• 15 Nov 2010 /  commentary, politics

    Barbara Hale was the manager of Emily Naeole-Beason’s first bid for Hawaii County Council in 2006.  She went on to be legislative aide for the councilwoman until the two women had a falling out in 2007.  Hale took Naeole (who, with a pending divorce, now wants to be publicly referred to as Naeole only) to the Ethics Board in 2007, alleging Naeole made her pray with her everyday and, with Council Aide Gwen Kupahu, was made to do campaign work on County time and equipment.  I went to work for Naeole-Beason as a legislative aide in 2007 after Hale and after the Board of Ethics cleared Naeole of the charges brought forth by Hale.  It appears that, two and a half years later, Hale has not let up on her assertion that she was wronged by Naeole while working as her legislative aide.  Hale has filed some kind of charge against the Hawaii County Council with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and now she is seeking me out as a witness.  This morning a process server showed up at my family business with a subpoena ordering me to testify in Hilo tomorrow.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • It’s about right — I guess I was about six months pregnant when I started waking up in the middle of the night. I actually cut out pieces of fabric and pasted a collage together on my refrigerator using Mod Podge on one of those sleepless nights. Now, with a blog, I have a desire to finger-peck my thoughts aloud.

    The first pregnancy I was truly amazed at what was going on with me biologically. Now I know what to expect, but I’m still in wonderment at how the body works — I’m being prepared for all those nights when baby boy is going to need me to wake up with him for a feeding or a diaper change.

    In any case, here I sit on my couch, waiting for my tea to steep, thinking what sort of middle-of-the-night project I’ll take on this pregnancy.

    About what my Blundstones looked like when I took them in to be resoled by Jeremy "Jerry" Song at Modern Shoe Repair. (Image courtesy of In Your Shoes.)

    For now, I’ll catch you up on some details I haven’t had a chance to share — first off, most pressing on my mind is the demise of Modern Shoe Repair. Judge Sandy Schutte Song is an acquaintance of mine and I am sorry to read that her husband, Jeremy, aka “Jerry,” is closing the doors on a family tradition in Hilo. I actually had my favorite Blundstone boots resoled there at one time and I appreciate and value a craftsman like him.
    The Hawaii Tribune-Herald had a really nice article about him and his intention to retire at the end of the year.
    My husband is a craftsman himself — being a surfboard shaper — and I can see very clearly how craftsmen are among an endangered species. Our store would not survive without the sales of all the accessories — tees, board shorts, bathing suits, bikinis, dresses, hoodies, hats, purses, etc. Still, sometimes with little traffic in Pahoa, I pray for customers to keep our doors open.
    People say, “We need to keep country, country,” and then they are complacent about big-box stores moving in to their community, not realizing the detriment such big business has on their towns and communities. Without small shops and restaurants like you have in old Pahoa Village, you wouldn’t even have a town. People need to be cognizant of that.
    It is definitely not easy being a small-business owner.
    On Wednesday, I had planned to attend the County Board of Ethics hearing of soon-to-be former Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole and her Council Aide Gwen Kupahu. But business has been too slow this week for me to pay for a helper to cover for me and my husband is busy working on a custom board order and ding repair.
    I did find out that it would have been a waste of gas money into town — basically, according to my sources, the County Board of Ethics dismissed the case against Naeole and Kupahu. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 17 Sep 2010 /  news, politics

    By Karin Stanton

    Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

    A former volunteer has lodged a complaint with the county Board of Ethics, claiming she witnessed Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason and her staff violating campaign rules.

    Toni Robert, who said she has never been employed by Naeole-Beason and served only as a campaign volunteer, said she became aware only last week of the county Code of Ethics restriction that forbids using county funds, time and resources for campaign activity.

    Robert, a Pahoa resident, said she has no personal vendetta against the two-term Puna councilwoman and filed the complaint with “great reticence.”

    However, she said she believes we will only the government we deserve if we guard it with respect and honor.

    She filed the petition in order to restore public trust and also wants the county to use this opportunity to educate all county employees and elected officials about the Code of Ethics. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 16 Sep 2010 /  commentary, politics

    (Following is a narrative written by Toni Robert of Puna, which serves as an addendum to a Board of Ethics petition filed this week, alleging violations on the part of Council District 5 office. A commentary was published earlier this week, anticipating this Board of Ethics petition to be filed against Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason and her Council Aide Gwen Kupahu.  That Big Island Chronicle (BIC) commentary also detailed the fact that BIC and Hawaii247.com  have jointly filed a Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) request with the Data Systems Department for all County emails, including those trashed, to and from Kupahu and Naeole-Beason between July 5 and the present. That request is pending. )

    9/14/2010 10:51:14 PM

    TO: Lincoln S. T. Ashida Corporation Counsel

    County of Hawai`i Hilo Lagoon Centre 101 Aupuni Street Suite 325

    Hilo, Hawai`i 96720

    RE: Addendum to Code of Ethics Petition

    Aloha Mr. Ashida and Board,

    I am writing to expound upon the choices of the code I selected. I will acknowledge ignorance of the ‘law’ regarding the actual intent behind each of the items below but will in fact use the actual meanings of the words to me to explain my petition. I beg your patience in advance.

    Section 2-83. Fair treatment.

    (a) Officers and employees of the County, while discharging their duties and dealing with the public, shall

    adhere to the following precepts:

    (1) All public property and equipment are to be treated as a public trust and are not to be used in a proprietary manner or for personal purposes without proper consent.

    My comments: I understand ‘personal’ purposes may be subjective but I will address why I chose this with the following explanation: I am aware that Ms. Naeole gave verbal direction on or about June 2010 to her Campaign Treasurer during a Campaign Committee meeting at Ms. Naeole’s home. The verbal instruction was: ‘Auntie Gwen, make sure you call as soon as you get into the office and order the T-Shirts [T-Shirt Company out of state. Check written, Thursday, July 1, a work day.] and Bags’[Bag Company is out of state. Check written on Monday, June 28, a work day]. The direction to her paid staff to use the office and the office equipment, and presumably the ‘time’ to place a campaign order for T-Shirts and Bags, is of a personal nature and not the ‘business’ of the office of District 5 Council. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 15 Sep 2010 /  commentary, Guest Columns, politics

    Image courtesy of flyingomelette.com

    By Rob Tucker

    The headline is intended to be sung to the tune of “Where In The World is Carmen San Diego?”

    I’m trying to take a light hearted approach to a trail of crumbs I found that seem to lead to and from the District 5 office of Emily Naeole-Beason.

    The first crumb was that I heard a rumor that R.J. and Sativa had cleared out their desks at the District 5 office. What could be behind that rumor? I paid light attention. Can’t remember who told me that.

    The next crumb, picked up when I returned from L.A. was that R.J. was out on flextime. Okay…. I can buy that I guess. I’m on flextime all the time.

    Then today there was another crumb. I stopped into the District 5 office to talk to R.J. about some pending legislation. Gwen told me R.J. was on vacation. I noticed there are new faces working in the office too.

    So my curiosity is getting the better of me. It gets curiouser and curiouser as Alice would say.

    New faces? Flextime? Vacation? On the clock? Off the clock? On the payroll? Off the payroll? My instincts tell me something is going on that doesn’t meet the eye.

    So Where In The World Are R.J. and Sativa?

    (If they are at Disneyland tell them I recommend Geppetto’s Grotto for lunch.)

    Rob Tucker lives in Pahoa.

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  • 13 Sep 2010 /  commentary, politics

    Just want to give you heads up:

    Big Island Chronicle and Hawaii247.com have jointly requested through the County Department of Data Systems all emails, including those trashed, written to and from Gwendolyn Kupahu since July 5, 2010 to the present date — everything on the Data Systems database.  As you may know, Kupahu is the Council aide to Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason.  Kupahu is also listed as the treasurer of Naeole-Beason’s campaign. I also plan to revise my request to Data Systems and request emails to and from Emily Naeole-Beason from July 5 to the present date, since I know that Kupahu frequently uses Naeole-Beason’s email.

    I have been informed by someone I deem to be a reliable source that Kupahu has been using County computers and phones to do campaign-related work.  I have also been informed that Kupahu has been writing and issuing checks out of the Pahoa Council Office for campaign related activities.  I have urged my source to file a petition with the Board of Ethics.  (Call the Office of the Corporation Counsel at (808) 961-8304.) I believe my source will be filing a petition shortly.

    Just in case anyone is in need of a refresher course on the County Code of Ethics, look to the “fair treatment” provision in Section 2-83.   Read the rest of this entry »

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  • Former Hawaii County Council Chairman James Arakaki in the audience of the Puna Community Development Plan public hearing Monday night.

    Kudos to Dave Corrigan of Big Island Video News for the coverage of the Puna Community Development Plan (CDP) public hearing on Monday night in Kea’au.  I snapped some photos of the event for the blog, but I was mostly present as a concerned resident who has read the plan and who believes there should be amendments to the CDP. I wasn’t wearing one of the many shirts that attendees were wearing stating that Bill 194 — amendments to the Puna CDP — should be passed, and I was actually intrigued to observe who was present wearing the T-shirts.  Among the attendees was former County Council Chairman James Arakaki, who haven’t seen at a public meeting since his retirement from public office in 2006.  Arakaki hails from Ola’a (what Kea’au used to be called), so it made sense that he was there.  But I was surprised to see him wearing a T-shirt.  Mike Kaleikini, of Puna Geothermal Venture was present.  And he was wearing a white T shirt.

    Bill Walter, head of Shipman Estate, was present, as was one of his assistants, Kimo Lee, who I was told was among those passing out the T-shirts.  Members of the Maku’u Farmer’s Association wore the T-shirts, along with Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole’s staff, Gwen Kupahu and RJ Hampton.  Sheryle “Sativa” Sulton, who volunteers for the Council District 5 office, was also wearing a T-shirt.  To me, it was inappropriate for the council member’s staff to be wearing the T-shirts, but it is a free country.  I wasn’t bothered by the T-shirts as were some people who oppose amendments to the plan.  I was actually entertained by the demonstration.  To me, it was a mockery of the “Pass It Now, Amend It Later” crew that successfully convinced council members last term to pass the Puna CDP without amendments.

    I stopped into the Puna CDP public hearing on my way back from a prenatal appointment at Waimea Women’s Center.  (Diary of my prenatal commute to follow.) Worn out from the drive, I was still interested in seeing how many people showed up to the public hearing in Kea’au.  I found the Kea’au Middle School cafeteria and could not believe the packed room with people wearing white T-shirts.  I snapped some photos and then sat down to listen.  With 55 people signed up to testify, at first I wasn’t inclined to say anything.  But the longer I sat there listening to the testimony, the more compelled I was to speak up.

    An acquaintance of mine who I’m not going to embarrass and name offered venomous testimony opposed to any amendments to the plan, and then, on her way out the door, stopped to whisper to Kupahu, Naeole-Beason’s council aide, that she was being “used.”  Kupahu ended up hissing and swatting at the woman and a female police officer,who was among three lined up in the back room, approached to break up the disturbance in the middle of the room. I followed my acquaintance out of the meeting to ask what was going on between her and Kupahu. She told me, then she said, “I have a bone to pick with you,” and proceeded to give me a verbal lashing for what she said was my support of Walter, of Shipman Estate.  She referred to something I said on my blog, but could not offer me a specific example.  I noted that I have thousands of entries on my blog, and I had no idea what she was talking about.  I told her to email me the entry she was referring to, and I went into the meeting.  I sat there, listening to the testimony, and fuming, quite frankly.  I could not believe that woman was so nasty to me for me having an opinion, obviously contrary to here.  People like her go way too far personalizing stuff and, as a result, create unnecessary divisiveness and hostility.  I finally realized what I had said on my blog that offended her so much and, honestly, I am now offended that she lashed out at me like she did.

    So, what?  You’re going to persecute me because I am of the belief that the Puna CDP needs to be amended?  The fact is, I’m fundamentally opposed to growing government and, the way the CDP is written, I believe County government would have to exponentially grow to accommodate all the initiatives proposed.  That is my personal opinion, and others are free to have differing opinions.  I just don’t think it is right to accost me for mine.

    As I sat there at Monday’s public hearing, I’ve got to tell you honestly, I felt embarrassed for people — for my acquaintance and for a number of people who were angry at council members proposing amendments to the Puna CDP. I felt like they made asses of themselves by being so angry, hollering about how the “plantation era” is over, etc. Being angry does nothing for persuasion.  I also felt embarrassed for a number of people who wore white T-shirts and spoke of their support for Auntie Emily and/or for jobs in Puna, but sounded like they had not read one page of the plan. Your testimony means nothing if you sound totally ignorant.

    Remembering what I had said that angered my acquaintance so much, I decided to testify and put my opinion on record. I leaned over at Steve Sparks, who I sat next to for the duration of the meeting, and I said something to the effect of, “Don’t boo me, or give me any shit when I sit back down for what I am about to say.”  I didn’t record my testimony, but Corrigan did.  Maybe he can send me a link, so I can share my testimony with you.  Off the top of my head, I remember telling council members that, as I listened to the testimony, I realized they have a challenge ahead of them.  The diverse opinions expressed were representations of our diverse community.  Some on the side opposing amendments to the Puna CDP noted, in the last couple of years that the plan was being drafted, they hadn’t seen any of the people who were at the public hearing Monday wearing T-shirts.  Well, whether or not those people had been seen at Puna CDP meetings before doesn’t discount the fact that they are members of our community and their opinions are equally valid.  I also noted that, listening to some of the testimony, I wondered if people had actually read the plan.  I have read the plan and I believe amendments are in order.  In the last Council term, there was a contingency of people crying, “Pass it now, amend it later.” Well, now is the time to amend.

    People are advocating for jobs and for village centers in Puna.  I noted what that actually means.  “People, you want a gas station in Ainaloa?” That’s what the dot on the map for a village center in Ainaloa means.  “Well, what street?” I believe, before the Puna CDP is finalized and goes on the shelf in the Planning Department, our community associations need to work very closely with council members and/or the Puna CDP Action Committee and those community associations need to decide the specifics like what street on which the village centers will be built.  I noted that my acquaintance had accosted me outside for supporting Walter.  I reiterated, “I support Bill Walter,” and stated what actually I do support:  I support an amendment to increase the square footage of allowable shopping centers in the regional and village centers, in order to make the development viable, to be able to install sidewalks, necessary parking, and throughways.  I support smart growth and development.  I don’t want to see any more hellish developments like Malama Marketplace and Woodland Center, which have one-way-in-one-way-out traffic scenarios.  I don’t want to see any more shopping centers that have dead space above the stores.  I support new urbanism, which involves building apartments above the stores in those shopping centers.  I support the installation of solar on top of those apartments on top of those shopping centers.  We need to be thinking into the 21st century, and I am hoping that Walter, in developing Shipman land in Kea’au into a shopping center, is looking very seriously at the merits of new urbanism.

    I am not of the mentality that all developers need to be shunned, or worse, publicly hung.  I, myself, am an entrepreneur and I support people who are trying to make an honest living.  I think, rather than demonize developers, the community needs to work closely with them and ensure that matters of public safety, aesthetics, and socio-economic issues are addressed.

    In any case, I also testified that we need another way into and out of Puna.  And I suggested Railroad Avenue, which is not something that Walter supports.  So, have no fear, people, I am not in this developer’s pocket — notice that he doesn’t advertise on his blog — and I’m not totally wooed by him that I have no sense of reasoning.  I think that, in light of us being in the 21st century, we should be looking at Railroad Avenue and dreaming big.  Let’s have a methane-powered train fueled by biogas from the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill. If the Puna CDP is really going to guide our future, let’s be futuristic.

    My testimony was met with more applause than boos, so I do think people, so I did make it out of the meeting alive.  Sparks didn’t give me any shit when I sat back down; he high-fived me.

    The next evening I saw my acquaintance at the mangrove community meeting, and she totally shined me. So, I’ll just give a big, fat, valley girl whatever to her.  You win some, you lose some.  That’s politics for you, I guess.

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  • 24 Sep 2009 /  commentary, politics
    IMG_0629

    Emily Naeole

    Wow, what a heavy week.  Yesterday was Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole’s birthday and the county Board of Ethics ruled 4-1 she violated the Ethics Code.  Her violation is for giving the thumbs-down gesture to a testifier during the June 16 County Council meeting in which the highly publicized reorganization occurred.  Also,  yesterday Curtis Narimatsu, a friend whose historical writings are regularly published here as Dispatches From Curt  guest columns, has been suspended from his law practice.

    Curtis Narimatsu

    Curtis Narimatsu

    According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) to suspend Narimatsu.  ODC petitioned the court that Narimatsu received 26 complaints in the last two years, with 14 complaints made this year. Narimatsu agreed to represent clients, accepted a reported $15,535, failed to deposit funds into a client trust account, and failed to communicate with the clients or complete the legal services for which he was hired, ODC reportedly told the court.  If Narimatsu wishes to comment on his suspension, he is welcome to submit a guest column here.  The same invitation is extended to Auntie Emily — if she would like to comment on the Board of Ethics ruling yesterday, or on any issue that she or the rest of the County Council is facing. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 15 Jul 2009 /  commentary, politics

     

    Emily Naeole

    Emily Naeole

    Did you see today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald letter to the editor from Hilo resident L. Baker urging constituents to recall Emily Naeole? That stinging letter made me wonder if this is the predominant sentiment about the newly throned Vice Chair of the Hawaii County Council. 

    Like a Hawaii Tribune-Herald editorial that appeared in Sunday’s newspaper, L. Baker’s letter rips Emily for her tent legislation, saying, “Tents! Are you kidding me?  We all have experience with people being given an inch and taking a mile. What Councilwoman Emily Naeole is proposing will become a permanent homeless shanty tent city, bringing all property values down even further for everyone.” 

    L. Baker objects to the recent Council reorganization that replaced her with Pete Hoffmann as Vice Chair:  “She got the job because she cried? Come on. Enough with this woman already. She is the most unprofessional person we have ever encountered serving in such a position. Now she is ‘yelling’ at other board members who disagree with her?”  Referring to Gary Hoff’s recent cartoon, L. Baker said, The cartoon showing her as a Frankenstein’s monster was dead on.”

    L. Baker doesn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • 19 Jun 2009 /  commentary

    The Pahoa Aquatic Center has been closed most of today due to a reported “mechanical problem,” according to a lifeguard arriving for his afternoon shift, a sign posted on the locked entrance gate, and a recording on the answering machine for the number listed on the sign. It is not exactly clear at this point what is the mechanical problem.  I called Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald, working from his Kona office  today, told me in a voice mail returning my call that he’ll get back to me when he is in his Hilo office on Monday.

    I called Bob Fitzgerald, not just because of the pool’s closure, but also seeking an update on Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole’s plan for pool lights to be installed to allow for night usage.  Last I knew, the pool light project was in the planning and design phase.  

    I also want to talk with Bob Fitzgerald about the fact that all the kupuna I know say that do not go to the Pahoa Aquatic Center because the temperature of the pool is too cold for them.  It is very odd to me, I’ve mentioned this before, that pool covers sit on rollers in one corner of the Aquatic Center never to be used. Former Parks and Recreation Director Pat Engelhard told me the reason the pool covers are not used is because an employee was injured by them at some point in time. Read the rest of this entry »

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