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    September 2018
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Commentary – Governor Abercrombie’s Administration’s Continued Lack Of Transparency

I received a phone call from Governor Abercrombie’s West Hawaii liaison after my last letter to the editor was published in January.

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway opened this weekend.  Photo by Aaron Stene

The Daniel K. Inouye Highway. Photo by Aaron Stene

The meeting with Ms. Barbara Dalton was a very uncomfortable experience.   She asked me why I wrote that letter, which criticized Governor Abercrombie’s administration for not being transparent with the public regarding highway projects. In addition, she told me not write anymore letters criticizing the governor and go through her if I have any more concerns in the future.

I wrote several e-mails to Governor Abercrombie’s Honolulu staff regarding the meeting I had with Ms. Dalton. Someone from Governor’s Honolulu office called me a few days later. He apparently told Ms. Dalton that it was inappropriate to tell me not to write letters criticizing the governor.

This individual, who I didn’t get his name, also promised to get an update on the stalled right of way acquisition for the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase.

Its been over a month and I’m still waiting for this person to call me back. I’ve sent several e-mails to various individuals in the governor’s Honolulu office with no response. They don’t care about my concerns it seems like, which is deeply frustrating. I will remember this when I vote for governor in November.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Video of Shark Being Caught “Has Brought Shame To Our Island”

Recently, a video filmed at Honokohau Harbor has brought shame to our island. The video depicts some young people landing a large Tiger shark on the rocks at the harbor entrance. The tackle used is ropes tied to the land. This was neither fishing for food or sport-fishing where the animal is fought with a rod. It was simply disrespect.

Still shot from the video

Still shot from the video

The shark is an important part of the Hawaiian culture. For some, the shark is ‘aumakua. But for all, the shark was respected, not a plaything: “(In old Hawai’i, catching the niuhi was the game of the chiefs, a dangerous sport for which special techniques were developed, according to historian Mary Kawena Pukui. Eating niuhi flesh was also taboo to women.) [http://www.moolelo.com/shark-respected.html]”

Today, sharks are globally threatened by the finning industry, which wastes the life of the shark for a few pounds of fin. Meanwhile, live sharks are an economic benefit to the dive industry. Shark dives bring in at least $125,000,000 per year globally and any Big Island dive operator can attest to the enthusiasm that’s generated even by a small reef shark.

Further, the sharks at Honokohau are well known to the community. Everyone knows Laverne, the largest resident female, but the shark in the video is Tony. (Tony survived: He was filmed by some divers two weeks after the video was shot.) You can see photos of Tony and the other tiger sharks of Honokohau at (http://milisenphotography.yolasite.com/tiger-shark-id.php)[http://milisenphotography.yolasite.com/tiger-shark-id.php].

When the young men in the video returned the shark to the water, they were putting a large injured predator back into an area where dozens of people swim every day. Alua Beach, a popular place for families to bring keiki, is only a few hundred yards from where the shark was landed. There are multiple dive sites within a quarter mile to either side of the boat channel.

As with most regular divers at Honokohau, I’ve watched the sharks and the sharks have watched me. I’ve never forgotten that these are apex predators and need to be treated with respect (and watched from a distance). The sharks are there because it’s their natural territory and, probably, because of scraps from fisherman. There’s never been a shark attack reported at Honokohau.

Since:

Sharks are important and culturally respected by native Hawaiians; and – Sharks are not targeted by shore-fisherman for either sport or food; and – The area is frequented by swimmers, SCUBA divers, and free divers:

I would ask that the County of Hawai’i and/or DNLR to declare the area near the entrance of Honokohau Harbor as a “niuhi conservation zone” and forbid the intentional targeting by fisherman of large sharks within that area. The ban should forbid the use of hooks larger than those used for commonly-targeted sports and food fish and the use of anchored ropes or chains for fishing.

Larry O’Brien, Kailua-Kona

Commentary – Drunk and Disorderly in Pahoa

Editors note… All commentary should be sent to my email address:

Last night (Thursday) I drove through Pahoa about 10:30. Drunks were literally staggering all over the street and I had to stop so as not to hit them. More deadbeats were using the covered sidewalks in front of closed businesses as their personal flophouse and urinal. Where are the police? Why are places like Luquins, Black Rock, and Cash and Carry not being fined for serving those who are clearly too far gone to walk let alone drive. For those of us who live in Lower Puna, it’s police tolerating this sort of antisocial behavior that gives our area such a bad rep. We need some crusading exposé journalism demanding police presence in town and not just in their comfy new headquarters!!!

The new Pahoa Police Station

The new Pahoa Police Station

BTW, when I went to the Pahoa police station today to complain about this THERE WAS NO ONE THERE. That’s right. The station was completely unmanned. I rang the bell, called, no one there. It was lunchtime so I guess that took priority. The reason Puna is “lawless” is because the law is AWOL. Surely something can be done.

Amanda Claiborne