KAHULUI – Environmentalists and farmers lashed out Thursday night at the announced layoffs of state agricultural inspectors, arguing that the move planned by the Lingle administration would uproot efforts to preserve the island’s agricultural industry and pristine environment.
Close to 100 people turned out at a Senate Ad Hoc Committee meeting held in the Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria. The crowd applauded those who spoke against the layoffs, some even attacking Gov. Linda Lingle.
From Jeffrey Parker and Masako Cordray Westcott of the Hawaii Agriculture & Conservation Coalition
Emergency Senate Hearing on the Dept of Agriculture layoffs – please testimony today!
Thursday, Sept 3rd, 5-9pm, Maui Waena School, 795 Onehee Ave, Kahului
KAHULUI – The Hawaii State Senate Ad Hoc Committee will hold an informational briefing today on how the layoffs of agricultural inspectors will impact Maui.
Coordinated by Maui Sens. Roz Baker, J. Kalani English and Shan Tsutsui, the meeting will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Maui Waena Intermediate School.
The Maui office of the state Department of Agriculture Plant Quarantine Branch would lose six of 17 positions in layoffs planned for November. Statewide, more than half the department’s agricultural inspectors would be cut.
The head of the Plant Quarantine Branch said last week that the layoffs could mean long delays for imports into the state and could make Hawaii vulnerable to invasive pests.
Similar briefings were held in Kona, Hilo and Honolulu.
Proposed ‘Ewa development defies snap judgments
Sep 2, 2009
Last Friday’s daylong meeting of the State Land Use Commission, to rule on a petition by mega-developer D.R. Horton-Schuler to change the current zoning on 1,500 acres of prime ‘Ewa farmland from agriculture to mixed-use residential and commercial, was anything but boring.
Here’s Kioni Dudley, intervenor in the case, whom some have called the leader of the opposition: “In the beginning, over two years ago, this was just a gut feeling I had.” Now, it is more than a feeling, as Mr. Dudley–and everyone else with a sore gut over the proposed zone change–has picked up some unexpected allies, in the form of at least three State agencies and several local politicians.
Listen to Bryan Yee of the Attorney General’s office, speaking for the State Office of Planning: “We now know that if the petition [for the zoning change] goes through, H-I will be a parking lot from Waiawa to Makakilo. And the petitioner (Schuler) isn’t proposing any solutions.”
WAILUKU – Three years after it banned using water from the Hamakuapoko Wells for human consumption, the Maui County Council is considering tapping the wells for emergencies.
The wells are contaminated with pesticides, but county water and state health officials have said treatment removes the chemicals to undetectable levels and makes the water safe to drink. Water Director Jeff Eng said Tuesday that if the council allowed the wells to be used as a backup during times of drought or other emergencies, it would allow the county to issue several hundred water meters from the Pookela Wells to residents who have been waiting for water Upcountry.
State land use panel rejects plan for 12,000 homes on Ewa farms
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2009
In a rare move, the state Land Use Commission rejected yesterday a developer’s push to urbanize 1,500 acres of prime agricultural land in Ewa to create a new community of nearly 12,000 homes.
The commission voted 5-3 to declare the petition by D.R. Horton-Schuler Division "deficient," saying the developer had not followed the rules by spelling out an incremental development plan for its Ho’opili project. But it said Horton could fix its petition and try again.
"Hallelujah!" Kioni Dudley, president of Friends of Makakilo and leader of the opposition, declared after the vote. "It’s a great victory. It’s a victory for the aina. I hope the setback to the developer is permanent."
Dudley had some powerful support at yesterday’s hearing, including the state Office of Planning, which argued forcefully against the project, and the heads of the state Transportation and Agriculture departments. The commissioners also heard hours of testimony from members of the public, most of them pleading to keep the land growing fruits and vegetables for local consumption.
Three Men Charged in Human Trafficking Conspiracy for Exploiting Thai Farm Workers in Hawaii
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Justice Department announced the indictment of Alec Souphone Sou and Mike Mankone Sou, owners of Aloun Farm in Hawaii, and Thai labor recruiter William Khoo late yesterday for engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labor and visa fraud. The charges arise from the defendants’ alleged scheme to coerce the labor and services of Thai nationals brought by the defendants to Hawaii to work under the federal agricultural guest worker program. Both Sou defendants are also charged with conspiring to commit document servitude.
The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted, Alec and Mike Sou each face maximum sentences of 15 years in prison and William Khoo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
By EDWIN TANJI, For The Maui News
POSTED: August 28, 2009
There may be plenty of water on Maui.
There is not enough cheap water – not when an extended period of abnormal rainfall places much of the island in drought and not when Hawaii law and court decisions require reallocation of access to the cheap water.
That’s not how state water commission hearings officer Dr. Lawrence Miike put it in his proposed findings and recommendations on setting stream flow standards for Na Wai Eha, the four major streams at Waihee, Waiehu, Wailuku and Waikapu (hawaii.gov/dlnr/cwrm/currentissues/cchma0601/CCHMA0601-01.pdf).
But his analysis, including a synopsis on the evolution of Hawaii law on water rights, helps to explain the issue. His history doesn’t go into detail but that was not its purpose.
The Miike findings note that sugar planters in the mid-1800s were granted rights to divert water from streams by the Hawaiian monarchy, but say nothing about whether the monarchy tempered effects on downstream users.
In the post-overthrow era, Miike notes the territorial Supreme Court turned out rulings that treated water as property of landowners. But after World War II, the legal standing of water was modified by other court decisions until the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional Convention added a section that established water as a public trust.
The constitutional amendment led to a State Water Code – Hawaii Revised Statutes 174C – and sets up the Commission on Water Resource Management to create and enforce standards on use of the islands’ water resources.
KIHEI – Five Maui County students were among the recipients of the 2009 Monsanto Hawaii Life Sciences Scholarship. Ten $1,000 scholarships were distributed in Hawaii.
The Maui County recipients were Celina Hayashi, who graduated from King Kekaulike High School; Elizabeth Lagbas, Lahainaluna High; Colton Manley, Molokai High; Tiare Pimentel, Baldwin High; and Myles Tabios, Lahainaluna.
This annual scholarship is offered to students of all Hawaii high schools who will pursue postsecondary education in a discipline related to the life sciences. Examples are agriculture, agronomy, biology, botany, genetics, horticulture, plant physiology, chemistry, crop science and soil science.