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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

Commentary – TMT Has Bent Over Backwards to Address Concerns

I’ve followed the Thirty Meter Telescope public vetting process over the past seven years. The unprecedented public protests against this project caused me to write this commentary.

The public had equal opportunity to give comments about this telescope project. It underwent an extended contested case hearing process before the Board of Land and Natural Resources granted the conservation district use permit in 2013. In addition, Governor Lingle accepted the FEIS in 2010. There was a 60 day window to contest the FEIS after acceptance. No one stepped forward to do this during that window.

The hearing officer determined the Thirty Meter Telescope met all eight criteria to develop their project in the conservation district.

Click to view

Click to view

In addition, he noted the Hawaii Administrative Rules #13-5-24c permits the construction of astronomy facilities in the conservation district, as long there is a management plan in place.

In short, the Thirty Meter Telescope Corporation has bent over backwards to address all concerns about their project over the last seven years.

This is why it would be huge mistake to revoke their vested permits after they’ve been granted. The TMT relied on these permits to start construction on their telescope.

The possible revocation of their legally obtained permits would bring up eerie parallels to the Hokuli’a project in South Kona. Judge Ibarra invalidated their permits after four years of construction and after Oceanside spent 350 million dollars on their project. However, the big difference between these two project is the fact TMT followed the law when obtaining their entitlements, Oceanside (Hokuli’a) did not.

Judge Ibarra placed an injunction on Hokulia project for 2.5 years until a settlement agreement allowed construction to resume in 2006. I foresee a similar scenario happening with the TMT project. The Mauna Kea stakeholders need to reach a global settlement that would allow construction to resume on this telescope.

The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan contains an excellent framework to get this process started. For example, the TMT will be last new telescope on Mauna Kea. All new telescope projects after the TMT will recycle existing sites.

However, I believe any global settlement needs to go further.

The University Hawaii and the other owners of the Mauna Kea telescopes should reevaluate the telescope decommissioning plan for the science reserve area. The Hawaii Tribune Herald reported the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, James Maxwell Clerk Telescope and Very Low Baseline Array are facing possible decommissioning before the Mauna Kea science reserve master lease expires in 2033.

This is on top of the scheduled decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory slated to begin 2016.

The University of Hawaii also needs to indefinitely delay any attempts to extend the master lease for the science reserve area. The current lease expires in 2033, which means all telescopes on Mauna Kea face decommissioning between 2025 and 2033.

The university naturally wants the lease extended another 65 years.I believe more discussion between all Mauna Kea stakeholders is necessary before this proposal moves forward. If this doesn’t happen, the University of Hawaii risks turning an ugly situation uglier.

Mauna Kea’s telescopes have contributed 92 million dollars of direct economic impact in Hawaii County per year. This figure cannot be understated. If all the Mauna Kea telescopes were removed, it would be a huge economic hit to this island.

This is another reason why all the Mauna Kea stakeholders need to come to together and discuss a mutually agreeable plan for Mauna Kea’s future. These discussion need to occur in a face to face environment and not through social media. The latter has poisoned all civil discussion regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project and future of Mauna Kea.

Aaron Stene,
Kailua-Kona

Hawaii Volcano Observatory Statement on Current Volcanic Activities and What We Can Expect to Happen

Hawaii Volcano Observatory  Statement on current activities:

After a week of elevated activity, HVO would like to review recent observations and thoughts on what we may expect next at Kīlauea Volcano.
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LAVA FLOWS ON THE FLOOR OF HALEMAʻUMAʻU

Beginning at about 9:40 p.m., HST, last night and continuing into this morning, the Overlook crater lava lake overflowed its rim on several occasions, sending short, lobate sheets of pāhoehoe as far as 130 m (142 yds) across the floor of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. These overflows were captured on USGS-HVO’s web cameras. Thus far, the flows have been brief and their forward motion ceased as the lava lake level fell and lava subsided into the Overlook crater. As yet, no change in lava spattering or surface circulation patterns on the lake in response to these overflows has been noted.

Given the sustained high, and slowly rising, levels of lava within the vent during the past week, these overflows were expected and they are likely to continue intermittently. During similar lava lake activity at Halemaʻumaʻu in the 1800s and early 1900s, lava lakes frequently produced overflows. Over time, overflows and intermittent spattering can build a collar of solidified lava that then contains the rising and circulating lava lake. This phenomenon is known as a ‘perched lava lake.’

ROCKFALLS, EXPLOSIONS, AND SPATTER ON THE HALEMA‘UMA‘U CRATER RIM;
ASHFALL AT JAGGAR OVERLOOK AND BEYOND

Yesterday morning at about 10:20 a.m., HST, a rockfall from the southeast wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater above the lava lake initiated an explosion from the lake surface. Large clots of molten spatter up to 2 meters (2 yards) across showered the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu in the vicinity of the closed visitor overlook fence. The hot spatter formed a nearly continuous blanket for about 100 m (110 yards) along the crater rim and extended back from the rim about 50 m (55 yards). Small bits of crater-wall rock were embedded in the spatter clots. Additional explosions and showers of rock and spatter can be expected. They can occur suddenly and without warning and underscore the exceedingly hazardous nature of the Halema‘uma‘u Crater rim, an area that has been closed to the public since late 2007.

Visitors to the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Jaggar Museum Overlook and other Park areas should also note that under southerly wind conditions, similar rockfalls and explosions can result in a dusting of powdery to gritty ash composed of volcanic glass and rock fragments. Several such ashfalls occurred last weekend and, although they represent a very minor hazard at this time, people should be aware that additional dustings of ash are likely at Jaggar Museum and other areas around the Kīlauea summit. For more information about volcanic ash hazards and precautions at Kīlauea, please see: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/hazards/FAQ_SO2-Vog-Ash/main.html

CONTINUED INFLATION AND EARTHQUAKE ACTIVITY IN THE KĪLAUEA SUMMIT AND UPPER EAST RIFT ZONE

For the past week or so, HVO monitoring networks have recorded steady inflation of the Kīlauea Volcano summit area. Shallow earthquake activity has also been elevated beneath the summit caldera, upper East Rift Zone, and upper Southwest Rift Zone. Of the hundreds of earthquakes that have occurred in the past week, most have been small, less than magnitude-2 (M2).However, this morning (April 29) a M3.0 earthquake occurred at the easternmost caldera boundary. It is the second M3+ earthquake in this region during this sequence.

During this period of elevated summit activity, there has been no obvious change in the eruption rate of lava from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Rates of gas emission from both the summit and Puʻu ʻŌʻō remain largely unchanged. Short-lived increases in sulfur dioxide from the summit lava lake have been noted during rockfall-triggered explosive events, such as the one that occurred yesterday morning.

Video by Mick Kalber:

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT

The current activity is best explained by an increase in magma supply to the Kīlauea Volcano magma reservoir or storage system, something that has occurred many times during the ongoing East Rift Zone eruption. Increased supply and shallow storage can explain the higher magma column in the Overlook crater, as well as the continuing inflation and elevated earthquake activity in the summit region. Higher volumes of magma moving throughout the summit and upper East Rift Zone pressurizes the reservoir and magma transport system and causes small earthquakes and inflationary tilt.

As long as magma supply is elevated, we expect continued high lava lake levels accompanied by additional overflows. Lava from these overflows could cover more of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater floor, form a perched lake, or result in some combination of these two processes. Spattering or lava fountaining sources can migrate across the surface of the lava lake, as recently observed. We expect continued rockfalls, intermittent explosions and ash fall, and continued high levels of gas release.

The evolution of unrest in the upper East Rift Zone is less certain. It is possible that a surge of lava will reach Puʻu ʻŌʻō and lava flow output will increase, both on the flanks and within the crater of Puʻu ʻŌʻō. It is also possible that lava will form a new vent at the surface. If this happens, it will most likely occur along a portion of the East Rift Zone between Pauahi Crater and Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Other outbreaks in the summit area or along either rift zone on Kīlauea cannot be ruled out. If a new outbreak or surge in lava to Puʻu ʻŌʻō occurs, we will expect a drop in the summit lava lake.

HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea Volcano. We are especially watching for any sign of unrest that may precede a new outbreak of lava or a change in output at either Puʻu ʻŌʻō or the summit Overlook crater vent. We will continue to post daily eruption updates on the HVO web site, along with photos, videos, and maps as they are available at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

An annotated photograph showing summit features named in this statement, such as Overlook crater and Halemaʻumaʻu, is posted at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/archive/summit-labels.jpg

HVO Contact Information: askHVO@usgs.gov

Don’t Shoot The Messenger

I’ve gotten word from a sponsor that someone contacted them in an attempt to make them stop sponsoring my site.

Thankfully they aren’t listening to this person.

I can only assume it’s because of recent controversial stuff I have posted whether it be the racist shop owner or issues dealing with Mauna Kea and TMT.

It seems many folks are on edge right now… many deservedly so with all the stuff many Puna Residents have had to deal with during the last year.

If any of my sponsors would like me to remove their ad from my site… I’m sure I will hear from them personally.

Until then… Mahalo to my sponsors for supporting me unconditionally and allowing me to say what I want w/out repercussions of things.

I try my best to speak the truth and say what I know and can verify.

Commentary – Hawaii Science Leaders Call for the Protection of Mauna Kea

This statement is being made by physicians, psychologists, scientists, public health professionals, educators, and cultural practitioners who aloha ‘āina and who happen to be the leadership and members of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health in the John A. Burns School of Medicine of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. However, we are not making this statement in our capacity as faculty or staff of the university nor is this an official statement of the university.

Artist Conception of the TMT (Bottom Left) Click to enlarge

Artist Conception of the TMT (Bottom Left) Click to enlarge

In 2003, the Department of Native Hawaiian Health was established at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Its mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of Kānaka ‘Ōiwi (Native Hawaiians) by increasing the cadre of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi and other health professionals, and scientists working toward health equity for Kānaka ‘Ōiwi through health care services, scientific research, and community engagement and empowerment. In meeting our mission, we embrace biomedical and behavioral sciences and Kānaka ‘Ōiwi cultural knowledge and tradition. We value science and its potential in improving the lives of all people and we value our Kanaka ‘Ōiwi culture and its offering of continuity and Mauli Ola (optimal and holistic health and wellbeing) for Kānaka ‘Ōiwi.

The protection of Mauna Kea (aka, Mauna a Wākea) by concerned Kānaka ‘Ōiwi is our ancestral kuleana (responsibility) to mālama ‘āina (land stewardship) and means of ensuring Mauli Ola. Cultural protection and revitalization of historical and sacred places are important social and cultural determinants of Mauli Ola for Kānaka ‘Ōiwi. They are as important to Mauli Ola as access to safe and well-resourced neighborhoods, excellent education, healthy food options, physical activity opportunities, and quality health care.

Coming from a tradition of seafarers and skilled navigators, who looked up to the heavens and night sky for knowledge and guidance, Kānaka ‘Ōiwi can appreciate astronomy’s quest to understand the mysteries of the universe and our collective existence in, and connection to, this universe. Kānaka ‘Ōiwi also appreciate and hold fast to cultural knowledge, traditions, and wahi pana (scared places) that also explain our existence in, and connection to, this place we call Hawai‘i.

In respect for both traditions, astronomy and Kānaka ‘Ōiwi, the above members of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health calls for an extended moratorium until a balanced resolution – that ensures the protection of Mauna Kea – is achieved between the State entities involved and the astronomy and Kānaka ‘Ōiwi community. And may it be done with the values of our ancestors as reflected in the following: ‘A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi (not all knowledge is acquired through one school) and Mālama pono i ka ‘āina (properly care for our land).

From: Drs. Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, Marjorie Mau, Winona Lee, Dee-Ann Carpenter, Martina Kamaka, Robin Miyamoto, Kāwika Mortensen, Alika Maunakea, Andrea Hermosura, and Tricia Mabellos, and Ms. Mele Look , Ms. Chessa Harris, Ms. Tiffnie Kakalia, Mr. Kamuela Werner, Ms. Shelley Soong, and Ms. Miala Leong.

Grassroot Institute Investigates Questionable Procurement by Native Hawaiian Roll

A request by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for information about the expenditures of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission has led to additional questions about the Commission’s possible violation of the state procurement code.

Former Hawai`i Attorney General Michael Lilly has requested that the Directors of the Departments of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and Accounting and General Services review whether the expenditure of over $800,000 on two vendors by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission without public bid violated the State’s procurement code.  Such a violation of the code is subject to possible criminal and civil penalties.

The Grassroot Institute requested from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs the check register of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission as part of their ongoing government transparency effort. With the Commission’s response now made public, citizens and government observers have been stepping forward with more questions about the expenditures listed and the process behind them.

Click to view

Click to view

In his letters sent as a private citizen to the state department directors, Michael Lilly states:

Some $4 million was reportedly transferred by OHA to the NHRC. The attached ledger summarizes payments by the NHRC to various vendors including over $600,000 to Makauila, a multimedia company … Another some $200,000 went to “1013” which is a branding company found on your web site here as “One Zero Ten Three” … None of these payments to vendors apparently complied with the procurement code, Chapter 103D.

According to Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President/CEO of Grassroot Institute, “Much of the money being spent by OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission could better be used to meet the real needs of Hawaiians for housing, job opportunities, education, and health-care.  And, if any of this public money is being fraudulently used, OHA and the Roll Commission must be held accountable.”

Mr. Lilly added in a statement to Grassroot Institute: “The procurement code was established to ensure transparency and openness in public bidding, to ensure everyone has an equal right to bid on public contracts and to protect public funds from being overspent on insider deals.”

The letters from Mr. Lilly referenced above as well as the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission’s check register and expenses are posted at Grassroot Institute’s Transparency website, OpenHawaii.org.

About Grassroot President:
Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.,  is a recognized scholar, educator, public policy spokesperson, and community leader in Hawaii.  Currently, he is President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited, accountable government.  An expert in East-West Philosophy and ethics, Dr. Akina has taught at universities in China and the United States and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.  Dr. Akina was a candidate for Trustee at Large of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in the 2014 General Election run-off.