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Tuesday, March 03, 2015         

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The negative impacts caused by invasive species on Hawaii's natural and cultural resources came into special focus this past week, the third annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week.

Laie has always been a model, walkable "live-work-play" sustainable community, long before it became a popular planning concept.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson's proposal to remove all references to the proposed Envision Laie project from the Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (Bill 47) and focusing that document on preserving the country is not only in the community's best interest

A few years ago, I had a patient on Medicaid with a life-threatening seizure condition who needed medication to keep it in check. One Saturday, she went to the pharmacy to refill her prescription and learned that her Medicaid benefits had been cut.

There are several bills under consideration at the state Legislature that would impose double taxation on some companies doing business in Hawaii and could threaten billions of dollars of needed investments in Hawaii communities.

Mention the word "pesticides" in mixed company and you're likely to get mixed reactions. What many do not realize is that pesticides are vitally necessary for our health, safety and well being, and that many of the fearful perceptions are actually misperceptions.

The Hawaii Theatre Center has been an extraordinary and successful nonprofit organization. It began as an ambitious vision to restore and operate the 1922 historic theater to be a catalyst for economic revitalization of Downtown and Chinatown and to serve as a multipurpose first class performance facility for the community.

President Barack Obama sent to Congress a draft Authorization to Use Military Force against ISIL / ISIS on Feb. 11. The two purposes of the AUMF are: 1) to limit "enduring offensive ground combat operations" to three years; and 2) to repeal the 2002 AUMF for Iraq.

All political power in the state of Hawaii is inherent in the people, and the responsibility and opportunity for the exercise of this power rests with the residents.

The U.S. Army is considering letting the budget drive its strategy. That would be a mistake. A recent Army study — the Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment — proposes potentially cutting more than 19,000 soldiers from U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii in the event of sequestration.

In Hawaii, we greatly value the ohana and the well-being of all our children. Compared to other states, Hawaii ranks somewhere in the middle in overall child well-being, and we are doing well on some health indicators and in the family and community context. However, too many of our families are struggling and their children are not thriving.

Don't believe government when education reform is ballyhooed. Most has turned out to be political conceit. Worse, the "reforms" were pure political deceit.

Congratulations to the beautiful city of Honolulu for its recent opening of the first major urban bikeway in the city — the King Street Cycle Track. It is the beginning of a new experiment: moving people across town on a major urban corridor in a more efficient, and indeed, in a healthier manner.

Whether it's local lilikoi jam or grandma's andagi, there's nothing like homemade food in Hawaii. Pop-up venues like farmers markets, craft fairs and bake sales are popular places to pick up locally produced treats to snack on or share with loved ones who want a taste of the islands.

Should the National Park Service make Honouliuli an interpretive center? This was the major camp for Hawaii internees, and prisoners of war from Asia and Europe were adjacent.

The University of Hawaii recently released a report on the UH Cancer Center (UHCC) prepared by an independent UH faculty committee.

Over the last two years, the state Department of Education (DOE) has publicly shared its ongoing systemic transformation.

Last month, I had the opportunity to join a Google Hangout with U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and a half-dozen other writers who have been following the Obama administration's efforts to pass paid family leave legislation nationwide. It took place two days after the President's State of the Union address.

In a recent "Island Voices" column, it was opined that the state Land Use Commission (LUC) has worked (Star-Advertiser, Jan. 28).

On opening day of the state Legislature last month, an unusually diverse coalition of Hawaiians, environmentalists and public health advocates gathered to send a message to those inside the state Capitol: "This is the People's Hale (house), not the Corporations' Hale."

As international anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva led a rally at the Jan. 21 opening of the state Legislature, I reflected on how much had changed since I first encountered her on Kauai, two years ago.

We face a future where our aging population will likely find personal physicians in short supply ("Doctor shortage grows," Star-Advertiser, Jan. 20).

Hawaii should not wait any longer to join the list of states that have legalized marijuana. There is simply too much at stake for us to allow our Legislature to peck away at this for five or 10 years without taking real action.

As I watched President Barack Obama deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress recently, I felt a sense of pride as he mentioned the role that community colleges play in strengthening our economy, especially in the area of skills training and Career and Technical Education (CTE).

For decades, the State Land Use Law has protected our environment, cultural heritage and quality of life.

We're about halfway through the "temporary" general excise tax surcharge that is funding the construction of Honolulu's heavy rail project.

As residents of Hawaii and representatives of a broad coalition of community organizations working for peace and justice, we support the proposal to downsize the Army in Hawaii.

We can throw a lot of numbers out to make the point, but we would still be missing the target. As part of the military re-balance or "pivot" to the Pacific, the Pentagon is looking at reducing the Army's presence in Hawaii by nearly 20,000 soldiers over the next two years, which would seem to undermine any refocus on the Pacific arena.

The emotional intensity of the recent public debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides has been difficult for our island community. Sadly, these issues have created divisions within the community, generated confusion instead of clarity, and made it harder.

While the difficulties of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center have been much in the news, I want to be sure that its value to the people of Hawaii is not lost.

On Jan. 9, at the invitation of the Hawaii Military Affairs Council, the U.S. Army Pacific commander, Gen. Vincent Brooks, presented information to its annual meeting about the U.S. Army in the Pacific

Today, we stand at a threshold of another burst of growth on Oahu. Kakaako is afire, racing to build as many high-rises as it can hold. Koa Ridge is prepped and ready to build 3,500 units.

In 1938, a young businesswoman had the idea of opening an outdoor roller-skating rink in Wahiawa. As the military population grew, it proved a smart economic decision.

Last summer, President Barack Obama struck the single greatest blow yet against climate change, calling for the first-ever federal limits on the dangerous fossil-fuel pollution from the nation's power plants.

A decade ago, a huge tsunami ripped across the world, killing more than a quarter-million people in 11 nations. In Indonesia, thousands perished or lost their homes and businesses.

Rail is the largest public infrastructure project in the state's history, and we are going to get it built. Just like sewers, roads and water mains, we can't build our future on an infrastructure that no longer serves or supports our population.

In a recent commentary, James Cartwright offered some "significant advantages" to moving the University of Hawaii at Manoa football team from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to the NCAA's lower classification of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) ("UH football joining FCS would be win-win for all," Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Dec. 26).

On Nov. 9, the Star-Advertiser quoted Gov.-elect David Ige as saying: "We need to make an investment in our prison system. I do think it is an opportunity for public-private partnership.

What do actor Mark Ruffalo, 17 colleges and universities, 32 cities, the Rocke- fellers, 51 religious institutions and 67 foundations all have in common?

When I joined the Republican Party in college during the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower notably stated: "In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. In all those things which deal with people's money, or their economy, or their form of government, be conservative."

As educators in Hawaii's public schools, we welcome recent discussions about ways to improve the state's education system.

The significance and impact of literacy on student achievement and society is immense. Schools and teachers are expected to address myriad tasks, none more substantial than the responsibility of building a child's foundation for learning.

Rail has failed nearly every test. The city's dramatic confession that it is up to $700 million short of funds to build rail is yet another reason to halt this project now before it is really too late and we plunge over the fiscal cliff.

The world gave itself a little-noticed Christmas present this year: On Christmas Eve, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on April 2, 2013, came into effect.

In light of all the recent media coverage about the rising popularity of e-cigarettes — also known as electronic smoking devices — the Hawaii Public Health Association (HPHA) calls upon the community to consider this enterprising newcomer to the tobacco world with great skepticism and wariness.

Hawaii is paving the way in providing Access to Justice. In a recent "access to justice" report, the National Center for Access to Justice ranked Hawaii No. 1 for providing support to self-represented litigants.

As part of its 2020 force structure realignment, the Army is considering eliminating 19,800 soldiers and civilians from Schofield Barracks (16,606) and Fort Shafter (3,786).

As the year draws to a close and we exchange gifts, my thoughts turn to Aloha Medical Mission's service trips to Burma that started with a gift of macadamia nut chocolates years ago.

Many of us have heard the heart-wrenching stories of loved ones killed either as a result of driving while impaired or as a victim of being hit by an impaired driver.

In all the recent comments concerning the large deficit in the University of Hawaii Athletics Department, I have not heard this suggestion I think makes sense and would be worth trying before more drastic changes occur: Change the football program to the FCS (Football Championship Series).

Holiday music's playing. We're wrapping gifts and spending time with family. But here's one thought few think of at holiday parties: Hawaii has one of the nation's highest rates of obesity and chronic kidney disease.

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).


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