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.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014

Keiki and families covered Punalu`u shoreline for the annual Keiki Fishing Tournament yesterday, sponsored by `O Ka`u Kakou.
See results in upcoming editions of these daily news briefs. Photo by Nalani Parlin
KA`U’S STATE SEN. RUSSELL RUDERMAN has responded to Hamakua Country Farms’ owner Richard Ha’s suggestion that the senator should recuse himself from discussions and votes regarding genetically modified organisms. Ha said there was a possible conflict of interest based on Ruderman’s ownership of the Island Naturals grocery store chain and that the senators comments about GMOs would unfairly benefit his business.
Paul Makuakane and grandson Nicolai
Photo by Nalani Parlin
      “Mr. Ha is incorrect legally, ethically, and logically,” Ruderman said in Civil Beat. “According to the authority on such matters, which includes the Senate president and the Senate attorney’s office, there is no such conflict of interest, legally. Only if I were to promote a position that benefited my company to the exclusion of others would there be a concern.
      “Actions that might benefit an entire industry are not conflicts of interest. Rules 81 and 85 of the Hawai`i State Senate clarify this.
      “Ethically, there is no conflict in speaking out about issues of any sort, especially those in which I have expertise. Of course a legislator brings his/her background and expertise to the table. This is natural, fair, and it can be no other way.
      Ruderman said he feels qualified to speak on natural food, food marketing and organic issues after 35 years in the natural food business. He said he has studied the GMO issue seriously for over 10 years, “delving deeply into the science and fictions on both sides of the issue. If anything, the obligation to speak out is greater for a legislator than for a private citizen.
      “Logically, Mr. Ha has it exactly backwards, which I have explained to him several times. If my advocacy were to somehow be fully successful, GMOs would be labeled, as is desired by 90 percent of the population. When that happens, every consumer will be able to choose safe non-GMO food in every supermarket and have less need for a natural food store.
      “Today, the biggest driver of organic food’s growth is the desire to avoid GMOs. Labeling GMOs, the goal of my advocacy, will harm my business rather than help it.
      “Let’s consider the suggestion that one should not speak on the subjects about which he/she is most knowledgeable. According to this logic, a farmer should not speak about farming issues, which might benefit farmers. An educator should not advocate for education, as it might improve their school. An attorney should not pass laws relating to the legal field, as that might benefit lawyers. In fact, the expertise we bring to discussions and to the Legislature is desirable and necessary.
      Ruderman said he is encouraged by the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Never be afraid to do what’s right, especially when the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
Kids respond enthusiastically as Guy Enriques asks them to tell their parents thank
you for spending time with them at the tournament. Photo by Nalani Parlin
      The senator concluded, “No one gives up their right to speak when they get elected to public office or to vote on issues of all sorts. There are responsibilities that come with the job, which I take seriously. Being silent is not one of them.”
      See civilbeat.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE HAS UNDUE INFLUENCE over state Public Utilities Commission officials, according to Henry Curtis, director of Life of the Land. In a story in Ililani Media, Curtis raises questions about the quasi-judicial body’s ability to act independently of gubernatorial influence. He discusses the PUC’s decisions denying two proposed 20-year contracts for `Aina Koa Pono to sell biofuel refined in Ka`u from feedstock grown between Na`alehu and Pahala to the utility companies.
      Curtis says that “several independent sources within government” have asserted that Abercrombie will not re-appoint chair Hermina Morita, whose term ends in June. “This has absolutely nothing to do with whether Mina Morita is capable of overseeing the PUC or acting in the public interest,” Curtis states. “Rather, it stems from Gov. Abercrombie’s dissatisfaction with the `Aina Koa Pono decisions, his belief that the PUC is moving to slowly in approving his inter-island cable project and his belief that PUC commissioners are too independent of his control.”
PUC chair Mina Morita Photo by Julia Neal
      Curtis also suggests that Abercrombie is not happy with commissioner Michael Champley’s performance. Champley was appointed in Sept. 15, 2011. After being confirmed on Sept. 22, he joined the other commissioners in denying the proposed contract between `Aina Koa Pono and the utility companies one week later. On Dec. 23, 2013 the PUC rejected a revised contract.
      Curtis outlines how Abercrombie is “very connected to AKP:”
  • Sennet Capital is a major investor in `Aina Koa Pono. Sennet Capital was co-founded by Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism director Richard Lim and AKP executive vice president Kenton Eldridge. 
  • Honolulu attorney Paul Alston is a lawyer for Hawaiian Electric Co. and general counsel for AKP. 
  • Bill Kaneko is a central figure in the governor’s inner circle of advisors and was a registered lobbyist for `Aina Koa Pono. Kaneko is the founder, president and CEO of the Hawai`i Institute for Public Affairs. HIPA board members include HECO executive vice president Alan Oshima and retired HECO executive vice president Robbie Alm. 
  • Robert Clarke is on the AKP board of advisors and is a board member of Sennet Capital. He served as chairman, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries from 1991-2006. 
      See ililanimedia.blogspot.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Keiki flock to the croonings of Keoki Kahumoku to sing songs with him.
Photo by Nalani Parlin
VOLUNTEERS GATHERED AT PUNALU`U Black Sand Beach, Ka Lae and also at Ka`ena Point in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park during yesterday’s statewide annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. While no whales were seen at Punalu`u, between two and five were counted at Ka Lae during each 15-minute time frame from 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
      Volunteers collected data from 60 sites statewide. A total of 253 whales were seen during the 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. time period, the most of any time period throughout the day’s count.
      The count is a yearly shore-based census that provides snapshot data on humpback whales. Participants tally humpback whale sightings and document the animals’ surface behavior during the survey.
      The sanctuary, which is administered by a partnership of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the state of Hawai`i through the Department of Land and Natural Resources, protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawaiian waters where they migrate each winter to mate, calve and nurse their young.
      Preliminary data detailing whale sightings by site location is available at sanctuaryoceancount.org/resources.
      Two more Sanctuary Ocean Counts are scheduled to take place on Saturdays, Feb. 22 and March 29. For more information on becoming a Sanctuary Ocean Count volunteer, visit hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov or sanctuaryoceancount.org, or call 808-268-3087.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

DECADES OF DEGASSING AT KILAUEA: Wake Up and Smell the Coughing! is the title of Tuesday’s After Dark in the Park program.
      Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemists, offer an update about volcanic gases, especially those related to the 2008‐2013 activity at Halema`uma`u Crater, and talk about vog – how it forms and what they’ve learned about its effects on our island environment. An optional “gas-tasting” party follow the talk that begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

KA`U GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM ended its season at home last night with a win at home over Laupahoehoe, 46 – 19.

KA`U HOSPITAL URGES RESIDENTS to complete its Community Health Needs Assessment at surveymonkey.com/s/93HQ5MX. The deadline is Jan. 31.

SEE THE DIRECTORY from the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce at http://snack.to/fzpfg59c.