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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs May 22, 2024

The largest number of testifiers to date at a Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee led to a long evening and a vote to hold a second meeting on whether to recommend pro or con regarding the Punalu'u development proposal before the Windward Planning Commission. A water bottling plant proposed for Pāhala and fire mitigation for Green Sands and Mark Twain will also be discussed. Photo by Julia Neal

THE PUNALU'U DEVELOPMENT ISSUE DREW THE HIGHEST ATTENDANCE TO DATE for any Kaʻū Community Development Action Committee meeting. During the Wednesday meeting at Herkes Kaʻū District Gym multi-purpose room, the Committee listened to dozens of testifiers for more than two hours. Almost all opposed the development and many encouraged the Committee to send along the testifiers' views and a negative recommendation to the Windward Planning Commission, which is tasked with approving or disapproving a Special Management Area permit for the project to go forward.
     Action Committee Chair Jason Masters said that the Action Committee would vote on whether to make a recommendation to send to the Windward Planning Commission. 
     At the end of the evening, with a vote yet to be taken on Punalu'u and more items on the agenda, the Action Committee voted to hold a future meeting to further discuss the topics and to vote. Other agenda items are a proposed water bottling plant at Pāhala and the need for an escape route, additional water availability and other mitigations for Green Sands and Mark Twain neighborhood fire risks.
     The Punalu'u proposal includes some 225 new accommodations, a wellness center, restoration of the Punalu'u Golf Course and Aspen Center, all of them away from the coast, plus restaurants and other commercial activities near Punalu'u beach.
     The Special Management Area includes all of the developer's land at Punalu'u makai of Hwy 11. The SMA calls for special review and consideration for proposals valued at more than $500,000.
      Testifier Nohea Ka'awa said that money has been committed to buy the Punalu'u property for the community instead of a resort, and that the question is whether the owner of the property is a willing seller. She asked the Action Committee to submit a negative recommendation for the development plan and pointed to a petition with 15,000 signatures against the project, saying that number could double. She
Jason Masters is chair of Kaʻū Community Development Plan Action Committee.
Photo by Julia Neal

said that Black Sand Beach, LLC's design for Punalu'u development is inconsistent with the Kaʻū Community Development Plan. 
     Regarding a contested case hearing, recently approved by the Windward Planning Commission to take the issue into a court-like proceeding, she said that the mediation process starts this Thursday. Two proposals for a contested case hearing, one from the Center for Biological Diversity and the other from 'Iewe Hanau o Ka 'Āina were approved by the Windward Planning Commission during a public hearing on Monday, May 6. See http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2024_05_06_archive.html.
     Naomi Dancel testified that she is 22 years of age and opposes the development. "My kupuna taught me to fight for what is right, not what is wrong." She said, "The 'aina took care of us." She contended that developers would "use us" for their restaurants, hotels and condominiums. Shr predicted a "hoard of traffic," and eventually a four-lane highway, along with tripling of Kaʻū's population. "Kaʻū will no longer be Kaʻū."
     A number of testifiers said they rejected the idea of a resort bringing in low-paying jobs to clean rooms, toilets and to mow lawns, and even for people who want those job, others from afar would come here to work for less money, eventually pushing Kaʻū people out of that kind of employment. There was much mention of sustainability, growing food instead of tourism and the fact that Kaʻū people choose to live without more urban conveniences to enjoy the country life of fishing, hunting and gathering.  Amery Silva said people come here for the quiet and beauty, and that Kaʻū people are stepping up to defend the place. "We are going to stay here and you guys going to come and go."
    Kawelle Silva Kamae said that five generations of her 'ohana were at the meeting to oppose the resort. She called Punalu'u the family's backyard and home, pleading for "our future be put first, before developers."
    Mike Silva talked about feeding families off land and see - goats, pigs, fish, ophi and crab. He talked bout the rights to go mauka and makai to hunt. He said resources should be shared. It's "not all about the money." For locals supporting the development, he said, "You're selling out your heritage. You guys taking aloha from us. Keep Kaʻū Kaʻū." He said it's time to "draw the line." See more in upcoming Kaʻū News Briefs.
    Prodincio Fuerte said he feared that Hawaiian graves would be disturbed by resort development. He also pointed to a large pond at the Ninole part of Punalu'u that he and other locals enjoyed before the sugar company filled it with debris from their building the golf course to create the Punalu'u resort. He said he hopes the pond and stream can be restored.
     See more in future Kaʻū News Briefs.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. Support this news service with advertising at kaunews.com. 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.      

STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNE LOPEZ: $916 MILLION FROM PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES WON BY HAWAI'I in a settlement from a lawsuit regarding "unfair and deceptive practices for failing to disclose the efficacy and safety profile of the drug Plavix." She said in her statement on Tuesday that Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and three U.S.-based subsidiaries of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi violated the state of Hawai‘i’s laws.
    Gov Josh Green said, “Once actually received by the state general fund, I anticipate that this award will provide greater health care services to the people of Hawai‘i. The state has many needs and these funds will help us improve delivery of expanded health care to our residentsl” said Governor Josh Green, M.D.
    Plavix is an oral antiplatelet medication (a form of blood thinner) in tablet form and is a “prodrug.” Unlike most other medications, which are active when ingested, a prodrug is activated by enzymes in the patient’s liver.
   Following a trial, First Circuit Court Judge James Ashford found that from the launch of Plavix in 1998, the defendant pharmaceutical companies knew “that there was a risk that about thirty percent of patients might have a diminished response to Plavix,” particularly in members of non-Caucasian races, “but they did not update their label.” Judge Ashford concluded that the defendants’ “unfair acts or practices were deliberate and pervasive, and they slowed and negatively affected the development of science related to Plavix for over a decade,” and “[b]y suppressing research, Defendants created an environment where Hawaiʻi prescribing physicians practiced for more than a decade without the necessary information needed to evaluate the serious limitations of this heart medication.”
    Judge Ashford found that the defendants “deliberately turned a blind eye toward the diminished response problem because of Defendants’ concern that addressing that problem might adversely affect Plavix sales and Defendants’ profits.” In enforcing Hawaiʻi consumer protection statute, the court
concluded that Hawaiʻi had a heightened interest in this case because “the omission of warning information raises a serious risk of harm to all consumers, but a particularly high risk to patients of East Asian and Pacific Island descent, who represent a significant portion of Hawaiʻi’s population.”
    The Court in its order awarded the state $458,006,000 from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and $458,006,000 from the three Sanofi subsidiaries, for a total of $916,012,000.
    “This case was originally filed in 2014 by Attorney General David Louie, and I applaud him for his foresight and courage in pursuing this matter,” said Attorney General Anne Lopez. “As Judge Ashford found following a trial, these pharmaceutical defendants acted in bad faith and marketed a product that could potentially have devastating effects on Hawaiʻi patients, when they knew that the medicine would lack efficacy for a substantial portion of the population. The Department of the Attorney General stands for the right of people of Hawaiʻi to be informed of the facts before choosing a path to take
with respect to their own medical care.”
    “After over 10 years, two trials, and a split Hawaiʻi Supreme Court decision, it is a great day for Hawaiʻi consumers,” said Special Deputy Attorney General Rick Fried, of the Honolulu law firm Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks, AAL, ALC. “Plavix must be, unlike aspirin, activated by the liver and a high number of Asian and Pacific Islanders have a liver that does not activate Plavix. The drug companies knew this from the time the drug was first sold in 1998, and they hid this information until the Food and Drug Administration required a black box warning in 2010. This drug is used to treat prior heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease. If the drug is not metabolized it is effectively providing no protection. The black box warning remains to this day.”
    The case is State of Hawaiʻi ex. rel. Anne E. Lopez, Attorney General v. Briston-Myers Squibb Company et al., Civil No. 1CC141000708. A copy of the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order can be found here.

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YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN is the summer musical announced by Kilauea Drama &
Entertainment Netowrk, with auditions Tuesday and Wednesday May 28 ad 29.
    You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown is based on the comic strip PEANUTS by Charles M Schultz and will be presented July 19th – August 4.
    Auditions will be May 28 and 29 at 6:30 pm at Kilauea Military Camp's Koa Room. People auditioning should prepare a song that best show their musical capability, and should dress comfortably to move around on the stage. There will be readings from the script as well.
    Due to the ongoing work in KDEN's home theater at KMC, the show will be performed at three locations, from July 19 – 21 at KMC's Koa Room, July 26 – 28 at Ocean View Community Center and August 2 – 4 at Hilo Church of the Nazarene. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. For more information contact Suzi Bondat (808) 982-7344 or email kden73@aol.com

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. Support this news service with advertising at kaunews.com. 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

Walkstars-Walking for Fitness group gets in shape in Pāhala

THE FREE WALKSTARS-WALKING FOR FITNESS PROGRAM drew 21 area seniors to Pāhala in March through May. Nonprofit Vivawell.org sponsored the nine-session program in partnership with the Pahala Senior Center and County of Hawai'i Kaʻū District Gym.
    The Walkstars Program boosts knowledge and skills to develop a regular walking habit with the most health benefits. Participants learned how to set individual goals to add more walking time, walking
Seniors walk towards 7,000 steps a day.
frequency and spend less time sitting. The seniors learned that the most health benefits of walking come from adding intensity their walks with increased speed, interval training, using walking sticks to activate upper body muscles, walking inclines (hills, steps), and walking with wrist and ankle weights.
   Adults are encouraged to get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, about 20 minutes a day, at least 7,000 steps a day, and take a break from sitting every 1-2 hours. Walkstars participants used walking logs and pedometers to track their daily steps. The Pāhala seniors group set a collective goal to walk enough steps to circle Hawai'i Island, 222 miles. Over the course of 12 weeks the participants walked together in the District Gym for 35 minutes once a week and continued recording their walks on their own during the week. When the program ended, the group had exceeded their goal by walking 241 miles.
    Each Walkstars session included warm up stretches, a walking workout with motivating music, and
Dolly Kailiawa with her walking sticks.

health education with group discussions. Education topics included walking safety, staying hydrated, avoiding muscle soreness and injury, and walking for a healthy weight. Participants practiced good walking posture, effective breathing, and various ways to measure their walking intensity at weekly sessions. Lively group discussions touched on ways to overcome physical, environmental, social, and mindset barriers to developing a regular walking habit.
    Participant feedback highlighted their enjoyment of walking with others and socializing in an active community. At the start of the Walking for Fitness Program, the seniors were walking an average of 8,700 steps a week. By the end of the program participants more than doubled their weekly steps and were walking an average of 17,700 steps a week. Many seniors commented that they felt great after each session and that feeling was their biggest motivation to continue a regular walking habit.
    Vivawell is a Hawai'i Island-based 501c3 nonprofit health promotion organization dedicated to preventing chronic health conditions with community programs, research, and media products focused on nutrition, exercise, stress management, social connection, and health-supporting environments. The Walkstars-Walking for Fitness Program has been offered in Pāhala, Pahoa and Hilo since 2023 with grant funding from the Hawai'i Community Foundation. Learn more about Vivawell's community programs at www.vivawell.org.

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Lauhala weaving this Friday at
Volcano Art Center Gallery

ALOHA FRIDAY AT VAC GALLERY: LAUHALA WEAVING WITH KUUIPO KALAHIKI-MORALES is Friday May 24 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. on porch of Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Visitors and kama'aina alike are invited to experience a free, hands-on workshop. Free cultural events are part of VAC's Cultural Connections Initiative supported in part by Hawaiʻi State Grant In Aid (GIA) Wai Wai Program. Park fees apply.

COMMUNITY STEWARDSHIP: KA ʻOHANA O HONUʻAPO LOKO IʻA WORKDAY is Saturday, May 25 from 9 a.m. - noon. Families and individuals welcome. Work day includes introduction, talk story, waiver signing, clean-up, pot-luck style lunch. BYO-lunch, snacks, water bottles, protective clothing. Water and juice provided. RSVP and more information at kaohanaohonuapo@gmail.com.

DIETRICH VAREZ EXHIBITION through Sunday May 26 at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See upcoming events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. Support this news service with advertising at kaunews.com. 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.

Malama Kai Foundation's Reef Talk on Friday, May 30 will be live streamed on
YouTube channel@malamakai. This is a free event, but donations are always welcome.
 Contact Kater Hiney, Malama Kai Foundation, Reef Talks Coordinator, for more information
 at kateralisha@gmail.com,