Sunday, September 21, 2014         

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Genetically modified organism (GMO) plants like Hawaii's "Rainbow papaya" that are designed to resist a specific threat — in this case the Ringspot virus — are unusual in the world of GMOs today.

On Sept. 15, the University of Hawaii was announced as a finalist in the competition to host the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

Like most University of Hawaii sports fans, I was both happy and relieved when the Rainbow Warriors defeated the University of Northern Iowa Saturday night for its second win in the last 15 games.

We've all heard that Hawaiian Electric Co.'s energy plan will triple rooftop solar by 2030, lower our bills and exceed the state's goals to install renewable generation. Sounds great — but does HECO have a plan to see it through?

Recent events in Syria and Iraq indicate there is a group of savages who decline to respect the rights of others to live in their plane of existence so long as they do not share the same belief system.

After reading the Star-Advertiser's Aug. 29 story, "Bills aimed at clearing off sidewalks are OK'd by panel," I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Why such a beautiful part of the world is making such ugly polices against homeless people is hard to comprehend.

Seven years ago I had the opportunity to build my own home in Kekaha, on the west side of Kauai.

History has shown us that we can accomplish more through respectful dialogue rather than resorting to divisive fighting words. The public discussion in Hawaii about genetically modified crops has reached the point where almost all Hawaii farmers would like to move beyond the distractions this has caused our business.

All life on Earth began in the oceans. Maybe that's why so many of us love to swim and play in the salty ocean water.

Kekaha is my home on Hawaii island and my family, descendants of subsistence fishermen, continue to supplement our table with fish caught in the waters that our ancestors fished for hundreds of years.

As leaders in the commercial transportation industry, it's our job to do everything in our power to protect passengers and drivers. That's why we feel it necessary to speak out about two new transportation alternatives that are not complying with existing regulations.

The Residential A real property tax classification that increases the tax rate by 71 percent — to $6 from $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed value on non-owner occupied properties — has been in the news recently, but in all the hubbub, some major impacts and related issues have not surfaced.

The debate in Congress about whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank is troubling. The Ex-Im Bank is an essential tool for U.S. businesses that sell products abroad. And if lawmakers in Washington fail to reauthorize the bank by the end of September, this crucial institution will go out of business, dealing a blow to Hawaii's export economy in the process.

Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter are two of 30 Army installations nationwide being targeted for force reductions, to meet budget controls.

In March, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization forecast Oahu single-family home prices at near $700,000. In June, the median price of an Oahu single-family home reached $700,000 for the first time, according to a July report by the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

There have been questions as to why Puna Geothermal Venture's 38-mega- watt power generating station remained online when Tropical Storm Iselle was imminent.

World headlines barrage us nearly daily of strife in places like Ukraine, Gaza and Syria. Nearly every week we hear of another crisis resulting from issues like climate change, human rights violations, social injustice and refugee crises which transcend borders.

On Tuesday, we celebrated Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the day when women were given the right to vote in the United States.

Too often, analysis of Gaza is reduced to bumper-sticker declarations: "Israel has a right to defend itself" or "10,000 rockets was enough." But the story of the siege on Gaza is far more complex.

From a little boy born in Honolulu to the president of the United States, Barack Obama has traveled a literal and figurative distance.

The case for an Obama Presidential Library in Hawaii is historic and strong. President Barack Obama was born in the new 50th State in 1961. He was here for his early childhood, and graduated from Punahou School, where he played basketball.

In its Aug. 13 editorial, "HPD transparency, oversight lacking," the Star-Advertiser says an independent agency should investigate shootings by Honolulu police officers.

Well, at least we still know how to suck on leaves if we need to," said a woman at Longs when she realized the bottled water was sold out as Honolulu anticipated Iselle. I

The catastrophic primary defeat of Gov. Neil Abercrombie to state Sen. David Ige in all but two voting districts has generated among political observers a desperate search for explanations.

Wow. Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi made many changes in the teacher evaluation system in response to criticism coming from teachers, principals and many others who were astounded with what the Department of Education came up with to rate teachers. Count them: 18 changes in all!

Hurricane Iselle forced the closure of Hawaii's ports, excepting those on Kauai. The U.S. Coast Guard could not immediately predict when they would reopen.

Police are to government as the edge is to a knife. Unlike other occupations, police have the general right to use coercive force within a state's territory.

Do you ever ask yourself how you want to live as you age? The world's population is aging, and by 2050 there will be more seniors than there are infants in the world.

By the time you finish this column, about 15 children will have died from malnutrition. Before you sleep tonight, over 20,000 people will have died today from hunger. Know how many individuals have ever died from eating genetically modified (GM) food? Zero.

As a group of 36 faculty and staff from the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus with, collectively, hundreds of years of experience with UH, we feel that it is our duty to speak up about the recent firing of Chancellor Tom Apple.

The crisis began with a bungled burglary at the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in a Washington, D.C., office complex. It ended on Aug. 9, 1974, as Richard Nixon gave one final wave before boarding his helicopter to leave the White House in disgrace.

If you've read the newspaper lately, you might be worried about all the reforms in public education -- new Common Core standards, teacher evaluations, Strive HI.

Oahu property tax reform is long overdue. The director of the city's Budget and Fiscal Services says the "Residential A" property tax, in particular, is fair and transparent (Island Voices, Aug. 5) -- but saying so doesn't make it true.

As Hawaii's primary season comes to an end, fostering a thriving economy is once again a key talking point. Yet the significance of women making up half the workforce and 40 percent of breadwinners, while continuing to be the primary household caretakers, has mostly been absent from political discourse.

We, student leaders of the Manoa campus, appreciate the Star-Advertiser's Aug. 3 editorial seeking a full explanation from University of Hawaii President David Lassner for his recent firing of UH-Manoa Chancellor Thomas Apple.

Oahu's "Residential A" class was created to raise property taxes on second homes, not primary residences, and includes only properties valued at $1 million or more.

As a product of public education whose mother was a public school teacher, I've been a supporter of change within our Hawaii public schools for many years.

I certainly have not walked away from the so-called "sit-lie" sidewalk bills. The main reason the City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee deferred the bills on July 24 was to allow for more discussion on the timing of the law's rollout in conjunction with the rollout of Housing First.

In health care, "pay for performance" refers to the practice of payers and other health-field entities to encourage or require the performance or execution of certain prescribed tests or activities in the belief that they can attain better health care.

Perspective is needed in the discussion for extending the rail surcharge, an extension that could lead to unintended consequences if used to fund operations and maintenance (O&M).

I have worked in the addiction field in Hawaii for 35 years and facilitated the Family Program at Hina Mauka Recovery Center in Kaneohe for 12 years.

For decades, the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) has been on the forefront of health care reform in Hawaii.

RIMPAC 2014 is the world's largest international maritime exercise designed to build cooperative and adaptive partnerships.

Walmart will soon spell "relief" for downtown pedestrians as they wander along the Fort Street Mall, far removed from the sight of a bench on which to sit or a toilet to use.

I am not a big fan of Walmart, which is actually rather surprising. I went to college an hour north of Walmart headquarters, was in classes with some of the Walton clan, attended Economics 101 in a building named after a wealthy Walmart corporate alumnus, and even took Sam Walton's granddaughter to a fraternity dance.

The question of the moment is how to proceed on the path to Hawaiian sovereignty. The answer lies in what made Hawaiians a great people. The answer lies in what makes Hawaii a place of beauty, power and grace.

Were the U.S. to create today, under its own domestic laws rather than through international law, a "government to government" relationship with Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), it would be violating, once again, the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom, which has never been legally obliterated.

I would like us to reflect upon the above theme for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) in 2012, which was provided to us as a challenge by the renowned kumu hula and Hawaiian scholar Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele.

On July 11, I gave a presentation as part of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii's Military Affairs Council quarterly briefing on the economic impact of the military in Hawaii.

July 20 annually marks one of those celebrated milestones in human history that none of us born of the 20th century can ever forget: that captivating moment when humankind first set foot on another celestial body, to begin what arguably is the greatest adventure our species will ever undertake.

Native Hawaiian sandalwood, iliahi, is Hawaii's oldest tree species, evidence indicates. So why is Hawaii the only place in the world with native sandalwood that is not regulated from exploitation?

RIMPAC 2014 is in full swing as 22 nations and over 25,000 participants engage in maritime security activities throughout our state. It is good that so many nations are involved in a cooperative effort to promote international safety and security in our region.

Rim of the Pacific 2014 is underway. Military and corporate representatives from around the world will be renewing old friendships and striking up new contacts in the tropical splendor of Hawaii. However, some of the superlatives issued by the Navy extolling RIMPAC 2014 deserve scrutiny.

With one of the highest rates of homeless people in the nation, it is easy for Hawaii's policymakers and residents to forget these people are not a faceless group of strangers, but individuals and families who have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances.

Centuries ago, Thomas Hobbes described his Leviathan's approach to leadership: "Might makes right." Nicolo Machiavelli's Prince similarly espoused: "The end justifies the means." These political philosophers continue to be relevant today. Witness the continuing conflagration in Iraq, this time between Shiites and Sunnis.

With the 2014 election year heating up, we can expect to see and hear more campaigning, advertising and debate in the coming months. Political issues and candidates can, and do, create passionate and intense debate in our community as part of the democratic process.

In the wake of the collapse of the city's sale of its housing inventory earlier this year, the Honolulu City Council was able to closely look at and review the details and condition of these properties.

Back in summer 2013, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) proactively informed the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that, because of unexpected staffing turnover and funding issues, the department could not meet the federal inspection requirements for nursing homes here.

Hawaii physicians are being offered contracts to join a "clinically integrated physician network" (CIPN) with Queen's Medical Center through one of the local physician organizations.

The leasehold sale of Honolulu's affordable rental projects has come down to a struggle between those who want to not only save those residents in the 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) and below from displacement into homelessness but also to preserve the units they occupy in perpetuity for that income category, and those who believe that preserving all those units will turn Chinatown into an economic ghetto.

News media and people outside of Chinatown are quick to criticize efforts to resolve problems that Chinatown residents have endured for years.

After World War II, you could buy a house in Palolo for $5,000, and in the 1970s, in Manoa for $30,000. Today the average price of a house is over half a million and condos are selling in Kakaako for millions.

On June 6, after closing arguments concluded in the penalty phase of the federal murder trial of Naeem Williams in Honolulu, Steven Mellin, the lead prosecutor in this case, told me he had "just wasted six months of my life" in trial and trial preparations.

Imagine a criminal justice system that helps people heal after being harmed. Imagine a system that addresses victims' needs, including restitution when they want it, and a system that also helps offenders develop empathy for others and be law-abiding.

In Hawaii, the debate over the safety of GMO products often centers around eating the food or being exposed to chemicals used in its production.

There are many questions for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources/Parks and Recreation about aspects of the draft master plan for the Kawainui-Hamakua marshes:

The Star-Advertiser's June 24 editorial, "Legislative ethics needs tightening," was right on the money, so to speak, on the issue of the proper use of legislative allowances.

As families throughout our communities celebrate graduations ranging from preschool to high school and turn their thoughts toward summer activities, preparing thousands of school-age keiki with, or at risk for, disabilities for school must remain a priority for parents.

We, Ahahui Malama I ka Lokahi, are in full support of the May 2014 Kawainui-Hamakua Complex Master Plan Draft.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) welcomes continued input on the Kawainui-Hamakua Complex draft master plan.

Improving the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) is by no means a walk in the park. Since it was rolled out statewide this past school year, a joint committee of teachers and administrators from the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the state Department of Education (DOE) have worked to gather stakeholder feedback and discuss collaborative ways to improve the system.

This past month, the state departments of Health and Agriculture released a study on pesticides in streams across the state, garnering attention from both sides of the debate surrounding pesticide disclosure by agrochemical companies in the state.

A recent commentary congratulated David Lassner on his selection by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to be UH president, with its last line urging the community to "come together" in support

The constitutional amendment ballot measure this November to allow public funds to support private early childhood education programs will not only affect where families can access services for their children.

The last two years have been uneasy for residents in the city's affordable housing units. OH-NO (Ohana Housing Network Oahu), a nonprofit organization representing tenants within the buildings, expresses concern over key issues being discussed at upcoming City Council hearings concerning the sale of the complexes and its immediate impacts.

The Hawaii Business Roundtable would like to congratulate David Lassner on being selected as the new president of the University of Hawaii.

President Barack Obama's acceptance of retired Gen. Eric Shinseki's resignation as director of the Department of Veterans Affairs is a sad end to a brilliant career.

Conservation easements have been used in Hawaii and the mainland to permanently conserve more than 1.1 million acres of agricultural and ranch land.

This session, Hawaii lawmakers unanimously passed two bills that will, if signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, allow survivors of sexual assault more time to come forward and pursue legal action to hold abusers accountable.

As a proud ethnic Hawaiian and loyal United States citizen, I am troubled by efforts to divide Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians by creating a sovereign race-based tribe or nation.

For Native Hawaiians, unity is our most precious possession. Recent public discussion on the issue of nation building has missed the bigger picture of how creating "one voice" for Native Hawaiians will affect Hawaii politics.

Growing awareness of the importance of sustainable, resilient communities is encouraging.

It seems fitting that I sit here in Kansas City, Mo., writing about that June 6 day 70 years ago, when 160,000 Allied troops landed on the Normandy beaches to help break the Nazi stronghold over Europe that had existed under Adolph Hitler's personal direction.

The call for a leadership change at the state Department of Education by a group of former principals has generated various opinions about what's taking place in our public schools.

A recently introduced measure at the Honolulu City Council would ban non-compostable food containers. The goal of this bill is to protect the environment; however, banning food containers that are federal Food and Drug Administration-approved as safe since 1958, retain temperatures and liquids effectively, and cost less than compostable products does not protect the public or environment.

In recent months we have seen stories that have touted the success of the changes being made to our school system reflected in the positive reaction of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as improved learning outcomes for our students as measured by state DOE testing.

With a new incoming president, a few new regents and a new board chairperson, there is a tremendous opportunity for the University of Hawaii Board of Regents to take the next step to elevate UH to become the best institution of higher learning in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as another economic generator for the state.

As court after court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage, people in Hawaii could be forgiven for thinking that this has nothing to do with genetically engineered soybeans.

Hawaii's selection as the host for the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress — the world's largest conservation event — marks a beginning, an end, and a continuum.

Nuclear weapons might not compel many into teaching, but for me, there was no greater motivation.

The Star-Advertiser recently alerted the public to discontent among public school principals, via coverage of a critical survey that found 88 percent of 160 principals saying central administration is not providing sufficient support to the schools, and 65 percent fearing retaliation for disagreeing with or questioning systemwide initiatives ("Principals feel they're hamstrung, survey finds," May 15).

It's time to declare a war on homelessness, which is evolving into a crisis in Honolulu. We cannot let homelessness ruin our economy and take over our city.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has laid out what it sees as the tasks ahead for the next University of Hawaii president: Increase community support, tackle the maintenance backlog and strengthen education and research to further economic development.

The 50th State Fair continues at Aloha Stadium for the next seven weekends, and its promoters would like us to believe that the three grizzly bears and four sea lions imported from the mainland are entertainment for us all.

The recent coverage on changes in our public schools has motivated me to reflect on my last five years as a teacher. I am proud to be a public school teacher in Hawaii and feel very lucky to have been hired as a resource special education teacher at Wheeler Middle School five years ago.

HMSA reveals its wish to shut down the Hawaii Health Connector's Small Business Health Options Plan, known as SHOP. With the drama and confusion stirred up by our "big fish," my experience as a "small fish" should be shared.

While many employers understand the positive impact of providing health coverage to employees, they also understand that paying for ever-increasing health care costs is one of the most difficult challenges facing all business owners. It's hard to make ends meet when annual rate increases far outpace the overall inflation rate year after year.

For many years on Memorial Day, I have gone to different ceremonies to remember and honor those who have come before us as mentors, leaders, patriots and ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.

We extend our sincere appreciation to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and many partners in the local community for their support.

Despite slower growth during the second half of the year, Hawaii reached record numbers in visitor spending and arrivals in 2013. While the outlook for summer remains strong, we expect to see a slower fall season, especially from our core U.S. market.

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