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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Sunday, July 24, 2022

Volunteers, contractors, firefighters work to hold back a fire in the Kaʻaluʻalu near South Point on 
Sunday, the fire burning into the night. Photo by Julian Kaniho

A RANGE FIRE BROKE OUT below the Green Sands community in the Kaʻaluʻalu area on Sunday and drew numerous fire fighters, volunteers and contractors to contain it. Among those helping are Dean Kaniho, Hano Boy Grace with a crew from Kona, Akoni Naves, Jimmy Mahuna, Bob Barnett, Kimo Kaniho, Kawika Karratti, Alfred Keanu and Julian Kaniho. A Hawaiʻi Fire Department helicopter dropped water to douse the fire and prevent it from spreading. At nightfall, the fire was still burning, the crews still working.
Hawaiʻi Fire Department helicopter drops water onto
 the Ka'alu'alu fire. Photo by Julian Kaniho

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CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR JOSH GREEN has responded to candidates Kai Kahele's and Vicky Cayetano's questions about sources of his campaign funding and personal income.
    During the Hawaiʻi News Now and Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement's Super Debate last week, when discussing cost of housing, Kahele said one of the reasons housing is so expensive is that out of state investors and foreign investors are "coming here to Hawaiʻi and are pricing out our local families." Kahele said Green has taken money from real estate developers and private equity real estate donors from the mainland.
Hano Boy Grace doser works into the night.
Photo by Julian Kaniho
    Green responded that, "It is disappointing that the congressman has already begun to make personal and political attacks. I've been supported by thousands and thousands of local people, which is a great honor, including the people that build our houses, carpenters that build our houses, and people that finish the houses, the electricians and plumbers. These people believe in me 'cause they know I can bring people together. That's why I'm their choice for governor."
    Kahele responded that the reality is that Green has taken thousands of dollars from real estate developers, including $6,000 from a New York real estate developer and $5,000 from a private equity real estate investor. "These are people coming here that are buying our hotels. They are buying our homes. They are buying our land. Why don't you stop taking their money?"
    Gubernatorial candidate Vicky Cayetano said, "There is no question that a lot of money has come from outside. She pointed out that when Gov. David Ige was attending an environmental conference in Scotland, Green was on the mainland fundraising at a time he was assigned to be acting governor.
Daleco Ranch area view to Kaʻaluʻalu fire on Sunday. Photo by Richard Taylor.

    Green responded to Kahele and Cayetano. Though Kahele has vowed to accept no donations of more than $100 and none from corporations, unions and pacs, Green said, "Unfortunately the Congressman has spent his entire career collecting money from special interests. And worse still, he took money from Milton Choi who's been indicted, who has been indicted for bribing officials. He took money from Dennis Mitsunaga who's been indicted, and has been indicted for corrupting the political system and because Mrs. Cayetano did also... and I am sorry people are attacking because people deserve actual discussion."
Across pastures to the Kaʻaluʻalu fire. Photo by Jana Kaniho
    Kahele said, "People are not attacking you lieutenant governor. Why don't you be honest with the people of Hawaiʻi?" Kahele pointed to Green raising $100,000 in one day and his 44 reported fundraisers. Kahele called for campaign finance reform.
    Kahele asked about Green's company, Green Health International, LLC, saying it received $600,000 over the last three years, "the bulk of which you received while you were the spokesperson for the state on Covid.... This is your separate private income ....." Kahele asked whether Green doesn't want the public to know "how you have personally benefited from those sources while serving as lieutenant governor." Green responded to the question of benefiting from his position by saying, "Of course not," and that his LLC receives money for his work as a clinician. 
Gubernatorial candidate Josh Green, MD (right) responded to questions from Democratic opponents Vicky Cayetano and Kai
Kahele about sources of his fundraising and personal income during Hawaiʻi News Now's Super Debate last week. 
Image from HNN
    Green said, "It is disappointing, of course, that the congressman continues to mislead with attacks. For the record, though, I will set it straight. I spent my life, the last 22 years, caring for Hawaiʻi's people, particularly the Hawaiian people and the Filipino people as a doctor in Nāʻālehu and then in Kohala. So that's the work he's referring to. It's my clinical work, end of story. There's been innuendo all over the place. I have never worked in any way, shape or form for the pharmaceutical industry or anything like that." Green pointed to LLC's owned by Green and Cayetano.
    Cayetano said the sources of a candidate's income are an issue for her because "character matters. You need to be able to trust your leaders." Green responded saying that Cayetano has had 500 LLCs and that one of them is with a person who has been indicted, who worked with Dennis Mitsunaga. Cayetano said she has not had 500 LLCs and has spent her career on her one business. She said that the LLC referred to by Green was was a handbag business and that her sister started and that the woman indicted offered to be the secretary but was never a shareholder.
    Cayetano pointed to a condominium with rental income that, she said, went unreported by Green for which he was fined by the Ethics Commission. Green responded that he did report the income, but on the wrong line of the form and received good guidance from the Ethics Commission. Green said "these kind of comments. They don't help anybody. They don't do anything for our state. They don't deal with the over tourism that we have or the health disparities that our Hawaiian community suffers. They don't do any good at all, so I think we should actually focus on issues but I am happy to be transparent and will continue to be, in talk stories as we go through this campaign."

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Puna Geothermal Venture seeks public comment on its plan to increase production of electricity from
its site near Pohoʻiki without increasing the footprint of the facility. Image from PGV

EXPANDING GEOTHERMAL PRODUCTION OF ELECTRICITY is the subject of a 30-day public review period for a proposal from Puna Geothermal Venture. Comments are due Aug. 22. 
    PGV seeks to increase power production at its geothermal plant near Pohoʻiki and submitted an Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice to the state. The state Department of Health's Office of Environmental Quality Control published the notice on July 23. The county Department of Planning determined that an EIS is required.
    Public comments can be sent by Aug. 22 to: County of Hawaiʻi, Planning Department through planning@hawaiicounty.gov and by mail to 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 3, Hilo, HI 96720.
    The notice asks that comments also be sent to the applicant Puna Geothermal Venture; P.O. Box 30, Pahoa, HI 96778 or to mkaleikini@ormat.com. It also suggests sending comments to the consultant Stantec Consulting Services Inc.; P.O. Box 191, Hilo, HI 96721 or michele.lefebvre@stantec.com.
    A scoping meeting for the EIS will be held Aug. 17 at Pahoa Community Center from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. In-person and written comments from citizens island-wide and beyond are welcomed as the electricity would increase the amount of alternative energy servicing the entire Hawaiʻi Island grid.
The EIS notice says, "Puna Geothermal Venture is currently authorized for and operating a geothermal power plant in the Puna District on Hawai‘i Island and proposes to replace the current 12 operating power-generating units with up to four upgraded power-generating units. The proposed Project would be constructed within the current PGV facility site fence line, would have a smaller footprint of disturbance than the current units, and would increase power production from 38 to 46 megawatts (MW) in Phase 1 and further increase production to 60 MW in Phase 2."
   According to the EIS preparation notice, "PGV came online in 1993 with a generating capacity of 25 MW and expanded to 30 MW in 1995, without adding any new equipment or drilling additional geothermal wells. The additional 5 MW was produced only by the increased use of steam. An additional 8 MW were added in an Expansion PPA in 2012, which allowed PGV to provide a total of 38 MW to HELCO. New generating equipment was added at that time, but no additional geothermal wells were required because the equipment used to generate the additional 8 MW was designed to utilize the hot fluid (or brine) from the existing geothermal resource. 
    "PGV continued providing renewable geothermal energy to HELCO which distributed the energy around Hawai‘i Island until 2018. In May 2018, approaching lava from the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea on the Lower East Rift Zone (LERZ) inundated the main access road to the power plant, the wellheads of two geothermal wells, the substation of the complex, and an adjacent warehouse that stored a drilling rig. PGV restored the damaged access and facilities and on Nov. 5, 2020, electricity production partially resumed. PGV continued the geothermal field recovery work to increase the production of energy since then and as of early 2022, PGV currently produces approximately 25.7 MW."

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Saturday, July 23, 2022

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits have been extended. See more below.
Image from SNAP

CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, KAI KAHELE released a Youtube video on Saturday at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcnsQRE1zhw regarding campaign financing focusing on his opponent Lt. Gov. Josh Green. Kahele also recommended that voters look into Green's sources of income beyond his salary as lieutenant governor.
     Kahele contended that "mainstream media" hasn't thoroughly covered the sources of Green's funding and his personal income. He also recommended that voters look at where Green spends the money raised for his campaign. Kahele said the information is available through links from www.hawaiinotforsale.com to campaign spending reports on the state of Hawaiʻi Campaign Spending Commission website. Kahele called on the Honolulu Star Advertiser and Civil Beat and broadcast media, as well as those planning to vote, to delve into the subject.
Kai Kahele supporters in Hilo on Friday.
Photo from Kahele campaign
     Kahele shows the links on his video and points to what he calls red flags. He says that out of $1.4 million in donations, $54,360 came from those donating under $100, while 312 non-residents gave $416,000 of mainland money to the Green campaign. Kahele focuses on such out of state donors to the Josh Green campaign as Humana Health Care - in Parkland, FL., a New York City real estate developer, a pharmaceutical company, and a Covid testing company, along with associates of PAR Hawaii - the only oil refinery in Hawaiʻi for gas, propane, jet fuel and fuel used to make power for the electric company. Kahele also points to donations from the only coal burning plant in Hawaiʻi. 
    Kahele says out of state donors are "Where I have red flags and hair stands up on my neck." 
    Kahele said that Green has held over 44 fundraisers in the 2022 election period and continues to have them. He says six of the fundraisers were outside of Hawai'i, the venues in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Maryland and California, and says that Hawai'i taxpayers pay for the lieutenant governor's security team that accompanies him out of state for the fundraising events. He also points to fundraisers in the state, describing country club and private home locations.   
    Concerning Green's income beyond his salary as lieutenant governor, Kahele points to Green's weekend job at Kohala Hospital working in the emergency room, where he earns $100,000 to $150,000 a year, in addition to his $165,552 annual lieutenant governor position. Much of the funding for the emergency room job comes through the state, as does the cost of Green's security detail that accompanies him on plane trips and on the ground to his outside job on Hawaiʻi Island, says Kahele. 
Josh Green highlights his experience as a physician and his leadership
as lieutenant governor during the pandemic in his campaign to become
 the next governor of Hawai'i. Image from Green campaign
    Kahele also questions whether Green is bringing in money through relationships with Covid testing and pharmaceutical companies that make money off the pandemic. He points to Nomi Health, a company whose associates donated to Green's campaign and are responsible for pop-up Covid testing sites around the state. He notes that the company was given as an example in a Politico story of enterprises that flourished in multiple states with lax oversight during the Covid pandemic when numerous no-bid contracts were given out. "Why are they donating to Josh Green's campaign?" asks Kahele. He says the connection between Green and Nomi Health contracts should be studied.
     Kahele also says that on May 10 the Green campaign collected 14 donations of $6,000 each, and asked whether this was related to a campaign funding event that should be studied.
     He also advises the electorate to look at expenditures by the Green campaign on out of state consultants and asked whether they were hired to seek donations from the mainland.
     Kahele also notes that Green was fined after his successful race for lieutenant governor for exceeding the limit on non-resident donations to his campaign.
     "I am sick and tired of all these people from the mainland trying to influence our elections and to control the economic and political life of the state," says Kahele in the video.
     Green has pointed to his role as a physician in caring for people during the pandemic as one of the reasons he is trusted to become the next governor of Hawaiʻi. See Green's comments on Kahele's questions in the Sunday Kaʻū News Briefs.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/04/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.htm

SUPPLEMENTAL SNAP BENEFITS will continue through Sept. 20. Gov. David Ige signed a third emergency proclamation on Friday to allow the continuation of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in line with the federal COVID emergency.
    “Many Hawaiʻi families continue to suffer from food insecurity as they struggle to provide food for
themselves and their families because of the effects of the pandemic. Without additional support from SNAP, families may experience food insecurity, which poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of our communities and constitutes this emergency declaration. The Department of Human Services remains committed to providing food security for our vulnerable community members,” said Gov. Ige.
    SNAP is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is the largest food nutrition assistance program in the country. It benefits eligible low-income individuals and families through an Electronic Benefits Transfer card, which can be used to purchase eligible food items in authorized retail stores.

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KAʻŪ PLACED FOURTH IN THE STATE IN THE #808 READS tracking for books read in the 2021-2022 school year and sixth for writing book reviews. "Amazing for our small community," says the Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary School Facebook.

THE PĀHALA SCHOOL CAMPUS WILL BE THE KA'Ū LOCALE FOR THE FIFTH ANNUAL HAWAI'I ISLAND COMMUNITY FOOD SUMMIT and 2nd Annual School Garden Workday. Students, their families and the public are invited to join in on August 6 from 9 a.m.-1p.m. at Kaʻū High & Pāhala Elementary School and seven other school gardens across the island.