*** Commentary *** Impressive Last Act Of This Council Term Today

If you haven’t had a chance, check out Rob Tucker’s account of the last meeting of this County Council term.  As you know,  Bill 311 is to approve a $56 million bond float pitched by Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration.  Most people, including myself, imagined six council members — J Yoshimoto, Donald Ikeda, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, Emily Naeole, Guy Enriques, and Kelly Greenwell — would confirm an earlier decision to authorize the sale of bonds for roads, parks, housing and waste disposal projects scattered throughout the island.

Apparently, there were two motions for reconsiderations put forth:  one from Ikeda, of Hilo, for Bill 311 to be reconsidered today and one from Dominic Yagong, of Hamakua, to be reconsidered on Dec. 15 — after three new council members come aboard and a new Council majority takes effect.

Here is how Tucker described the meeting:

“About 35 people testified including me for FoPF. The majority testified to either not borrow money (The Conservative Forum for example) or for the public to be allowed public hearings (FoPF’s position). A motion was made for public hearings. In discussion it became apparent that Emily Naeole was backing off of Bill 311 in favor of allowing the public – and the incoming council – to have input and carry the ball. Guy Enriques once again was intent on listening to those invisible people who speak to him louder than the testifying public. He was against public hearings as usual. Kelly Greenwell considers the measure as stimulus package and the role of the county to take responsibility for job creation. He didn’t need public hearings. With Hoffman, Yagong, Naeole and Ford in favor of public hearings it looked like a winner. Then…
Kenneth Goodenough, county clerk, announced that in his reading of the rules it would take a five vote majority to approval a motion for public hearings. This was news to just about everybody in the chamber. Brenda Ford called for a 5 minute break to consult the rules and on returning disputed the clerk’s position. This left it up to J Yoshimoto who decided to side with the clerk for a five vote majority requirement on public hearings.
So roll was called. It quickly lined up as four to four. To most everyone’s surprise Yoshimoto voted aye in favor of public hearings and with that the session was over.”

I too wonder how Goodenow came up with the rule that there needed to be five votes for a motion for a public hearing.  I thought there needed to be three votes.

With the surprise vote from Yoshimoto in favor of a public hearing, there was applause from the audience and, after the meeting, Tucker, who can be thought of as a thorn in the side of the County of Hawaii, personally thanked both Naeole and Yoshimoto for their surprise positions.

It really sounds like today was one of the best meeting days of what generally has been a train wreck of a Council term.  
Read more

*** Commentary*** — And The New Hawaii County Council Chairman Is…

"We're Off To See The Mayor" by Tom Lackey

… Dominic Yagong.

He was first elected to the Hawaii County Council to represent Hamakua in 1996, so I personally believe it is about time Yagong serve as chairman.  His vice chairman will be Pete Hoffmann, of Kohala. Fitting, since Hoffmann lost his chairmanship to soon-to-be former Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole in highly controversial Council reorganization last year.

The new leadership was decided at a meeting in Kona with the new Council majority today, Yagong told the Big Island Chronicle.  Present were Yagong, Brenda Ford, of South Kona, Angel Pilago, of North Kona, Hoffmann, Brittany Smart, newly elected to represent Upper Puna, Ka’u and South Kona, and Fred Blas, newly elected to represent Lower Puna. The new Council is sworn into office on Dec. 6.

Ford will chair the Finance Committee and Yagong will serve as that committee’s vice chair.  This is also fitting, since Yagong lost chairmanship of the Finance Committee in last year’s reorganization.

Hoffmann will chair the Planning Committee and Pilago will serve as that committee’s vice chair. Hoffmann will chair Housing and Blas will serve as that committee’s vice chair.

Smart will serve as the chair of Environmental Management and Pilago will serve as that committee’s vice chair.

New committees were decided upon at today’s meeting, including the Human Services, Social Services and Public Safety Committee, of which Pilago will serve as chair and J Yoshimoto, the soon-to-be unseated Council Chairman, has been asked to serve as the committee’s chair. Read more

*** Commentary *** Third Printout Shows About Three Council Runoffs

A look at the numbers on the third and final printout shows Fred Blas leading the race for Council District 5 over Incumbent Emily Naeole-Beason. Votes cast were 1,496 votes to 1,320 votes, meaning Blas and Naeole-Beason will have a runoff in the General.
Similarly, In Council District 6, Incumbent Guy Enriques will face Brittany Smart in the General, with Smart receiving 1,657 votes and Enriques receiving 1,506 votes.
In Council District 6, it looks like Angel Pilago will have a runoff with Debbie Hecht. Pilago, in the end, received 1,707 votes, or 46 percent of the votes cast. He need 50 percent plus one to succeed in the Primary. Hecht received 691 votes, Rath received 604 votes, and Imcumbent Kelly Green received 333 votes.
Incumbents Pete Hoffmann, Brenda Ford, and Donald Ikeda succeeded over their challengers, winning the Primary outright with 50 percent plus one.
J Yoshimoto, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, and Dominic Yagong all were unchallenged in the Primary, but had enough blank votes cast to indicate some voter dissatisfaction and the possibility that a challenger could have given them runoffs in the General.
On the State Legislature side, all democratic incumbents succeeded the Primary and will face off with their Republican challengers.
In Puna, State Representative District 4 Incumbent Faye Hanohano narrowly succeeded Anthony Marzi. The votes were 2,296 to 2,183, with 354 blank votes cast.
Although the County has a higher than ever voter registration count at 100,061 voters, only 39 percent voted in this election.

Politics — Big Island Chronicle Voters’ Guide For The Nine Hawaii County Council Races

(Editor’s Note:  A much shorter version of these questions and answers from Hawaii County Council candidates appeared in the Sept. 1, 2010 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)

Council District 1

Dominic Yagong

Dominic Yagong


current council member and retail management

When elected, what is your first planned piece of legislation?

Introduce legislation that would un-authorize the Mayor to sell the nearly 2000 acres of Hamakua Lands situated in Paauilo.

Why should constituents vote for you?

I work very hard to understand the issues before the County Council, and I do my very best to bring forth solutions to address community challenges.  I conduct business in complete transparency and provide opportunities for the community to participate in the decision making process.  I understand that my job is to represent the voice of the people, and I do it through listening and communicating with the district that I am fortunate to represent. Read more

Letters — Call For A Public Hearing In Pahoa Regarding Puna Community Development Plan Amendments

I talked Saturday to Emily Naeole-Beason and Ken Goodenow, the County Clerk, while they were at the Ainaloa Longhouse yard sale. Ken said because Donald Ikeda is the chair of the Planning Committee, Donald Ikeda will decide the location and date of the hearing regarding J. Yoshimoto’s Bill 194 (amendments to the Puna Community Development Plan).

Ken believes the hearing has been scheduled for August 30 or 31 in Kea’au. I asked Emily if it could be moved to Pahoa. She wasn’t sure if that was possible.

If those of you who are reading this want the hearing at Pahoa instead of Kea’au, perhaps you could call Emily and Donald to request this.

I have Emily’s phone number: (808) 965-2712. She probably will also have Donald Ikeda’s number. I hope many of us will call them asap.


Judy Stenger

(Editor’s Post Script:  Email Emily Naeole-Beason at or Donald Ikeda at, or call Ikeda at (808) 961-8225)

***Commentary*** Why Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda Is An Asshole

Donald Ikeda

The last couple of days I’ve been calling all the candidates around the island to let them know I am putting together a voter’s guide for the Big Island Weekly, which is also going to publish on this blog after it publishes in the newspaper.  As you can imagine, it’s pretty time-consuming, and it gets pretty monotonous saying the same thing over and over: “I’m putting together a voter’s guide, and I need to get your personal email so I can send you a list of questions that I need to get answered by you in the next couple of weeks.”  When I called Donald Ikeda this morning on his cell phone, his immediate response was, “I don’t have email.”

“Well, Mr. Ikeda, how can I get this list of questions to you?”

“I don’t live in Puna,” he said.

“Mr. Ikeda, just because I live in Puna doesn’t make me Puna-centric.  You represent the whole island.  The Big Island Weekly publishes around the whole island,” I said.

“Mail the questions to my house,” he said.

So be it.

What Ikeda doesn’t care to realize is that I am not just some Punatic he can easily dismiss; my ohana actually owns a home in his district and, back in the days when he was campaigning against Michael Tulang, Ikeda actually visited our home and, in our carport, gave me his schpeel, which actually has turned out to be a whole lot of b.s. Ikeda, in my opinion, doesn’t have an altruistic bone in his body. He looks out for number one.  What really has Ikeda done for District 2? I remember he wanted to get sidewalks put in along Kaumana Drive.  Never happened.  If anything, by his votes, Ikeda has done a dis-service to the people.  Plus, I know for a fact that he cares nothing about the Sunshine Law, and has violated it on occasion.  For Ikeda not to want to answer my questions because I reside in Puna and he doesn’t, well,  that just shows how short-sighted the man really is, and how he doesn’t truly understand that his job is to represent the whole island, not just his Hilo district. Read more

Guest Column — J Yoshimoto And The Low Art Of No Compromise

By Rob Tucker

We’ve all heard the old axiom that politics is the art of compromise.  That in order to get something you want to have to be willing to give up something. Since the days of the Roman Forum.  Such subtleties are lost on the current council majority.  They will likely prevail – but at a cost it seems.  A very small number of amendments are contentious.  Maybe 5%.

So Monday was a Big Day for the Puna Community Development Plan.  After nearly two years of delay  (primarily due to our then newly elected Mayor Billy Kenoi failing to nominate an Action Committee for the PCDP as required by law) the amendment process finally hit center stage at the council Planning Committee in the form of J Yoshimoto’s Bill 194.

Bill 194 contains the collected wisdom and intent of former Planning Director Chris Yuen, Council members Yoshimoto and Naeole-Beason and the back room influence of Shipman Ltd. – the largest landowner in Puna.

(I don’t really want to paint Shipman really badly.  we actually agree on a lot of issues.  Just not how to achieve them.) Read more

Guest Column — Council Minority Squelches Attempt At Democracy

By Russell Ruderman

The Hawaii County Council failed to pass the 2% Land Fund bill that would have placed the question on the ballot for a Charter Amendment.

The voters of this County already approved the 2% Land Fund in the last election, but the fund has been abused and the will of the voters ignored.

So Pete Hoffmann introduced this bill to make it a Charter Amendment, which if passed by voters, would have greater force than the simple law enacted by direct referendum.

Even though five of our nine Council members supported this bill, it was not enough because a 2/3 super majority was needed. Voting against this bill were J Yoshimoto, Dennis Onishi, and Guy Enriques. Absent from the vote was Donald Ikeda. His absence counts as a “No” vote in this case.

I’m not surprised by Mr. Onishi’s and Mr. Enriques’s votes against this bill. Disgusted, but not surprised. Mr. Enriques was quoted as saying he supports 2% for the Land Fund (Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund), but voted against it because the existing law is sufficient. Obviously that is not true or we wouldn’t be here. How convenient to say he’s in favor of the idea, but voted against the law that would realize the intent. A true politician in the very worst sense of the word.

I’m very disappointed in Mr. Yoshimoto’s vote against this bill. Often I optimistically expect more of him, but was disappointed once again. Bear in mind, this bill would simply have given the voters the chance to approve the amendment or not. Democracy, it’s called.

But the absence of Donald Ikeda, who was not even present to vote, is intolerable. This is not the first time he has avoided controversy by his absence. Read more

Dispatches From Curt — History of Hilo’s Saloon Pilot Cracker And Anticipated Post Scripts

Image courtesy of Rodney Lee, Midlife Crisis, Honolulu Advertiser blog

By Curtis Narimatsu

Yes, today’s Saloon pilot cracker is from the German Ludloff brothers via the German hardtack, the Ludloffs cutting their teeth formerly w/Scot Love family on O’ahu. The Ludloff Crescent City Cracker Co. had its origin in Shinmachi between today’s bouldered driveway/Ke’elikolani St. & gravel road to Matson containers/Emma St.

The Ludloffs then built their massive 2 story concrete Luloff bldg. 1922 NW corner Pi’opi’o St./Kam Ave, the exact spot where is today’s Bayside Chevron at Kam/Pauahi Sts., by where the Bayside air/water hoses are w/blank lava wall [former Pi’opi’o sign face]. Read more

Guest Cartoon — ‘What Will Auntie Outlaw Next?’

Tom Lackey cartoon

Before I get into discussing Tom Lackey’s cartoon, I want to clarify that the Hawaii County Council vote in favor of the cigarette smoking ban in vehicles with child passengers was 5-3, with dissenting votes cast by Dominic Yagong, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, and Donald Ikeda.  I want to personally thank those three council members for being the only sensible ones among the nine.  I strongly disagree with the ban and I think it is more evidence that our Council majority this term has strayed far off the beaten path of normal.  Imposing on our civil liberties is far from the role of the Hawaii County Council.  Our Council majority has arguably been the worst this term than any other.  Just watch them on Public Access Television.  When they cough, they don’t even bother to turn off or look away from the microphone — they are that uncivilized.   I sincerely believe that if any of the council members should be elected, it should be the three who knew better not to trample over our constitutional rights.

Meanwhile, back to Lackey’s cartoon. On his website, below the cartoon, Lackey so amusingly writes, “What the county council needs is more laws to set the stupid public straight. They know what is good for us and what is not. The law that I want to see passed is the no passing gas law. Anyone who passes gas in my auto is subject to a fine or imprisonment except the registered owner (me).”

The cigarette ban in vehicles with child passengers is so absurd, it would be laughable if it didn’t stomp on our civil liberties.  Surely, our mayor will have enough sense to veto this sorry excuse for public policy. A newspaper report indicating that Mayor Billy Kenoi is inclined to sign the legislation is very disheartening.  Until I am told firsthand, all I can say at this point is that I really hope that report isn’t true.  Neither executive assistant to the mayor Hunter Bishop nor Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida have responded to my inquiry on the mayor and Corporation Counsel’s official stance.  Surely, they are not going to stand behind this unenforceable ban. I can’t imagine our lead Corporation Counsel attorney being okay with this.  Lincoln?  You’re named after Abe Lincoln! Surely, you are not in the backseat of council members’ reckless car with your eyes closed, waiting out the end of this horrible Council term.  We need you to take the wheel! What do you have to say about this legislation?

Letters — Regarding Council Resolution 321-10, And The Pursuit Of Equal Distribution Of Fuel Tax Revenue

Resolution 321-10 seeks a more equal distribution of fuel tax revenue. Cartoon image of fuel prices courtesy of The Rational Post

Dear editor:

Councilman Dominic Yagong has submitted Resolution 321-10 to council calling for a Grant-in-Aid program to assist private road systems in maintaining their publicly accessed roads. This Resolution is on the  agenda for the council meeting on Monday, April 19 at 10 a.m.  Location to testify is the Hilo Council Chambers.

This is about your tax money and how it is spent. This is not a property tax/general fund issue. It is a Fuel Tax issue.  Everyone who drives a vehicle contributes to the Fuel Tax Fund and should have reasonable expectations to see equitable distribution of the funds.

This resolution will basically force a discussion of the issue from a legal standpoint. From my reading for the state statutes on Fuel Tax there is nothing in the language that precludes equitable distribution of the funds to the many private subdivisions created by the county. Most of these are in Puna but not all. HOVE is in the same situation. Read more

*** Commentary *** Neanderthals On The Hawaii County Council Vote Against Plastic Bag Ban

Image courtesy of

I want to express heartfelt thanks to Hawaii County Council members Pete Hoffmann, Brenda Ford, and Emily Naeole-Beason for having enough sense earlier this week to vote in favor of Hoffmann’s legislation calling for a ban on plastic bags.  Double thumbs down to the remaining six council members who voted against the measure.  They are Chair J Yoshimoto, Donald Ikeda, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, Dominic Yagong, Guy Enriques, and Kelly Greenwell.

Image courtesy of Staywithgreen's Blog

Those council members obviously don’t give a rip that even the Department of Environmental Management supports the ban and spends — shoots, I can’t recall the exact figure at this time — hundreds of thousands a dollars per year to clean up plastic bags that have blown off the landfill.  These council members that voted against the bill obviously don’t have the slightest regard that plastic bags make their way into the ocean and negatively impact our marine life.  And these council members obviously could care less about Hawaii being considered a progressive county that truly supports measures like sustainability and renewable energy.
Read more

Island News — Council Testimony From Committee Meeting Re: Marijuana Decriminalization

Here it is, the Public Works and Intergovernmental Relations committee hearing on the marijuana decriminalization resolution broken down in 10 minute sections to fit on YouTube. There’s *a lot* of footage, so sections will continue to be added to this post until the duration of the meeting is posted.

Some highlights:

  • Vol II Part 5–Tatum testimony
  • Vol II Part 7–Greenwell threatens resignation.
  • Vol II Part 8–Naeole-Beason tells us to “wise up”.
  • Vol III Part 1–Ford asks Ashida to weigh in on Tatum.
  • Vol III Part 2–Ford expresses her outrage.
  • Vol III Part 4–Greenwell retracts his resignation.
  • Vol III Part 6–Yagong promises to look into the Tatum matter. Committee votes down the resolution.

Volume I Part 1

Volume I Part 2

Volume I Part 3

Volume I Part 4

Volume I Part 5

Volume I Part 6

Volume I Part 7

Volume I Part 8

Volume I Part 9

Volume I Part 10

Volume II Part 1

Volume II Part 2

Volume II Part 3

Volume II Part 4

Volume II Part 5

Volume II Part 6>

Volume II Part 7>

Volume II Part 8>

Volume III Part 1>

Volume III Part 2>

Volume III Part 3>

Volume III Part 4>

Volume III Part 5>

Volume III Part 6>

***Commentary*** County Council: Don’t Reduce Kona Meeting Dates, Spend Less Money When You Meet There

dikeda I submitted testimony to the Hawaii County Council tonight, regarding Councilman Donald Ikeda’s pitch for the number of Council meetings in Kona to be reduced to four times per year. The rationale is that two-day meetings in Kona cost nearly $8,000.

Keep in mind, folks, the council member’s choose to meet at one of the most swankiest hotels in town.  Instead of choosing to hold their meetings somewhere else, like the Old Kona Airport Makeo Pavilion or somewhere else it would be less costly, they want to reduce the number of meetings.  I can’t even feign objectivity for the lack of sensibility and sensitivity, quite frankly.

We all know that Kona residents are getting increasingly fed up by what they see as a Hilo-centric Council majority.  Now, Donald Ikeda is going to rub salt in the wound with this legislation.  Tough times or not, like the Furlough Fridays issue, this proposal is going to create a massive amount of controversy if it prevails.

Up until now, Donald Ikeda has been acting like a silent giant on the County Council. Most people don’t realize that when freshman lawmakers Guy Enriques and Dennis “Fresh” Onishi gave themselves knew committee chairmanships in their highly controversial reorganization, they also gave Donald Ikeda a new position:  vice chair of the Finance Committee.  See, with his accounting background, Ikeda can advise frosh Fresh. Donald is not only the other hand in charge of the purse strings, he also remains the head of the Council’s Planning Committee under the reorganization.

With this less-Kona-meetings proposal, Donald Ikeda is guaranteed to get the limelight he hasn’t really had in the years he has served on the County Council, or as Clerk, Deputy Clerk, and legislative assistant.  He will be the one to be blamed in the West Hawaii Today editorial, and he will be thought of in West Hawaii as more villainous than Jimmy Arakaki. It won’t be pretty if Ikeda gets his way.  Following is my submitted testimony on his proposal for less meetings: Read more