By TOM STEVENS, For The Maui News
POSTED: September 30, 2009
Amid all the chatter and bluster of isle politics, there arise from time to time truly historic occasions. One of those is coming down on Maui next month.
On Oct. 15, the state Commission on Water Resource Management will hear closing arguments on the future of the Central Maui watershed. The 9 a.m. contested case proceeding should pack the Iao Congregational Church’s Konda Hall, so interested citizens will want to get there early. No public testimony will be taken.
To draw attention to this fateful session, a public "river walk" will be held this Friday afternoon from Iao Valley to Market Street in Wailuku. At the end of the walk, the Native Intelligence store will host water rights speakers during Wailuku’s "First Friday" festivities. Later the same day, commission staff members will travel to the Paia Community Center to seek public input from 5 to 9 p.m. on East Maui water issues.
The contested case proceeding takes as its prologue a startling "proposed decision" the commission’s hearings officer issued in April. At that time, Lawrence Miike recommended that the commission partially restore the historic flows of Central Maui’s famous "four waters" – the Waihee, Waiehu, Iao and Waikapu streams.
Kula housing project gains a little ground
WAILUKU – Maui Planning Commission members were unable to agree where to designate growth boundaries in South Maui, but they did make some progress in Kula.
The Kula Ridge housing project had both supporters and doubters before the planning commission.
Part of the project is supposed to be affordable, but some wondered how to ensure that it really turns out that way.
"Don’t get into a project-review decision-making mode," advised Department of Planning Director Jeff Hunt, adding that downstream reviews of matters such as community plan designations can look at projects in detail.
"This is the beginning of a 125-hurdle process," said Chairman Wayne Hedani.
When it came to a vote, the controversial portion of Kula Ridge cleared its hurdle, with commission member Warren Shibuya dissenting over concerns about water and the adequacy of Lower Kula Road.
However, A&B Properties’ bid to add 80 acres to 63 acres for residential development at Haliimaile failed.
Commission member Kent Hiranaga pointed out that the developer is going to provide water and sewage treatment anyway, so it would be financially helpful to expand the project.
"A&B is an agriculture company and a development company," he said. "If we want to allow them to continue the agricultural sector of their business, you need to allow some development. If you take away development, I believe you are jeopardizing the future of sugar cane.
"Then you will have lots of ag land to use for something."
However, farmers – organic and conventional – opposed taking prime agricultural land out of production, and on a split vote the 80 acres were excluded from the designated growth zone.
That Hiranaga moved to support an A&B proposal was ironic in light of earlier testimony.
By EDWIN TANJI, For The Maui News
POSTED: September 11, 2009
Sonny Kaniho was a Native Hawaiian. He was also a loyal citizen of the United States, an Air Force veteran, a Pearl Harbor shipworker.
As a Native Hawaiian, he recognized injustices perpetrated on Native Hawaiians. As an American, he believed the government could be pushed into reversing the injustices. He knew it would take effort and it would take time. He committed himself to the effort. It’s taken more time than he had, but the injustices he strived to correct had been in place for most of the century.
His effort also was mostly personal but it ran parallel with and enhanced other efforts by many groups to revitalize Hawaiian culture and restore Hawaiian rights. In the 1970s, efforts at restoring Hawaii as a place reflecting its indigenous people included the Aboriginal Lands of Hawaii Association, Hawaiian musicians, kumu hula, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana, and Dr. Terry Shintani, who established the nutritional value of the Hawaiian Diet.
Kaniho’s effort gave a synergistic boost to the 1978 debate that led to formulation of Article XII of the Hawaii Constitution – the Hawaiian Affairs section mandating state funding for Hawaiian Home Lands and establishing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Sonny Kaniho was an unlikely protester who conducted unlikely protests, a soft-spoken man engaging in nonviolent acts of civil disobedience in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King. His peaceful protests were not angry confrontations. They were designed to draw public attention to what he viewed to be unjust decisions of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
The department didn’t agree, but it based its actions on 50 years of inertia. Kaniho knew the excuses. He didn’t accept them.
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.
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.
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.
Positions targeted to balance state budget
By ILIMA LOOMIS, Staff Writer
POSTED: August 30, 2009
PUKALANI – Plant quarantine officials said last week that laying off more than half the state’s agricultural inspectors would create such a logjam at Hawaii ports that it could cause shortages similar to those seen during shipping strikes.
Carol Okada, manager of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch, said she has not been able to develop a plan for how her department will continue its core functions after it loses 52 employees, 50 of them inspectors, to layoffs planned for November.
She said food shipments to Maui and the other Neighbor Islands, which because of staff shortages would now have to be routed through Honolulu for inspection, would have to sit on the docks until the state’s remaining inspectors could look at them, with the risk that some food could spoil in the unchilled containers.
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.