Kohala Community Nonprofit Purchases Historic 27.5-Acre Coastal Property

The Kohala community nonprofit Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc. announced that it purchased more than 27.5 acres of undeveloped shoreline at Kauhola Point, located in Hala‘ula, North Kohala.

Making the $1.3 million purchase possible was a public-private partnership of the state Legacy Land Conservation Program under the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Trust for Public Land, Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc., Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors Program, the Dorrance Family Foundation, the Freeman Family Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the HEI Charitable Foundation, the Hawaii Electric Light Company, The Trust for Public Land’s Advisory Council Member Edmund Olson, the Zirinsky family (a Trust for Public Land donor), and many community members and stakeholders.

The spectacular property encompasses the vast majority of the peninsula known as Kauhola Point. The property affords Kohala families a safe and beautiful place to spend quality time together and engage in healthy outdoor activities, is a recognized model of community stewardship, and connects the people of Kohala to their rich Hawaiian history.

Kauhola Point has been used as a community-gathering place from wā kahiko (ancient times) to present day. King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands, rested here after warfare and focus on peacetime activities — recreation, marriage and agriculture. Kamehameha taught his most beloved wife, Ka‘ahumanu, how to surf in the waters of Maliu off the property’s shores. As noted on an 1893 Hawaiian government map, the property was the site of Kamehameha’s Taro Patches and Kamehameha’s Fishpond.

The remains of Mulei‘ula heiau, possibly Ohau heiau, and another unmarked sacred site, are thought to be places of worship of Kamehameha and other chiefly lines that existed prior to the Kamehameha dynasty.

During the sugarcane era, this was the official recreation area for plantation families, and the site of numerous company and ethnic organizations’ picnics and softball games. To this day, children in North Kohala grow up exercising with their kupuna (elders), fishing, swimming, and learning how to surf at “lighthouse,” a loving nickname given to the property and surrounding area due to the iconic Kauhola Point Lighthouse that once stood guard there.

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Mayor Kenoi Presents 2012 – 2013 Budget to the Hawaii County Council

This morning Mayor Kenoi presented the 2012-2013 Budget to the Hawaiʻi County Council.

According to his Facebook message “….nearly $38 million smaller than the budget in effect when we took office. Mahalo to all my department leaders for their hard work and sacrifices that allowed our administration to present our fourth consecutive balanced budget!”

This $365 million FY 2012-2013 budget is $37,911,650 or 9.4 percent less than the budget in effect when this administration took office in 2008. It marks the fourth consecutive year of our efforts to reduce the size and cost of government in a strategic and responsible manner that maintains critical infrastructure and public services. This proposed balanced budget does not require any increase in property taxes.

Collecting Less Taxes

For the fourth straight year, the County of Hawai‘i will collect less in property taxes than it did when this administration began in 2008. Tax collections in FY 2008-09 totaled $225.9 million and are expected to decrease to $198.5 million during FY 2012-2013. This continuing slide in tax collections has been coupled with years of cost increases in areas such as employee health care and retirement costs and unpredictable fluctuations in utilities and fuel. In short, it will cost us more to deliver the same services next year, and there will be less money available to provide these services.

Reducing the Size and Cost of Government

This budget represents the fourth consecutive year that we are reducing spending. Consulting contracts have been cut by more than $12 million since FY 2007-2008. Overtime spending is also being reduced by 38 percent during this same time period, for an additional reduction of $5.3 million.

This budget discontinues a subsidy for the West Hawai‘i golf program and phases out the lava-viewing program. It restricts out-of-state travel, cancels or delays vehicle purchases and the replacement of aging computers and software, and employee training has been deferred or eliminated.

Further, we have cut special counsel, trial aides and law clerks for the prosecutors’ office, reduced courier service, cut appraisals, environmental assessments and surveys, and reduced the workers compensation budget.

Two hundred twenty-two vacant positions have been unfunded during the first three years of this administration. Although it has been very challenging, for the upcoming year, we intend to again hold 222 positions unfilled and unfunded. Leaving these vacant positions unfunded will save the county $7.1 million. The total employee count for the County of Hawai‘i was reduced from 2,787 on November 30, 2008 to 2,586 as of February 29, 2012.



The following table describes the budgeted expenditures for FY 2011-12 and the proposed budget for FY 2012-13 for each fund.

(Amounts in thousands)


FY 11-12

FY 12-13

from FY 2011-12 

Percent Increase

General Fund





Highway Fund





Sewer Fund





Cemetery Fund





Bikeway Fund





Beautification Fund





Vehicle Disposal Fund





Solid Waste Fund





Golf Course Fund





Geothermal Royalty Fund





Housing Fund





Geothermal Asset Fund











The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2012-13 revenues from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

(Amounts in thousands)



 Percent Of Total

Increase (Decrease)
FY 2011-12


Real Property Tax





Public Service Company Tax





Fuel Tax





Public Utilities Franchise Tax





Licenses and Permits





Revenues and Use of Money & Property





Intergovernmental Revenues





Charges for Services





Other Revenues





Fund Balance Carryover











The major changes in projected revenues are as follows:

Real Property Tax. Real property tax revenues are expected to decrease by 4.2%, or $8.8 million, due to an estimated 4.0% decline in taxable values.

Fuel Tax. Fuel tax revenue is expected to increase by 14.5% to $7.7 million, as fuel consumption has increased over anticipated levels.

Public Utilities Franchise Tax. Increased public utility revenues are expected to result in an increase of $1.2 million, or 13.2% in franchise tax revenue.

Revenue from Use of Money and Property. Interest earnings are expected to continue to decrease for next fiscal year by $0.5 million, due to the low yield on investments, which is still reflective of the current economy.

Fund Balance Carryover. The higher projection of carryover savings is attributed to the cumulative effect of successful cost cutting measures for the past several years and additional spending restrictions in the current year.


The following table presents a summary of projected FY 2012-13 expenditures from various sources and the changes from the current budget:

(Amounts in thousands)







Increase (Decrease)
FY 2011-12


General Government





Public Safety





Highways & Streets





Health, Education, & Welfare





Culture and Recreation





Sanitation & Waste Removal





Debt Service





Pension & Retirement





Health Fund
















Major changes in projected expenditures are as follows:

General Government

  • General savings in the proposed budget were achieved through many sacrifices across all administrative departments, from further reduction of travel, training and contracted services to reductions in supplies and continued postponement of equipment purchases. Fuel and utility costs continue to fluctuate, and the oil market will be monitored and budget items adjusted if necessary prior to the May submittal. Corporation Counsel’s special counsel account was significantly reduced, as was funding for Property Management land acquisition related services. Research and Development was able to eliminate some costs from the current year budget for APEC-related activities. The reductions in General Government expenditures touched all departments in this classification.

Highways and Streets

  • Highways. The Department of Public Works is earmarking an additional $500,000 for work on roads-in-limbo, increasing the budget from $1.5 million to $2.0 million. Additionally, Highway Maintenance division is budgeting approximately $1.0 million for new and replacement equipment for road maintenance and resurfacing.

Health, Education and Welfare

  • Social Services. Despite declining revenues and reductions in spending, the county’s budget for non-profit agencies will remain at $1.5 million in fiscal year 2012-13. We have protected this funding despite three years of budget cuts because of our commitment to the non-profit organizations that support the most vulnerable in our community.

Culture and Recreation

  • Parks and Recreation. The Lava Viewing program at Kalapana is being phased out, resulting in a savings of $300,000. Discontinuation of the West Hawai‘i Golf Subsidy program will provide a budget reduction of $500,000.

Sanitation and Waste Removal

  • Solid Waste Fund. Some repairs to facilities projects will be transferred to the Capital Projects fund, reducing operating expenses by over $800,000. Equipment lease expenses were reduced by approximately $600,000 as some financing leases were completed. Solid Waste and Recycling contracts for services were also reduced by a combined amount of over $800,000.

Debt Service

  • Transfer to Debt Service. The County will make its final payment on bonds issued in 1993, which will result in a reduction in the required transfer to the debt service fund for the budgeted fiscal year. Future transfers to the debt service fund will be higher as the County begins principal payments on bonds issued in 2010.

Health Fund

  • Health Benefits. This item represents the purchase of health coverage for active and retired employees. It is a binding obligation on the part of each of the counties and the state, and will continue uninterrupted next year and into the future to ensure that all public workers and retirees receive all of the health benefits to which they are entitled. This proposed budget includes $29.8 million to provide coverage to active employees and retirees, which will continue the current level of health coverage for all.


  • Provision for Payroll Lag. This item from the current year budget was a one-time provision to reflect the adjustment of pay days to fall on the day after a pay period ends, rather than on the last day of the pay period. The elimination of this item results in an increase to miscellaneous expenditures of approximately $6.0 million.
  • Provision for Compensation Adjustment. For the FY 2011-12 budget there was an expectation that County employees represented by HGEA would be taking a one-day per month furlough, however there was no final agreement, so a provisional account was established to reflect the expected savings. For the FY 2012-13 budget the savings are reflected in each department’s salaries and wages accounts. The elimination of this item results in an increase to miscellaneous expenditures of approximately $3.0 million.
  • Transfer to Self-Insurance. Due to current fiscal challenges and the fact that the balance in the fund is now at $1.2 million, no transfer is included in the proposed budget from the general fund to the county’s self-insurance fund, resulting in a $1.0 million reduction in this item. However, the administration is concerned about the possibility of new potential claims against the county and will re-evaluate the status when preparing the amended budget submittal for May to determine if a transfer is needed to cover potential or existing claims against the county.
  • Transfer to Solid Waste Fund. This budget reduces the general fund subsidy of the solid waste fund by $2.3 million. Total transfers from the general fund to the Solid Waste Fund to subsidize the solid waste management in the County of Hawai‘i will be $15.9 million in the year ahead.

Puna Man Arrested in Craigslist Scam Selling Fake Coachella Concert Tickets

Big Island police have arrested a 19-year Puna man in connection with an internet scam and are looking for additional victims.

Four victims on the mainland reported that they responded to a posting on Craig’s List by someone claiming to be selling tickets to the sold-out Coachella Music Festival being held this weekend in Indio, California. The supposed seller arranged for the victims to wire him money and said he would send them festival passes and wrist bands by Federal Express. The victims sent the money but never received the passes or armbands.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section collaborated on a joint operation with the Office of Consumer Protection in the Hawaiʻi Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

As part of the joint sting operation, an investigator from the Office of Consumer Protection posed as a buyer who wanted three sets of passes and wrist bands. He and the seller agreed on a control number and password for the seller to use when claiming the money.

When Anthony Derick Berson of Keaʻau went to a Western Union office in Hilo on Tuesday (April 17) using the agreed-upon control number and password to claim $900, police detectives arrested him on suspicion of attempted theft and use of a computer in the commission of a separate crime.

Berson is being held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives continue the investigation.

Police ask that any other victims of this alleged fraud contact Detective Derek Morimoto by phone at 961-2380 or by email at dmorimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Dog Whisperer Carl Oggus to Speak About Dangerous and Vicious Dogs in Pahoa

Councilmember Fred Blas is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 to discuss “Dangerous and Vicious Dogs” at Pahoa Community Center from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm.

Speaker: Carl Oguss Dog Psychology (the Pahoa Dog Whisperer recently featured in the Wall Street Journal)

Click to read the Wall Street Journal Article on Mr. Oguss

Public testimony will be taken with a three minute limit per individual

Big Island Police Searching for Suspect that Snatched Purse from 86-Year-Old Hilo Woman Causing Her to Fall

Big Island police are investigating a reported robbery in Hilo on Tuesday night (April 17).

At about 5:39 p.m. Tuesday, South Hilo patrol officers responded to a report of a purse snatching in Downtown Hilo. They learned that an 86-year-old Hilo woman had been walking along Haili Street near a movie theater when an unknown male pushed her from behind—causing her to fall—and stole her purse.

The victim sustained minor injuries but declined treatment.

The suspect is described as about 5-feet tall, approximately 130 pounds with a medium build and short black hair. He was wearing a tan shirt with orange rectangular designs, and possibly blue jeans.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section are continuing the investigation into this incident, which is classified as a second-degree robbery.

Police ask that anyone with information on the identity of the suspect or anyone who may have witnessed the robbery contact either Detective Grant Todd by phone at 961-2385 or by email at gtodd@co.hawaii.hi.us or Detective Joel Field by phone at 961-2381 or by email at jfield@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Commentary – Mililani Trask on Geothermal Development

I received the following commentary on behalf of Mililani Trask regarding geothermal development in Puna.

Mililani Trask

In recent weeks a small group of angry & uninformed individuals have begun a campaign of misinformation, the goal of which is to prevent the development of geothermal energy on Hawaii Island. Claiming ownership of the Pele name & case information, this group is asserting that geothermal development threatens the cultural & religious practices of Hawaiians and violates their First Amendment rights under the US Constitution.

I am sending out this email to clarify what occurred when the Pele cases were litigated and how the outcome of the cases expanded Hawaiian cultural practice but did not stop or prevent geothermal development.

In the early 1980’s the Campbell Estate made public its plan for geothermal development at Kahauale’a. They brought in cheap filthy technology, never had a public community meeting, ignored Hawaiian traditional rights to gather & worship, and presented a plan under which they would reap hundreds of millions of dollars without any benefit to the public & native Hawaiians, who were the owners of geothermal public trust assets. Campbell Estate had wanted to develop Kahauale’a , but when these lands proved undevelopable, Campbell & the State moved for a land exchange in order to develop Wao Kele O Puna Forest.

Palikapu Dedman & others then challenged the land exchange in State contested case hearings. They claimed genealogical ties to Pele & asserted that drilling for geothermal was a desecration & rape of Pele’s body & a violation of their rights under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost on appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled their right to worship had not been burdened because the area of development was not a traditional place of ceremony. (see Dedman V. DLNR , 740 P.2d 28 (1987)

Following this loss, the Pele Defense plaintiffs brought suit in Federal Court arguing that the land exchange violated the trust contained in the Admissions Act. The Pele Defense Plaintiffs lost this case when the court ruled their claims were barred because of the State’s Sovereign Immunity under the 11th Amendment.

The Pele Defense Plaintiffs also litigated this in State Court, but lost when the State Court ruled that the Federal decision had resolved the issue.

Despite these losses, Hawaiians did win a significant victory when the Court acknowledged & supported Hawaiian cultural rights and expanded the exercise of these rights to areas outside the ‘ahupua’a. Prior to this case, the practice of cultural rights had been limited to the area of the ‘ahupua’a.

Initially, the legal strategy and work was undertaken by the Law Offices of Yuklin Aluli & Mililani Trask. Early on, I left Oahu and returned to Hawaii Island to represent the Kupuna who would later be called upon to lead the march. Soon, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) joined in and with the help of many Hawaiian legal minds and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) the Pele cases were initiated & litigated. Some attorneys gave advice, some did research & some took the case to the Supreme Court. Attorneys from the continent helped with the environmental claims, it was a collective effort by many. The Pele cases are important legal precedents that should be understood by all because they set criteria on Hawaiian rights to worship, and also established conditions for development in culturally sensitive areas.

In March 1990, environmentalists called for the ‘Big March’. Shortly after the announcement, it became evident that the so-called ‘Hawaiian leaders’ of the PDF were not going to get arrested. None of them lived in Puna, One was a medical doctor from Molokai & Oahu, who was concerned about his reputation, his girlfriend (an academic from Manoa) was worried about her career, Palikapu Dedman also backed out claiming he could not get arrested because he was a convicted felon on probation! In the end, it was aunty Pele Hanoa, (Palikapu’s mother) who walked at the head of the March with other Kupuna wahine from Ka Lahui Hawaii. I walked with them as their attorney, I met with the police before hand to ensure there would be no problems, I held their purses when they climbed over the fence & bailed them out of jail. The police, some of whom were Hawaiian, helped the Kupuna by assisting them over the fence, there was no negativity, injury or anger.

If you check the record you will find that none of the PDF ‘leaders’ have ever gotten arrested protecting Hawaiian cultural or religious rights. Palikapu Dedman did not bring or win these cases, he does not have the capacity, the attorneys brought and won this case. Whenever the time has arisen to stand up to stop desecration of culture, Palikapu has always used the same excuse….he is a felon with criminal convictions (shoplifting, firearms violations & multiple convictions for Promoting Detrimental Drugs in our community) and can’t risk getting arrested again!!!!!
As a Hawaiian who has been arrested protecting cultural rights & burials, I am proud of the effort that went into the Pele cases, and proud to have been a part of the legal effort to advance & expand our cultural rights to worship. Its time we use these wins to ensure that culture is respected & protected when renewable energy is developed for Hawaii Island.

In the 24 years since the case was brought and for the last 18 years that PGV has been operating in Puna, there has not been a single case or instance of a Hawaiian being denied their right to worship Pele because of geothermal development.

Mililani B. Trask, Attorney
Indigenous Expert to the United Nations
Indigenous Consultants, LLC

Commentary – Vacation Rentals and House Bill 2078

I received the following letter this morning about House Bill 2078 and I’m printing it here upon request of the sender:

Every year the Hawaii legislatures have a topic that stands in the forefront of all the rest. This year it is vacation rentals. With this session starting with a number of bills relating to vacation rental issues, the Hawaii legislatures are now down to one key bill, House Bill 2078.

All of this started in January of this year, with small Hawaii businesses as well as departments of the Hawaii government on a mission to clean up the vacation rental industry in Hawaii. The two main focuses were to ensure that Hawaii received all taxes related to vacation rentals and to ensure that vacationers to the State of Hawaii were taken care of while staying in a vacation rental. Vacation rentals offered by owners seemed to be big a factor in these two issues.

With tourism being a huge part of the Hawaii economy it is imperative that there not be any loopholes in the tax system. Property managers as well as the Hawaii Department of Taxation state that with the internet continuously growing and owners handling their own rental funds out of state that all these funds need to be accounted for. The main recommendation was for the rental funds to flow through a third party and, in the vacation rental industry, it made most sense for that party to be a licensed property manager in the State of Hawaii. In one hearing other third parties were discussed as another option to owners. Owners renting their own properties and collecting their rents have been aggressively against this idea and have been aligning to try to get this bill dropped. While they have taken the stance that the concept is unfair to those paying taxes, they have yet to offer a reasonable solution to making sure that all revenues and taxes generated from vacation rentals in Hawaii are accounted for.

The second issue is related to protecting the renters in Hawaii. With the growth of the internet, owners claim that they can self manage their vacation rentals in Hawaii from across the world. Property managers as well as the Hawaii Tourism Authority seem to disagree. Some owners believe that the issues that guests encounter during their stay can easily be handled over the phone. Property managers believe this to be untrue and feel that every owner should have someone on that respective island to be able to act on the owners behalf and take care of the issues and the guests. They also feel that current law already requires that person to be licensed if they are acting on behalf of more than one owner. Property managers such as Rob Dalton with Waikoloa Vacation Rentals have been wanting these laws to be enforced for years.

Senator Roz Baker, Chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, has been the person to address these issues. Senator Baker’s committees report states:

“Your committee also notes that transient accommodations management companies tend to hire professional accounting firms or staff who are familiar with the tax intricacies of chapter 237D, Hawaii Revised Statues, the transient accommodations tax law. Individual owners, unless they are accountants or have a tax-related background, may not be well-versed about the transient accommodations tax or the State’s intricate tax law.”

Although it is pretty clear from the report that a third party of some sort is needed to address these tax issues, Senator Baker offered owners a lighter alternative. All owners will be required to get a registration number from the Department of Taxation and post in on all advertisements as well as the Department of Taxation making the information visible to the public on their website. This should address owners that are not paying taxes at all, but will more than likely not address the owners paying taxes partially or incorrectly. Senator Baker feels that it will address the majority of the issues relating to taxation.

Given that Senator Baker’s committee deals with consumer protection, she has made minimal adjustments for the owners when it comes to protecting the vacationers of Hawaii. She agrees that the current law is pretty clear regarding the on-island agent. Her report states “owners of transient accommodations who live without the State or on a different island are already required by law to designate an on island agent to act on their behalf.” The report also stated that the on-island agent can only take care of on property unless they have a real estate license. The on-island agents will need to be posted online as well as given to the Department of Taxation, which will help with enforcement.

While many owners are upset with this decision, it only makes sense from a consumer protection aspect. Real estate brokerage firms are licensed in the industry and have a fiduciary duty to take care of guests, which gives the consumers recourse in the event something goes wrong. Guests have no recourse with owners and their unlicensed on-island agents. Sam Wade, a resident of Alberta, Canada and recent visitor to Hawaii, experienced this issue first hand. Mr. Wade stated,

“When I showed up at 11 pm, I was unable to get into the condo I rented from an owner. I then tried contacting the owner in California. After an hour of phone calls going directly to voicemail I then decided to stay at a nearby hotel. The next day at 4 pm I received a call back from the owner stating that there was a hidden lock box I could use to get into the condo. I told him I already found another place to stay and that I would appreciate a refund. The owner said since the condo was already blocked out for me I would not be getting a refund. Right now I have a dispute with my credit card company. We will see what happens.”

While HB 2078 has not formally been passed, it is inevitable that something will be done this session to protect vacationers of Hawaii and start the process of ensuring all taxes are collected. While Senator Baker has worked hard to address these issues this session, given the depth of the issues it is highly unlikely she will be able to address all of them correctly this session. Issues related to vacation rentals are sure to be discussions at the Capitol of Hawaii for years to come.

Jennifer Johnston