Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 3185

Ka`u News Briefs Monday, April 13, 2015

Eva Lee, of Hawai`i Tea Co., processes her harvest. Ka`u residents interested in growing tea can join a discussion tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Volcano Art Center's Niaualani Campus in Volcano Village. Photo from VAC
BETTER OVERSIGHT OF GOVERNMENT-ISSUED credit cards is being hotly discussed at county and state levels and in the media. This comes after reports in Hawai`i Tribune-Herald by Nancy Cook Lauer that Hawai`i County Mayor Billy Kenoi used his county credit card, called a pCard (purchasing card), for personal charges, including a surfboard and bar tab. Kenoi and the county finance director said the mayor reimbursed the county, usually on a regular basis, although some reimbursements came after Cook Lauer’s stories. County Prosecutor Mitch Roth has deferred to state Attorney General Doug Chin to review the matter, and Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat have called for Kenoi’s resignation over using the credit card for non-government purposes.
Mayor Billy Kenoi
     An audit of state employee pCards calls for more scrutiny of their use throughout government. The mayor’s pCard is overseen by the county finance director. Both the finance director who recently retired and the new finance director said they alerted the mayor regarding personal expenses being inappropriate even though he reimbursed the county for them.
      According to a Cook Lauer story in today’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald, Hawai`i County Clerk’s office keeps control of Hawai`i County Council members’ pCard use. “The Clerk’s Office does a really good job making sure our pCard use is strictly for county business. We have pretty good checks and balances with the Clerk’s Office,” Council Chair Dru Kanuha told Cook Lauer. “We do keep a pretty strict policy when it comes to saving taxpayers’ money.”
      According to Cook Lauer, procedures include requiring that travel be approved in advance, flights be at coach rates and motel rooms at standard rates. Receipts are required, and, if lost, duplicates must be notarized. Council members have options of receiving flat per diem rates of $90 for in-state travel or $145 daily for out-of-state travel or accruing charges. Also, the per diem must be requested in advance and reimbursed if charges are accrued instead.
      After County Clerk Stewart Maeda disputed some travel charges by Kohala Council member Margaret Wille, the two parties “kind of mutually agreed to cancel her card,” Maeda told Cook Lauer.
      Wille said, “I don’t feel like I was abusing anything. I certainly didn’t go and buy things that were personal expenses.”
      In its call for Kenoi to resign, Civil Beat’s editorial board wrote, “Though most public employees take seriously their responsibilities with these cards, in an environment of lax or inconsistent oversight, the potential for misuse increases with every new pCard assigned. Unlike old purchasing processes where prior approval was required, pCard use is only examined after the purchase. As Kenoi demonstrated, absent a whistleblower, it’s possible in some cases to get away with flagrantly inappropriate purchases for years.
      “Kenoi has been a charismatic and popular mayor with a larger-than-life personality; prior to this matter, he had been discussed as a potential candidate for higher office. Holding him accountable for any criminal violations likely will now be Chin’s responsibility, with the county ethics board and legislative auditor focused only on potential administrative violations.
      “As those investigations go forward, Kenoi would be well advised to resign. His public reputation might recover following an act of contrition that has meaning and lasting consequences. A failure to meet such a standard would rightly deepen character concerns that are already widespread among Big Island voters in the wake of the past two weeks’ explosive stories.
      “Unlike love and aloha, making amends does come with a cost. Kenoi’s willingness to pay it may determine whether he is ultimately afforded one of life’s other virtues: forgiveness,” the Civil Beat board of editors wrote.
      Kenoi said he has turned in his pCard and taken full responsibility for his mistakes.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

TMT would use a laser guide star system.
Image from tmt.org
THE THIRTY METER TELESCOPE TEAM informed Gov. David Ige that it will postpone construction until next Monday, April 20. 
      “I thank TMT for its willingness to be respectful and sensitive to all of Hawai`i – its special people, its sense of place and its unique host culture,” Ige said.
      TMT has also launched an informational microsite at www.MaunakeaandTMT.org.
      The microsite provides background on the project, gives answers to most frequently asked questions and provides a listing of what TMT considers to be “some balanced news stories.”
      Categories of questions with answers include cultural, environmental, community impact, financial, compliance, history of community outreach and science.
      Questions in the cultural category include: “What is TMT doing to protect Maunakea’s cultural resources? Are there archaeological features on the TMT site? Are the lands on which TMT sits ceded lands? Does TMT have support from the Hawaiian community? Why can’t TMT be put in place of one of the existing telescopes?”
      In the environmental category, questions are: “Will TMT have an impact on the aquifer? What other environmental considerations are being made by TMT?”
      A community impact question addressed is, “How will the project benefit the Hawai`i community?”
      Financial questions are: “How will TMT be funded after construction? What is TMT paying for lease rent? What are the estimated annual operational costs for TMT? How many jobs will be created to operate TMT?”
      The microsite also answers questions about compliance. “Was TMT’s Environmental Impact Statement approved? Does TMT have all necessary permits to proceed? Does the TMT project meet the eight requirements for building in a conservation area?”
      TMT also explains what has done in terms of community outreach and explains why the telescope should built, from a science perspective.
      See answers to some of these questions in future Ka`u News Briefs.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Ka`u's Sen. Russell Ruderman and Rep. Richard Creagan with project assistant
Robin Smith at the Hawai`i Industrial Hemp Research Project.
Photo from Sen. Ruderman's facebook page.
LAWMAKERS REPRESENTING KA`U attended this past Friday’s blessing and seed planting ceremony for the Hawai`i Industrial Hemp Research Project on O`ahu. Hemp is being re-introduced as an emerging industrial industry that can employ Hawai`i’s latitude and climate as the center for breeding to recover and reconstitute hemp varieties. 
      Sen. Russell Ruderman said hemp was once a mainstay of our nation’s agricultural industry in the past. “One of our founding father, Thomas Jefferson, believed that ‘hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country,’” Ruderman said.
      “Robin Smith will be one of those leaders who changes the world for the better, and I’m happy to know this remarkable young man,” Ruderman said. “He’s assisting Dr. Harry Ako in the hemp pilot project and is a great ambassador for the project.”
      A bill at the state Legislature calling for research of industrial hemp has passed through required House and Senate committees and awaits a final vote.
      Hawai`i Farmers Union United Vice President Simon Russell submitted testimony in favor of the bill. “Farmers should not have to wait years for permission to grow hemp,” Russell said.
      “Under current U.S. law, hemp is legal to grow for research purposes. It has some 25,000-plus known uses and will create jobs. There is much research to do, and farmers need to start doing it, and the sooner the better if you please.
      “Our producers will have a multi-year hybridization process to go through to develop viable hemp seeds for our various micro-climates across the state. Waiting more years is not going to be helpful, as there are a number of U.S. states and many countries around the world growing hemp for industrial purposes. The U.S. competition for hemp production is on, and Hawai`i’s farmers have not even approached the starting line.
      “Hemp is a good animal feed. Poultry farmers will benefit from this crop. Hemp seeds are a large part of commercially available bird seed. Hemp is good for revitalizing the soils as well, so crop diversity and soil health will be positively impacted if this proposed legislation passes.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

THE KA`U COMMUNITY ASTHMA MANAGEMENT PROGRAM is recruiting participants.  The program is a pilot project of Luzviminda Banez Miguela, a Hawai`i Community College Nursing Instructor who is also coordinator and ambassador for the National League Of Nursing. She is also a student in Nursing Practice at University of Hawai`i – Manoa. The project, supported by American Lung Association, will begin in August.
Ka`u residents can participate in tomorrow evening's public hearing on county
budgets through videoconferencing at Ocean View Community Center.
      For more information, email miguellb@hawaii.edu.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL HOLDS A PUBLIC HEARING on county budgets tomorrow at 5 p.m. at West Hawai`i Civic Center in Kona. Ka`u residents can participate via videoconferencing at Ocean View Community Center. The council reviews the operating and capital improvement project budgets.
      Council committees also meet tomorrow: Housing Agency, 9 a.m.; Governmental Relations & Economic Development, 9:30 a.m.; Human Services & Social Services, 10 a.m.; Planning, 10:45 a.m.; Public Works and Parks & Recreation, 11:15 a.m.; and Finance, 1:30 p.m.
      Although the budget hearing is not streamed live, most of the committee meetings are. See hawaiicounty.gov.
Ka`u resident Dick Hershberger becomes Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
founder Thomas Jaggar tomorrow. Photo from KDEN
      Agendas are also available there.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U RESIDENT DICK HERSHBERGER brings Hawaiian Volcano Observatory founder Thomas Jaggar to life tomorrow and every other Tuesday during A Walk into the Past at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Participants meet at Kilauea Visitor Center to take the short walk to the underground Whitney Vault in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.

KA`U RESIDENTS INTERESTED IN GROWING tea and those who have begun propagation are invited to a lively discussion tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. On hand will be Eva Lee, of Tea Hawai`i, and Robert Best, from Esparto, CA, discussing his experience in tea propagation. Free; donations are encouraged. 
      For more information, call 967-8222.


See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.swf and

See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_April2015.pdf.

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 3185

Latest Images

Trending Articles

click here for Latest and Popular articles on SAP ERP

Latest Images