The Proof is in the Pizza

The other day I blogged about Pahoa Village Cafe having a happy hour between 3 – 6 pm where they gave away free pizza and allowed people to play free pool.

PVC SIGN

So I decided to check it out today and sure enough there was free pizza…

pizza

And just as advertised… Free Pool.

freepool

I’d say there was about 15-20 people in the place for the short period of time I was there.

outsidebar

The pizza was good, the pool tables are great and as Bar Manager, Jose can tell you… they have great Beer as well.

jose

I was actually there to order food and take out and had forgotten all about the happy hour until I showed up there!

County Responds to Lawsuit Over 2008 Procurement Dispute

Media Release

The County of Hawai‘i today received a complaint filed in the Third Circuit Court by HMP Inc. claiming breach of contract and a violation of the State procurement code.  The lawsuit asks the court to order the County not to terminate its contract with HMP to provide paving material, and to prevent the County from “disqualifying (HMP) from future bids.”  The lawsuit also seeks “loss profits,” but fails to state the amount lost or a factual or legal basis for making this claim.

“HMP’s lawsuit is very weak in both law and facts,” said Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida.

This dispute arose in 2008 after the County awarded a contract to HMP to provide paving material for work being done on Saddle Road. The County’s contract with HMP was a “price term agreement,” meaning under the terms of the agreement, for the period of the contract, HMP was obliged to supply usable material to the County.  In turn the County was obligated to purchase the material from HMP.

After a County employee determined the material delivered by HMP was not usable, the County sought usable material from another company so the job could move forward. HMP’s attorney complained about this substitution, and the County investigated the claim. Negotiations with representatives of HMP followed.

HMP’s lawsuit claims “(HMP) submitted a request to resolve the breach of the terms and conditions of the…contract.” This suggests the County did not attempt to negotiate a reasonable resolution of this dispute, but the lawsuit fails to mention the offers of a fair settlement the County made, Ashida said.

HMP’s lawsuit also lists as “facts” allegations such as “a rumor” “heard…” by HMP employees as the basis for its current claims.  The County will ask the Court to dismiss this lawsuit as failing to state a basis upon which any relief may be granted, Ashida said.

The case also has been turned over to the Corporation Counsel’s Fraud Division, Ashida said. The County’s attorneys will determine whether it may be appropriate for the County to file a cross-claim alleging false claims made by HMP and their attorney.

Understanding Lava Rock… Hawaii Lava Rock Veneer

I urge folks to check out this pretty informal video about lava rocks.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzMxuQ3sFKc&hl=en&fs=1&]

Yes, it’s a corporate video… but the information provided in it is pretty good.

Monster Inside Me… Rat Lungworm and Silka Strauch Video

A very interesting clip on Rat Lungworm produced by Animal Planet:

Monster Inside Me… Rat Lungworm (2 minutes)

The following is an interesting video that shows Puna Resident Silka Strauch in the Hospital recovering from her battle with Rat Lungworm Disease as well as a lot of other stuff I don’t understand.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyVR864jMDc&hl=en&fs=1&]

I wish I could understand the language being spoken.

If anyone can translate this, I would be interested in the English Version.

Here is a website that the Strauch family has set up to help in the medical costs incurred:

Hilfe für Silka Strauch

County Prepared for Visit by Emperor and Empress of Japan

Media Release

The County of Hawai’i is prepared for an extraordinary event on Thursday, July 16, 2009, when Mayor Billy Kenoi and his wife Takako will greet Their Majesties the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan at the Kona International Airport.

kenoi and wife

As the Emperor and Empress exit the plane, Kekuhi Keali’ikanaka’olehaililani, granddaughter of Edith Kanaka’ole of Halau O Kekuhi of Hilo, who founded the halau in 1953 and performed for Emperor Hirohito in 1975, will present a beautiful Hawaiian chant “Welcoming the Rising Sun,” composed especially in honor of Their Majesties visit to our Island of Hawai‘i.

Sixty children from five Big Island charter schools and community ohanas, gathered from throughout the island communities of Kona, Ka`u, Puna, Hilo, Hāmākua and Kohala, will perform a hula.

Among the Japanese-Americans living in Kona who will be at the airport in the morning will be Mary Beth Oshima-Nakade, a 1978 valedictorian at Konawaena High School and recipient of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship, which allowed her to study at Komazawa University in Tokyo, Japan, in 1983-1984. She met then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo in 1984, and remembers it vividly as a “very, very special event in my life.”

“They were very gracious, humble, and kind,” said Oshima-Nakade, who wants to greet the Japanese royal couple again to “express my aloha and gratitude.”

The Kona Japanese Civic Association, Hiroshima, Kumamoto, Yamaguchi, and Fukuoka Kenjin Kai clubs, Mutsumi Kai, Daughters of Hawaii, Kona Lion’s Club, Kona Historical Society, Urasenke Club, and Kona Saga Goryu Ikebana are some of the local organizations excited about Their Majesties visit to Kona.  Seven-year-old Jana Kiyo Lily Masunaga said, “I’ve never met an Emperor or Empress in my whole entire life!  I’m so excited to see the Emperor and Empress of Japan because I am Japanese-American (Yonsei, fourth generation).”

Bobby Command, Executive Assistant for Mayor Kenoi, said, “Being the son of a Japanese immigrant with deep ties to Japan, this is an honor for my family and me. I was also present for Emperor Showa’s visit (Emperor Hirohito who reigned from 1926-1989) in 1975, and it is an incredible experience for me to now have Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit our island.”

After their arrival, the Emperor and Empress will visit Mauna Kea Beach Hotel where they will be greeted by residents of Waimea and Hilo. They also will travel to Parker Ranch for a private reception hosted by the Ambassador of Japan and the Consul General of Japan.

When the plane departs from Kona International Airport Thursday afternoon, hula halau Na Lei O Kaholoku from Kohala will perform. In addition to Mayor Billy and Mrs. Kenoi, Hawai‘i County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, 102-year-old Shizuko Teshima, owner of Teshima’s Restaurant, and 102-year-old Taketo Sasaki, will wish the Emperor and Empress a safe flight back to Japan.

The Mayor and Mrs. Kenoi, Chief Kubojiri, Hawaii County Research & Development Director Randy Kurohara, County Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau, County Executive Assistants Hunter Bishop, Kevin Dayton, Bobby Command and Deputy Director Margaret Masunaga are coordinators in the Emperor and Empress of Japan’s visit to the Big Island.

Due to security requirements, public access to the Emperor and Empress’ visit to the Big Island will be tightly restricted.

emperor

County of Hawaii Integrated Resources and Solid Waste Management Plan (IRSWMP) Update

SWAC Meeting Notes – July 2, 2009

Meeting started at 11:10 a.m.
Recess 12:40 p.m. to 12:50 p.m.
Reconvene meeting 12:50 p.m.
Meeting ended 2:00 p.m.

Present: Barbara Bell, Mike Gleason, Alex Leonard, Shon Pahio, Nimr Tamimi, Ted Vorfeld, Steve Okoji, Christine Dochin, Paul Buklarewicz, Russell Ruderman

Absent: Jes Foster, Mike Kaha

Staff Present: Lono Tyson, Mike Dworsky, Linda Peters, Suzanne Andrade
Consultants: Dan Pitzler, Marc Dexter

DOH Rep: Lane Otsu – Absent

Approval of June 2, 2009 Minutes: Motion by Paul Buklarewicz, seconded by Shon Pahio

Motion: Alex Leonard, seconded by Christine Dochin. Motion carried unanimously.

Revisit all priorities and vote by show of hands which ones should be deemed (H) high priority under category “New Projected Operating Expenses.”

Motion: Ted Vorfeld, seconded by Christine Dochin.  Motion carried unanimously.

After changes and suggestions to draft have been incorporated, the SWAC approves said draft to be sent to the Department of Health to begin their review process….

General Discussion:

Barbara: Convened meeting.

Kelly Greenwell outlined his Park System Plan
• Would like soil generated from solid waste to use for park. Including from old Kona Land Fill.
• Lono will work with Kelly on developing plan. Conceptual at this stage. It’s an opportunity at this point.

Shon: If trucking from East Hawai`i to West Hawai`i is an option, we should go with that.

Mike: We need to have multiple options, and the plan allows for expanding the South Hilo landfill, but trucking to West Hawai`i is still on the table depending on costs and successful expansion of the South Hilo landfill.

Steve: Should we include Kelly’s option in this plan? It was agreed to make mention of this as a long term option that would be compatible with the plan.

Shon: South Hilo Sanitary Landfill (SHSL) expansion has more variables than trucking.

Alex: Perhaps add weight to studying trucking option in plan.

Shon: Need to explain why we are recommending certain options. More verbiage is needed.

Lono: During process economy has changed. Public will need to get swayed to accept.
• Would like to see more reasoning behind decisions and what alternate costs are.

Barbara: More rationale on which recommendations are put forth.

Shon: Wants more implementation detail.

Barbara: Each table in implementation plan needs reference to appropriate chapter. It was agreed to add cross references in the implementation plan tables.

Steve: Missing the “why” of it. More detail that would help convince public of necessity to act.

Christine: Education is its own separate component, over thinking can kill the process.

Shon: Did the recommendations come from a vote? Organics not covered in here. Dan explained that the recommendations came from the votes submitted by SWAC members and the public, and conversations with staff from the Department of Environmental Management.

Alex: No chance to revisit recommendations after each meeting, and take a vote.

Shon: Should have a chance to vote on these.

Barbara: Ask everyone to bottom line components and present solution.

Ted: Public does not understand plan. Committee has to do what is best for
community. Lono must explain to council. No matter how much you do, public may not understand plan.

Christine: Some things she would not want to see in plan, but majority rules. SWAC exercise has helped her to be open to ideas. Need to do that for public.

Paul: Master composter program is very detailed and content is massive. Suggests simple summary of program.

Alex: What do we get for our money, and why do we need to spend money are valid questions that should be addressed in the plan.

Steve: Wants to see consequences of not acting outlined more clearly.

Mike: Nice to know history, current issues, agrees with Shon that more detail would be good, but feels document is representative of what SWAC members have supported.

Barbara: Add section in ES re. consequences of inaction. Memory of the decision process will fade. So it’s good to have documented “no action” consequences embedded.

Shon: Page references to sections, then add text at reference point in text add decision rationale to text. Also, should add text about why some options were not selected.

Mike D.: Happy with comments so far.

Linda: Good to have “no action,” also good to have recommendations cross-referenced in text as well as in tables. References to where things are covered elsewhere.

Lono: His concern is that it meets Hawai`i Department Of Health requirements, AND that the plan reflects the opinions of SWAC. As for implementation, multiple factors will affect the ability to implement plan as outlined.

Mike: Wants to go after things that are in his control, and that will have big impact. Plan allows him flexibility in what options he works on.

Barbara: Suggested that we move the discussion to prioritization. Staff will need as much “ammunition” as possible to help push things through Council. Priority list helps understanding of what to fund if funds are limited.

Linda: Make sure numbers are accurate if this goes to council. Council can pick on a number, and then when it turns out higher, they may reject it.

Russell: Don’t reduce staff or operating hours. Shouldn’t high priority items be done first? Conduct things that reduce waste quickly first.

Public: Suggest just putting high priorities in the plan?

Alex: Can we have a revote?

Motion by Alex seconded by Christine to Revisit all priorities and vote by show of hands which ones should be deemed (H) high priority under category “New Projected Operating Expenses.”

Dan then led the group through each of the recommendations in operating plan and CIP and asked for a show of hands by SWAC members who felt a recommendation was a high priority. If the majority felt the priority was high, that recommendation was denoted as a high priority item.

Opportunity to Recycle: Reword to Clarify what this Means

Shon: Can you combine staff positions to have just one person do multiple tasks? Reword to show just one new position. County should “walk the walk.”

Event Recycling: Require event organizers to develop recycling plan (as permit requirement).

Barbara: How about permanent Household Hazardous Waste centers? Mike and others commented on the very high cost of such centers and the rebuilt recycling and transfer stations will have drop-off areas for some items (like florescent light bulbs and possibly paint), but not the toxics requiring special handling.
In the implementation plan, we should look to move fund the High Priority
recommendations earlier rather than later in the 5-year planning cycle.

At the end of the meeting, Ted Vorfeld made a motion, seconded by Christine Dochin as follows: After changes and suggestions to draft have been incorporated, the SWAC approves said draft to be sent to the Department of Health to begin their review process.

The motion carried unanimously.

Lincoln Ashida on “Council Pay Raises”

Here’s another one from the desk of Lincoln Ashida:

Lincoln serious

Council pay raises. On Tuesday, July 7, 2009, the Hawai‘i County Council Committee on Finance voted down a resolution that sought to recommend the County’s Salary Commission reconsider their earlier action in 2008 that provided for a 22% pay increase for all nine Council members.  The introducer of the measure, Council Member Dominic Yagong, was commended for his forward thinking.  Our office also commended him for following the lead of Mayor Billy Kenoi, who earlier this year voluntarily took a one-day-per-month “furlough” and mandated his appointed office staff do the same.  Mayor Kenoi recognized the cost savings to the County would obviously not solve the County’s budgetary shortfalls, but would serve as a representation of leadership from the County’s top executive.

Although what was primarily reported in the media were the sentiments of some Council members who felt their pay was fair and necessary for their sustenance, much of the discussion focused on the desire of the majority of Council members not to “meddle” in the affairs of the Salary Commission and thereby “politicize” the salary process.

Here is a more detailed summary of the discussion as well as a recommendation made by our office:

  1. The De-politicization of the Salary Commission. Via Charter amendment in 2000, the voters in our County amended our Charter to delete any requirement that the salaries set by the County’s Salary Commission be approved or otherwise ratified by the Mayor or Council.  This significant amendment was viewed as a positive step toward removing the “politics” from the setting of salaries for the County’s top officers.  Some Council members felt any official communication from the Council to the Salary Commission would again “politicize” the process.  This is because Salary Commission members (all volunteers from our community) may feel pressured to follow direction from the Council on a publicly popular position, while their legal charge is to only consider the setting of salaries consistent with compensation in the public and private sectors.
  2. Sometimes “You can always get what you want….” I could not resist the Rolling Stones reference.  Despite Mr. Yagong’s resolution not passing, there is a very simple way for him and other Council members to achieve the very same result without the involvement or concurrence of the Salary Commission.  After all, there would be no guarantee the Salary Commission would agree with such a Council recommendation, since their charge under the law does not include the consideration of payment sources or the ability of the County to fund any pay increases.
    1. a. Following our Mayor. Mayor Kenoi’s furlough of himself and his appointed staff for one day a month for an entire year amounted to a “pay cut.”  Last week, in a much publicized case on Oahu, First Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto granted an injunction sought by employer unions against Governor Linda Lingle.  Judge Sakamoto’s order prevents the Governor from unilaterally “furloughing” civil service employees without first bargaining with the unions.  The Judge’s order notes that a furlough is the functional equivalent of a “pay cut.”  Although the term “furlough” has been widely used, it is not an accurate description. In the case of our Mayor, there will be no loss in service to the public.  In other words, the Mayor and his staff will continue to come to work each and every day, but be simply paid one day less per month. Council members, as elected (exempt) public officers, can do the very same thing.

b. Different Council members, different means. Council member salaries presently differ based on their years of service on the Council.  Council members differ with respect to other income they may or may not have, and other personal financial circumstances.  The taking of “furloughs” by Council members (like our Mayor) will allow them to determine how much they can afford to have their pay cut without placing themselves in personal financial jeopardy.  We verified with the fiscal staff of the County Clerk’s Office as well as with the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Human Resources that these “furloughs” could be implemented immediately (even retroactively).  In sum, Council members may individually achieve what Mr. Yagong’s resolution sought, and bypass the Salary Commission while accommodating the unique financial circumstances of each Council member.

c. The public is not “furloughed.” As discussed above, all of this may easily be achieved without any loss in services being delivered to the public.  Council members will continue to serve as they presently do.  Their willingness to make a personal financial sacrifice will be much appreciated and recognized as Council members doing their part in following the excellent example set by our Mayor.