoa town, Santa Claus in a Puna Canoe Club koa canoe… I could go and on and on describing all the eye candy.  The parade was as sunny and warm as the weather proved to be for the event.  Noticably absent, however, were the dignitaries.  Of course, we had the Democratic Party parading with a poster board cutout of our President-elect Barack Obama and Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole in a rented red mustang, and I can’t forget Tiny Miss Pacific Island Princess Ke’alohilani Jones riding on the back of a convertible driven by her father.  But I think that was it as far as dignitaries.  I could be wrong;  There were times when I was talking story, tending to baby, or doing some roadside candy pick-up.  I didn’t see any former mayors or our Mayor-elect Billy Kenoi.  There weren’t any senators, not even our state representative of Puna.  Last year, I was the driver for not just Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole, but State Rep. Faye Hanohano, as well.  I didn’t see Faye yesterday.  I did see her Republican contender in the recent election, though: Fred Blas, leading his Hawaiian Beaches Community Action Team. To me, that is very telling.



Indeed, the election is over, and so is the schmoozing.

BREAKING NEWS — “Jungle Love” Wins Best Float at Pahoa Holiday Parade

(Details of the parade after dinner at some friends’ house)

Jungle Love's "Volcano" Wins Best Float

Jungle Love


(17 hours after initial post)

Following are the judges’ picks for the Pahoa Holiday Parade:

BEST FLOAT:  Jungle Love, 1st Place; Puna Canoe Club, 2nd Place; Paul’s Repair, Honorable Mention

BEST DESIGN:  Pahoa Boys and Girls Club, 1st Place; Hawaiian Electric Light Company (HELCO), 2nd Place, Blondez (?), Honorable Mention

BEST KEIKI UNIT:  Pahoa Elementary School, 1st Place; The Montessori Country School; 2nd Place; Malamalama, Honorable Mention

MOST ENTHUSIASTIC:  Paradissimo Tropical Spa, 1st Place; Hui H (?), 2nd Place; Puna Weiners, Honorable Mention

***Commentary*** Not One Person, Three People Are Set To Replace Me

Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole is filling the legislative aide position I recently vacated with not one person, but three people, she told me today.
Roxanne “RJ” Hampton is going to be the one on the county payroll. She was Emily’s campaign manager the last couple of months of the campaign. She is said to have a “general knowledge of government” and over a decade in the mental health field. Along with RJ, RJ’s domestic partner, Sativa, and Emily’s campaign treasurer, Cherish, will help out. Apparently, Sativa and Cherish will be considered “interns.” Council members have had unpaid interns work in their offices. The catch is, RJ is going to dole out her salary to Cherish for her work. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine how that won’t lead to a blowout.
On the off chance that everyone gets along wonderfully, I’m curious how the ladies in the Hilo office are going to accept Auntie’s entourage. After all, there was a crew of them that complained about my baby being there.
As they all prove to be, this Council term is already shaping up to be quite entertaining.

***Commentary*** Mayor’s First Week Is Pau; No More Department Head Picks

Mayor Billy Kenoi has wrapped up his first week in office without naming his picks to head the departments of Planning, Environmental Management, and Parks and Recreation. Tick, tock, Mayor Billy. I thought for sure an announcement would come today that one, two or all these administrator positions would be filled. I guess the wait makes his yet-to-be-decided posts all the more intriguing. In the meantime, the departments have interim directors. Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, at least for the time being, is staying on as the head of Environmental Management and Daryn Arai is the interim director of Planning. I’m not sure about Parks and Recreation’s interim director.

***Commentary*** HELCO Retiree Warren Lee Pick For Public Works Might Mean We’re On Our Way To An Incinerator

I don’t want to manifest destiny but I think picking Warren Lee, the retired HELCO executive, to head Public Works might mean we’re going to choose the route of an incinerator for a solution to the Hilo landfill. It all depends on the mayor’s choice for the head of Environmental Management. Just a thought, I could be wrong. Please, I hope so! We already have enough natural air pollution with the vog. Solve our solid waste dilemma adopting zero waste principles… Recycle as much as possible, including converting green waste into compost and pursuing a construction and demolition landfill to facilitate the reuse of building materials. An incinerator is Neanderthal. If you want “technology,” or “alternative energy,” look toward a “wet” landfill where you can tap the methane and leachate, and reuse both.
For alternative energy, Mr. Lee and Mayor Billy, please look to geothermal and solar and all the other options that don’t have such a threat on the air we breathe. Have you ever been to Taiwan, gentlemen? They have an incinerator. I could taste trash in my mouth, the air quality was so bad out at the airport hotel where I stayed. Please, for the sake of our Keiki, please don’t burn the trash for “alternative energy.”