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.

Commentary – Students Rights Violation, UH Hilo Elections 2015

On April 2, 2015 we, University of Hawaii at Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) candidates, Jennifer Ruggles and Briki Cajandig, were disqualified to run for elected positions by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin. We had been given permission to run for office by the UHHSA Election Committee and UHHSA Executive Board.

The news was a surprise to us because we are not only  unable to run for the seats we were approved to run for, but we are no longer able to run for any UHHSA seats whatsoever; we are not allowed to run for positions we would have been otherwise eligible for, according to the decision of the Vice Chancellor.  We received the notice from the Vice Chancellor 5 days before the election, long after our names had been listed on the official roster for this year’s election candidates.

We believe this decision violates our rights; we are appealing the decision with the Chancellor of UH Hilo (please see attached appeal). The 2015 election is taking place from April 7, 2015, and goes until  today, Thursday, April 9 2015.

UHHSA has a history of questionable election practices as can be seen here: www.stopuhcorruption.com/uh-hilo.

UH Hilo corruption

We are happy to meet with any members of the press to discuss our unfortunate situation.

Mahalo – Disqualified UHHSA candidates, Jennifer Ruggles and Briki Cajandig

Attachments:

A)

Aloha Elections Committee,

My name is Briki Cajandig and I am emailing you today because I believe my student rights have been violated. The Executive Board and Elections Committee of UHHSA requested to waive the requirements listed in our constitution due to my prior experience and successful contributions to the current senate. VCSA Gail Makuakane-London’s approval of the request was necessary for advancement as stated within our constitution, though this seems to be a requirement that only pertains to our campus. She has disapproved of the UHHSA Executive Board’s request to waive the UHHSA Constitution and this has led to the disqualification of my UHHSA candidacy for any position in the current elections. I find this to be a direct violation of my rights as a student given that both committees went through the proper, lengthy steps to waive this requirement; these steps are also documented within our constitution. I find that the VCSA’s decision directly negates the opinion of the Executive Committee and Executive Board. If both groups are willing to accept a student’s candidacy, the final decision should not be determined by one administrational figure. These rights should remain within the hands of the student body representatives. The VCSA announced her decision five days before elections, allowing no time for an alternate route of action. I believe that I should be allowed to run or considered as a qualified participant in this year’s Senate; listed below are the reasons why my eligibility is valid and justified.

  1. Up until March 13th I believed that my run for data director would be acknowledged and approved. I was under this impression because of the reassurance I was given by members of both the Executive Board and Elections Committee.
  2. 13 March 2015: Submitted all required documentation and 30+ student signatures for nomination as Data Director
  3. 18 March 2015: was emailed an invitation to attend the mandatory candidates meeting, implying that I was indeed a candidate in this year’s elections
  4. 19 March 2015: submitted additional documents (resume, UHHSA Senator duties and accomplishments, etc.) to accommodate the VCSA’s review of my credentials
  5. I was listed as the unopposed candidate for Data Director on the following website: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/vote/ . This post was taken down 2 April 2015.
  6. 2 April 2015: Elections Committee Chair Jarod Campbell emailed me stating, “I’m sorry to inform you that you have been deemed by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs as ineligible to run for the position that you applied for in the UHHSA elections. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. The Elections Committee has taken all steps that were necessary to attempt to allow you to run for your position.” The letter Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin sent the elections committee is attached.
  7. On April 2nd, Jennifer Ruggles and I met with the Elections Committee and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane-Lundin, where we presented a written request to understand our disqualification and discuss options that contained the possibility of rectifying the situation. When an election committee member asked Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin why she denied the suspension, she stated, “I went to your own guidelines, your guidelines are real clear, your constitution is very clear, because if others knew they could run for office without the same criteria, they should have also been allowed to do that, people didn’t know that.” The constitution’s eligibility article is referred to eight times in the election packet, (pages 1, 3 ,4, 6, 7, and 8) and made publicly available on the UHHSA website. Other students were given the same opportunity as me in regards to availability and comprehension of the constitution. Myself and all other potential candidates had the same criteria available for reference; everything Jennifer and I were able to access was just as attainable for the rest of the students at UH Hilo. Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin’s reason that students would not be able to infer that the constitution had the potential to be waived is inaccurate; therefore, her decision to deny the suspension and disqualify my candidacy is unjust.
  8. The Data Director slot I had been campaigning for was one that had no other contestants besides me; running unopposed meant that no one else wanted to compete for the seat. It seems detrimental towards the progression of the elections process by denying the only candidate that had shown interest in the position.

In the UHHSA By-Laws the following statement describes the responsibilities of the Elections Committee; they fulfill their duties by being in charge of:

“Facilitating all aspects of the UHHSA elections which take place every year during the Spring semester, for promoting UHHSA throughout the entire year in order to ensure candidate competition for each of UHHSA’s senator positions, and for filling any open positions on the UHHSA senate as they may or may not become vacant throughout the year.” (Bold added).

On April 2nd, Mrs. Makuakane-Lundin stated, “You were given the wrong information and can appeal which would nullify the entire vote or the election which may mean the entire election would have to be postponed to another period.”

I understand that the voting period has already begun, and that it will more than likely proceed without my name on the ballot. What I am requesting though, is a reconsideration of my disqualification and a rectified chance to ensure my candidacy. I am respectfully calling for the Elections committee to perform its duty to ensure candidate competition, and to fill open UHHSA positions through appropriately amending the situation.

Thank you for your time and undivided attention.

Mahalo,

Briki Cajandig

 

B)

My name is Jennifer Ruggles and I am writing to you because I believe I was unjustly disqualified for running in the student government election and should be able to run. Below is the sequence of events that brings this appeal to your attention:

  1. Article Two, Section B (4) b, of the UHHSA constitution states, “If applicants don’t meet the requirements for an open UHHSA executive position, the Executive Board reserves the right to request a suspension of Article Two, Section B, number 4 of the constitution with approval from the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.”
  2. On Tuesday, March 7th I told UHHSA Election Committee Chair, Jarod Campbell, in person that I was considering running for President and that if he did not believe I could run for President, I would run for CoBE Senator instead. Mr. Campbell responded that he believed the ¾ year experience I had in UHHSA sufficed for the requirement and that I could run for President.
  3. On March 8th, I sent a letter of application and resume to the chair of the elections committee so that the committee could consider my qualifications and determine if my ¾ year CSO experience and related job experience would justify a suspension the constitutional requirement of 1 year CSO experience.
  4. On March 8th, I received an email from Chair Jarod Campbell responding: “I have spoke with the elections committee about you running for president. We agreed that you should be allowed to run for an executive position. You will be considered along the list of all the other applicants. Mahalo, Jarod”
  5. I turned in my completed election packet including 35 student nominations, (20 of which were CoBE students), for the President position, on the deadline, March 13th.
  6. On March 18th I received an email from the the elections committee inviting me to the mandatory candidates meeting which I attended on March 19th.
  7. On March 26th I was told by Jarod Campbell and Ardena Saarinen that her candidacy was confirmed in an UHHSA Executive Committee meeting.
  8. I was listed on the following website as candidate for UHHSA president: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/vote/ and was removed on April 2, 2015.
  9. On April 2nd, Elections Committee Chair Jarod Campbell emailed me stating, “I’m sorry to inform you that you have been deemed by the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs as ineligible to run for the position that you applied for in the UHHSA elections. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. The Elections Committee has taken all steps that were necessary to attempt to allow you to run for your position.” The letter

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane Lundin sent the elections committee is attached. Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s letter refers to Article Two, Section B (4) b of the constitution that requires 1 year CSO experience for executive positions and does not acknowledge that this same article provides an exception to this rule if certain requirements are met. The elections committee met the requirements outlined in Article Two, Section B (4) b.

Up to March 13th I had to opportunity to run for CoBE senator and the sequence of events from March 7th to March 13th mislead me to believe I could run as President. On April 2nd, Briki Cajandig and I met with the Election Committee and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail Makuakane Lundin and presented a written request to understand the disqualification and discuss options possibly remedy the situation. As Mrs. Makuakane Lundin addressed the elections committee she stated, “ when you reached out to me about the candidates and the Vice Chancellor Kelly Oaks and you asked us what did we think, and we went straight to your constitution and we also looked at your election packet, and we highlighted the statements about what you needed to perform…and if you

wanted to suspend the rules, you would have to follow that procedure and we left it at that” The Elections Committee performed their duties as required by the bylaws and followed every rule in the constitution related my candidacy. When an election committee member asked Mrs. Makuakane Lundin why she denied the suspension, she stated, “I went to your own guidelines, your guidelines are real clear, your constitution is very clear, because if others knew they could run for office without the same criteria, they should have also been allowed to do that, people didn’t know that.” The constitution’s eligibility article is referred to eight times in the election packet, (pages 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8) and made publicly available on the UHHSA website. Other students had same opportunity as me to know they could run for office without the same criteria. Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s reason that others did not know they could suspend the constitution is inaccurate and therefore I believe I have been unjustly disqualified from the election.

Due to the sequence of events that occurred between March 7th and April 2nd, the fact that the constitution has been followed, and and the decision to disqualify me is unjust, I am hereby requesting to appeal Mrs. Makuakane Lundin’s decision.

I sincerely thank you for consideration and time.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Ruggles

Commentary – Call for Moratorium on TMT is “Grandstanding”

The Thirty Meter Telescope project went through a seven year public vetting process, which included a lengthy contested case hearing for the conservation district use permit. The hearing officer upheld the BLNR’s findings, so the BLNR granted the CDUP and the site lease.

The University of Hawaii also implemented a comprehensive management plan for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve. This was mandated after the Keck Outrigger decision. The comprehensive management plan has imposed strict conditions on future telescope projects on Mauna Kea. The TMT will be last new telescope constructed on Mauna Kea; future telescopes will recycle existing facilities and footprint.

In short, I strongly believe OHA Trustee Apo’s call to place a temporary moratorium on the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope is pure and simple grandstanding.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Thirty Meter Telescope Project Manager Gary Sanders Statement

The time has come to allow TMT access to the public roadway and the TMT project site.
TMT laser
TMT, its contractors and their union employees have been denied access to our project site by a blockaded road. Our access via a public road has been blocked by protestors and we have patiently waited for law enforcement to allow our workers the access to which they are entitled. We sat in our vehicles for eight hours awaiting a peaceful resolution from law enforcement. There was no resolution and our access continues to be denied.

Our permitting and sublease process was a lengthy seven-year public process and agency review.

Our Conservation District Use Permit was upheld in a Contested Case hearing where the Hearings Officer concluded that TMT is consistent with the purpose of the Conservation District and should be granted its permit. The State Board of Land and Natural Resources agreed and issued a CDUP. Third Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura heard the CDUP appeal and ruled in favor of TMT. Subsequently, the Land Board approved TMT’s sublease with the University of Hawaii. Earlier this month, on March 6, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources  issued a Notice to Proceed noting that TMT had met all preconstruction requirements in the CDUP and associated management plan.

A flyer that was distributed recently

A flyer that was distributed recently

We’ve been patient, but the time has come to allow us access to the public roadway and our project site.

Gary Sanders, TMT Project Manager

 

Commentary – Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division Desecrates Memorial

Over the last year, Skydive Hawaii has won a formal Part 16 FAA Hearing regarding economic discrimination and exclusivity of use at Hana Airport – violations of FAA AIF Grant Assurances 22 and 23. Earlier this year, in the Supreme Court of Hawaii, we provided oral arguments on the limitations of the ability of the Director of Transportation to make rules at airports owned by the United States of America (Dillingham Airfield).

In 2005, the State of Hawaii DOT-A was found moving sand containing human bones to local North Shore resident Thomas Shirai’s property. At that time the DOT-A blamed the contractor, Stay and Sons for the problem.

Click to enlarge

The present barrier (click to enlarge)

On March 19, 2015, Mr. Curtis Lau and another maintenance worker at Dillingham Airfield, under the direct supervision of Mike Navares, erected a second rope barrier between the skydive memorial at Dillingham Airfield and Skydive Hawaii. Prior to commencing with the project, Frank Hinshaw, President at Skydive Hawaii explained to Mr. Lau and his worker that putting a barrier up would only serve to cause outrage in the skydiver community.

An aircraft crash into Pearl Harbor on December 5, 1981 took the lives of 11 skydivers. In their memory a memorial was established at their home, Dillingham Airfield. The memorial is simple, a large rock with a bronze plaque and 11 milo trees in a circular arrangement symbolizing the “round or star” skydiving formation.

Skydiving Memorial

At the time the State DOT-A said that the area would not be rented or leased under revocable permit. Over the years, the skydiving community has lost more friends, but this memorial has served as a place of all their remembrances. The staff of Skydive Hawaii has maintained the memorial, cutting the grass, raking the leaves, and keeping the trees trimmed for the last 25 years and at no time was access to anyone restricted in any manner.

Friday, January 30, Mike Navares, verbally notified this company that beginning February 1 2015 the State had leased the skydiver memorial to Pacific Skydiving, a commercial company. The State and Pacific skydiving understood that the area was a skydive memorial and that this would be considered as an act of disrespect.

Desecration 2

Barrier in early February

A Pacific Skydiving business sign was moved onto the “memorial property.”A first rope barrier was put up and rocks moved in the front of the memorial to prevent access. Outraged skydivers removed the first rope barrier.

While it appears to us that the State DOT-A is using the desecration of the skydiver memorial as retribution to our FAA hearing win and likely future victory at the Hawaii Supreme Court, the memorial held sacred by skydivers and representing the memories of those who have preceded us on that eternal flight should be held above commercialization and willful desecration by our State government.

Frank Hinshaw,
Skydive Hawaii

Skydivers

2011 group of friends at the memorial – 30th anniversary of the plane crash.

Commentary – Group Disappointed in Child Molester Sentence

We’re appalled that an admitted child molesting teacher may spend just a year in prison.

We are deeply disappointed in Judge Glenn Kim’s decision to jail William Plourde so briefly. And we call on him to publicly explain why he gave such a lenient sentence – more appropriate for a purse snatcher than a child molester.

William Plourde

William Plourde

We beg officials in the Hawaii Catholic Church to aggressively reach out to anyone who saw, suspects, or suffered child sex crimes by Plourde and urge them to call police and prosecutors so that he might be charged again and kept away from kids longer. We suspect, based on our group’s 25 year history, that other current or former staff at Sacred Hearts Academy had inklings that Plourde had sexually violated kids but kept silent. We hope they’ll find the courage to step forward now.

It’s very possible that Plourde could be prosecuted and convicted for other child sex crimes. But the best way to make that happen is for Catholic school and church officials to use their vast resources to prod though who may have information or suspicions about Plourde to call law enforcement right away.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Commentary – Lack of Redundancy Caused Inconvenience

Hawaiian Telcom’s main fiber-optic trunk cable for West Hawaii was damaged three times over the past year (twice in the same week). These outages were a major  inconvenience for anyone making a purchase or trying to make a phone call. In addition, residents living from Waikoloa to Pahala were not able to call 911 to report any emergencies.

The lack of redundancy is the culprit of these outages. Oceanic Time Warner Cable and Hawaiian Telcom have a fiber-optic cables going from Kawaihae to the Kona area. Oceanic’s fiber traverses along Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Hawaiian Telcom’s  goes along Highway 190.

However, these fiber-optic cables end in the Pahala area and don’t circle the island. So, a simple tree limb can knock out service to a large part of our island.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs estimates it will cost 6 million  dollars to extend the fiber-optic cable between Volcano and Pahala, which will eliminate this dead zone and create a true fiber-optic ring around the Big Island. This added redundancy will help minimize these recent outages in the future.

I hope the County of Hawaii, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, Hawaiian Telcom and the Federal government can work together to help resolve this issue, as our economic well being and public safety is at stake if this not resolved soon.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Daniel K. Inouye Highway Extension Should Remain on the STIP

The proposed Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension should remain on the STIP in lieu of the Kawaihae bypass.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Photo by Aaron Stene

Yes, I know the Kamuela community has tried to advance the Kawaihae bypass for a very long time. However, I believe the time to construct this highway has passed.

The cost of the Kawaihae bypass has increased to 280 million dollars. HDOT estimated the cost of this project to be about 130 million dollars back in 2009. I don’t think its prudent to commit this much federal highway  funds to one project, especially when there is other highway projects statewide in dire need of funding

The Federal Highway Trust Fund is practically insolvent. This means there will be less Federal highway funds available over the next couple years. This is why we need to take a long, hard look at what highway projects should move forward and which ones shouldn’t.

I firmly believe constructing a mini-bypass road around the dry side of Kamuela, doing safety improvements to the existing Kawaihae Road, and constructing the  Daniel K. Inouye Highway Extension will help ease Kawaihae Road’s traffic and safety deficiencies.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Palamanui Developers Asking for Concessions From County

The developer of the Palamanui project, which is home to the future Hawaii Community College at Palamanui, is again asking for concessions from Hawaii County.

The ground breaking of Palamanui Campus

The ground breaking of Palamanui Campus

This time they’re asking for a time extension to construct the University Drive Extension between the college campus and Queen Kaahumanu Highway . In addition, they’re asking for relief from constructing a new mauka-makai roadway between the college and Mamalahoa Highway.

The developer(s) of this project have spent over 20 million dollars on infrastructure improvements for their project and the new college campus. I firmly believe they’ve gone above and beyond with their investment back into the community. This is why I believe the county, the developer and the community need to work together to find a mutually agreeable solution to this issue. It would be a real loss for the community if Palamanui’s hand is forced and they have to suspend their project. Everyone would lose in this in scenario.

Palamanui has offered to contribute 3 million dollars to start work on the next segment of the Ane Keohokalole Highway in lieu of construction of the new mauka-makai connector. The county could expedite the design and obtain the environmental clearances for this highway segment as a result.

I firmly believe extending Ane Keohokalole Highway will help with regional traffic circulation more than extending University Drive between the Mamalahoa Highway and the college campus.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – The Department of Transportation Needs Strong Leadership and Fresh Perspective

I’m a concerned citizen, who closely follows county and state highway projects on the Big Island. I believe its important to monitor these new projects, especially since the State and county are using taxpayer dollars to build these new highways. This is why I’ve spent so much of my free time being a community transportation advocate.

The centralized Oahu Hawaii Department of Transportation leadership, along with the Federal Highways Administration, has treated people like myself as enemies of the state. I’ve had to jump through hoops to get any updates through alternative means over the past four years as a result. These departments really need to embrace the public’s
participation and be more transparent.

Soon-to-be Governor David Ige promised to conduct his administration in a more transparent fashion. However, this is only part of the solution to the issues facing the HDOT. Governor Abercrombie’s HDOT appointees had no leadership and public relation skills. This has to change under Governor Ige’s watch. The HDOT needs strong leadership to push several stalled projects, such as the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening phase 2 and the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase, forward.

I hope Governor Ige fulfills his campaign promises, as Hawaii can’t afford four more years of spinning its wheels.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Mississippi Children Response Team Offering Workshop for Puna Residents

The community is invited to attend “Hope in Crisis: Helping Children and Families Impacted by Disaster” workshop. This workshop will give families insight into how children react to disaster and ways to help children find healing. The workshop will equip families with tools and resources for the recovery process and learning to make things better for their families and the community.

The Puna Baptist Church

The Puna Baptist Church

“Hope in Crisis: Helping Children and Families Impacted by Disaster” will be held at Puna Baptist Church, 15-3188 Pahoa-Kapoho Road near Nanawale Estates on Saturday, October 25th beginning at 9:00 AM. This workshop is sponsored by the Mississippi Children Response Team of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Effort. For more information please call Puna Baptist Church at 965-9970.

Commentary – Growing Weary of the National Park Service

I’m growing weary of the National Park Service’s repeated attempts to stop development in North Kona. They’ve held up three different projects that I’m aware of over the past 14 years. The NPS has intervened in the Kaloko Makai, Kaloko Industrial Park expansion (phases III and IV) and the second phase of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening.

The latter project was slated to start in 2011, but the National Park Service intervened and requested a Section 106 consultation. This opened the door for other Native Hawaiian Organizations to intervene. The net result of these delays is approximately 100 construction workers are on the bench and a much-needed highway widening is stalled.

The National Park Service also intervened in TSA Corporation’s petition to reclassify 102 acres of land for the Kaloko Light Industrial Park expansion.They did a case study titled “Using State Laws And Regulations To Protect Parks From Adjacent evelopment”, which detailed their actions in this matter.

The TSA Corporation wasn’t able to start construction until mid 2007 due to the National Park’s intervention. However, the overall economy was sliding into the Great Recession at that time. These lots remain unsold to this day. The TSA Corporation never recouped their 43 million dollar investment as a result.

History is about to repeat itself on a more devastating scale if the Commission on Water Resource Management approves the NPS’s petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer  as a water management area. The Department of Water Supply won’t be issuing new water meters until they can determine how much existing usage there is. In addition, all new requests for water will have to go through a quasi-judicial contested case hearing. This isn’t a quick process, as various experts will be presenting  contradictory information during these proceedings.

The National Park Service actions will undoubtedly affect future economic growth in North Kona as a result. Their actions are not only wasting taxpayer money, but also puts the residents on North Kona in harms way.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Central Federal Lands Highway Division’s Lack of Transparency

The Central Federal Lands Highway Division has partnered with the Hawaii Department of Transportation to do improvements to eleven bridges statewide, along with three upcoming Daniel K. Inouye Highway phases (SR200(3),  Daniel K. Inouye Highway Extension and west side Daniel K. Inouye Highway runaway escape ramps).

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi
dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

This CFLHD/HDOT partnership has already resulted in much-needed improvements to 40.27 out of 45.97 miles to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. This is something everyone involved can be proud of. However, the HDOT and CFLHD need to do a better job engaging the public. These
agencies have done a poor job thus far. I had to get updates through the project engineer between 2004-2011 because the CFLHD’s Daniel K. Inouye Highway project website was never updated.

Dave Gedeon, the said project engineer up until late 2011, then passed me off to Mike Will. He and Mark Lloyd provided updates up until mid-2013. Then he stated I had to go through the Hawaii Department of Transportation public affairs office for any additional updates. I had to go through other sources since then, as its nearly impossible to get any response from the HDOT public affairs office.

I escalated my complaints to Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of Transportation and Gregory Nadeau, the acting FHWA administrator, recently. Mr. Nadeau reiterated that I should go through the HDOT public affairs office and told me the CFLHD’s Daniel K. Inouye Highway website would be updated on a regular basis.

I highly doubt the CFLHD or HDOT will follow through on Mr. Nadeau’s promises, which is why I am writing this commentary. The CFLHD and HDOT need to do a better job engaging the public’s participation in these projects.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Mayor Kenoi Statement on FEMA Denial of Funds for Iselle Victims

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for individual assistance:

“We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.”

Renowned Big Island Artist Announces First Ever Appearance in Florida

Renowned local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker officially confirmed his first ever personal appearance in Orlando Florida September 5th. This event is planned in collaboration with surf giant Body Glove, who celebrated their 60th Anniversary on the Big Island last year.

Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker and Billy Meistrell

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker and Billy Meistrell

“Billy Meistrell, whose Dad founded Body Glove back in 1953 and I will be signing DVD’s calendars, towels, mugs and limited edition collectable swag at Aku Aku Tiki Bar” said Parker.

A debut of the star-studded Body Glove/Centurion Boats Wake movie, filmed entirely on location in the Middle East, is also scheduled for the same night. “You will not want to miss this party for the world” said Abbas Hassan of Tiki Shark Art Inc “Other than the Big Island, Florida is the next best venue for an event like this” he added.

This FREE event is taking place on Friday September 5 -2014 starting at 7:30 PM at Aku Aku Tiki Bar.

http://www.mahalotiki.com/

Senator Russell Ruderman on Friday’s Historic Vote – Endorses Schatz

Senator Russell Ruderman

Senator Russell Ruderman

Aloha Puna voters,

I hope you are all safe and recovering from Iselle. Hopefully most of you have electricity, and the rest will have it soon!

The voting issues caused by the storm are complex and frustrating. I am doing all I can to draw attention to the need for Puna voters impacted by the storm to have a fair opportunity to vote. For those assigned to a Pahoa voting place who were unable to vote, the issue remains unresolved.

For those assigned to HPP or Keonopoko, you will vote this Friday at Keonopoko, 7 am – 6 pm.

Both HPP voters and Keonopoko voters will vote at Keonopoko!

I am writing to encourage you to vote on Friday if this includes you. Due to the delayed voting, you will be the deciding votes in at least 3 races:

U.S. Senate
State Rep. Dist. 4
County Council Dist. 4

I urge you to vote for Brian Schatz for U. S. Senate.

Brian has been helpful in our crisis. More importantly he has reached out to me long before this election, before Puna become the momentary center of attention.

Brian has an excellent understanding of Puna’s real needs, including our need for transportation improvements, medical and emergency services, communications and connectivity, and more. Brian will be taking the lead in seeking funds for albizzia control as a long term, disaster preparedness issue.

Brian is approachable, honest, sincere, humble, and cares about people.

Above all, for me, Brian is a true environmentalist. He has shown concern for global warming, getting off oil, and invasive species, among other. Such concern is exactly what we need in Washington.

So please vote on Friday if you are in this group, and vote for Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate.

Mahalo,

Russell Ruderman, Hawai‘i State Senator

Commentary – Daniel K. Inouye Extension Needs To Be Constructed

The South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee recently submitted a letter criticizing the HDOT for deleting the proposed Waimea Bypass from the FY2015-2018 +2 STIP in lieu of the Daniel K. Inouye (formerly SaddleRoad) extension.

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi
dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

I agree Kawaihae Road is in dire need of safety improvements. There is no way this can be disputed. However, I don’t think it is fiscally prudent to construct a 5 mile bypass road that would benefit only a
small subset of the population. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension, on the other hand, will reduce the amount of traffic on both Waikoloa Road and Kawaihae Road.

Both of these substandard roadways are currently handling inbound and outbound military and commercial traffic heading back and forth from Kawaihae. It would make sense to construct a new highway between Queen Kaahumanu and Daniel K. Inouye Highway to relieve the burden on Kawaihae and Waikoloa Roads.

The United States Highway Trust Fund is practically insolvent, so I strongly believe we need to construct highway projects that will benefit the most people. I believe the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension is the best choice in these fiscally constrained times.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Following the Money in Local Politics? There’s an Site/App for That!

Hi Damon,

I’m working with Common Cause Hawaii (along with an organization I co-founded called Hawaii Open Data) to spread the word about new tools designed to help Hawaii residents get a better view of how local government works. With the Primary Election looming next week, it’s the perfect time to try them out.

I wanted to encourage you to consider covering these web apps, which all work with publicly available data from the Campaign Spending Commission, but offer different ways to make sense of it. As the data is statewide, there’s also an additional opportunity to gain insight into candidates and campaigns on Hawaii Island specifically.

Here’s a list of the free apps, each of which was created by a local developer (or team of coders) that participated in the Civic*Celerator, a tech competition that challenged geeks to build something to encourage greater participation in civic life and greater transparency in government: http://civic.celerator.org/apps/

Though we’re not talking fun and games like Angry Birds here, I hope the value of these apps to the community is clear. :)

Examples? Perhaps the most compelling web app, visually, is the Hawaii Campaign Spending Data tool by Jason Axelson. Beautiful yet intuitive graphic representations of campaign spending by office (governor, Hawaii county council, OHA, etc.), candidate, party, category… just click around for a minute or two, and some interesting patterns will emerge: http://viz.hawaiicampaignspending.com/

spending data

Spending data 2Or here’s an app by Royce Jones that includes both candidate filing information and campaign spending information, and links it to an easily-navigated map of the islands: http://civic-celerator.maps.arcgis.com/home/

Spending data 3

You can figure out which voting precinct you’re in, who’s running, who’s donating to their campaigns, and even see online exactly what your ballot will look like.

Spending data 4

These only scratch the surface of these free tools, created for everyday people by (slightly geekier) every day people. While there’s been volumes and volumes of data available for years, now a growing corps of “civic hackers” are building ways to make sense of it all.

Not only do I think these web apps would make for a great “tech for good” story, but I think bloggers like you could actually use them to generate a number of other interesting stories. Which candidate spent the most on food on Hawaii Island? Which political party, besides the Democrats, is fielding the most candidates for public office statewide? The possibilities, once you begin to explore the data in new ways, are endless.

Please let me know if you’d like to speak to someone about these tools. I can help connect you with some of the organizers of the Civic*Celerator for the big picture, or help set up a walk through from one of the developers for an in-depth tour of any of the apps. Just reply to this email and I’ll get the ball rolling. Otherwise, feel free to try them out, review them or post a tour, whatever you think will help demonstrate the value of campaign spending data and these volunteer-built apps.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Burt Lum, Hawaii Open Data

Star-Advertiser Poll Confirms that Majority Oppose Federal Involvement in Native Hawaiian Recognition

A new online poll by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser confirms that despite continued support from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a significant majority are opposed to the federal government’s involvement in the creation of a Native Hawaiian government.

Advertiser PollThe poll, which appeared on the Star-Advertiser website as a daily poll question for July 15, 2014, asked, “Should the U.S. Department of Interior keep open the process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians?” An overwhelming 67% of those responding voted “No,” while only 33% supported the continuation of the DOI’s efforts.

In light of the strong opposition voiced at the recent DOI hearings, these results were not a surprise. Support for the nation-building process has waned over the years, but the recent efforts from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the federal response from the Department of the Interior have met with increasing criticism. Many Hawaiian citizens are concerned to see the nation-building process pursued so vigorously despite the many questions that have been raised about it.

“The people of Hawaii have put up a giant flashing ‘Stop’ sign for OHA and the federal government to see” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “In every possible venue they are expressing opposition to the state’s race-based nation-building program.   The question shouldn’t be whether the people support a Native Hawaiian government. The question should be whether the State will finally listen to the voice of the people and abandon this wasteful and divisive effort.”

“After the expenditure of millions of dollars and considerable influence, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has still failed to convince the People of the merit of its nation-building effort,” continued Dr. Akina. “How much more will they throw away on this process? These resources could be better spent helping the people of Hawaii in real and substantial ways such as improving educational achievement or job training. Let us hope that OHA finally hears what the citizens of Hawaii have been trying so hard to tell them–it’s time to get out of the nation-building business.”