Citizens Group Announces Hawai‘i Equal Rights Book

Media Release:

Plans to publish a Hawai‘i Equal Rights Book were announced today by Citizens for Equal Rights (CFER) who led the effort to get House Bill 444 voted on before the legislature adjourned.

Pictured: (Left to right) Suzanne King, Kat Brady and Rachel Orange of Citizens for Equal Rights at the State Capitol on April 26th, delivering first edition copies of the booklet to House representatives.

The book is a compilation of photos of people who have already lent their names and photos to the booklets and ads that were produced in support of HB444. Others who have signed up since the bill was passed as well as those who may now wish to demonstrate their support of HB444 can also submit their names and photos over the next ten days if they wish to be included.

“CFER decided to publish this commemorative book because it’s a way of honoring the many people across the state who are ready to stand up for equal rights and be associated with this historic bill.” said CFER president Rachel Orange. “In just ten days before the House voted on HB444, over a thousand people sent in their photos for our equal rights supporters booklet.”

Pictured: Rep. Blake Oshiro (wearing an orange lei) meets with fellow legislators during a caucus before HB444 passed on the last day of the legislative session.

“A key factor that shifted the political landscape for HB444 was CFER’s successful effort in having community and faith leaders publicly support the civil unions bill,” said Rep. Blake Oshiro. CFER’s newspaper ads of prominent leaders and booklet of supporters helped bolster the confidence of many house members who already supported HB444.

Citizens for Equal Rights plans to publish the book before the Memorial Day weekend, and has set a May 21 deadline for submission of photos. Supporters of equal rights and the civil unions bill should email their photo, name, and affiliation to

“CFER is all about positive change. It’s a simple stand for equality,” said Kat Brady, CFER’s vice-president. “We believe the Equal Rights Book is an opportunity for people in the community to show their support for equal rights, while respecting the sincerely held beliefs of those who oppose civil unions.”

“No matter what Governor Lingle decides on HB444, I believe the community should come together to seek understanding and mutual respect,” said Sen. Les Ihara, Jr. “Efforts like this commemorative book help to put a human face on the civil unions debate and remind us that people of all viewpoints share a common desire to seek the best for our community.”

Debbie Hecht on Vacant County Positions

Commentary by Debbie Hecht:

In the February 27, 2009 letter (see attached) from Mayor Kenoi to the Hawaii County Council, which introduced the budget, he states:  “I imposed a temporary hiring suspension at the beginning of my administration and we are currently holding 481 positions vacant. This budget eliminates funding for 42 of those positions. ”

In the 2009-2010 budget, 55 positions were cut- for a total of 384 funded but unfilled positions.

In the 2010-2011 budget 70 more funded but unfilled jobs in the budget. There are still  314 funded but unfilled jobs. At a conservative estimate of $40,000 per job (not including benefits) this is still $12,560,000. in the budget.

From the Mayor’s letter to council on the 2010-2011 budget click here to read the entire letter

(each paragraph is from a different part of the letter, listed here in order of appearance):

“This year (meaning during the last budget cycle) we unfunded 55 vacant positions, which was the largest number of positions ever to be unfunded in a single County budget. In our new FY 2010-11 budget, we propose unfunding even more — an additional 70 positions. That’s an unprecedented total of 125 positions unfunded in the first two years of this administration.


After unfunding 55 positions in the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget, we have continued to review funded vacant positions to determine those that can be safely unfunded or partially funded for the upcoming budget year without adversely impacting County operations and services to the public beyond an acceptable level.  This budget reflects the unfunding of 70 additional positions and partial funding of 43 more positions in fiscal year 2010-2011. Partial funding represents a reduction in the salary budget for a position that may be vacant for a portion of the year. The total value of the unfunded positions, adjusted for furloughs, amounts to $2,770,356. *

The review process involved identifying funded vacant positions that were public safety, grant funded, and special revenue fund positions, as well as positions in the legislative branch.  In addition to the importance of retaining funding for public safety purposes, it was recognized that most vacant positions in the Police and Fire departments are offset by new recruits, which are not separately funded. **  Positions that are funded by grants or special revenue funds do not impact the general fund budget.  The remaining funded vacant positions were carefully reviewed individually.

Normally, funds not expended because a position is temporarily vacant are used to cover the cost of vacation payouts for retirees*** and for the temporary assignment or overtime pay that may result from covering the vacant position until it can be filled.  The savings resulting from unfunding additional general fund positions after the March 1, 2010 budget submittal have been placed in the general fund provision for cash-in-lieu of vacation account****.

Vacant Positions – We originally proposed in March to unfund 62 vacant positions, excluding the bands. This amended budget proposal includes a total of 70 positions that have been unfunded. All remaining funded positions are considered to be essential to County operations, or they have an existing incumbent temporarily assigned to a worker compensation position or in some other temporary appointment.”


*   How does this work?

**  Where does the money come from for new recruits?

***  people retired from the county get vacations benefits?  Paid vacations?

**** What is a cash-in-lieu of vacation account?

Sugar Plantation Era Comes Alive at Free Historical Photo Exhibit

Media Release:

A picture is worth a thousand words and the compelling images of the Big Island’s bygone sugarcane industry will be shared at a new exhibit, “A Plantation Town of the Past: Photographs of Paul Christensen 1930s-1970s.”

The free, two-week display opens August 2 at the North Hawai‘i Education & Research Center (NHERC). Through the camera lens of the late Christensen, experience five decades of the Big Isle’s history.

An employee of the sugar industry, Christensen captured plantation life as he saw it. The Brooklyn native served as a timekeeper for Honoka‘a Sugar Company in 1933 before working as a plantation section luna (supervisor) and retiring as an agriculturist.

The exhibit features over 50 vintage images, mostly in black and white, some in color. Shots depict the rich ethnic mix of plantation workers, equipment used, plus community and war-related activities. A rare collection of aerial photos, taken in the 1970s, records the five sugar plantations along the Hamakua Coast.

The exhibit is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday August 2-14. NHERC is an ADA-accessible facility; contact Judith Graham at 808-775-8890 by July 26 to request an auxiliary aid or reasonable modification.

NHERC is easy to find in the heart of Honoka‘a when enroute to Waipi‘o Valley. It’s located next to Honoka‘a’s medical facility at 45-539 Plumeria St. and across from the landmark Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church.  For information, phone 808-775-8890.

“A Plantation Town of the Past: Photographs of Paul Christensen 1930s-1970s” is presented by NHERC, a branch of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and the Honoka‘a Business Association. It is supported by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, the County of Hawai‘i and private community contributions. For more information, visit

Mana Maoli Collective

Invest in Our Youth: A Day of Golf and Celebration

Kids at the Hamakua Youth Center

Media Release:

On Saturday, June 5, 2010, the Hamakua Youth Foundation, Inc. invites golfers and givers to “Invest in our Youth: A Day of Golf and Celebration,” to benefit the Hamakua Youth Center.  North Hawaii’s only free, drop-in youth center, the Hamakua Youth Center (HYC) depends on the community to fund its remarkable after-school programs for intermediate and high schoolers.

The “Day of Golf and Celebration” begins with a golf tournament at Hamakua Country Club at 7:30 a.m., for only $50 registration fee including lunch.  At 1:00 p.m. everyone is welcome to join the free afternoon Celebration, featuring special presentations by HYC youth, live music, silent auction and great food.

The Hamakua Youth Foundation is a grassroots, non-profit organization which oversees HYC, committed to providing a safe and engaging place for youth.  Located in the old “Honokaa Cash & Carry” store on Mamane Street, HYC offers a warm welcome, communal kitchen, study space, computers, a pool table and other games, as well as a comfortable social environment and a community garden.  All HYC activities are free including Hawaiian cultural programs, piano and ‘ukulele lessons, and an exciting new multi-media studio to nurture young talent and develop skills in video and CD production   The HYC also provides referrals to other services and assists in many unseen ways, the needs of youth and their families.

Foundation President Joel Cohen of Waimea has been volunteering at HYC for five years. “There is a lot of love in this place,” said Cohen.  “It’s really something special that you won’t find anywhere else.” Cohen and the all-volunteer Board of Directors are enthusiastic about “Invest in our Youth” as a positive way to combat current economic troubles.

The Foundation receives financial support for HYC from the Hawaii Island United Way, Hawaii County and private foundations, and food from the Hawaii Island Food Bank, island ranchers and farmers. However, their good work depends heavily on community support in order to maintain the operating costs for its full scope of services and programs.

Local businesses are encouraged to field a team for golf, or donate an item or gift certificate to the Silent Auction. 100% of all proceeds go directly to funding Hamakua Youth Center programs. Golf signups and donations for silent auction gratefully accepted at Barbara Franklin’s Office: 45-3488 Mamane Street (by the red wood bridge). To sign up or for more information, call HYC, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at 775-0976.

Pahoa Pool… There Goes Hot Showers!