Monday, May 25, 2015         

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It is a good time to be rich in Hawaii. During the past legislative session, taxes were cut by as much as 2.75 percentage points for families making over $400,000, while virtually nothing was done for the working poor.

Housing crisis? What housing crisis? Our state Legislature, based on the results of the 2015 session, seems to have forgotten that they acknowledged our state’s housing crisis in 2011.

Recently, concerns have been raised about the current state of affairs at the Waikiki Aquarium. As Aquarium director for the past 11 years, I can offer my assurance that the facility is operating under the highest standards of excellence.

The Waikiki Aquarium is seeking a curator to care for the animals and manage the exhibits staff. This should be a golden opportunity for a talented, skilled individual who wants to share and enlighten the public about the diversity of life in the sea.

I was hired by, and worked directly under, Andy Rossiter. The public should be very concerned about the management of the Waikiki Aquarium. I lasted six months there. Prior to joining the Aquarium staff, I had never been fired.

Efforts to pass statewide plastic bag regulations have failed in Hawaii, leaving retailers to contend with a range of different requirements for each county.

For Oahu retailers, a key part of the business practice — packing up the merchandise sold — is about to change. At least one of them has been in rehearsal for the change for some time.

On the last Saturday of July each year, a few hundred community members bring their horses, their classic cars and a variety of floats, trailers and walking units to Koloa School to march in a parade through old Koloa town to the Annie Knudsen Ballpark, commemorating Kauai’s plantation roots and celebrating its diverse cultures.

For 35 years the Hawaii International Film Festival has been one of the nation’s primary sources in discovering features, documentaries and shorts from Asia made by Asians, films about the Pacific made by Pacific Islanders, and films made by Hawaii filmmakers that present Hawaii in a culturally accurate way.

The Hawaiian Islands are unlike anywhere in the world. While our sun, sand and surf have made us a world-renowned dream destination, Hawaii is also a dynamic and vibrant place to live and visit.

Standardized testing is in full swing in Hawaii's public schools, with about 93,000 students in grades 3-8 and 11 taking new, more difficult exams aligned with Common Core academic standards.

Work on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea is temporarily halted — but much activity has swirled around the project since March 6, when the state Land Board signed off on a notice to proceed with construction

The Star-Advertiser's coverage of opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea has recently focused on the opinions of Kānaka Maoli who support the project because it "has been done right," presumably in contrast to the 13 telescope projects preceding it.

The Thirty Meter Telescope is committed to supporting Hawaii's next generation of STEM students. I am evidence of that. It helps sponsor the Akamai Workforce Initiative, which provides college students with internships at observatories and companies throughout Hawaii.

Get mad about poor education • Sacredness lies in knowledge • A yearning to know more • A spiritual place for navigators • Esoteric studies won't help us • Compromise on telescopes and more

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, negotiations are in their final phase and the policy debate is in full swing. Unfortunately, it's shaping up as a debate about trees, not forests; it ignores the central goal of the TPP: to renew the Asia-Pacific trading system and firm up America's role in it.

This spring, President Barack Obama and Republican leaders in Congress want to use an outdated process used to pass the North American Free Trade Agreement more than 20 years ago — a rule called "fast track" — to force through trade deals without a real debate or any amendments.

Tony Green happily points out one of the advantages of voting by mail that many in his community enjoy the most: Once they send in the ballot, they drop off the list of undecided voters that campaign robo-callers care about.

Hawaiian Electric is at the forefront in addressing a vast array of complex issues associated with Hawaii's clean energy transformation, and its goals -- including increasing renewables to 65 percent, tripling distributed solar and lowering customer bills 20 percent in real terms by 2030 -- are among the most ambitious in the nation.

Recently, Gov. David Ige spoke about his energy policy, emphasizing the need for diverse solutions to break Hawaii's dependence on imported oil. At Hawaiian Electric, we couldn't agree more.

When Cynthia Cantero decided to cut her energy bill by installing a solar array on her home in Ewa Beach, she had no idea she was becoming a reluctant foot soldier in the battle over the future of the electricity system.

There are a lot of people who could exit the H-1 — and stay off it — if they were more aware of the opportunity to do just that.

The Honolulu City Council faced full-scale community rancor over the proposed Ho‘opili development in Ewa, for which it is poised to approve rezoning in a few weeks.

Stress perennially rises this time of year for high-school seniors waiting to hear where they've been accepted to college, especially for those seeking entrance to the Ivy League and other extremely selective institutions.

Forty years ago today, the voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a embarked from Hakipu‘u/Kualoa on Oahu, on a journey to Tahiti; it was the first open-ocean voyage from Hawaii in 600 years using traditional, non-instrument wayfinding.

As a western-trained Ph.D. scientist and a Native Hawaiian kahuna kākalaleo, I have two lenses through which I look at the need for mālama honua, or caring for our place.

When Hōkūle‘a entered the water for the first time in Kualoa 40 years ago, it was the beginning of a sail plan that has spanned generations and taken us on a 150,000-nautical-mile journey to reconnect a Pacific Ocean family of many people and cultures that share a history of voyaging and exploration.

Something profound had changed in the cosmos when the Hōkūle‘a first glided across the sands and entered the shimmering waters of sacred Kualoa in 1975 — it had been many centuries since a double-hulled voyaging canoe had graced Hawaiian waters.

Most Hawaii electricity customers are not in a position to own a piece of the utility, as the members of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative do, and prospects for doing so remain a long way off at best.

Historically, Hawaii residents have felt powerless where electric power is concerned — most are customers of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) subsidiaries, all privately owned utilities. But history has been changing.

The new "yes means yes" policy at the University of Hawaii is but the first step in the cultural shift needed not only to cull sexual predators from college campuses, but to instill healthier attitudes and behavior among even well-meaning young adults navigating an ever-evolving social landscape.

The classic understatement would be that the University of Hawaii Athletics Department has had a rotten year — or two or three — but that gives no cover to Ahahui Koa Anuenue, which has to be there with the money, in good times and bad.

In its 48-year history, Ahahui Koa Anuenue has had its loyal supporters, but new fiscal realities are compelling the athletics fundraising organization to broaden its reach.

Every year in Hawaii, an estimated 247,000 people care for ailing or frail loved ones at home.

Hawaii is still a long way from having liquefied natural gas as a major component in its energy portfolio, replacing some of the oil used in electrical generation and filling the needs of customers who use gas directly.

It all started, said Alicia Moy, about five years ago, when the two oil refineries serving Hawaii were contemplating pulling up stakes.

As we begin a new year and a new Congress, we have opportunities to accomplish a great deal to build a sustainable future that creates educational opportunities for our keiki, protects Medicare and Social Security for our kupuna, and strengthens our middle-class families for a healthy and secure economy.

As one of the newest members of Congress, I am honored to serve the constituency of the 1st Congressional District of Hawaii.

As the 114th Congress begins, I look forward to continuing to represent the people of Hawaii in the U.S. Senate. The landscape has changed with Republicans now in the majority, and new strategies will be needed to meet the challenges ahead.

I'm grateful to you — the people of Hawaii — for the privilege of serving our great state and country. We have much to share with the rest of the country, and the world, because only by embracing the spirit of aloha can Congress transcend the partisanship and self-interest that leads to gridlock.

On March 25, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march from Selma, Ala., to the state Capitol building in Montgomery, an event of massive impact in the annals of the civil rights movement.

It was a year of mysteries. To list some of the more baffling ones: A huge airliner simply vanished, and to this day nobody has any idea what happened to it, despite literally thousands of hours of intensive speculation on CNN.

Skyrocketing use of electronic smoking devices (ESDs) by Hawaii youth, who "vape" nicotine at much higher rates than the national average, has galvanized anti-smoking advocates who want e-cigarettes treated the same as combustible cigarettes under state law.

Go to war and every politician will thank you, and they'll continue to do so — with monuments and statues, war museums and military cemeteries — long after you're dead.

Harrison Rue is administrator of the city's transit-oriented development (TOD) program, helping to direct the way the city intersects — and how all the other transit modes connect — with the rail project.

Bikeway improvements, such as the cycle track Honolulu has just built, are not the only concern for Gil Penalosa and his advocacy group, 8-80 Cities, but they're a big part of it.

Today, Dec. 7, as has happened yearly for seven decades, survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor and dedicated others were to gather at dawn to mark the calamitous event that plunged America into World War II.

This year's theme for the 73rd anniversary of Pearl Harbor is "Preserving the Memory." Some may ask: Why does the preservation of our national memory of December 7th garner such importance? How will the National Park Service at WWII Valor in the Pacific carry out the mission of preserving memory?

When I met Neil Abercrombie in 2009, he asked me to be his deputy campaign manager. I was a person he didn't know, with no experience and, frankly, no interest in Hawaii politics. He put his trust in me, so I put my trust in him.

Neil Abercrombie and I go way back. We first began our journey in the 1960s as University of Hawaii graduate students. When he was a freshman member of the House of Representatives, we worked together to save Operation Manong, a tutorial program for immigrant Filipino students.

The legacy idea as it relates to Neil Abercrombie assumes there really was a legacy but it got lost in the shuffle of political defeat. In this tradition, I would have to credit the departing governor with appointing good Supreme Court justices.

The call for school empowerment has intensified over the past year, as dictates by the federal government and the state Department of Education galvanized some principals and teachers to warn that students will suffer as local communities lose control of their neighborhood schools.

The Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corp. was created in 2006, when lawmakers decided that a single agency managing both public housing and the development of affordable housing through public-private partnerships was less effective than it could be.

If Oahu land-use authorities could channel their counterparts in Santa Clara, Calif., some affordable-housing developers in Hawaii would count that as a real plus.

As Veterans Day approaches, your VA Pacific Islands Health Care System would like to express our appreciation and thanks to all who have served, or are currently serving in the armed forces.

Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor the contributions and sacrifices of our nation's veterans. Our thanks to the 120,000 veterans in Hawaii.

America is a proud nation, where many leave their native countries for the dream of democracy and freedom. Yet, many men and women who risked their lives to protect our freedom and safety are homeless and broken.

The state Department of Health, with the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, has convened a working group to plan how Hawaii would respond in the event of a patient turning up with a history that makes them suspect for an Ebola infection.

Hawaii's health-care officials express the fervent hope that current preparations to deal with a future Ebola patient will yield important public-health dividends.

The hospitals and long-term care facilities of the Hawaii Health System Corp. (HHSC) provide critical and essential health care services that form the "safety net" for many of our neighbor island and rural communities.

The precarious financial position of our state hospital system has lingered for more than a decade. Unfortunately, state government leaders have allowed it to languish.

Health care costs are rising and government coffers are shrinking. Who should we protect? Should we protect our poor and indigent and neighbor island residents, or should we protect our government systems like education?

Elections always offer a chance to attend certain problems, and our public hospital system certainly needs attention.

It may seem as if the wind has died down and everyone is letting the sun shine, where alternative resources are concerned.

The public profile of the wind energy issue has dropped lower on the viewscreen in the last six years since the adoption of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, in which it played a starring role.

In June, the United Nations' cultural agency, UNESCO, granted world heritage status to the Inca trail system, recognizing that trails can rank alongside the Acropolis in Greece or the Cathedral of Notre Dame in France as some of the world's most important cultural treasures.

Forty of our 50 states have systems for 4-year-olds to attend preschool, regardless of income. Ten states do not -- Hawaii is among them.

There is a public perception that the constitutional amendment for preschool is going to improve our keiki's education and provide a leveled playing field for poor and middle-class children, but in reality, the ConAm to give public money to private preschools is indicative of the poor treatment we give to public schools in the U.S.

The recent high-profile stories of abuse involving NFL players is bringing focus to the problems of domestic violence and child abuse and neglect.

The news about Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's switching of his 4-year-old son has created an opportunity to discuss appropriate methods of child discipline in the public forum.

The consensus of the five executives who met Wednesday with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's editorial board: Hawaii's public schools have made remarkable progress overall, and individual schools are generally much better than they're given credit for.

Hawaii has a lot of things going for it. One thing most people don't likely realize is that Hawaii residents are the healthiest and longest-lived people in the nation.

Larry Geller, a longtime community activist for various organizations but testifying before the City Council as an individual, said he "bristled" upon hearing Mayor Kirk Caldwell describing Honolulu as on the "vanguard" for Housing First.

We view the transformation of Hawaii's energy future through the lens of "Faster, Better and Cheaper." For us, faster is vital because of the detrimental impact of high oil prices on the average resident and business.

On Aug. 26, the Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) will release much-awaited plans for its vision of Hawaii's energy future. HECO is in good company: States everywhere are taking a fresh look at energy and the companies that provide it.

One hundred years ago today -- Aug. 24, 1914 -- a Hawaiian Electric ad in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin promoted Westinghouse electric fans, asking readers to "count up the minutes and hours lost on account of the heat at the desk that has no fan."

Do we still make choices based on our values? What do we as a society value more: securing a resilient future for our children or increasing our fortunes today?

Any agricultural project that is sustainable will be well received. But it is absolutely essential that the definition of sustainability includes environmental stewardship -- both with respect to the land involved, as well as the communities surrounding the land.

The voting-booth curtain that preserves the secrecy of the secret ballot hasn't become any thicker or impenetrable, but it's harder than ever this time to picture the person behind it.

Coming off a tumultuous period that saw a group of retired principals publicly, albeit unsuccessfully, seek her ouster, Hawaii schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi looks forward to the 2014-15 school year as one that will prove the worth of enormously hard work carried out in public schools over the past few years.

Just mentioning the name of Chinatown conjures diverse mental images. That's what happens with places in transition, and Honolulu's Chinatown district is clearly in transition.

Honolulu leaders have wrestled over what role city government should play in managing Oahu's affordable housing since the city shuttered its Department of Housing and Community Development in the wake of a corruption scandal in 1998.

There are three actions called for in the Declaration of Independence that assure that individual liberty will be preserved: We, the People form the government to serve us, not vice versa.

The face of Hawaii's democracy is shifting. Citizens' faith in government is dwindling, while vast and increasing amounts of money are pouring into elections and drowning out the voices of the people.

In remembrance of July Fourth and in what it means to be an American, it is important to understand and appreciate how fortunate we are to live in Hawaii as part of the United States of America.

Fireworks, flags, face painting, family and food is how we in Hawaii celebrate the Fourth of July. Of course, the real celebration is to honor our founding fathers and the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Hawaii's opposition to the death penalty was enacted in law only a few years before it became a state. But it arose from a basic mistrust, originating decades earlier, that government justice can be fair to all the people in its multicultural society.

Hawaii outlawed capital punishment in 1957, but federal prosecutors can recommend seeking the death penalty for cases here that fall under the U.S. District Court jurisdiction.

I've been an ardent supporter of rail in Honolulu. I've studied transit, worked as a planning consultant, and have written about how urban rail could contribute to our quality of life.

To the residents of Honolulu in the year 2039: Twenty-five years from the day I write this letter, I am optimistic that you, the citizens of Honolulu, will be living in one of the world's great cities, a city that thrives, because of the strong infrastructure that supports it.

History has shown us that the most worthwhile endeavors are not without challenges or controversy. Hawaii's first metro rail system is no different. For more than 40 years, this rail project has been debated and discussed.

Even pro-rail optimists would have a hard time describing a bright future for Honolulu 25 years from now. The environmental impact statement made clear that traffic congestion would be substantially worse with rail than it was back in 2014.

Waiting, waiting for cars to move • Oahu left to the rail and the rich • An eyesore for 20 miles • Technology may outpace a train • Traffic woes need fixing • A better lifestyle for isle residents and more

This is an issue of policy and funding, but at its core, this is a moral failure. Veterans put their lives on the line, and it's our obligation to take care of them when they come home.

The recent revelations over wait times at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have severely shaken the trust that veterans, their families and the general public should have in the VA health system.

Ongoing concerns about our VA health care system and a recent Access Audit by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have left policymakers, veterans and the general public searching for answers on how to provide the men and women who have served our nation with the health care they earned and deserve.

Imagine if your son or daughter, or your brother or sister, was sick or injured, and needed urgent care, but couldn't see a doctor for three months, six months, or more than a year. This scenario would be unacceptable to all of us.

For people driving into town from East Kapolei. the line of concrete columns seen from Kualakai Parkway are a long-established part of the landscape. Now the impact of Honolulu's 20-mile elevated rail project will be seen and felt by an ever-growing number of Leeward Oahu residents.

The world is full of busy people who pay attention to something only when it appears on the doorstep. The time to tune in has arrived, rail-watchers: The show is about to start.

How parents talk to their children has a huge impact on whether the kids believe that their intelligence, talent and ability can grow with hard work. Instilling this "growth mindset" has lifelong benefits, just as the pitfalls of a failure-fearing, challenge-averse "fixed mindset" also linger.

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