Letters — On Kona Council Meetings And Land Deal Transparency

(Editor’s Note: Below is an alert sent via email by Debbie Hecht.)

linocut by typesticker

linoleum cut by typesticker

Council meetings 4x per year in Kona- Resolution 267-09  aims to reduce council meetings in Kona to once every 4 months, because the cost is $7,165.00 each time the council meets in Kona. Introduced by Donald Ikeda.  I am assuming that this is the cost of staff and council members’ travel and lodging and room rental at the Sheraton.  (It would be interesting to hear the exact average expenses).  Remember the West Hawaii Civic Center should be completed at the end of 2010, so we will have a place for council meetings, which will reduce the expense of the room rental.  At best, this is a stop/gap measure.

If you want to testify in person, the Council meeting is in Hilo still at the Ben Franklin Building or you can testify at the Kona council office and the Waimea office at 9 a.m. Read more

Island News — Hawaii County Council Meets In Hilo This Week

The Hawaii County Council will host its committees and regular meeting this week in Hilo in the Council Chambers on the second floor of the Ben Franklin Building at 333 Kilauea Ave.  On the agenda of the 9 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 regular meeting are the highly publicized and increasingly controversial Bill 132, Bill 160 calling for $31 million in general obligation bonds to pay for Department of Water Supply projects, and the planned executive session to discuss the recently settled West Hawaii Today civil lawsuit and the still-pending civil suit brought forth by Councilwoman Brenda Ford.

Following are other noteworthy items listed on the 10-page agenda:

— A resolution calling on the Hawaii County Council to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with the Hawaii Congressional delegation, state Legislature, and the governor to “secure an increase in ARRA relief” submitted by Kelly Greenwell

— A resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a five-year “inter-governmental agreement” with the City and County of Honolulu for real property tax support services submitted by Dennis “Fresh” Onishi

— A resolution for the County Council to seek federal funding for the removal of the old Kona dump “to prevent an environmental disaster” submitted by Kelly Greenwell

— Bill 132 calling for County Council oversight on land transactions over ten acres and/or appraised at $500,ooo or more submitted by Dominic Yagong Read more

***Commentary*** The Wedding Puna Residents Will Be Talking About For A While

prayerThe setting beneath the kamani trees fronting “Shacks” surf spot at Isaac Kepo’okalani Hale Beach Park, Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole married Raymond Beason on Saturday morning, Oct. 24, 2009.

The bride donned a purple velvet gown and the groom wore a matching purple velvet vest along with his cowboy garb.  The minister who married them was Auntie Em’s son-in-law Rudy Valentino.  He amused the crowd gathered for the wedding ceremony, making sure Emily knew she was vowing to “submit” to Raymond in marriage and that Raymond knew he was taking Emily to be his wife “name in the newspaper” and all.

Read more

***Commentary*** Update On The Legislative Green Team


Image Courtesy of Green Irene's Green Office Makeover

Image Courtesy of Green Irene's Green Office Makeover

Thanks to Amy Miwa, legislative assistant to Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda, for calling me earlier this week to provide details about the Council’s newly formed Green Team.  Recall the brouhaha after Miwa and Kareen Forissier, aide to Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann, got the boot from the mayor’s Green Team.  The administration encouraged the Council to form its own Green Team that would “complement” the mayor’s team. The County Clerk’s Office issued a press release — a rarity, I cannot recall the last time there was a release — that a legislative team would in fact be formed. Council Chairman J Yoshimoto stated in the release it was “quite refreshing to see the postive outpouring of ideas and enegery in support of a Legislative Green Team.” Since that press release in August, I’ve been trying to find out who comprises the Legislative Green Team and what is their goal exactly.   Read more

***Commentary*** Regarding Emily Naeole’s Ethics Complaint And West Hawaii Today’s Lawsuit Against Council Members For Their Sunshine Law Violation

Joyce Folena called me last night to inform me that she and Gregory Smith have amended their ethics complaint against Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole to include a June 2008 incident in which Naeole threw a pen during a briefing about the proposed West Hawaii Civic Center and said she was “pissed off” about the cost of the building and the fact that her Puna district is always shortchanged. Apparently, Folena and Smith are trying to establish a pattern of unprofessionalism exuded by Naeole on the Council floor.

 Recall that Folena and Smith are challenging Naeole for her alleging praying over Folena while she testified during a June 16, 2009 Hawaii County Council meeting and for giving the thumbs-down gesture during public testimony on July 8. Folena said the hearing will take place at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009 at the Department of Liquor Control’s conference room in the Hilo Lagoon Centre.  Coincidentally, the ethics hearing falls on Naeole’s birthday. 

On a separate note, I received word yesterday that West Hawaii Today has amended its civil lawsuit against Hawaii County Council members to show a “conscious circumventing and violation of the Hawaii Sunshine Law.” I haven’t been able to fully digest the 45-page amended complaint, or I would tell you more about it.  (Sorry it is 2.4 mb and I can’t attach) Read more

Island News — Administration Encourages Council To Form Its Own Green Team

(Media release) — An attempt to establish a new Green Team in Hawai‘i County to complement and expand on the work of the Mayor’s Green Team, was apparently misunderstood by a County Council legislative aide.

An e-mail circulated Monday by Kareen Forissier, aide to Councilman Pete Hoffmann, expressed her sadness about being asked to leave the Mayor’s Green Team (MGT). But Forissier was asked by Mayor’s Green Team representative Alex Frost, an economic specialist in the Department of Research and Development, to form a Green Team among Council aides to better represent the people and communities they serve.

The decision to establish a separate Council Green Team “was absolutely no reflection on Ms. Forissier’s outstanding work in the area of sustainability,” said MGT spokeswoman Linda Peters. “We hope that we can continue to work together and value her as a resource to the MGT.” Read more

Guest Column — The Hawaii County Council ReReRedo

By Rob Tucker

I spent the whole day at the County Council on August 5th watching the actions and efforts of our council members as they try to unravel the mess created by Guy Enriques,  Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and J Yoshimoto.  The “redo” of a slate of legislation went rather quickly.  A few details to examine here and there but the slate was completed with rare smooth efficiency.  

Then came the testimony on Bills 204 and 218.  Bill 204 was the Yagong bill to send the 22% pay raise back to the salary commission for reconsideration.  Bill 218 was a revamp of Guy Enriques’ reorganization of council.  A redo of the redo of the reorganization (I am going to have to shorten this phrase to “rereredo”). 

There was some impressive testimony.  Starting with retired attorneys and going through very elegant and clear appeals to logic and discretion.  A lot is at stake.  The shear credibility of the Council and the standing before a Circuit Court with potential serious penalties to start with.  The waste of time and money too. Read more

*** Commentary *** Council Members Withhold Business Until Court Ruling; Council Chair Will Prepare Resolution Rescinding Reorganization To Be Taken Up Aug. 4


Credit: Tom Lackey

Credit: Tom Lackey

Council Members, having discussed West Hawaii Today’s lawsuit with Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida in an open meeting, voted to go with his recommendation and not take any action on items listed on their Council agenda Wednesday.

 Lincoln Ashida suggested they wait to hear a Circuit Court judge’s ruling on the newspaper’s temporary restraining order; a hearing was slated for this afternoon.  In the course of their discussion, council members agreed to heed Lincoln Ashida’s advice and submit a resolution rescinding the June 16 reorganization in which the newspaper and members of the public believe they willfully violated the Sunshine Law to introduce.  

Council Chair J Yoshimoto, at the recommendation of Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford, said he would write the resolution rescinding the reorganization.  The reversal resolution will be taken up at an Aug. 4 special meeting preceding committee meetings that same day.   Read more

***Commentary*** Aloha, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko


Mayor Billy and Takako Kenoi greet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Today

Mayor Billy and Takako Kenoi greet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Today (Photo Courtesy of the Mayor's Office)

Konnichiha. Ohayou gozaimasu.  Anata ga daisuki desu. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made a brief visit to Kona today.  The mayor and his wife Takako and an entourage were at the airport to greet them and take them to Parker Ranch for a formal reception.  Mahalo to the Mayor’s Office for the photo; I’ve looked at it many times this evening.  I love that Mayor Billy and his wife Takako are wearing matching Sig Zane outfits.  The Kenois and the empress look so vibrant.  The empress — wow, does she love her hats — is shining bright amid the black and grey suits of the gentlemen that accompany her.  Michiko is her name; she’s an admirably regal and refined woman.   Council Chair J Yoshimoto and Donald Ikeda could be seen amid the crowd in KHON2 coverage of the Parker Ranch reception.  I wonder if all nine council members were there to greet the royal couple.  What was it like behind the scenes, the red carpet unrolled for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko?

***Commentary*** The Ivantatum Mystery; Whistleblower, Watchdog, Or Axe Grinder?

In the last couple of weeks, someone using Ivantatum for a pseudonym has left 37 pages worth of comments that has left us intrigued and disturbed all the same.

Along with the frequent comments here, Ivantatum is now calling me from a blocked number regularly and, when I’ve answered, has talked ad nauseam about the allegations he’s made here.  Mostly it is about certain Department of Public Works employees and procurement issues in which he alleges cronyism and nepotism. But Ivantatum has gone so far to suggest that this corruption is pervasive throughout county and state government. His comments are compelling while, at the same time, inflammatory and, in some instances, slanderous.  

 Ivantatum remains cloaked in anonymity, shoveling dirt about various elected and appointed officials, naming names and accusing people of crimes.  Us readers are intrigued by Ivantatum’s dirt-flinging and are curious to uncover his true identity. Read more

***Commentary*** From Ms. Aloha To Madame Ego, The Transformation Of Emily Naeole


Emily Naeole

Emily Naeole

This whole Hawaii County Council reorganization for me is akin to watching my friend date a bad boyfriend. All the red flags are there.  As she gets deeper into the relationship, she is changing for the worse. I know she’s ultimately going to get hurt and have her heart broken, but there is nothing I can do to stop it. Saying anything only makes her resent me. 

I have always loved Emily Naeole, ever since I first met her years ago when she was selling haku leis in front of the Merrie Monarch Craft Fair.  What I have loved about her the most is her warmth, her deep desire to help others, and what a true character she is, sort of like a Hawaiian Minnie Pearl, but too unique to try to compare her with anybody. She has come across as a maverick, an eccentric individualist who is guided by no one but God.

Working for Emily Naeole as her legislative aide, though, I got to see her back stage in politics.  While there is that side to her that professes to not allow herself to be influenced by others, there is a another side that can be easily swayed.  As you recall, I went to work with Emily after she had a falling out with then-legislative aide Barbara Hale and after Barbara Hale had taken her to the county Ethics board. Read more

Island News — Five Council Members On Kaua’i For Hawai’i State Association Of Counties Conference

Five of the nine council members are at Hilton Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue for the next two days the Hawaii State Association of Counties conference.

Five of the nine Hawaii County Council members are on Kaua’i for the next two days for the Hawai’i State Association of Counties conference being held there.

Council Chair J Yoshimoto, along with council members Donald Ikeda, Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, Kelly Greenwell and Emily Naeole, and Deputy County Clerk Rodney Oshiro are all at the conference being held at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue, according to County Clerk Kenny Goodenow.  He noted he will not know how much the taxpayer-funded trip cost until all the council members and the deputy clerk return and provide him with their receipts.  They received the group reservation rate of $129 per night at the hotel, he said, but they all will have varying expenses for airfare and per diem.  

The Hawaii State Association of Counties is a taxpayer-funded lobbying organization comprised of the County Councils and mayors of all four counties said to coordinate on county programs, administrative procedures, and legislation.

***Commentary*** Proposed Council Reorganization Equated To Basketball Game, Rather Than A Coup d’état


Guy Enriques

Guy Enriques

Regarding the proposed County Council reorganization on Tuesday, I just had a very insightful phone conversation with Guy Enriques.  The councilman representing, Ka’u, Puna, and South Kona was coaching at a “kid’s camp” as he spoke to me.  Maybe that had something to do with the fact that he equated the pending reorganization to a basketball game rather than the coup d’état it appears to be.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing phone tag with Pete Hoffmann, representing Waimea, Kohala, and Waikoloa, who Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi is proposing to remove as vice chair and replace with Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole. I’ve placed several calls to what I believe is the home of Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and have left so many messages, I said this morning it was the last time I would be calling because I’m beginning to feel like a stalker.  Sure hope he’s out of town because, if he is simply not returning my calls, that’s concerning that he

Dennis "Fresh" Onishi

Dennis "Fresh" Onishi

may become the chair the County Council’s two money-related committees: Finance and the Human Services and Economic Development Committees.

Guy Enriques says he is calling for the consolidation of the Finance and the Human Services and Economic Development Committees because both are money-related and belong under one committee.  He believes Dennis “Fresh” Onishi should be the one to lead that committee, well, because he should be given the chance to lead.  Guy Enriques equated it to passing Dennis “Fresh” Onishi the ball. Read more