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.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs March 25, 2013

Teachers carried signs in downtown Pahala. They vote April 17 on a new contract.
TEACHERS PLAN TO VOTE on a proposed four-year agreement between the state and Hawai`i State Teachers Association on Wednesday, April 17. HSTA union president Wil Okabe told Civil Beat that the union plans to spend the weeks making sure teachers understand contents of the contract, saying teachers rejected an earlier contract “because they didn’t understand it.”
     HSTA Board of Directors approved the contract yesterday. Okabe said, “I believe that this tentative agreement is the beginning of providing professional salaries that will attract and retain the best and the brightest into Hawai`i’s classrooms.” The agreement removes the five percent pay cut and reduced health care benefits that the state imposed in July 2011.
      It also calls for pay raises. On July 1, all teachers move up one step on the salary schedule. Three annual 3.2 percent across-the-board salary increases take place beginning in 2014.
 A teacher evaluation system that has been an issue with union members is also part of the deal. The system measures teacher effectiveness and student growth, and teachers will be involved in its development. The contract also requires the union to drop its complaint filed with the Hawai`i Labor Relations Board charging that the state violated collective bargaining rights.
     “This is a major breakthrough for our teachers, our students, and the future of our state,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “I believe this contract is fair and provides opportunities for pay increases, which are long overdue after years of sacrifice from teachers and other public employees. With the state now being administered in a fiscally sound manner and improving economic estimates by the Council of Revenues, we were able to offer a comprehensive and favorable contract.”
     Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said, “Public school teachers and their union representatives are critical partners in transforming education for our students and our state. We’ve worked very hard to get to this point, and we remain committed to providing teachers with necessary resources and support to achieve our strategic goals.”
     Don Horner, chair of the Board of Education, said, “The Board is appreciative of the dedication, sacrifices, and achievements of our teachers. This agreement will allow us, together, to better support our teachers in reaching the objectives of our educational strategic plan.” 

A NEW YORK TIMES editorial this morning on changing the immigration system credits Sen. Mazie Hirono. The opinion piece praises Hirono for speaking “movingly of her own experience immigrating to Honolulu as a young girl; and yet joined other witnesses in explaining how the system falls short: she noted that it treats women unequally – women who arrive as dependent spouses are denied the right to work legally and face discrimination and several obstacles to assimilation.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono meets with Hawaiian youth visiting the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Photo from www.hirono.senate.gov
    The editorial states that “the momentum in Washington for immigration reform has been growing with amazing speed in recent weeks, and it seems that the question now is not whether Congress will try to fix the immigration system this year, but how big and effective the repairs will be. We hope that whatever bill emerges will continue to protect and unite families, preserving and strengthening a bedrock value of America’s immigration system,” says the New York Times.
      The newspaper points out that “it might be hard to imagine that America’s long tradition of allowing immigrants to sponsor spouses, children and siblings for visas would be threatened. But anti-immigration groups and lawmakers have long attacked the practice, using the slanderous and misleading term “chain migration,” which summons images of a relentless flow of undesirables, usually from south of the border. Even as some of the staunchest resistance to reform is crumbling — legalizing 11 million immigrants was unthinkable for leading Republicans a few months ago, and now even rock-ribbed Tea Partiers like Representative Rand Paul favor it — right-wing resistance to family migration persists.
Mee Moua, president of Aisan
American Justice Institute.
    “Bills are still being drafted, but some lawmakers are reportedly trying to reduce or eliminate visas for extended family members in order to expand employment-based immigration. Advocates are resisting this zero-sum game.”
      The editorial also quotes Mee Moua, president of the Asian American Justice Center, explaining “how backlogs kept families separated for years, if not decades. ‘As of November 2012,’ she said, ‘nearly 4.3 million close family members were waiting in the family-visa backlogs’ — with Latino and Asian-American families most affected.”
      The New York Times opined that “immigration is more than a business relationship America has with selected foreigners. It’s a process that renews this country; it means going all-in on America, through binding ties of love and blood. Recruited workers enrich the country. Reunited families do, too.”

COUNTY GOVERNMENT MEETINGS take place this week, with Council committees meeting on Wednesday and the full Council meeting Thursday at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. Agendas for the meetings, along with information on how to submit testimony, can be viewed at hawaiicounty.gov.
      Ka`u residents can participate in the meetings via videoconference at Ocean View Community Center, 92-8924 Leilani Circle. The system is available until 3 p.m. or later if public witness testimony has not been completed. For more information, call 961-8536 or edistrict6@co.hawaii.hi.us.

MEMBER TRAINING FOR Ka`u Ag Water Cooperative District takes place Wednesday at Pahala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Members and potential members of the regional water systems’ cooperatives, including Ha`ao, Mountain House, Moa`ula, Alili, Hilea, Keaiwa, Wood Valley and Kapapala can learn about being an ag water co-op member and how the development process is proceeding. For more information, email mbondera@kohalacenter.org.

Volcano resident and state Department of Agriculture Chair
Russell Kokubun, right, presented an award for using local beef
at last year's Ag Day. Photo from Hawai`i Cattlemen's Council
AGRICULTURE AWARENESS  DAY AT THE CAPITOL will be held this Thursday, March 28 in Honolulu, with Ka`u Farm Bureau and `Aikane Plantation Coffee Company representing Ka`u. Phil Becker of `Aikane said the Hawai`i Seal of Quality will have a booth next to the Ka`u Farm Bureau booth, which will be manned by Ka`u Farm Bureau President Chris Manfredi. Samples and written materials celebrating the diverse agriculture of Ka`u, from flowers to vegetables, fruits, nuts, beef and coffee will be displayed, Manfredi said. Farm Bureau members wanting to submit samples and information can call him at 929-9550.

VOLUNTEERS CAN HELP CUT invasive Kahili ginger in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. The hike is a one-mile, moderate round trip into Kilauea caldera down Halem`auma`u Trail, leaving from Kilauea Visitor Center. It involves walking over rough, uneven terrain on a dirt and rock path, with up to a 400-foot elevation change.

THE FINAL SANCTUARY OCEAN COUNT for this year takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., when volunteers throughout the state count humpback whales and record their behavior. Sites for the count in Ka`u are South Point, Punalu`u Black Sand Beach and Ka`ena Point at the end of Chain of Craters Road in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Sign up at sanctuaryoceancount.org.

IN SPORTS over the weekend, Ka`u Trojans boys volleyball beat Kohala in five sets at Kohala. Scores were 25-21, 25-27, 19-25, 25-16, and 16-14. In girls softball, Ka`u played Konawaena, losing at home 2-17.