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Commentary: East Hawaii vs. West Hawaii – Paradigm Changed After Kenoi was Elected

I don’t think it would be wise to split Hawaii County into two counties. Yes, West Hawaii does pay 70% of the property taxes. However, this disparity is due in part to the value of the homes being higher on the west side versus the east side. In other words, West Hawaii homeowners are subsidizing the lower property taxes paid from East Hawaii residents.

Hawaii in Half

This was a bone of contention during Mayor Harry Kim’s eight years in office. West Hawaii paid most of the property taxes, but got very little in return between 2000-2008. The paradigm changed after Mayor Billy Kenoi was elected in 2008. His administration brought West Hawaii back into the fold by constructing needed infrastructure improvements, and by bringing county government closer to the residents living in West Hawaii.

This is a non-inclusive list of these infrastructure improvements completed between 2008 and 2016 by Mayor Kenoi’s administration; West Hawaii Civic Center, La’aloa Avenue Extension, Mamalahoa Highway bypass, Kaiminani Drive rehabilitation phases 1 & 2, Makalei Fire Station, Ane Keohokalole Highway, etc. Mayor Harry Kim’s track record was less than stellar.

His administration dropped the  ball with Ali’i Parkway, and failed to address burgeoning traffic issues on the west side. The only noteworthy project started in West Hawaii during Mayor Kim’s term was the realignment of the Kealaka’a Street intersection.

Mayor Kenoi’s administration has thoroughly addressed that burgeoning west side traffic congestion issue, and has largely put to rest any talk of splitting Hawaii County. However, this issue has started to percolate to surface again due to upcoming election, and because Mayor Kenoi’s term is ending at the end of this year.

There is at least one current mayoral candidate, who believes splitting the county into two would be wise. I believe this would be huge mistake.

Hawaii County currently receives 18% of the yearly Federal Highways fund allotment, and $19.2 million dollars in transient accommodation tax revenue. If another county is conceived, these funds would have to be shared. On top of that, it would establish a new layer of unneeded government bureaucracy on this island I firmly believe we should stay one county, instead of splitting into two. We have to help each other, especially since we’re so isolated from the rest of the world.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Kona Business Ends Affiliation With Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce

Today, a well known business that was a member of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce requested to be removed from all affiliations with the Chamber of Commerce.

It all began when a deal fell through and Parker had to do what anybody would do when they were wronged.

It all began when a deal fell through and Parker had to do what anybody would do when they were wronged.

Tiki Shark Art Inc, its Owners and Board of Directors recently won a $43,000.00 judgment against a Middle Eastern Firm out of Dubai and today Tiki Shark Art Agent Abbas Hassan sent a letter to the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Kirstin Kahaloa, expressing his displeasure in the Chambers decision in having one of its board members defending the foreign corporation.

Hassan writes:

Kirstin (Kahaloa)…..thank you for taking the time to come see me.

As discussed in our meeting this morning, Tiki Shark Art Inc, its Owners and Board of Directors are not comfortable with the fact that one of your Board members is actually defending a foreign Corporation in a legal motion against us. That too when a local Hawaiian judge has already ruled in our favor over a month ago.  Furthermore, this individual may have been previewed to information via casual conversation in Chamber gatherings that could potentially effect the outcome of the case………just does not make sense to any of us!

Anyway’s it is with a heavy heart that I inform you of our immediate withdrawal as a member of the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce.

Please make sure our name is taken off and “unsubscribed” to all mailing lists.

I wish you and your Chamber the very best in the future.

Sincerely,

Abbas Hassan

Well known artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker weighed in and said, “This seems unfair. It’s a question of responsibility. Someone who sits as an officer on the board of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce represents the Chamber, and to some extent, also the City of Kailua-Kona. That’s a big responsibility. To the average guy on the beach, when he hears that a law suit is being filed against a local small business and the prosecuting attorney is a officer of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, well, in the court of public opinion, the Chamber is probably in the right and the small business man is probably in the wrong.”

Commentary on HB1072: “This Deserves a More Transparent Process”

It is alarming the House chose not to allow this measure HB1072 to come to a vote while there is so much support from Senators, state agencies, mental health consumers and a wide swath of the community. This deserves a more transparent process.

Click to view status of bill

Click to view status of bill

The issue has been thoroughly vetted to address a mental health crisis occurring in our rural communities. We’ve spent almost ten years on this, gathering support that is now overwhelming, from even the Department of Health. The only opposition was the medical community that offered no solutions and has failed to address this for decades. This is a sad day for consumers, indeed.

The level of denial of how bad Hawaii’s mental health gaps are is evidenced when our legislators are influenced by powerful lobbyists while so many of our residents are suffering from mental illness and can’t access care.

Are we being forced to debate for another year whether highly trained psychologists should have the ability to help these patients with medication needs, even though there’s a serious shortage of psychiatrists, and many of those won’t see the neediest patients?

What we saw today is an insult to our legislative institution; elected officials have failed to live up to the standards that are set for public servants, they have allowed the institution to be used by the rich and powerful to the detriment of the hundreds of consumers of mental health services who asked for their help.

The public needs to demand that individuals who occupy seats in the Capitol building, do so with integrity and courage. These were absent today; it is a shameful and cowardly way for legislation to be killed.

Alex Santiago, Hawaii Psychological Association

Commentary – Senator Kahele on Safety Concern of Hilo Medical Center Helipad

On behalf of our constituents within the first senatorial district of Hilo and all of Hawai‘i Island, I am writing to request Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) Board to discontinue its Agreement for Purchase of Goods and Services (APGS) with Hawai‘i Life Flight, Inc. (HLF), signed on April 10, 2013 which allows permanent parking on the helipad of Hilo Medical Center (HMC) and has presented numerous safety of flight issues for other operators in the area.

Helipad

Although the agreement allows HLF to park their aircraft to one side of the helipad and the space meets the minimum requirements to do so – it has still proven, on numerous occasions, to present a safety concern.

The U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area Department of Emergency Services has reported that on two occasions within the past year, several of their Blackhawk Medevac helicopters have been prevented from landing safely during training patrols and other exercises because of HLF’s permanent occupation of the helipad. On October 29, 2015 an emergency transport helicopter arrived at the HMC helipad to find the HLF helicopter still on the helipad. As an HLF employee was securing the aircraft, the Medevac Blackhawk was in its final approach and unfortunately was forced to land with the HLF aircraft only partially secured.  The Engine Company Captain on scene reported a “near miss” incident with both aircraft being on the helipad at the same time.

Additionally, the County of Hawai‘i Fire Department which maintains two helicopters for emergency medical services has reported that on three separate incidents their Chopper 2 aeromedical helicopter has landed at the helipad with the pad being occupied by HLF.

One way to resolve this issue is to keep the helipad vacated and available at all times. This would ensure a safer overall operation.  It is our understanding that the aforementioned APGS is up for renewal on April 10, 2016 and that last fall representatives of the U.S. Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area met with HHSC’s Board of Directors and raised these safety of flight issues with them.  At that time, there was an indication that HHSC’s board did not intend to renew the agreement.

Because of these safety of flight issues which could have resulted in serious loss of life to patients, crew and bystanders on the ground – as well as loss of necessary medical equipment funded by and provided for the use of our community – we support your efforts to preserve necessary landing space at HMC to allow for a safer environment and improved access.

Thank you for your leadership in keeping the health and safety of our residents HHSC’s top priority and we look forward to working with you towards a positive solution.

Hau‘oli ka mana‘o,

Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senate District 1-Hilo

Hu Honua Filing to PUC Addresses HELCO Misstatements

Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) filed its response with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to provide a project update as well as address incomplete and misleading information in Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) Status Report.
Hu Honua

The Status Report was required by the PUC in light of missed milestone schedule dates in the HHB power purchase agreement (PPA) approved by the PUC in December 2013.

In its filing, Hu Honua expressed disappointment with HELCO over not processing its milestone date extension request submitted more than 12 months ago. HHB requested the extension following a variety of disputes with its former contractor that disrupted the project’s construction schedule, and to provide the replacement contractor sufficient time to complete the biomass-fueled, renewable energy facility in Pepeepeko on Hawaii Island.

At HELCO’s urging, Hu Honua submitted a proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for energy purchased above the 10-megawatt (MW) minimum level for economic dispatch. Even with the price reduction, HELCO did not process Hu Honua’s milestone date extension requests, despite the fact Hu Honua’s pricing is delinked from the cost of fossil fuel, making it a natural hedge against future increases in oil prices.

HHB has invested $100 million to date in the biomass-to-energy project, which is approximately 50 percent complete. HHB has arranged full financing from its investor base and the plant can be operational in approximately 12-16 months.

At completion, the plant will be able to supply Big Island residents with firm, baseload, dispatchable renewable power at reasonable pricing, complementing intermittent resources such as wind and solar, and helping the state meet mandated clean energy goals.

In its filing, HHB asserts the value of the plant today to Hawaii Island’s electricity system is as great or greater than December 2013 when the PUC approved the HHB PPA.

HELCO’s threat to terminate Hu Honua’s PPA as a result of missed milestones was announced just days before parts of Hawaii Island experienced blackouts due to insufficient firm generating capacity; firm, reliable power is what Hu Honua’s bioenergy plant would provide.

Hu Honua’s filing to the PUC addressed incomplete and misleading statements in HELCO’s Status Report, including:

“Hu Honua does not have the ability to achieve commercial operation in the near future.”

  • Hu Honua has fully committed financing up to $125 million to complete the project, with $20 million having been invested since November 2015.

“Hu Honua failed to meet PPA obligations.”

  • HELCO’s statement appears to refer to the boiler hydro test date. Unlike solar and wind projects, Hawaii law requires high pressure/high temperature steam boiler projects to follow rigorous inspection, approval and documentation protocol throughout construction before successive work can begin. As a result of disputes with its former contractor, HHB did not have ready access to prior documentation needed to perform successive work, which resulted in disruption and delays to schedule.

“Hu Honua failed to justify a milestones extension.”

  • As early as October 2014, HHB alerted HELCO that its milestone dates could be delayed because of certain factors beyond its control, including the circumstances underlying the dispute with its former contractor.

  • In January 2015, well in advance of project milestone dates, HHB approached HELCO to proactively discuss revised milestones dates in light of circumstances. Throughout discussions over revised milestones, HELCO reported a need for pricing reductions as an exchange for milestone date relief. HHB revised pricing arrangements on three separate occasions—February, April and May 2015.


Hu Honua looks forward to working with HELCO and the PUC to resolve its milestone date extension request, along with HHB’s proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for amounts purchased above the 10-MW minimum threshold for economic dispatch.

A completed Hu Honua power plant will provide a modern, renewable, biomass fueled source of electricity that will complement Hawaii Island’s electrical system as well as provide between 100-150 jobs for the local community.

Commentary – Forced Land Sales Bills killed

We have been informed by House Committee on Water and Land Chair Ryan Yamane that this Saturday’s hearing for the two forced land sales bills (House bills 2173 and 1635) has been cancelled.
HB2173

HB1635
Representative Yamane indicated that this effectively kills both bills for this session, noting that he was persuaded to take this action in light of strong concerns voiced by a broad spectrum of community members, including many voices of our Lāhui — alumni, parents, haumāna, kumu, staff, other Native Hawaiian trusts and agencies, charter schools, other educational partners and collaborators, and many others. He and members of his committee also heard from other landowners and business leaders who shared their concerns about these bills from their perspectives. Clearly this response was a collective effort put forth by many.

We mahalo Chair Yamane and the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Ty Cullen, for listening to the voices in our community and pulling back these two bills.

Today, the news is positive. But with nearly three months remaining in the legislative session, we will continue to monitor the process for any signs of these bills being brought back in some other form. We must be vigilant. E kūpa‘a mau!

Mahalo nui to all for taking a stand on this issue and engaging in the civic process to make a difference for our people and for all of Hawai‘i. Our voices were heard; our rights and connections to our ‘āina were protected.

While it is easy to think our work is now done, in so many ways, our work has just begun. We need to make sure that bills like these don’t ever come back and that those who introduce them continue to hear our voices. More importantly, at Kamehameha Schools, we need to use these experiences to step up and join those in our community who are fighting hard to protect and advance Native Hawaiian education, well-being and identity, whether it be on ‘āina, in community, in the legislature, in boardrooms, in classrooms, or elsewhere. This is what our new Strategic Plan 2020 is really about.

All of us, moving forward together — I mua kākou! I mua Kamehameha! I mua ka Lāhui Hawai‘i!
Livingston “Jack” Wong
Chief Executive Office, Kamehameha Schools

Commentary – Shocked that Judge Acquitted TMT Protestors

TMT Hearing

TMT Hearing held at University of Hawaii Hilo

I’m utterly shocked that Judge Takase acquitted several Thirty Meter Telescope protesters of obstruction. These protesters were obviously breaking the law by purposely blocking a publicly accessible roadway. However, Judge Takase accepted the protesters defense of their actions. The protesters assert they were preventing the desecration of Mauna Kea by blocking access to the mountain.

It boggles my mind that she accepted the protesters defense of their actions. The TMT project has followed the law every step of the way. The project’s EIS was accepted in 2010, and it had a valid conservation district use permit until the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated it in December. The court took this action because the petitioners due process rights were violated.

In short, Judge Takase took it upon herself to determine the TMT project is a desecration to Mauna Kea. This is an utter travesty, as there is nothing officially that would support this position.

I suspect she was more afraid of being charged with a possible “war crime” instead of following the law.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance Offers United Voice on Bishop Museums Announcement to Sell Its Waipi‘o Valley Lands

On January 8, 2016, Bishop Museum issued a public announcement they are moving forward with the sale of the Amy Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Capt. Cook and 537 acres of land in Waipi‘o Valley.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

Green areas represent Bishop Museum Land.

While the news has taken most of Hawai‘i by surprise, it is not the case for the Waipi‘o Valley community. Over the past 20 years, the Museum has periodically considered selling it’s Valley holdings, and there have been several proposals by State legislators for the state to purchase the lands, the most recent in 2014.

Since 2013, the Waipi‘o community has undergone major changes, with three of the most committed groups becoming more organized and actively seeking ways to work together collaboratively on matters that impact the Valley and surrounding communities.

In late 2015 the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association, the Waipi‘o Community Circle and Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley formed the Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance as a mechanism to reach general consensus and provide a unified voice when communicating with government officials, Bishop Museum and the general community.

Founded in 1989, the Waipi‘o Taro Farmers Association (WTFA) is the oldest active organization in Waipi‘o Valley. The Association is made up of generational taro farming families who lease the majority of Bishop Museum ’s lands in the Valley. WTFA represents the surviving edge of the Native Hawaiian culture in Waipi‘o Valley and serves as Bishop Museum ’s primary land managers and local community advisors.

Formed in 2000, at the request of 13 community members, the Waipi‘o Community Circle (the Circle), serves as a general community forum. The Waipi‘o Valley Information & Education Officer Program was created by the Circle, as were the five large interpretive signs at the rock wall near the pavilion. A small group of Circle volunteers provided general oversight of the Information & Education Officer program from 2007 until 2014 when the program moved to the Department of Parks & Recreation. This group also represents the efforts of Auntie Ku’ulei Badua who was responsible for initiating “Friends of the Waipi‘o Community Park ” (the former Rice/Thomas property, at the Waipi’o lookout).

Founded in 2014 Ha Ola o Waipi‘o Valley (Ha Ola) is a membership organization of Valley residents, farmers, cultural educators and practitioners, and Waipi‘o tour operators. The organization is guided by elected Officers with support from the County of Hawaii , the State of Hawaii , Kamehameha Schools and Friends of the Future. Ha Ola was formed to provide representation for Valley stakeholders who were not recognized in the State’s 2013 proposed Senate Bill to purchase Bishop Museum’s lands in Waipi‘o. Among Ha Ola’s current projects are River Maintenance in collaboration with WTFA, stewardship of Kamehameha Schools Valley beach parcels, eradication of Little Fire Ants in the Valley and a 2016 Kalo Festival.

The Waipi‘o Valley Stakeholders Alliance, combines the strengths of all available community and advisory resources and is committed to protecting current lessees and ensuring the community has a lead voice in proactively engaging Bishop Museum in discussions about the future stewardship of its’ Waipi‘o Valley lands.

For more information about the Alliance contact:

Alliance Community Liaison: Jim Cain, Cell: 333-0457 kinglaulau@hotmail.com

Alliance Culture & Education Liaison: Ka‘iulani Pahio, Cell: 960-5272 kaiulani@kalo.org

UPS Worker in Hawaii Goes “Postal” – Tosses Holiday Packages Out of Back of Truck

A UPS Worker in Hawaii obviously was having a bad today.   The following was posted to YouTube with the following comment:

UPS WORKER loses his cool at work today. I hope braddah had a better day…

Reports Show Dengue Fever CAN Be Transmitted to the Larvae and Eggs

I’ve had many concerns on whether Dengue Fever can be transmitted from the female mosquito to their larvae and on to the eggs and it appears that it can happen!

Mosquito Laying Eggs
Big Island Video News posted the following video which showed the Hawaii State Department of Health Representative basically stating that they can’t confirm whether Dengue Fever can be spread to the eggs and larvae.

Thanks to the Hawaii Dengue Fever Awareness Facebook page, I’ve learned of more recent research that has been going on that shows that Dengue Fever can be passed on to the larvae and eggs:

Carey Yost posted some links she came across regarding this subject:

“…some of the more recent tropical information states that it can & does happen in some locations naturally (it has been known to happen in lab inoculations for a time:

Factors that influence mosquito competence for viral transmission:
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/…/1633/463.short

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/j.1365-2915…/abstract

There have been some isolated findings of naturally infected A. aegypti larva with DEN- 2 & 4, suggesting that transovarial transmission can occur (this testing is fairly new, prior methods of testing were fairly prohibitive on large scale natural larval pools):
http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/6859404

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/6542323

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/j.1948-7134.2011…/full

https://www.researchgate.net/…/0deec53b2381fc325d000000…

and in lab inoculated mosquitoes:
http://www.ajtmh.org/content/67/2/158.short

http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/6625066

Yost said: “It is not real common, in the pools tested there are very very very few naturally occurring cases, and this has only been found in very few locations, though there have been samplings in most Dengue regions…so not at all a very common thing, but there is a slight chance, so everyone should be very diligent to eliminate larvae breeding areas…that is: any standing water: from things like; old tires, catchment tanks with breeding covers or that are not in use, even shells from coconuts, avocados, & lilikoi can provide adequate breeding area foe a slew of mosquitoes.”

Yost continued, “It is not the NORMAL way of transmission & until the recent advent of fairly inexpensive DNA testing, was not something anyone would test for (old methods were very expensive & time consuming)”

Arrested Hawaii Medical Marijuana Collective Owner Launches Fundraising Campaign

Big Island man Mike Ruggles launched a crowdfunding campaign this week to help pay for legal fees after being arrested for opening Hawaii’s first medical marijuana collective. Ruggles says this is an opportunity to set legal precedence to establish medical marijuana collectives in Hawaii.

Mike Ruggles

Mike Ruggles

Ruggles had opened the Alternative Pain Management Pu’uhonua Collective on January 2nd, where patients with a medical marijuana certification could transfer marijuana between themselves. In order to stay in compliance with the 4 ounce limit members could dispose of their excess marijuana to other members in need. According to former nurse and collective volunteer Brittany Neal, “the marijuana itself was not ‘sold’ but rather ‘transferred’ for just compensation at a cost set by each member that included the electricity, fertilizer, and other direct costs that went into creating the marijuana.”

Collective members also had access to tinctures, concentrates, a MyDx purity testing machine, a vacuum purge oven, and consultation on cultivation, processing, and consumption of medical marijuana.

After the police raided and arrested Ruggles on September 10th, the collective has since closed, and Hawaii marijuana patients are back to finding medicine through the black market or going without. Ruggles is being charged with running an “unpermitted dispensary” and is facing 77 years in prison. According the Indiegogo campaign page, Ruggles had “noticed a change in the definition of ‘medical use’ in Hawaii’s medical marijuana law and combined with State and Federal laws, saw an opportunity for patients to help each other.”

“The collective was the first way for sick people to acquire their doctor recommended medicine since the program started 15 years ago. It doesn’t make sense that their trying to throw the only person doing this legally in prison,” said Ruggles, “The legal framework for collectives is already here, they’re legal, it’s going to trial and we’re going to win this.”

Medical marijuana collective supporters can donate here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-hawaii-s-medical-marijuana-patients#/.

Imua Hawaii Board President on Supreme Court Ruling

While the U.S. Supreme Court has issued an injunction on the Na‘i Aupuni Hawaiian self-governance election, this has no bearing on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s proposed rule for a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian people.

Kealii Lopez, Imua Hawaii Board President

Kealii Lopez, Imua Hawaii Board President

It is important that we not confuse these two separate issues. The proposed DOI rule would give Native Hawaiians a seat at the table so our voice has power.

Imua Hawaii urges support of the U.S. DOI proposed federal rule that would help resolve long-standing disparities in federal policy.

The period to comment on the U.S. DOI’s proposed rule closes on December 30, 2015.

The high court’s injunction on the Na‘i Aupuni Hawaiian election points up the need for federal recognition for Hawaiians that would be part of the proposed rule. Being at that table is critical for our people, and Hawaii as a whole.

Our community has the opportunity to review the proposed rule and provide our mana‘o, but the clock is ticking. Please visit www.imuahawaii.org for instructions for providing comment, and background on what this option means for our people.

These proposed rules and the opportunity for federal recognition are the one viable option available to Native Hawaiians today. Let’s imua: toward federal recognition, toward self-governance, toward justice.

Imua Hawaii is a consortium of leadership from Hawaiian organizations and the larger Hawaiian community committed to a more empowered future for our people in our island home.

Kealii Lopez, Imua Hawaii Board President

Former Hawaii Resident Denny Burniston Calls Cops on My Website

Denny Burniston the Hawaii Police Department has contacted me today and I wish that you would quit stalking my website, quit harassing me, and just get a life in general.

Denny Burniston

Denny Burniston

No I will not be removing anything from my website… especially a Hawaii Police “Media Release” that can still be found online other places!

I’m sorry you don’t understand a thing about the internet and that you think that you can make the Mayor, the Prosecutors Office, My Internet Service Provider and now the Hawaii Police Department remove something from my website.

No you can’t comment here and no I won’t remove this either.  May this be a lesson learned for you!

Lily Kahumoku Speaks Out About Coach June Jones Allegations

In 2008 there was a rumor floating around that Coach June Jones had impregnated UH Volleyball player Lily Kahumoku.

Lily and her family

Lily and her family

The rumor floated around long enough that I finally asked readers on my website on whether they believed it was true or not and amazingly 75.1% of the folks that replied… believed the rumor to be true.

Lily Poll

A few years after Lily graduated from the University of Hawaii, I received the following email from her:

9-14-2011

Hello Damon,

My name is Lily, it used to be Kahumoku, but now it’s Olteanu. I’ve seen your site. I commend you for your passion and the work that you’re doing. I also have blog and I know how much work it is to maintain.

The reason I’m writing to you is, I would like you to remove your survey about regarding June Jones impregnating me. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will, the rumors and lies spread about this affair are ridiculous. It never happened, but  do to the timing of my sabbatical, June Jones accident and Dr Joel Fischer, I understand how the creation of this false narrative came to life. And it’s tragic, that people truly believe it happened.

I never let these rumors get to me, because I knew it was bullshit. Unfortunately, due to rather recent events in my life, I’ve become a bit more fragile and sensitive to this topic, specifically because I am reproductively challenged and am still mourning the loss of my children, my suns, Keali’ikauila Cristian and Kahekili Alexandru Olteanu. They passed away on December 9, 2010, in Tours, France. The law France prohibited their incubation and neonatal assistance and they both died shortly after the birth. 

Well, I didn’t about this survey until recently when my husband googled my name and saw it. He was very disturbed. It simply isn’t fair that my family has suffers over something like this. I know life’s not fair, and that you’re work is to provide news and information to the people of Hawaii. However, I think you’re a reasonable person and I would like to ask you, as a courtesy, to please remove the article/survey regarding this nonsense.

I made a tribute site for my children at: www.lilyolteanu.com, there is a section called Mommy’s journal, you can go to the archives to see all of my entries. It’s not perfect, it’s full of errors and it’s sloppy places. But it’s real, it’s from my heart and has been my savior.

Anyway, I hope this message finds you well.

Mahalo for your cooperation and time.

Lily Olteanu

Now with June Jones applying for his former position with the University of Hawaii after Norm Chow has been released… I felt it was time to clear the air with this alleged rumor and Lily does too as she sent this to me yesterday after I asked her if I could post her side of the story:

11-4-2015

Hello Damon,

I really appreciate your message and for that I have no problem with you sharing my email. For years, these rumors have hurt my family and loved ones. On countless occasions I thought about “clearing the air” on my own forum in one of my blogs. But I never did, it’s a Catch 22. If I say it never happened, which it didn’t (I don’t even know Coach Jones personally), there will be crazies out there who will still think whatever they want.

When I sent you the email I was a emotional wreck. In the last four years, I lost two more little boys, twins again, Kainoa and Kekoa, they lived for 6 and 10 days before passing away due to complications with their prematurity. I also had a life-threatening ectopic scar pregnancy in which I did two rounds of chemotherapy in Romania and England, because it was too dangerous to remove the fetus.

However, after this hellacious journey to and through motherhood I am proud to say my son Lucian is almost one year-old. The journey to get him almost got the most of me, but he was/is definitely worth it. HAPPY ENDINGS DO EXIST. Mahalo again for the notice. Here are a few pictures.

Lily and babyAloha,

Lily

Senator Schatz on Syria – Policy is a Strategic Mistake

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement on the Administration’s announcement that it will deploy a small number of Special Operations Forces to Syria:

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

Senator Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle.

“The Administration’s announcement that it will deploy Special Operations Forces into Syria to combat ISIL marks a major shift in U.S. policy—a shift that is occurring without congressional debate, is unlikely to succeed in achieving our objective of defeating ISIL and instead threatens to embroil the United States in Syria’s civil war and could bring us into direct confrontation with the Russian Federation military and Syrian government forces.

“In the 16-months since the United States began its participation in the regional fight against ISIL, our military involvement has escalated without a clear sense of how our escalating involvement will achieve our strategic objectives.  With ISIL’s control of northern Syria, we cannot reasonably expect that the deployment of Special Operations Forces would be limited in scope or duration.

“As we have seen from our failed train and equip program, U.S. support for moderate Syrian opposition has its limits. Rather than ratchet up our own involvement, we must look for other opportunities to strengthen the coalition’s ability to effectively prosecute the fight against ISIL.

“This shift in policy is a strategic mistake.  Regardless of my views, the War Powers Resolution requires Congress to debate and authorize the escalation of U.S. military involvement in Syria.”

Half a Million Dollars of Public Pension Money Paid to Dead People in Hawaii

In a shocking example of outmoded systems leading to government waste, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has learned that $538,519.25 of public pension money was paid to dead people in Hawaii between 2010 and 2015.

Click to view full list

Click to view full list

According to the state’s own records, at least 134 deceased persons received over-payments from the Employee Retirement System, with some over-payments in excess of $50,000.  So far, reimbursements are pending.

Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute, said, “Our report shows that we are taking money from the living to pay for the dead.  Shining a light on wasteful spending is in the best interest of public pension members and Hawaii’s taxpayers.”

The Grassroot Institute obtained the information through an open records request to the Employee Retirement system.  The report, which can be found on OpenHawaii.org, showed that in 2013, $207,656 was overpaid to the deceased beneficiaries; and in 2014, the number was $138,221.  However, the real number is likely to be much higher, as the Employee Retirement System acknowledges that it hasn’t yet caught all of the errors.

Dr. Akina said, “It may be difficult for the State of Hawaii to know if a member of the pension fund has passed away, especially if the individual has left the state, or moved to another country.  Hawaii’s taxpayers continue to pay this enormous cost as we close the gap on the public pension unfunded liability crisis.”

Hawaii’s unfunded pension liability is $8.5 billion, which puts taxpayers on the hook for $21,272 per household.

Wesley Machida, State Finance Director responded in a written statement to the Grassroot Institute, “The half a million dollars of pension overpayments are due entirely to the untimely reporting of a retirant’s or beneficiary’s passing.  Within the past year, the State of Hawai‘i Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) has improved its efforts to identify overpaid pensions by working with the Department of Health, State of Hawai‘i.  A national company is also used to identify retirees and beneficiaries who are deceased.  The ERS also reviews daily obituaries and receives communications from family members and friends.  While there could be others not reported, the likelihood of these occurrences are minimized with the increased efforts of the ERS.”

Wesley Machida continued, “It can be difficult to identify pensioners or beneficiaries who passed away when there are no surviving family members and /or if the retirant or beneficiary lives out of state or out of the country.  In addition, family members and friends may not report the passing for several months, following the discovery of retirement documents while closing out the decedent’s estate.”

Wesley Machida concluded, “The ERS currently pays out more than $1.1 billion per year in pension benefits to more than 44,000 retirees and beneficiaries.”

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii will continue to research public pension abuse, and publish transparency data on OpenHawaii.org as this story unfolds.  Hawaii’s citizens should also keep in mind that record-keeping in this area wouldn’t be such an issue if government employees were enrolled in 401(k)-style retirement plans rather than the antiquated defined-benefit plans provided to government workers currently.

Public Meeting To Address Improvements To Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area

Planned improvements to Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area in Waimea between Kawaihae and Puako, are the subject of a community meeting taking place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, 2015, at the mauka dining hall in the park.

Hapuna Beach

Hapuna Beach

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks is interested in receiving community thoughts, concerns and issues in regards to the following:

  • Park improvements of existing facilities in the makai and mauka sections of the park, including the Waialea park section – these improvements are currently in design.
  • Obtaining Old Puako Road from the County of Hawai‘i – the County roadway bisects through the park and obtaining this property will allow for security and safety measures and appropriate roadway improvements to be implemented by State Parks.
  • Future directions and improvements at the park.

Future planned renovations will include:

  • Installation of photo voltaic panels on the makai comfort stations and mauka comfort stations and dining hall – augment energy cost servicing these facilities.
  • Renovations of the mauka structures – A-frame comfort station and dining hall:  new fixtures, floor repairs, shower replacements, accessible spaces and new plumbing lines in the comfort station; new appliances, new pantry storage, new countertops and sink, drainage improvements, new wind screens, new barbecue, new lighting and accessible space improvements for dining tables.

In 2013, parking improvements were constructed for the Hapuna Beach and Waialea sections.

Commentary – UH Hilo’s Secret Student Government

University of Hawaii Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) seems to be getting more and more secretive these days.

Last night, for the first time, they posted these signs in front of the meeting:

UHHSA2Only students and faculty with a UH ID were permitted to enter. A student was denied access because he didn’t have his ID. What is going on over there?

UHHSA1

From the UHHSA Constitution:

The UH Hilo Student Association Senate has a responsibility and obligation to provide open government. All meetings shall be open and publicized. Communication shall be accomplished by the publication of the UHHSA Constitution and By-Laws, budget, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, and schedule of UHHSA and committee meetings in a timely manner for the purpose of informing and encouraging student participation in student government.

UHHSA Constitution lead
Why are they not following their own constitution? What’s the big secret?

Signed,

University of Hawaii Student Union

UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) Senator Removed From Office – Complaints Filed

UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) Senator Amber Shouse was officially removed from her seat as senator last Monday, October 5, 2015.

Amber Shouse defends herself in front of the Student Government.

Amber Shouse defends herself in front of the Student Government.

Shouse was removed for allegedly violating UHHSA’s constitution by communicating with administrators without the student body president’s permission.

The first thirty minutes of the meeting were public and can be seen here.

The recording shows the senate majority voting to close the meeting despite Shouse’s requests to keep it open. UHHSA members also insisted no recording devices be present. Shouse said that she wanted to record the meeting for her own personal records, and UHHSA members insisted she could not.

The basis for removal was an email that Shouse had sent Chancellor Donald Straney and Dean of Students Kelly Oaks describing how she had been harassed by certain UHHSA members and university officials. It was because of this email that Shouse was accused of violating Section C. of the constitution for “representing UHHSA in an official dealing with the University Administration without the president’s appointment.”

“Amber was one of the 3 out of the current 12 senators who was ran opposed in the 2015 election and was legitimately elected by the student’s majority vote. She was popular for bringing a non-status quo perspective to the table,” said UH Hilo student and former UHHSA senator Jennifer Ruggles. “In fact, the current UHHSA president, Laz Sye lost to her in the election,” she said.

Sye was later appointed to President by other senators who also ran unopposed.

Campus Center Director and State of Hawaii employee Ellen Kusano was alleged to have sent out an email to the UHHSA senate defaming Shouse. Shouse says may have lead to her harassment and removal.

“It seems unethical that a student senator can be harassed and then removed for reporting the harassment,” said Shouse. “My removal was unwarranted. I am disappointed by the actions of the UHHSA senators but I am appalled by the actions of Campus Center Director Ellen Kusano who’s defamatory email I believe led to my unjustified removal and harassment,” she said.

Shouse reported that the vote was 8 in favor of her removal, 2 opposed, with one abstention, (Shouse was required to abstain). UHHSA Treasurer Melinda Alles called for a secret ballot vote on the removal, and the majority supported the idea. Senators Briki Cajandig and Ryan Stack publicly opposed the removal. UH Hilo Student Association members Lazareth Sye, Alison Pham, Jessica Penaranda, Melinda Alles, Abraham Jose, Kawehi Kanoho-Kalahiki, Daniel Woods, David Khan, and Nick Nguyen supported Shouse’s removal.

Current UHHSA Senator Briki Cajandig said, “Amber is an amazing colleague of mine. She’s always worked hard to represent our students here at UHH. Her intentions have always been pure; she took her position seriously and serving students to the best of her ability was a main priority. It is very disappointing that such a passionate and caring leader has been removed from the Senate.”

Shouse is filing complaints with the university.

Commentary – Poor Job Handling TMT Protestors

Governor Ige’s administration, and to a lesser extent, the County of Hawaii, are doing a poor job handling the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Mauna Kea. The governor’s proposed changes to the stewardship of Mauna Kea offended both the protesters and the individuals who’ve helped preserve this sensitive area.

TMT laserThe protesters  were mainly unhappy the governor reaffirmed the TMT’s legal right to begin construction, but there were other aspects of the revised stewardship plan the protesters were not pleased about. They were also unhappy the removal of ¼ of all the existing telescopes and imposing access restrictions to the summit area, among other issues

The governor’s stewardship changes also offended the individuals who’ve helped preserve Mauna Kea. It was  like a slap to the face when the governor stated the University of Hawaii and Department of Land and Natural Resources have been poor stewards of  Mauna Kea. There were issues with the stewardship of Mauna Kea in the past. However, there has been immeasurable improvements over the past 15 years. The execution of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan in 2010 was one of the highlights of these recent improvements.

Governor Ige’s administration also dropped the ball as far as dealing with these ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests. His administration has allowed these protesters to illegally encamp at Hale Pohaku for the past three months and obstruct access to the summit area. Yes, these protesters have a constitutionally protected right to protest, but they shouldn’t break the law in the process.

The elephant the room is the ongoing Hawaii sovereignty debate. The latter has Trojan horsed itself into the current debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope. The State and County of Hawaii are playing softball with these groups as a result. For example, the Hawaii County prosecutor is considering dropping criminal trespass charges against the first wave of 21 protesters in lieu of initiating  ho’oponopono with these individuals. This will entail holding discussions with the governor, the University of Hawaii, Thirty Meter Telescope, DLNR, etc.

The Thirty Meter Telescope has undergone a seven year public vetting process. These individuals had  ample opportunity express their concerns about this project during this time. In short, this is simply another stalling tactic that is being employed by the opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

As it stands now, the Thirty Meter Telescope has the legal right to initiate construction until the appellate courts say otherwise. I hope Governor Ige gets a backbone and  stops pandering to the interests of these protesters.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona