Monday, December 22, 2014         

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There is a way for the state to get more money to fund early childhood education, improve services at our public hospitals, and address its obligations to the Employee Retirement System.

The big news on energy is the proposed sale of Hawaiian Electric (HEI) to NextEra, a Florida utility. The state promises to do its due diligence. But we need to go further than simply checking the boxes.

It has been eight years since our state Legislature declared that Hawaii has a housing affordability crisis. So what has changed in the last eight years to help alleviate the problem?

On Dec. 12, the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a month-to-month revocable permit to allow rock climbing at the basalt wall known as Mokuleia Wall on Oahu's North Shore.

We are excited by the Mamoru and Aiko Takitani Foundation's launch of the Education Institute of Hawaii. The result is an important discussion on where our public school system heads next.

On Dec. 17, 1964, at a press conference resembling a scene out of the '60s-genre show, "Mad Men," architect Vladimir Ossipoff declared a "War on Ugliness." Ossipoff was incoming president of the American Institute of Architects Hawaii Chapter, and his declaration of war wasn't about razing ugly buildings and replacing them with beautiful ones.

Beneath the warm turquoise waters and vibrant colorful reefs of Hawaii, a nasty storm is brewing, reaching white-out conditions that would stop an Eskimo in his tracks.

Hawaii's Sunshine Law (Chapter §92-1) states: "Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest."

Climate change holds the trump card. We can't solve other problems without an Earth that can sustain us. The science is clear and unanimous, with data based on real, measured observations.

Each branch of government within the state of Hawaii — the executive, legislative and judicial — has an affirmative duty to take active steps to conserve and protect public lands. In the Hawaiian language, this duty is known as "malama aina."

It's time to celebrate, Hawaii! The state has had its annual checkup and, once again, Hawaii has been named America's healthiest state. The latest America's Health Rankings, sponsored by the United Health Foundation, puts Hawaii in the No. 1 spot in the rankings for overall health.

Commercial uses for drones are too numerous to list. They include precision agriculture, natural resource management, critical infrastructure protection, oil and gas production, the film industry, law enforcement and even package delivery. It seems more uses for drones are discovered daily.

Hawaii residents are now knee deep in the Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period, which began on Nov. 15. Many are finding what appears to be a pleasant surprise: over 70 percent of plans will have lower premiums than 2014.

Florida-based NextEra is maneuvering to take over our local utility. Hawaii greets it with aloha, but holds its breath as we learn who it is and what it intends to do.

Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. It has become far too easy to name black teenage boys these days who have been shot to death simply because of the color of their skin.

It is very important for the future of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center (UHCC) and our Hawaii Cancer Consortium partners that Hawaii residents learn through the media the important role we play to provide better access to cancer clinical trials and to find better ways to prevent and treat cancer in Hawaii.

We support the ideals of sustainable agriculture, locally sourced ingredients and farm-to-table, certainly. But behind these faddish catch phrases and buzzwords are people — farmers — and without them those ideals will remain elusive.

From an outsider's perspective, it might seem like common curricular resources vetted by the state strip me of my creativity in the classroom, and prescribe how I need to teach my students.

"Solar on every roof" has been my message to the people of Hawaii for the past eight years. Going forward, it may be "solar on every roof — and storage batteries under every house."

Last summer, at the request of Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, I traveled to Honolulu and conducted a daylong training session with his prosecutors and the Honolulu police.

Is the Army a good deal for Hawaii? Frankly, I don't care. There are burdens and benefits to hosting military installations, but we're all in this together.

Thousands of years before western settlement, the Hawaiian people had a tradition of caring for one another as ohana.

Hawaiians are moving forward with plans for a delegate election and a Hawaiian Constitutional Convention in 2015 to propose a Native Hawaiian governing entity that will succeed the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

With record traffic congestion in Honolulu, and the rebidding of station proposals that has pushed the rail project back, it's high time to adopt an "all of the above" approach to commuting and transportation on Oahu.

Like all of us who live in Hawaii, the cost of living is equally debilitating for the Army on Oahu. Given the freedom to choose and the absence of U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye's enormous influence, the Army would likely prefer its maneuver brigades be stationed somewhere it can better afford, and where it can actually conduct critically essential combat training.

Voter apathy is a problem. Electing a governor with only a quarter of registered voters is a victory for the Ainokea ("I no care") Party.

Hawaii is known — and famous — for many things: our beaches, our waters, our unique "aloha spirit." Another thing we're (in)famous for is our traffic.

The housing crisis in Hawaii has increased to such an alarming situation that every citizen needs to respond in at least two ways.

Hawaii's public hospital system -- the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation -- has been prominent in the news in recent weeks.

In Hawaii, we have a tradition that people have the right to use the public spaces in our mountains and oceans, subject to rules for safety. We have harbors for large ships and boats, zones for kayaks and swimmers.

EES, SLO, CCSS, SBAC. These are just a few of the acronyms Hawaii public school teachers were introduced to in the past year. They are short for very intense initiatives that have been put in place in schools statewide.

Recent studies have documented high administrative burdens for American doctors and hospitals. The average U.S. physician spends a sixth of his or her time on administrative tasks that are not integral to patient care.

As a board member of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, I strive along with my colleagues to help families affected by mental illness.

Allow me this one complaint: Voter apathy is the great enemy of our republic. The absence of long lines at polling places throughout the country does not bespeak contentment with our government, nor does it confirm the stability of our frayed democracy.

Age as a basis for categorizing people is discriminatory and its application to judges is no exception. But judges are treated with exceptional discrimination: they are the only state employees or public officials for whom a mandatory retirement age is set forth in the Hawaii Constitution.

Some argue that a person over 70 is too old to be a Judge. I know many experienced, talented lawyers who are very capable of being very good, hard-working judges. I am 77 and I am as capable as I was when I was 69.

In less than a week, we will have the mid-term elections. We've see most of the same faces, switching places or careers and campaigning with the usual truckload of promises that they know they won't be able to keep, "humbly asking for our vote" to send them to Congress in Washington, D.C., or to be our governor, state senator and so on.

The Education Institute of Hawaii arranged for us to visit four very different school systems, and asked only that we keep an open mind about what practices and organizational structures might be worth emulating or avoiding, and then to share our opinions upon returning home.

The Maui County "GMO moratorium initiative" reported on TV and in the press has been difficult to witness for someone trained in science. Much of what is said in the media in favor of this initiative is designed to misinform by presenting half-truths and very selective use of scientific data.

Over the past year, the agrochemical industry has conducted an unprecedented public relations campaign, to allay public fears about its intensive use of pesticides on the islands.

In the domestic violence case involving Sgt. Darren Cachola of the Honolulu Police Department, a police investigation never got started until videotape of the incident was released to the media.

As a locally owned and operated solar photovoltaic company, we were heartened by the arguments and proposals expressed by state Rep. Cynthia Thielen and state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim on behalf of frustrated Hawaii residents who are waiting indefinitely to have their rooftop photovoltaic system applications approved by HECO, and those who would like to install PV but are discouraged from even entering the queue

In Hawaii, we strive to provide our students -- tomorrow's leaders -- with the skills needed to grow and sustain a workforce that is competitive both locally and globally.

Set amid our island landscape is a global business community hungry for skilled workers who can help drive and sustain economic growth.

It was truly encouraging for teachers to read in this newspaper that they have something in common with Hawaii's three leading gubernatorial candidates and their concerns over the highly controversial Common Core national educational standards.

We are advocates for universal preschool, but not at the expense of our state's public education system. The constitutional amendment regarding early childhood education is proposing that the state allow public money be used for private preschools.

Hawaii 4-year-olds need preschool now; they can't wait another decade. Hawaii lags behind the nation in early education. We are one of the remaining states that has not brought universal preschool to our communities.

The potential cost of the preschool program to the citizens of Hawaii is significant, but has not been firmly established. Since enabling legislation has not been written, we can only guess what the educational program will look like.

Columnist Thomas Sowell compares voting for a third-party candidate in this year's U.S. Senate race to abolitionists voting for someone other than Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and thus allowing slavery to flourish ("Third-party candidates gamble with nation's future," Star-Advertiser, Oct. 18).

This is National Free Speech Week -- when we celebrate this fundamental and priceless right that we Americans enjoy.

Medicare's annual open enrollment season is underway, and I want to encourage everyone with Medicare to review their current health and prescription drug coverage.

This election season, voters are being asked to weigh in on three ballot questions that are important to agriculture.

Some may think it odd to call a fundraising campaign a "celebration." But that's exactly what Hawaii Public Radio calls its fall fund drive, and for good reason.

Just how much real power does a neighborhood board have? Can our neighborhood boards exert any real authority or are they simply symbols of community engagement and rubber stamps?

The possibility of any criminal charges against the officer likely was doomed from the start, because the Honolulu Police Department officers who responded to the 911 call failed to conduct the impartial and unbiased investigation necessary for a proper review of the case.

I have four children who all learn differently. But I have one with a learning difference.

In the late 1970s, in the face of tough new environmental laws and pressures from citizen groups, government agencies adopted new and needed community consultation strategies.

The country is reeling from seeing the video of NFL player Ray Rice inflicting violence on his then-fiancee. But do people realize that horrific violence goes on daily in our community on Maui and in Hawaii and across the United States?

Imagine that it is the 1830s and mosquitoes, entrenched on Maui, are just discovered on Oahu. With concerted action, Oahu residents could have kept this environmental menace from their island.

At one time or another this past year, Hawaii, Kauai and Maui islands have all laid claim to being "ground zero" for the controversies over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticide use.

Let me begin with a brief lamentation for the Constitution, then suggest the trajectory of the Iraqi-Syrian tragedy.

Same-sex marriage, or genderless marriage, is not a done deal in Hawaii, even though the Legislature passed Act 1 last fall during its special session and Gov.Neil Abercrombie signed it into law. Next year's Legislature can amend or repeal any law, including Act 1.

When the firm of Helber Hastert & Fee released its initial plans for the Kawainui-Hamakua Marsh Complex, it included buildings, parking lots, restrooms and trails as part of a plan to achieve a nebulous set of objectives:

Kudos to Allison Schaefers for writing and the Star-Advertiser for publishing a compassionate series on Oahu's homeless population.

Children in low-income families have one proven and effective lifeline: high-quality early education.

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.

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