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Friday, April 18, 2014         

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Today, April 16, is National Bookmobile Day, a perfect time to be more aware of our community's critical need for literacy services, especially among the underserved youth along the Waianae Coast, who are visited year-round by Hawaii Literacy's Bookmobile.

Thanks to the hard work of educators, Hawaii is a rising star among states committed to transforming schools and improving education for every child.

"Kamaaina come home" is more than three simple words. It is the driving force behind my life's work and proof that home is where the heart remains.

In January, the GED (General Education Development) a 71-year-old test many equate to a high school diploma was overhauled to align with rising high school standards and college and career readiness expectations.

On March 6 and 7, 150 private and public school educators from across the country gathered for the Private Schools with Public Purpose symposium hosted at the KEY Project in Kahaluu, Punahou School and ‘Iolani School.

Here is the single most important need facing Hawaii today: cheaper electricity. Everything else radiates from it.

The recovery of the American middle class begins with good-paying jobs, but that cannot happen if women continue to earn less than they deserve.

March was Women's History Month, and though the month is now over, it is essential that we continue to remember the women who were pivotal in Hawaii's history, especially those who improved the lives of working families.

The Governor's Office recently released the Hawaii Healthcare Innovation Plan for transforming our health care system, with follow-up commentaries in the Star-Advertiser by Virginia Pressler and Beth Giesting.

We Hawaiian beneficiaries respectfully disagree with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the un-Hawaiian plans for Kakaako Makai. Historically, the Hawaiian beneficiaries have constantly scrutinized OHA.

Loophole. Shelter. Gimmick. Whatever you want to call it, there is a flaw in our state's tax code that mainland investors love but Hawaii taxpayers should loathe.

You may be aware of recent commentary and media statements by AARP about its proposed Senate Bill 2264, also known as the "caregivers bill."

Full- or part-time teachers in Catholic schools supervised by the Honolulu Diocese will soon have to sign contracts that promise termination if they violate Church teaching or engage in activities the Church deems immoral.

In 1989, the door opened for a limited time to non-conforming use certificates (NUCs) on vacation rentals. That was more than 25 years ago. We have lost on an average of 40 NUCs every renewal cycle.

When it comes to health care transformation that promotes high-quality care for all, the Abercrombie administration strongly supports the goal of "universal coverage."

It doesn't take much more than invasive fire ants or your electric bill to know we have a world in trouble. We've known this for decades. Now is the time to mobilize to achieve security and resilience in Hawaii's economy and environment.

In 1871, when King Kamehameha V declared a new holiday to commemorate the Hawaiian kingdom's unifier Kamehameha the Great, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Piʻikoi was born.

The costs of living near the shore, with all the beauty and all the hazards, are finally settling out where they should be, in the federal government's plan to gradually adjust flood insurance premiums to more rational levels.

Some of us are old enough to remember when "IBM cards" and the mainframe computer represented the latest technology.

Today marks the eight-year anniversary of the largest raw sewage spill in state history. On March 24, 2006, during the now-infamous 40-day stretch of constant rain, a 42-year-old sewer force main ruptured in Waikiki.

The recently revised economic forecast put out by the Council on Revenues has led the state House to delete funding for the HI Growth Initiative, the state's leading initiative to develop new engines of economic growth.

A subsidized affordable property is limited to first-time homebuyers, has income limits, and there is usually a lottery to obtain a unit. And the intent is for housing and homeownership, not maximum capital gain.

Imagine constantly living in fear that you may have a seizure at any moment. One minute you are coherent, playing, laughing, working — then things start to become fuzzy.

In 2012 my family installed solar panels on the roof of our home. That decision transformed us. The whole family became energy-conscious as we monitored our electrical usage before and after the photovoltaic (PV) modules were installed.

As the largest business organization in Hawaii, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii represents more than 1,000 businesses; about 80 percent are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Recent news regarding the increase of pedestrian deaths and other traffic-related matters prompts this piece, with the intent of helping all of us be safer.

I have believed since my first boyhood visit to Dr. Walter "Chocolate" Chung that our medical community physicians, nurses and hospitals puts patients and their families first. In a world where greed is often regarded as a virtue, I've always felt I could rely upon the physicians creed to do no harm.

The tourism industry has helped fuel Hawaii's economic resurgence over the last few years. That's a good thing.

The intent of the Women's Caucus memo that resulted in a second confirmation hearing for Circuit Judge Michael Wilson was to address the concerns of misconduct toward women in the workplace that recently surfaced.

We have seen it all before. Hawaiian Airlines is cutting some Asian routes that it recently launched and reducing frequencies on others. Are we surprised?

One of my law partners sits on the Judicial Selection Commission (JSC), which submitted Circuit Judge Michael Wilson as qualified for nomination to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

So City Councilman Ikaika Anderson wants to amend the current fireworks law. How quickly we forget those eardrum-breaking "KABOOMS" that started two to three weeks before New Year's Eve.

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) proposed for construction on Mauna Kea is something the people of Hawaii should support. It would keep the astronomical facilities in Hawaii at the forefront of research capabilities for decades to come.

We must not understand the University of Hawaii Board of Regents' vote to approve a sublease for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea as a vote for "science."

While much attention is focused on the politicization of the federal Affordable Care Act and the struggles faced by the local nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector, great advances are being made to transform health care in Hawaii.

At a recent special meeting on pesticides hosted by the North Shore Neighborhood Board, a statement was made that the use of GMO crops represented a "pesticide-centered technology." This is a totally false statement; nothing could be further from the truth.

Many American cities now enjoy an amazing reversal of fortune. Once hollowed-out shells mainly for those too poor to move or those so rich they didn't have to deal with the poor cities are again filling up with educated and aspiring young people.

Each year the world adds nearly 80 million people. That's 219,000 more people to feed tonight. And that will be repeated tomorrow night with another 219,000 people to feed.

Juvenile justice has little mass appeal. No political race has ever been won or lost based on a juvenile justice platform. So, members of Hawaii's juvenile justice community are pleased the public is discussing the issue.

I quit the teaching business on the last day of August 2013. Retired. I closed the door behind me. I was done with it, and I am. Except for this... Near the end, public school teachers were being introduced to Danielson training, the current educational reform obligation.

Recent polls by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now clearly show that most of our residents believe the city's homeless problem has gotten worse.

Heard about community solar? The idea is simple. It allows anyone to hui up with others and benefit from solar panels installed anywhere on the grid — not just your own roof. Your share of the energy shows up as a lower electric bill.

Solar power is playing a growing part in helping us find and maintain a balance between human needs and the preservation of the natural environment.

There's a classic line from the movie "Die Hard," after several Federal Bureau of Investigation agents take over from the local constabulary to corral some terrorists and manage only to blow themselves up: "Guess we need more FBI guys," one of the locals comments.

The profound disrespect illustrated by "Hanohano-gate," where one legislator's rude behavior made headlines, has triggered a more thoughtful discussion over what to expect of public officials.

Consumers and taxpayers are eyeing two important deadlines for the Hawaii Health Connector, the insurance marketplace established by the state Legislature in 2011 to provide access to health policies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The minimum wage for Hawaii is $7.25 an hour, or $7 an hour for tipped workers because of the tip credit, which is 25 cents. What's a tip credit?

In 1967, the fourth state Legislature passed Act 463, now popularly known as the State Ethics Code. This important law governs all appointed and elected officials, protecting and informing both the public and the public servant about expected standards of conduct.

Since we are in the midst of another legislative session where ethics and lobbying reform legislation seem again to be dead on arrival, some comments about how governmental ethics is handled here in Hawaii are in order to help the public better understand the nature and magnitude of the problems we face — and perhaps what can be done to better the situation.

In life, the reasonable assumption is you get what you pay for. Put another way, you pay for what you get. Property taxes, for example, provide the means for each of the four county governments to provide basic services.

Every day, Family Court judges across Hawaii administer justice in cases involving some of our youngest citizens. This is no small task.

My one victory as a member of the state Board of Education was creating a performance contract for the schools superintendent.

The recent Star-Advertiser article on the Hawaii Paroling Authority could have shined much-needed light on one of this state's most powerful and least accountable criminal justice institutions ("Reduced prison time angers victims' families," Feb. 9).

Late last month, President Barack Obama launched a nonprofit foundation to evaluate proposals for his presidential library.

With Amazon's announcement of a drone delivery service, the Federal Aviation Administration's recent inclusion of Hawaii in its drone test program, and the frequent news of drone strikes in war zones, it seems impossible to get away from hearing about drones these days.

Recently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected six sites to serve as test ranges to "allow the agency to develop research findings and operational experiences to help ensure the safe integration of UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) into the nation's airspace."

I'm a victim of Hawaiian Electric Co.'s anti-solar policies, and I'm shocked at the negligence it has displayed with little oversight or regulation. As a professional investigator, I've spent thousands of hours reviewing cases against businesses accused of wrongdoing.

The ocean itself draws the proverbial line in the sand, leaving a debris line of sodden sticks, coral chunks, shells and bits of plastic each time it washes up onto the shore.

The Hawaii Supreme Court case of my client, Lynedon Van Ness, involving workers' compensation and the exacerbation of his asthma because of vog, has been misinterpreted by many.

Did you know that there is a country that has sentenced thousands of children to die in prison? And did you know that that country is the only nation in the world that still locks its children up and throws away the key, in clear violation of international human rights law?

Publishing article after article and letters to the editor repeatedly asserting that Oahu's rail project ending at the Ala Moana Center will free up H-1 traffic jams is a disservice to our community. There is a term for this type of activity: "brainwashing."

Pedestrian deaths and injuries in marked crosswalks should grab everyone's attention. Why do pedestrians in hopefully "safe" marked crosswalks so often meet with injury or death? Why is there real risk, and how can the pedestrian improve chances of crossing alive?

On the last Sunday of 2013, a church member attended our morning service with her 20-year-old, 6-foot, 250-pound grandson, who towered above her 5'2" frame.

House Bill 1889 is worthy of support from Hawaii residents and state lawmakers because it is a step in the right direction for dealing with our growing homelessness issue in a manner consistent with our rich history.

In today's digital age, we're allowing students to access learning by using today's tools for classroom innovation.

With rising seas threatening the only home he’s ever known, President Christopher Loeak of the Republic of the Marshall Islands recently declared to the world, “2014 is Our Climate Moment.”

With rising seas threatening the only home he's ever known, President Christopher Loeak of the Republic of the Marshall Islands recently declared to the world, "2014 is Our Climate Moment."

Agriculture in Hawaii is under attack. At a time when our interest in food is extremely high, some people are choosing to demonize farmers and ranchers.

Hawaii’s public school students are achieving at remarkable levels — and in some areas, at levels never before seen here. In 2013, our fourth- and eighth-graders made among the highest gains in the nation in reading and math performance.

Kakaako's state Rep. Scott Saiki has introduced eight bills to rein in — and even abolish — the Hawaii Community Development Authority. About time. This agency has been destroying our community — the way a rogue City Council ruined Waikiki in the 1970s — instead of implementing plans that "meet the highest needs and aspirations of Hawaii's people."

One of the forces driving tourism is people's desire to experience something they cannot find at home. Those living in the mountains like traveling to the seashore. Some look for a different culture -- Americans traveling to China, Japanese to Europe, etc.

Preservation Association As a group of engineers, scientists, planners and community representatives concerned with management of the Hawaiian shoreline, we note that severe erosion, such as on Oahu's North Shore, has occurred before and is likely to occur again.

Taking away county authority to regulate agriculture and/or pesticides is both bad policy and bad politics. Last year Monsanto and its friends at the state Legislature attempted to slip through Senate Bill 727, literally taking away the counties' right to protect health and life.

In the 2012 election cycle, individuals and groups not directly connected to candidates spent over a billion dollars of so-called "independent expenditures" to influence the outcome of the elections — more than five times the amount spent in the 2008 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

There is a myth that Hawaii's schools are filled with bad teachers protected by the Hawaii State Teachers Association at the expense of students.

While local media outlets have provided some details concerning the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and Director Michele Carbone, the real story behind this debacle, and numerous others, is the persistently questionable leadership decisions within the university system.

For 37 years, the Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) has focused on the vision that is coming to life in Kakaako today — one of creating vibrant communities in underutilized urban areas.

Hawaii families have much to celebrate. Public school children today learn a grade-and-a-half more content compared to 10 years ago. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan termed Hawaii's gains on the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress "noteworthy" -- and we wholeheartedly agree.

Caregivers in Hawaii want to start the year with optimism. There are reasons for this. The state economy is improving, and Hawaii has an $844 million budget surplus.

In the ongoing federal trial of six persons accused of trafficking methamphetamines, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi recently ruled that despite Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo's repeated failures to disclose evidence to the defense that he was legally and ethically obligated to disclose, she will not dismiss the case against the defendants.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell, like The Outdoor Circle, strongly opposes billboards in Hawaii. However, as mayor representing all of Oahu's residents, including 220,000-plus daily bus riders, the mayor has an obligation to ask the tough questions, get the facts and make informed decisions.

As Hawaii enters the New Year, our focus should remain on preserving and developing the values and character that have allowed us to enjoy supportive, enriching lives, and maintaining the promise of Hawaii for the future.

It has been just over a year since we lost one of Hawaii's greatest servant leaders and an iconic American hero, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

In Hawaii, we know family comes first and generations take care of each other. We need to make sure our policies reflect these values and to help families who feel stretched thin attain economic security.

President Barack Obama recently said that "what drives me … as an American is to make sure that every striving, hardworking, optimistic kid in America has the same incredible chance that this country gave me."

What's the point of going to law school if you will face a big tuition bill and declining job prospects? That was the question posed in Nanea Kalani's excellent story, "Law less alluring as field of study" (Star-Advertiser, Dec. 23).

As director of the Executive Office on Early Learning, I am tasked with identifying programs to help prepare children for kindergarten and finding ways the state can support this effort.

With apologies to all who worked so hard to preserve the city of Honolulu's stock of affordable rental housing in perpetuity, many of us have lost sight of how critical this affordable rental housing is for the people of Honolulu making $50,000 or less annually.

We appreciate the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's interest and recent article on the Hawaii State Teachers Association's (HSTA) legislative priorities for 2014 ("HSTA backs pre-kindergarten plan," Dec. 24).

Thank you for the editorial on the need to reform our juvenile justice system and endorsing the recommendations of the Hawaii Juvenile Justice Working Group that I served on ("Juvenile justice system needs reform," Star-Advertiser, Our View, Dec. 18).

The new University of Hawaii president must be like Hans Christian Andersen's emperor in new clothes — transparent, but not at all as foolish or incompetent.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents takes seriously its duty to formulate policy and exercise jurisdiction over the operation of Hawaii's only public university.

Educating a new generation of our workforce means providing the tools and skills necessary for students to succeed globally in the future.

In middle school I remember feeling so "grown up" when my parents first allowed me to go to the mall alone with my friends. In high school, getting my license and a car was one of the most liberating moments of my life.

As current and former faculty members of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center (UHCC), it is our duty to speak out about the egregious conduct of the center director, Dr. Michele Carbone, and the deterioration of our academic environment.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposed supplemental budget includes funding to acquire prime Oahu agriculture land, invest in Molokai irrigation system improvements and the Waimea Homestead Community Agricultural Park, and fill state Department of Agriculture positions in pesticide, marketing and statistics programs.

A voluntary working group representing the state of Hawaii, local nonprofits, community members and Turtle Bay Resort is making real, tangible progress on a conservation plan that will leave a lasting legacy for Hawaii.

The University of Hawaii Cancer Center is a success that apparently some seek to derail. The new building is finished, and the center is running smoothly, despite contrary efforts of some disgruntled faculty.

Since the early 1990s, hundreds of research articles by fire departments, emergency medical services departments (EMS) and emergency room physicians have repeatedly shown that the use of lights and sirens (L&S) has been ineffective, even harmful.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) should have rejected Turtle Bay Resort's supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) because it fails to accurately report the potential impacts of the proposed resort expansion.



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