New County Council District 4 Office Opens in Pahoa

Councilman Greggor Ilagan, of District 4, reopened his office in Puna after months of renovations and building improvements to the old Pāhoa Police Substation. “The public needs easy access to their government and this new office will help achieve that goal,” said Councilman Ilagan.

Councilman Illagan enters the new office.

Councilman Illagan enters the new office.

The new office is located at 15-2879 Pāhoa Village Road, Pāhoa HI, 96778, and is open Monday through Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. The previous office, located at the Malama Marketplace in Pāhoa, was closed due to budgetary concerns. This office move saves taxpayers over $24,000 annually in rent and associated fees.

This space will also be available for other County departments to utilize as needed. Immigration services will operate from this office beginning April 4, and will continue thereafter on every first Friday of the month. Other services from the Housing and Mass Transit Department may become available in the future.

“Please come and visit; our doors are open for anyone with concerns, comments and suggestions,” said Councilman Ilagan. The video conferencing site for public testimony will remain at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2710 Kauhale Street, Pāhoa HI, 96778.

 

On the Agenda for Tomorrow’s Hawaii County Council Meeting

Here are the things on the agenda for tomorrow’s Hawaii County Council meeting:

countylogo

Council Index ~ Wednesday, March 19, 2014 ~ Kona Council Chambers:

9:00 a.m          PETITIONS, CERTIFICATES OF MERIT, AND EXPRESSIONS OF CONDOLENCE

  • Boy Scouts of America – Eagle Scout:          Certificates of Merit for Andrew Creitz and James Shalen, Dru Kanuha
  • Kohala by the Sea Firewise Community:          Certificate of Merit for ten years of dedication, etc., M. Wille

9:30 a.m.         STATEMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC ON AGENDA ITEMS

COMMUNICATIONS

  1. Comm. 675:                      NOMINATES WILLIAM MEYERS TO PONC COMMISSION, Mayor Kenoi
  2. Comm. 676:                      NOMINATES MS. CAROL R. IGNACIO TO THE FIRE COMMISSION, Mayor Kenoi
  3. Comm. 705:                      NOMINATES JOHN DILL TO ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMISSION, Mayor Kenoi

ORDER OF RESOLUTIONS

  • Res. 243-13:          FORD CRF, Dist. 6, $180 to Mass Transit for Bus Passes for Domestic Abuse Shelter       C548.1:                       Transmits amendment to Reso to increase amount of appropriation from B. Ford.
  • Res. 317-14:          EOFF CRF, Dist. 8, $1,000 to Liquor Control for Creating Readers in Babies – Twinkling Stars
  • Res. 319-14:          ILAGAN CRF, Dist. 4, $1,500 to Prosecutors for Puna JPO Program for Appreciation Day
  • Res. 320-14:          ONISHI CRF, Dist. 3, $3,000 to Fire Dept. for tracking bracelets and remote tracking devices
  • Res. 321-14:          KANUHA CRF, Dist. 7, $5,000 to Parks and Rec for Kailua Playground
  • Res. 322-14:          KANUHA CRF, Dist. 7, $2,000 to Parks and Rec for Table Tennis Tables
  • Res. 323-14:          KERN CRF, Dist. 5, $2,000 to Parks and Rec for Tobacco Free Signs in Puna
  • Res. 324-14:          YOSHIMOTO CRF, Dist. 2, $10K to Parks and Rec for annual fireworks display in Hilo Bay
  • Res. 325-14:          ILAGAN CRF, Dist. 4, $5,000 to Public Works for 20 tons aggregate material
  • Res. 326-14:          POINDEXTER CRF, Dist. 1, $7,000 to Parks and Rec for Honoka’a Western Week
  • Res. 327-14:          KERN CRF, Dist. 5, $3,226 to Police Dept. for Stealth Stat Self Radar to enforce speed limits
  • Res. 328-14:          EOFF CRF, Dist. 8, $3,000 to Civil Defense for C.E.R.T. and Neighborhood Watch
  • Res. 331-14:          AUTHORIZES MAYOR Re: Agreement to provide Work Comp. Services for P&R and Police
  • Res. 333-14:          ONISHI CRF, Dist. 3, $700 to Prosecutor for Ohana Fun Day for supplies

BILLS FOR ORDINANCES (FIRST READING)

  • Bill 216:                Re: OPERATING BUDGET, Approp. $5K for aggregate material for repair of Puna unpaved roads

ORDER OF THE DAY (SECOND OR FINAL READING)

  • Bill 196:                Re: PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, Establishes appropriations of $2,300,121 for various specific projects
  • Bill 197:                Re: OPERATING BUDGET, Approp. $274,703 for Capital Projects Fund for Public Works
  • Bill 198:                Re: PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, Adds $20 Million for Hokulia/Mamalahoa Bypass, etc.

REPORTS

  • Financial Report:   Monthly Budget Status Report for the Month Ended October 31, 2013, from the Department of Finance.

REFERRALS FOR EXECUTIVE SESSION

  • Res. 331-14:          AUTHORIZES MAYOR Re: Agreement to provide Work Comp. Services for P&R and Police Dept.

Today at the Hawaii County Council Meeting – Re: VOLCANO-PĀHOA Emergency Road Project

Here is what was scheduled to be discussed at today’s Hawaii County Council meeting (note agenda item 4):

Hawaii County Logo

Committee Index ~ March 18, 2014 ~ Kona Council Chambers

9:00 a.m.         GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE

1.   Comm. 10.15:       HSAC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES

2.   Comm. 10.16:       HSAC SPECIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES

9:45 a.m.         AGRICULTURE, WATER and ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE

3.   Comm. 721:          PRESENTATION BY PETER YOUNG, RE: KEAUHOU AQUIFER SYSTEM

Comm. 721.1: Submit power point presentation materials by Peter Young, from Dru Kanuha

12:45 p.m.       PUBLIC SAFETY and MASS TRANSIT COMMITTEE

4.   Comm. 697:          Discussion and Formation of AD HOC Re: VOLCANO-PĀHOA Emergency Road Project

1:15 p.m.         PLANNING COMMITTEE

5.   Comm. 729:          NOMINATION OF MR. JAY UYEDA TO THE WATER BOARD

6.   Comm. 730:          NOMINATION OF COLLIN KAHOLO TO THE LEEWARD PLANNING COMMISSION

7.   Bill 211:                Re: SLU, AG TO URBAN AT KEONEPOKO, PUNA, Applicant:  Jerry Souza, 1 acre

Bill 212:          REZONE, A-1a to CV-20, Applicant: Jerry Souza, 1 acre

8.   Bill 213:                REZONE, Time Ext., RS-10 to MCX-20 at Waiakea, Applicant: Waterfall Ent., 21,000 sf

9.   Bill 214:                REZONE, RM 2.5 to RM-1.5, at Waiakea, S. Hilo, Applicant: Vincent Tai, 3.2 acres

3:00 p.m.         PUBLIC WORKS and PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE

10.  Bill 200:               RELATING TO 20 MPH Speed Limit, adds Haunani Road, Puna

11.  Bill 201:               RELATING TO SPEED LIMITS, amends provision re portion of Haunani Road, Puna

12.  Bill 202:               RELATING TO MOVING VEHICLES, adds portion of Ka’alaiki Road, Ka’u

13.  Bill 203:               RELATING TO NO PARKING AT ANYTIME, adds portion of West Kawili, S. Hilo

14.  Bill 204:               RELATING TO BUS STOPS AND PUBLIC ROAD TAXI STANDS, portions of Banyan Drive

15.  Bill 205:               RELATING TO PARKING, revises re prohibited parking along Banyan Drive

16.  Bill 206:               RELATING TO PARKING, revises re prohibited parking during certain hours on Banyan Drive 17.  17.  Bill 207:                      RELATING TO FREIGHT LOADING ZONES, revises freight zone locations on Banyan Drive 18.  18.  Bill 217:             RE: PARKS & REC FACILITY, names Honoka‘a stadium, “Rose Andrade Correia Stadium”

3:45 p.m.         FINANCE COMMITTEE

19.  Comm. 3.31:        REPORT OF CHANGE ORDERS AUTHORIZED:  JANUARY 16 – 31, 2014

20.  Comm. 3.32:        REPORT OF CHANGE ORDERS AUTHORIZED:  FEBRUARY 1 – 15, 2014

21.  Comm. 7.24:        REPORT OF FUND TRANSFERS AUTHORIZED:  JANUARY 16 – 31, 2014

22.  Comm. 7.25:        REPORT OF FUND TRANSFERS AUTHORIZED:  FEBRUARY 1 – 15, 2014

23.  Comm. 117.1:      FAIR SHARE ANNUAL REPORT AS OF JUNE 30, 2013           From Duane Kanuha

24.  Comm. 272.3:      Submits Report from TIH Re: Procedures for Clerk and Elections Re: 2012 Primary and Elections

Comm. 272.4: Submits Summary of Findings by TIH from Lane Shibata

25.  Comm. 704:         2013 ANNUAL REPORT OF PONC COMMISSION, Mayor Kenoi

26.  Res. 308-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT for PERSONAL COMPUTERS AND LAPTOPS FOR I.T.

27.  Res. 316-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT FOR INTERNET FIREWALLS FOR I.T.

28.  Res. 318-14:         ACCEPTS DONATION OF PARCEL FOR MANONO STREET from Violet Camara

29.  Res. 329-14:         Authorizes R&D to award funds to HCEOC, $113K for Transmedia Accelerator Program

30.  Res. 330-14:         AUTHORIZES PAYMENT for NEW PHONE SYSTEM FOR Pros. Atty, Hilo Office

31.  Res. 332-14:         AUTHORIZES FINANCE FOR ACQUISITION OF BANYAN TREES PARK, N. Kohala

32.  Bill 181:               RELATING TO THE CODE OF ETHICS

33.  Bill 210:               Re: OP BUDGET, Approp. $70,000 to purchase equipment for terrorism & other hazards.

34.  Bill 215:               RELATING to Appropriation Of Funds to NP Organizations, (property to belong to the NP)

 

Bill Proposes Sunshine Law Exemptions for City Council Members

Sunshine Week is next week, March 16-22, 2014.  This is an occasion for all of us to celebrate and facilitate citizen participation in government decision making.

But there’s little to celebrate with HB2139 HD 1 Relating to Public Agency Meetings. If passed by the Legislature this measure would create a loophole in Hawaii’s Sunshine Laws and allow a quorum or all members of a county council to attend and participate in discussions at free in-state meetings and presentations held by private interests.

It is common for private interests seeking county land use approvals, private businesses seeking county contracts and ad hoc “NIMBY” groups  to hold “informational meetings and presentations” for the purpose of advocating for or against special interest projects.  Currently, Hawaii’s Sunshine Law does not allow a council quorum to attend a “meeting or presentation”.  This helps prevent one-sided presentations, discussions and vote-trading in private followed by pro-forma public meetings where official votes are taken.

The Sunshine Law ensures that county councils conduct the public’s business in public.  The existing law guarantees the public both advance notice and the opportunity to hear, question, and disagree with any private presentation to a county council quorum.  The existing law also guarantees the public both advance notice and the opportunity to listen to all discussions and decisions by a county council quorum.

HB2139

If HB 2139 HD 1 becomes law, all county council members could be invited to attend an “informational meeting or presentation” organized by proponents of a special interest project.  Prior public notice would not be required.  Only invitees might know about the “meeting or presentation” even if the event were open and “free” to the public.   At the “meeting or presentation”, the proponents could make a one-sided presentation in support of a special interest project and then discuss the project with a quorum or even all council members.  It would be possible for the host to structure the “meeting or presentation” to prevent the public from asking questions or participating in discussions.  Regardless of how many council members participate, minutes would not be required.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii and Common Cause Hawaii are not unsympathetic with county councils members who wish to remain actively engaged with their constituents. However, this does not justify amending the sunshine law to allow county council quorums to attend one-sided private presentations and discuss special interest projects without public notice.

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest. For more information, visit www.commoncause.org/HI

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.   For more information visit www.lwv-hi.com

Council Chairs Seek Return of Projected $72 Million Hotel Tax Revenue to Counties

Council chairs from all four Hawaii counties jointly announced their support for legislation that would repeal the cap on distribution of hotel room tax revenue to the county governments.

County Council Chairs for the Hawaiian Islands

County Council Chairs for the Hawaiian Islands

Council Chairs Gladys Baisa of Maui County, Jay Furfaro of Kauai County, Ernie Martin of the City and County of Honolulu and J Yoshimoto of Hawaii County said they testified  in support of House Bill 1671 (2014), which was before the House Committee on Tourism on Monday, Feb. 3, at 9:30 a.m.

Revenue from the state’s hotel room tax, known as the transient accommodations tax or TAT, is partially remitted to the counties. Citing the state government budget shortfalls, the legislature imposed an artificial cap on the counties’ annual remittance three years ago, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue to each county.

The council chairs said county residents and county governments earn TAT revenue by supporting the visitor industry in countless ways, including by funding tourism promotion, providing police, fire and lifeguard services and maintaining roadways, beach parks and other public infrastructure. They say the revenue should be proportionally returned to the counties, under an established formula.

According to Mike McCartney, CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 8.2 million visitors traveled to Hawaii in 2013, a 2.6 percent increase from 2012, generating a total of $1.5 billion in state tax revenues.

Of the TAT revenue that’s returned to the counties, Kauai County receives 14.5 percent, Hawaii County 18.6 percent, Maui County 22.8 percent and the City and County of Honolulu 44.1 percent. Eliminating the artificial cap on distribution would mean the counties would realize additional annual revenue of more than $10 million each.

“We stand united and humbly ask the state legislators to lift the cap they imposed upon our counties three years ago.  Since then, the economy has improved.” Hawaii County Council Chair Yoshimoto said. “We ask that the State legislators allow the counties to receive our fair share of the TAT revenues so that we can provide the necessary services and meet our obligations to residents and visitors alike.

Hawaii County’s capped TAT revenue is $17.2 million. The TAT revenue distribution for Hawaii County would rise to more than $30 million (based on a projected increase of $13.4 million) if the cap is eliminated.

“In any given day, 21 percent of the population on Kauai is visitors,” Kauai County Council Chair Furfaro said. “It is one of our primary economic engines. If we want them to return to our island, we have to meet their high demands and expectations.”

Kauai County’s annual TAT revenue distribution is currently capped at $13.4 million. With the cap eliminated, Kauai County would expect to get $10.4 million in additional TAT revenue, based on Fiscal Year 2013 projections.

“Over the past few years, Honolulu contributed millions of dollars to upgrade and renovate several areas of Waikiki to enhance the visitor experience,” Honolulu City Council Chair Martin said. “The additional TAT revenues the counties receive would go a long way in maintaining our beaches and parks, to continue to promote our state as a premium visitor destination and, specifically for Honolulu, to avoid enacting poorly conceived revenue-enhancing measures that would negatively infringe upon our well-deserved and longstanding image as one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world.”

The City and County of Honolulu’s projected TAT revenue would be about $72.8 million ($31.8 million more than the current capped amount of $41 million) if the legislature removes the distribution cap.

Maui County’s TAT revenue distribution is projected go up by $16.4 million if HB 1671 is enacted. TAT revenue is currently capped at $21.2 million for Maui County.

“As promised, county officials will have a stronger and united lobbying effort this year to ensure that our constituents and visitors get what they deserve,” said Maui County Council Chair Baisa, noting the Hawaii Council of Mayors and Hawaii State Association of Counties also support repealing the cap. “We encourage the public to join us in supporting this measure by submitting testimony.”

Cumulatively, the counties would receive an estimated $72 million in annual revenue under HB 1671, which was co-introduced by all six members of the House of Representatives from Maui County, including Speaker Joseph M. Souki. During the Jan. 15 opening of the legislature, Speaker Souki expressed support for lifting the TAT cap during his remarks, saying, “It’s time.”

Rep. Tom Brower chairs the House Committee on Tourism. Testimony for HB 1671 is accepted at the legislature’s website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Councilman Ilagan to Introduce Bill 185 – Certified Organic Bill

On Tuesday, February 4, Councilman Ilagan will be introducing Bill 185, which further defines agricultural tax incentives to include an organic produce provision. This bill will be heard in the Finance Committee scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.

Click to read the proposed bill

Click to read the proposed bill

Encouraging the growing certified organic industry is a positive step forward in helping Hawaii County move towards the goal of food self-sufficiency. In conjunction with conventional farming operations, we need to explore and promote all means possible for reducing the amount of food and agricultural products imported into the state.

Bill 185 is a step along this path. Supporting local agricultural activity is not only an economic benefit but can also significantly reduce the threat of importing pests, and lower the possibility of introducing diseases that can threaten native plants and locally produced foods. A thriving agricultural industry is an important part of our island lifestyle, and helping farmers from different agriculture fields will bring us closer to realizing food self-sufficiency on the Big Island.

Highlights of Bill 185:

  1. Certified organic farmers are assessed at the same value as pasture and slow rotation forestry, which is the lowest assessed value per acre for agricultural use.
  2. A certified organic tax relief is based on more intensive agricultural use with limited County agency oversight due to third party enforcement and site inspections.
  3. A tax incentive for certified organic operations will help to enable new farmers to start, and established small farms to continue farming.
  4. Annual recertification process for certified organic operations encourages farmers to continue farming land for intensive agriculture use.
  5. Tax breaks will lessen the burden of certification costs which ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and relatively high production costs due to the increased labor requirements.
  6. Approximately 200 growers are certified organic farmers in Hawai’i, and the median size is 5 acres on the Big Island, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census.
  7. Encourages the establishment of high value niche market products.

For more information call (808) 961-8825, or visit http://puna4.com

County Acquires Open Space At ‘O’oma – 217-Acre Shoreline Parcel to be Protected in Perpetuity

The County of Hawai‘i’s latest acquisition in the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resource Preservation program will protect 217 acres in Kona, between Kohanaiki Shores and the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i.

Ooma
‘O‘oma was the last privately-held open coastline area between Kailua town and the Kūki‘o resort, and was the top-ranked property on the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission’s latest report. The Māmalahoa Trail and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail run through the property, and the preservation of ‘O‘oma also will help preserve ocean quality and contribute to a healthy reef.

“This open space purchase is the culmination of over 25 years of efforts on the part of the Kona community, which held onto a vision of an open coastline at Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma,” said Councilwoman Karen Eoff, who has been involved with the community movement to protect Kohanaiki and ‘O‘oma in various capacities over the years. “This is an awesome gift to our community and validates the power in a shared vision.”

The purchase of the ‘O‘oma property closed on December 31, 2013 for $6.2 million, slightly more than half the $12 million asking price. Kohanaiki Shores, the neighboring development that has shown a commitment to preserving the beauty of Kona, assisted the County in the purchase with a $2 million donation.

This acquisition also enhances the public benefit of the 1.5 mile Kohanaiki Beach Park just to the south of ‘O‘oma, which opened to the public in June 2013. The County anticipates preserving ‘O‘oma in its current natural condition as a buffer between the mauka urban area and the ocean, while allowing access for passive recreation and subsistence fishing.

“This open space purchase adds another important, publicly owned shoreline recreational area that will serve many thousands of our residents, and will provide a place for our children and families to enjoy for generations to come,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This purchase required a cooperative effort by many community members, and we thank them for their efforts.”

Since taking office, Mayor Kenoi’s administration has purchased more than 1,247 acres to preserve shorelines and open space for children, families, and the community. Since 2008, the County has acquired open space at Kāwā (785 acres) in Ka‘ū; Kaiholena (228 acres) and Pāo‘o (10 acres) in Kohala; and La‘aloa (6 acres) and ‘O‘oma (217 acres) in Kona under the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation program.

Hawaii County Plastic Bag Ordinance Transition Period Ends January 17, 2014

The one-year transition period specified in the Hawai‘i County Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance ends January 17, 2014. After that date, businesses on Hawai‘i Island shall not provide plastic checkout bags to their customers. The purpose of the ordinance is to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bags by prohibiting their distribution at store checkouts and encouraging the usage of reusable bags.
Bring your bags

Many stores are choosing to stop using plastic bags and are already encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags. One high quality reusable bag can replace hundreds of single-use plastic bags over its lifetime. In the long term, the cost of a reusable bag can be lower than the cost of the single-use plastic bags it replaces.

The ordinance exempts plastic bags without handles that are used for retail items such as meat, produce, bulk food items, garments, and prescription drugs. It also exempts non-profit organizations and non-incorporated community booster organizations. Paper bags are still permitted under the ordinance.

If a business violates the ordinance, a warning letter will be issued. A second violation will result in a civil fine of $250 per day. The third violation will result in a civil fine of $500 per day and subsequent violations will result in civil fines of $1,000 per day.

Environmental problems posed by plastic bags warrant the implementation of this type of law and it is consistent with the County’s General Plan, which implores the County to “take positive action to further maintain the quality of the environment.” It is an important milestone on the County’s path toward Zero Waste, a commitment to protecting our island.

Hawai‘i County residents join 54% of the world’s population who live in an area that has plastic bag bans or fees to reduce plastic pollution. All Hawai‘i counties have passed plastic bag reduction ordinances, joining a growing list of cities, counties, and nations around the world taking similar initiatives including 28 entire countries.

For more information, please visit HawaiiZeroWaste.com where the ordinance, rules, and outreach materials can be viewed and downloaded. For questions and additional information about the new ordinance, please contact the Department of Environmental Management at bring-ur-bag@hawaiicounty.gov or (808) 961-8942.

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 135 Into Law – Law Targets Stores Selling Cigarettes to Folks Under 21

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law Bill 135 to raise the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21 in Hawai‘i County. A ceremonial signing of the bill was held today at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center at 3 p.m.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai'i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai’i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) West Hawai‘i and East Hawai‘i Coalitions and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135, nine to zero on November 20.

“I signed this bill for the benefit of our community, and most importantly, our kids,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Mahalo to Councilman Kanuha for hearing their voices and having the courage to follow through. With all of the known harmful effects of tobacco use, this measure is in the best interest of public health and safety.”

More than 40 students from Kealakehe High and Konawaena High attended the initial committee hearing on October 15 and the final reading on November 20, wearing t-shirts stating ‘One Good Reason’ with an arrow pointing up toward their face. Waiākea High students submitted nearly 300 pieces of written testimony.

“My commitment is to help our young people live longer and healthier lives than the generation who came before them, and to improve the overall health of our island,” Councilmember Kanuha said.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilmember Kanuha and his staff for creating a bill that was easy for the other councilmembers to support,” said Sally Ancheta, East Hawai‘i Coalition coordinator for CTFH. “We thank Mayor Kenoi for taking the initiative to protect our youth and supporting the many voices that came to testify.”

The ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2014 and will exempt people who reach the age of 18 before that date. Any person who distributes tobacco or electronic cigarette products to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.

Nearly 1,200 Hawai‘i residents die each year from diseases that can be attributed to smoking, according to CTFH. Of those, more than 90 percent of them became daily tobacco users before the age of 18. For more information about the 21 reasons campaign, visit twentyonereasons.org.

Kauai Mayor Vetoes GMO Ban on Kauai – Statement From Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

HCIA

We commend Mayor Carvalho for his decision to veto Bill 2491 and for recognizing that the measure was severely flawed and would do more harm than good for Kauai County.

We thank the Mayor for his leadership in giving thoughtful consideration to balancing the issues raised in Bill 2491. This measure, although intended to be good for the community, would have had long-term negative effects on all agriculture in Kauai and our state, not just the seed industry or big agriculture.

These past several months have been difficult for Kauai. Bill 2491 has divided us – families, friends and neighbors – for far too long. It is time that we come together and do what the people of Hawaii have done for so long – ho’oponono, work together for a better Kauai.

Since this measure was introduced, the public debate has been loud, emotional and often filled with fear, rather than fact. As responsible stewards of the land, we take pride in growing the seeds that help farmers all over the world grow safe, healthy and affordable food for all people. We care for the land and the people of Kauai and are committed to transparency, being good neighbors and working with the community.

We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Mayor and the Council on how to address the concerns of the community and continue to support a voluntary program to address these concerns.

Alicia Maluafiti, Executive Director Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

 

Hawaii County Council District 4 Office Moving – New Office Will Now Be in District 4

The Hawaii County Council District 4 office that has been located in the Pahoa Shopping Center for the last four years is moving to the old Pahoa Police Station.

Since the County of Hawaii already owned the old Pahoa Police Station it makes sense for the county to quit paying rent on a place at the shopping center and move into a vacant building  that is actually in District 4 instead of District 5.

County workers move furniture from the old office

County workers move furniture from the old office

A note on Councilman Ilagans door read “If you are in need of assistance during the week of August 26th, please contact the Hilo County Council Office at (808) 961-8255.  Please Leave us a message at this number until our temporary office is set up at the Hilo County Building. Mahalo”.

District 4 Office Closure Note

Back in 2010 I asked if anyone knew what would be happening with the old police station… Now I guess we know!

New District 4 Office

New District 4 Office

Located at 15-2879 Old Government Road (Main Street Pahoa) the new office has lots of parking available.

A sneak peak inside the office

A sneak peak inside the office

The county workers that were on hand moving furniture into the office did not know when the councilman would physically move into the new office, however, they mentioned I could call his office and ask them… but I’m not too worried about it.

Councilwoman Wille’s Thoughts on Upcoming Hawaii County Council Legislation

Councilwoman Maragaret Wille sent out the following regarding her thoughts on some of the upcoming County Council legislation:

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Re: Affordable Housing:

Tuesday August 20th at 9:45 am – Communication 310.1-Bill 89 – Amends the Code concerning the County Housing Agency to remove the members of the Council as the members of the Housing Agency and replace them with the appointment of a Housing Administrator.  This is likely a good idea.

MW Amendment: I submitted an amendment, which would modify the purpose of this agency. My amendment to the bill, Comm. 310.1, requires that when selecting locations for affordable housing, the agency take into consideration the availability of water and other resources, as well as the availability of transportation options. I also propose that the priority of this agency be to provide transitional shelter and rental housing, and make providing single-family homes a lower priority (single family homes are far more expensive to the taxpayers and can be made available to far fewer of those in need of shelter).

Re: Cost of Bus Passes 

Tuesday August 20th at 10:00 am – Comm. 376 – Bill 108:

MW Bill: I am proposing to amend the island-wide bus fares to include a yearly pass of unlimited rides at a much reduced cost for all rider classifications (relative to both individual fares and the rate for monthly passes): $350  a year for students, persons with a disability or seniors (60+) and $500 a year for all others.

Re: “Unsafe Flora”    

Tuesday August 20th at 1:00 pm – Comm. 246.7 – Bill 64 – amends the code relating to clearing occupied and unoccupied lots containing so-called “unsafe flora”.

The bill from, Council Member Zendo Kern, provides options through the County to property owners that are impacted by unsafe flora on occupied or unoccupied properties adjacent to or abutting their properties. Currently individuals must seek relief in the civil courts, which is lengthy and costly.

MW Amendment: My amendment to the bill, Comm. 246.7, adds language to clarify that (1) the hazard must be a clear and present danger, (2) that the County  shall take into consideration whether a complaining party contributed to the degree of danger (such as by building by a tree lined property line);  and (3) that in cases where the potential hazard only involves private property, the County may require that the complaining party deposit with the County the estimated expense of clearing the affected area.

Re: Ag Home Rule

Wednesday August 21st at 9:00 am – Resolution 156 –

MW Resolution: My resolution requests the 2014 Hawai‘i State Association of Counties to include a Bill relating to County home rule on agricultural issues be sent to the State Legislature. [Last year there was an effort to gut the County’s home rule statute with regard to all matters to do with health and wellbeing – including matters concerning agriculture. I testified in opposition to this bill, which although it passed in the Senate with only one senator in opposition, was defeated in the House. The Counties must stand up for home rule… Or, do you want an ocean between you and the first layer of government on matters of agriculture, health and wellbeing?

Re: High Stakes Bingo     

Wednesday August 21st at 9:00 am – Resolution 158 –

MW Resolution: My resolution requests the 2014 Hawai‘i State Association of Counties to include a Bill allowing high stakes bingo as a new revenue source be sent to the State Legislature. I am committed to finding ways to make life more affordable on this island, and stop the spiraling up of property taxes and registration fees. Whereas casino level gambling brings along many social ills, high-stakes bingo is for lesser jackpots and often is housed in multi-purpose buildings.  This is not to say there are not real concerns about introducing any forms of gaming, so if you have alternative ideas as to how we can address our severe revenue needs, please come testify.

Other legislation of interest

Re: Ag Tourism

Tuesday August 20th at 2:00 pm – Comm. 368 – Bill 104 –The bill from Council Member Zendo Kern adds and clarifies definitions, guidelines, procedures and types of use for “major” and “minor” agricultural tourism activities and sets forth specific regulations for each. This purpose of this bill is to promote more ag tourism by adding a new classification, with fewer requirements, for “minor” ag tourism operations.

While I am supportive of promoting ag tourism, I do not want to do so without addressing neighboring property owner’s concerns relating to how these changes will adversely affect the quality of life in their neighborhood.  For example, we need to prevent traffic congestion and ensure adequate parking.

Re: Revised Bill 79 (GMO)

MW Bill: Scheduled for the next council committee meeting, on September 4th 9 a.m. in Hilo. Testimony on the revision of my GMO Bill 79(to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crop) is expected to be heard the afternoon of September 4th. Public testimony is welcome. (Councilmember Brenda Ford may also submit her own GMO bill)

Councilwoman Wille on Killed GMO Bill

The council members generally recognized there is a need to restrict any further introduction of the GMOs here on our island offering suggestions to address those concerns. Given the current presence of some genetically modified crops here, the challenge is to move forward in a manner that is pono and  minimize the impact on those adversely affected by any restrictions.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Bill 79 was cumbersome with layers of amendments.  For this reason, I withdrew the bill in order to submit a clean, simpler version.  This “withdrawal” was simply a good procedural move, and should not be interpreted as any less resolve on my part to meaningful legislation.

One suggestion being considered is whether to set up a council ad hoc committee (comprised of up to 4 members of the council) to address related issues and how best to implement and enforce legislation. I submitted this possible format for this ad hoc committee at the August 6th council meeting in Communication.

Home rule issue:  If Hawaii County residents want to limit the spread of GMO crops and plants on this island, we need to have an ordinance in place before the end of the year.  Otherwise, we can expect the biotech companies to seek and easily lobby for passage of legislation prohibiting any county level laws that may interfere with the biotech corporate agendas (During this last legislative session, Monsanto and associates sought to pass SB727 which would have gutted county government).  For this reason any effort to postpone passage of a bill restricting GMOs beyond December 2013 is tantamount to killing the bill.

Thank you.  I do want to thank all who have submitted written or oral testimony. Just this past week I finally received all written testimony to the council for the July 2nd hearing and I have read through almost all of the 1000+ letters in support of Bill 79, and the approximate 100 opposition letters.  Prior to the August 6th hearing we again heard from many, both in support and in opposition and I have also read through this wave of emails as well.

The next GMO hearing on my successor version to Bill 79 is expected to be scheduled in Hilo for September 6th at 9:00 a.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margarette Wille: GMO Meeting Rescheduled, But No Public Testimony Permitted

“The GMO Bill # 79 Council Committee hearing has been rescheduled for August 6th, at 1:30 pm in Hilo at the Council’s Chambers at Aupuni Center.

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

Councilwoman Margaret Wille

At this time council members will discuss and presumably vote on Bill 79, with any amendments.  The public is encouraged to attend but no public testimony will be permitted.

FYI – We had over 700 written testimonies submitted on Bill 79″

Councilwoman Margarette Wille

 

Bus Fares Increases on Monday

Effective Monday, July 1, 2013, bus fares will increase on all Hele-On bus routes.

HPP Bus Picture
The increases will be as follows:

  • Cash fare for all rides will be $2.00
  • Cash fares for students, individuals 60 years and older, and certified disabled individuals will be $1.00 with proper identification.
  • No charge for children under five years old.

Monthly passes will be $45 for seniors, students and disabled individuals. Monthly passes will be $60 for all others.

For more detailed information on the new fare structure please contact:

Hawaii County Transit Agency
1266 Kamehameha Avenue, Room A-2
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone:  (808) 961-8744
Website:  www.heleonbus.org

Video: Councilman Greggor Ilagan on the Bus Fare Increase

Councilman Greggor Ilagan explains his vote.  Video courtesy of Big Island Video News:

Council Member Ilagan – “I voted to support the Mass Transit System with the goal of…”

“I voted to support the Mass Transit system with the goal of further development of bus routes in Pahoa,” said Hawai’i County Council Member Greggor Ilagan. In a 7-1 vote, one absent, the Hawai’i County Council approved the bus fare increase discussed in Bill 86.

From L-R: June Conant, Council Member Ilagan, Jeanne Seimer

From L-R: June Conant, Council Member Ilagan, Jeanne Seimer

“I can’t ignore the needs of this community. That hitchhiking mother walking down Maku’u with the child strapped to her back will continue to have bus service,” said Council Member Greggor Ilagan, District 4.

Last year Mass Transit provided an astounding 1.2 million rides island-wide. According to Mass Transit Administrator Tiffany Kai, the Puna area accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the ridership. “We have great challenges to face. We are the fastest growing area on the Big Island and the largest county in the state,” said Council Member Ilagan.

“I want keiki to get to school, people to get to their jobs and appointments, and the elderly to go grocery shopping, get to their doctor and visit with family. We need our existing bus routes. But more than that, we need to have even more transportation available for our under-served population,” he said.

Council Member Ilagan wants to increase the number of bus shelters and include more bus routes in Pahoa, specifically Kaloli and Shower Drive, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Ainaloa. The council member would also like to evaluate and assist with getting more accurate bus times for pick up and drop off, in and out of Puna. “I’d like to be able to have a bus leave Hilo later, so that those that work in town can return home on a pau hana bus,” said the councilman.

Since the last fare increase in 2011, bus routes have increased in Hilo, Kona, Waikoloa Village and Hawaiian Paradise Park (HPP). While services increased, the fleet of working buses decreased. Gasoline prices skyrocketed, and overworked mechanics continued to battle with aged and outdated equipment.

Three mechanics struggled to keep routes open, get people to work on time, and kids to school. This continues to be a huge undertaking given the shortfall of funds and the costs associated with providing transport. It costs approximately $7 to provide a ride to a single individual. Bill 86 asks for an increase of $1 to $2 for applicable passengers.

“The bus fare increase will help to maintain services…it is our goal to expand and enhance transportation,” said Kai. Approximately $637,500 will be generated for the General Fund from this increase.

In a few months, Mass Transit will be re-evaluating existing routes. “I want to do whatever I can to ensure continued service and expansion of bus service in Puna,” said Council Member Ilagan.

Please contact Council Member Ilagan with questions, concerns and comments at 808-965-2712, or via e-mail at gilagan@hawaiicounty.gov.

Commentary: Retired Councilmen Bob Jacobson on Resolution 123-13… “End of Recycling and Mulch Programs”

Aloha kakou

On Tuesday June 4th, Councilmember Wille is introducing a measure to end our current policy of ruling out garbage incinerators (also called waste to energy) as our method of handling our solid waste.

The County of Hawaii (you) spent $1 million, plus countless hours of County workers on a study considering the merits of using an incinerator during rosy economic times. It clearly demonstatrated that unless we stopped all recycling and greenwaste operations and burned everything, we did not generate enough solid waste to make the system economically sound.  Ironically, this study was done by pro-incinerator professionals who usually promote incineration as the soluton to all waste problems.

Even my successor Councilmember Enriques voted to pass the last policy of keeping organics out of our landfill as did most of that Council.  Resolution 123-13 attempts to reverse all recycling and green waste efforts on this island and give massive amounts of our hard earned cash to snake oil salesmen who have contributed to Mayor Kenoi’s campaigns over the years.

If we had built the incinerator in 2008 we would have paid penalties of millions of dollars for the lowered solid waste amounts we experienced during this economic depression.  In 2009, Current Environmental Management Director Bobby-Jean bemoaned this decreased amount of solid waste we had to handle.  She should have been happy! Keeping solid waste out of the landfills and out of incinerators protects our air, land, water and assets.  Incinerators still have a lot of very toxic residue that must be landfilled.  Snake oil salesman will come with their honeyed tongues and promise the sun, the moon, the stars and jobs.  What they have in their other hand behind their backs is; pollution, massive tax payments to offshore interests, tax increases, corruption of local official, increased pollutions and an end to recycling and greenwaste programs.

By the way, the landfill at Puuanahulu could easily and cheaply be upgraded to handle all of our waste for another 50-100 years.  I suppose we should close it and raise taxes to pay for a polluting waste burner if we believe our Mayor.  Of course the last time Mayor Kim and Billy Kenoi were pushing incineration in 2008, their literature said we could build an incinerator for $45 million or less, not the $120+ million the study said it would cost even if we had enough waste to make it feasible.

Please let the County of Hawaii know you are not going to be fooled by corrupt officials, construction interests, greedy bankers and incineration company paid liars.  Vote against this resolution.

Sincerely,

Retired Councilmember Bob Jacobson

Hawaii County Budget Talk-Story With Council Member Ilagan

Budget Talk Story

Informal “Talk Story” With Mayor Kenoi and His Cabinet

Community Meeting Kenoi Kern Yoshimoto