About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ka'u News Briefs Jan. 21, 2012

The County Council and administration are haggling over whether to allow private industry to bid on recycling and
sorting trash to keep the island and the ocean clean. Photo from Campaign for Recycling
THE STATE SUPREME COURT yesterday turned down an appeal to keep state House and Senate voting districts as they are and told the Reapportionment Commission to move forward in redrawing the lines. The Big Island is expected to gain an additional Senate seat and could gain a House seat, as this island had the largest population growth during the last ten years, according to the recent census. The ruling, however, could lead to a delay in candidates filing to run for the Legislature, and the commission says it needs more precise population statistics to do its job. Those numbers are not yet available, and the commission said it could not draw the lines by Feb. 1, the day when candidates can start filing for the election. 
The state Supreme Court has told the Reapportionment
Commission to redraw district lines.
     Primary election day has already been moved from September to August, making the length of time candidates will have to campaign much shorter. The delay in settling on district boundary lines would make that time even shorter, unless the election day is put back to September. There are 25 Senate seats and 51 House seats at stake. 
     The existing maps leave Sen. Gil Kahele representing Ka`u and beyond, but Rep. Bob Herkes would lose representation of Na`alehu, Kalae and Ocean View.
     If the commission can confirm that there are 120,000 nonresident military, university students and other people counted in the Hawai`i census who claim permanent residency elsewhere, the Big Island will have an additional House member. If the number is in the area of 78,000, only the new Senate seat will be gained.
     The Supreme Court ruled that the voting district maps were unfair after Sen. Malama Solomon, the Hawai`i County Democrats and an attorney from Kona filed suit.

BROAD REFORMS IN THE STATE SCHOOL SYSTEM will go forward, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday, responding to the teachers union voting down an agreement for a new contract. Teachers apparently feared provisions in the contract that would have tied teacher salaries to student performance, saying the manner in which the teachers would be judged remained unclear. The teachers voted down the union contract two to one, putting $75 million at risk in federal Race to the Top funding. 
Kathryn Matayoshi
     According to a story in this morning’s Star-Advertiser, the superintendent of the state school system, Kathryn Matayoshi, urged teachers to accept the proposed evaluation system as a way to improve their teaching practices. Union leaders, who negotiated and agreed to the new contract said they would go back to the members to address their concerns. 
     In the meantime, the governor said that practices will be put in place to save the $75 million in federal funding.

PRIVATIZATION OF RECYCLING AND SORTING GARBAGE on the island could become a campaign issue this year. Likely mayoral candidate Dominic Yagong and County Council candidate Brenda Ford are pushing the administration to put recycling and sorting of trash out to bid, a measure that is also supported by current County Council members Brittany Smart, Pete Hoffmann and Angel Pilago. They said that private industry may be able to do a better job and generate income to the county. They asked the county to put the sorting process in Hilo out to bid, but the county has divided its budget for trash into increments so it doesn’t have to go through the County Council for approval, according to a story in this morning’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald
     The county would contract for some of the services but operate the sorting station in Hilo itself, with the addition of county employees. According to the story, Ford said, “If you don’t have a right to award a contract, you’re bargaining in bad faith.” Council chair Yagong said he will propose new legislation to require the county to involve the Council in the process.

Humpback whales in Hawai`i. Photo from Benjamin L. Richards/NOAA
HAWAI`I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK encourages volunteers to help count humpback whales during the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count held the last Saturdays of January, February and March from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. 
     Ka`ena Point, at the end of Chain of Craters Road, is one of 22 Sanctuary Ocean Count sites islandwide where volunteers onshore monitor humpbacks in nearshore waters for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Residents and visitors enjoy this yearly event that provides important population and distribution information about humpback whales around the Hawaiian Islands.
     “This is an ideal opportunity for the community and for Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park to work together as stewards of our ocean,” said ranger Adrian Boone, site leader for the Sanctuary Ocean Count. “These magnificent creatures swim more than 2,000 miles to Hawai`i from Arctic waters every winter, and the annual count is one way we can help observe and record their behavior and ensure their future,” he said.
     Volunteers can sign up on the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary website:
http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/involved/ocvolunteer.html or call 1-888-55-WHALE ext. 253.

HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY holds its open house today until 4 p.m. The observatory, which is not usually open to the public, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. A schedule of activities for the open house is online at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

VOLCANO ART CENTER hosts a Poetry Slam at its Niaulani Campus tonight. Participants bring two poems of their own creation that are no longer than three minutes each. Prizes are awarded to the top three finishers as chosen by the judges. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the event begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $6.