Debbie Hecht – “Open Letter to the Hawaii County Charter Commission”

Please reinstate the 2% Land Fund, More than Half %  ($1 million) is needed to preserve Hawaii Island’s great places…

Open Letter to the Charter Commission:

Aloha Charter Commissioners: Chairman Edmund Haitsuka, Vice Chairman David Fuertes, Daphne Honma, Casey Jarman, Guy Kaulukukui, Jamae Kawauchi, Joseph Kealoha, Alapaki Nahale-A, Susie Osborne, Todd Shumway and Scott Unger,

We respectfully request that the charter commission, appointed to represent the citizens of Hawaii County, vote to reinstate the 2% Land Fund charter amendment, which will deposit 2% of yearly property taxes in the Land Fund.

In 2006, in order to conserve Hawaii Island’s great places, citizens took the very difficult and time-consuming step of gathering signatures for a petition initiative drive to get this issue on the ballot.  This onerous step was necessary, because the county council had failed twice to pass a bill to set aside 2% of property taxes. Please honor over 200 of your friends and neighbors who volunteered and collected almost 10,000 signatures to get this measure on the ballot, honor 63% of voters who approved this measure at the polls in 2006, by putting the measure on the ballot and once again, let the people decide.

This charter amendment was submitted to replace the Public Access and Open Space section of the county code. It was proposed in order to remove the land fund from the yearly budget wrangling and to make sure that Hawaii Island’s great places will be preserved for future generations.   During the last year’s budget debates, we spent over 3 months in council meetings with over 150 people testifying to leave the Land Fund alone. The council still voted to suspend deposits to the fund for two years at a loss of $8 million.  At this point the charter amendment will direct the county to deposit “not less than half per cent” in the land fund and there  is also a part of the county code that directs the county to deposit 2% in the land fund, which has been suspended for two years. This means that each and every year at budget hearings, citizens will be fighting to keep anything more than half percent ($1 million) in the land fund. The Director of Finance has testified before you that they don’t like to tie up money in special funds. It takes the money out of their control.

The great benefit of the land fund is to establish a dependable funding source to attract matching grants from the State Legacy Land Fund, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for endangered species. Two percent of property taxes are approximately $4 million per year, which can be leveraged to $8 million with matching fund grants.  Half percent would mean only $1 million per year or at best  $2 million per year with matching funds.

The Council voted in early 2009, to prioritize 5 properties for preservation.  If all five properties were to be acquired, the cost would be $26.75 million. The properties listed for acquisition are: Kawa Bay in Ka’u (valued at $3.75 million), Pao’o in North Kohala ($2 million), Kaiholena (valued at approximately $13 million for both parcels) and Puapua’a (approximately $ 8 million). As you can see, even with full matching funds, we need to have at least 2% of property taxes per year or $4 million, to acquire any of these properties.   The county has used the 2% funds to acquire Waipio Lookout, Kawa Bay (partial) and the Reisch property in North Kohala.

The ordinance and the proposed charter amendment both describe lands to be preserved as: land for public recreation and education, including access to beaches and mountains; historic or culturally important land areas and sites; natural resources, including buffer zones and watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply; and forests, beaches, coastal areas, natural beauty and agricultural lands.  In addition, the county could use the Land Fund to buy conservation easements on ranch land and important Agricultural lands and  “extinguish” the development rights on these lands, so they could be kept in AG uses forever and not developed.

Kauai and Maui set aside 1% of their property taxes each year and Oahu sets aside ½ percent per year.  The other counties have more properties, and a larger tax base. A smaller percentage of property taxes still results in significant amounts for their land funds.  For example, property taxes for Oahu were $791 million for 2007 to 2008. Half percent would be $3.95 million.  Most of Oahu is developed or in Federal land for military bases.  Kauai has little remaining open land and is 40% government land, so they do not need as much funding.

To see the text go to this link and look for CA-15:http://www.hawaii-county.com/council/2010_charter_commission/meetings.htm Besides stipulating the percentage of property taxes to be set aside, other important elements in CA-15- The 2% Land Fund include:

Please note: The great strength of charter amendments is that they cannot be changed by the council or Mayor, but only by a vote of the people.

The provision that 2% of property taxes be placed in the Land Fund twice per year after property taxes are collected. The land fund account would be an interest bearing account.

Provisions for how the open space commission members are selected when a vacancy occurs.  This is important because this commission is responsible for recommending how large amounts of money are spent. Council members should choose commissioners who live in that district, so that the commission may have a balanced, countywide perspective and not just be the Mayor’s political appointees.

A list of lands that can be acquired with money from the Fund. For example, I had recently heard that a group wanted to use 2% funds to buy land across from a park for a parking lot.  This is not an intended use of the fund.

A provision stating that this money is to be maximized by searching for dollar for dollar matching funds, not just by paying cash for land.

This also guarantees that the Open Lands and Public Access Commission shall be given staff support and provides for a commission website with specific information so that the public can monitor the deposits and expenditures to the fund, read the yearly report to the Mayor and the prioritized list of land for acquisition.

This charter amendment provides for the duties and responsibilities of the commission. With this amendment as part of the charter, the council could not change the job of the commission.

It describes the prioritized land list that is to be generated each year and the report to the Mayor. These documents are the major duties of this commission in its advisory capacity to the Mayor and council.

It clearly states that these funds are to be used for acquisition only and not for maintenance or development of parklands, which is a Parks and Recreation responsibility.  Mayor Kim had asked the Commission to recommend that the council to use the 2% funds for park maintenance.  This suggestion failed, but we expect the same issue to come up again and again.

We respectfully request that you submit this charter amendment to voters to set aside 2% of our property taxes to save our treasured places on Hawaii Island for future generations.  The charter amendment was submitted as 2% and we request that you   LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE (once again) at the POLLS!

Mahalo!

Debbie Hecht, Campaign Coordinator, Save our Lands Citizen’s Committee,

hecht.deb@gmail.com

Yes… I Am “The Official Sign Holder”

Old photos are popping up on Facebook… and I guess I’ve always been a sign holder.

In kindergarten I went to Happy Valley Elementary School and I don’t have that photo.

Here is 1st and 2nd grade at Larrabee Elementary School:

1st Grade (click to enlarge)

2nd Grade (click to enlarge)

In 3rd grade, my mom and I moved out to Sudden Valley for a year so I didn’t attend Larrabee that year.  But I returned to the Fairhaven district for good in 4th and 5th grade:

4th Grade (click picture to enlarge)

5th Grade (click picture to enlarge)

That’s right folks… EVERY SINGLE YEAR  I held that damn sign and never once complained to my fellow classmates.  Is that dedication or what… LOL

Thanks to Keith (Marvin) Moena and Darcy (Ireland) Abbott for helping compile these.

Bon Jovi Looking for Local Groups to Open for Them in Honolulu

Media Release:

When Bon Jovi makes their highly anticipated return to Honolulu to perform two back-to-back concerts on Thursday, February 11th and Friday, February 12th, 2010, they will share the stage with up-an-coming Hawaiian bands. The long-awaited concerts, presented by AEG Live and A Tom Moffatt Production, mark the first time since 1987 that Bon Jovi has performed at Blaisdell Arena.

The “Opening Act Contest,” which launches today, is open to all bands in Hawaii. To enter, each band must submit a bio describing the band and their music, along with a CD containing one song no longer than three minutes, and their contact information (name, address, phone number and email) to: Tom Moffatt Productions, 1232 Waimanu Street, Penthouse, Honolulu, HI 96814.

The deadline for receiving submissions is Monday, January 25, 2010.  From the pool of entries, 20 semi-finalists will be selected to send in a video (via YouTube link) for review by a “blue ribbon panel” of local celebrity judges. The top five finalists will be chosen from the 20 semi-finalists, and will have a clip of their video featured on KHON-TV’s “Wake Up 2Day” morning show during the week of February 1, 2009.

On Monday, February 8, 2010, the top five band finalists will be featured live in-studio as part of KHON-TV’s “Wake Up 2Day” show, where the two winners will be announced. A clip of the two winning bands’ videos will be shared on the air, and both bands will be interviewed.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming local bands to share the stage with one of the biggest acts of all time!” says Joe McNamara, General Manager at KHON-TV. “Mahalo to Bon Jovi for letting us offer this to the music community here.”

Tickets for the Bon Jovi concerts can be purchased at the Blaisdell Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone at 1-800-745-3000, Ticketmaster Express at 866-448-7849 (automated only self service line) or online at Ticketmaster.com.

Tickets are subject to applicable service charges and event time and date are subject to change. Log on to www.bonjovi.com for the most up to date concert and ticket on-sale information.

Bon Jovi’s 11th studio album THE CIRCLE—released November 10th—promptly sailed into the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Following the Blaisdell Arena performances, Bon Jovi will spend much of the next two years on the road, performing 135 shows in 30 countries. Following in the footsteps of their hugely successful “Lost Highway Tour,” Bon Jovi will draw fans around the world into The Circle, with a residency at London’s O2 Arena in June 2010 before returning to America in the fall for an additional nationwide leg, and further dates well into 2011.

More information on the search for Bon Jovi’s opening act contest can be found at www.myspace.com/bonjoviopeningacthawaii.

3.8 Earthquake Shakes Pahala Area

A minor earthquake occurred at 1:01:35 PM (HST) on Monday, January 18, 2010 .
The magnitude 3.8 event occurred 5 km (3 miles) WNW of Pahala.
The hypocentral depth is 7 km ( 4 miles).

More info here:

http://tux.wr.usgs.gov/Quakes/hv00036354.html

The Waikiki Resort and Apartm3nt Ultimate Valentines Day Contest

Enter to win the ultimate romantic getaway in Waikiki… with dinner, a concert and two night hotel stay!*

You and a guest will stay 2 nights at the Waikiki Resort Hotel where it’s all about location! Located just 20 Seconds to the famous white sands of Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki Resort Hotel features newly renovated Rooms, Beautiful Views, Kitchenettes, Restaurants and a Spa. It’s the Kama’aina’s best value, at the best location in Waikiki!

You’ll get your choice of a pair of tickets to enjoy either the sultry sounds of Brian McNight or a rocking great night with Bon Jovi live in concert. You and your date will also get a romantic dinner for two at the brand new Apartm3t Restaurant and Lounge in Century Center…

More information here:  Valentines Weekend Concert Giveaway

Of course if you want to see pictures of one of my recent stays at the resort, you can check them out here: My Recent Stay at the Waikiki Resort Hotel

Hawaii-based Coast Guard Air Crew Evacuates More Than 60 Haitian-Americans

Footage of the crew of a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, evacuated more than 60 Haitian-Americans Sunday from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The group of Haitian-Americans, which included several infants and toddlers, are U.S. citizens who were in Port-au-Prince when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck there Tuesday afternoon, affecting millions of people. The C-130 crew transported the group from Port-au-Prince to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., with a stop at Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for supplies.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2nEAzizZZU&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Monday Moth… Don’t We All Wish We Could Pretend We Could See Behind Us?

The Big Stink: US Fish and Wildlife Halt Illegal Mangrove Poisoning on Hawaii’s Big Island

Media Release by Sydney Ross Singer:

There’s a new smell in the air at the popular Pohoiki surfing and swimming beach, at Isaac Hale Beach Park on the Puna coast. It’s the stench of rotting mangroves, recent victims of illegal poisoning by the group Malama o Puna.

The 2-3 acre mangrove forest at Pohoiki, along with other small mangrove habitats on the Big Island, have been the subject of an herbicide experiment designed to study the cost effectiveness of eradicating mangroves by poisoning them and leaving them to rot, as opposed to the more expensive method of hand removal.

The experiment was funded by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the US Fish and Wildlife. All the mangroves on the Big Island were to be poisoned and eradicated. Without public comment or awareness of the plan, Malama o Puna stealthily attacked mangroves throughout the Big Island. They were half way through poisoning Pohoiki’s mangroves when citizens caught wind of the project and began to make a stink.

Complaints from the Good Shepherd Foundation and the ad hoc group Save the Mangroves caused Fish and Wildlife to stop the work. There had been no environmental assessment (EA) or review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for this project, making this an illegal poisoning of our shoreline conservation land. It may also be a violation of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

According to Hawaii Revised Statute (HRS) 343, an EA is required when state or county funds or land is used, and when the proposed action is on conservation or shoreline land. An EA would also be required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Since this also involved Federal money, there should have been both a Federal as well as a state EA.

Armed with herbicide donated by chemical giants BASF and Monsanto, Malama o Puna was given a nod and a wink and a green light from its “partners” at the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) to go ahead with the poisoning.

BIISC is a cartel of government and private exterminators. It includes individuals at the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife, US Geologic Survey, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, University of Hawaii CTAHR, Hawaii County, the Nature Conservancy, Kamehameha Schools, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and Malama o Puna.

Malama o Puna received a grant from its partner, Fish and Wildlife, and an SMA minor permit from its partner, Hawaii County. It had its application license for using the herbicide granted by its partner, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. And the Department of Land and Natural Resources, another partner, looked the other way as the conservation shoreline it was supposed to protect was poisoned.

No public comments were taken, since an SMA minor permit does not require public notification. Clearly, BIISC cartel members did not want anyone getting wise to what was happening.

There was a time when environmentalists fought chemical companies to prevent shorelines from being polluted with poisons. Now, “environmentalists” partner with chemical companies to poison the shorelines. And the government agencies that should protect us from this are also partners, destroying the checks and balances that are needed for protecting the environment.

Mangroves are appreciated worldwide for their benefits of shorelines protection, support of coral reefs, water purification services, and habitat creation for small fish and other marine life. Hawaii’s mangroves were brought over 100 years ago to protect the shoreline, and studies have shown they increase local species richness and biodiversity.

Now, however, the poisoned and rotting mangroves are a source of pollution and stench, creating a public health and environmental hazard. Bathers at Pohoiki will be at risk from this pollution, which is a liability for the state and Federal agencies that partnered in the project, as well as for Malama o Puna.

Something is rotten in Hawaii, and it’s not just the mangroves.

For more information, call Sydney Ross Singer at 808-935-5563. Or email us at SaveTheMangroves@gmail.com.