TMT groundbreaking ceremony blocked

Demonstrators have blockaded the Mauna Kea access road to protest the Thirty Meter Telescope project, which was set to break ground today.

Will Caron
Mānoa graduate students vote no confidence in President Lassner, BOR

The Graduate Student Organization of UH Mānoa approved no confidence votes in both the system president and the Board of Regents last week.

On October 2, 2014, the General Assembly of the UH Mānoa Graduate Student Organization (GSO) approved two resolutions voting no confidence in University of Hawai’i President David Lassner and the University of Hawai’i Board of Regents (BOR) as a body. Both resolutions passed with an overwhelming majority (82 percent and 87 percent respectively).

“These votes of no confidence are unprecedented in the history of the University of Hawai’i,” reads a press release sent out by the GSO today. “They come after months of unrest on the UH Mānoa campus, following the abrupt firing of Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple at the end of July. President David Lassner removed the chancellor without input from key university stakeholders including students, faculty and representatives of the Native Hawaiian community, and has failed to acknowledged the serious concerns that these stakeholders voiced immediately following the firing. He has thus violated the key principle of shared governance upon which academic institutions are built.”

The graduate student vote of no confidence follows a Mānoa Faculty Senate resolution dated September 17, in which the faculty censured President Lassner for his firing of
Chancellor Apple.

“The GSO has also lost confidence in the ability of the Board of Regents as a body to effectively govern the university,” continues the release. “The Board has created tremendous turnover in administrative positions, has disregarded the voices of key stakeholders regarding the firing of Chancellor Apple, has recently failed to conduct a satisfactorily rigorous presidential search and did not adhere to the spirit of the rules for this search by allowing the interim president to become a finalist. In doing so, the Board has failed to act in the best interest of the university’s main constituents: its students and faculty.”

In addition to voting no confidence, the resolution directed at the BOR makes several recommendations for improving governance at the University of Hawai’i. It asks that there be more autonomy for the individual campuses in the UH system, that the Board conducts less of its business in executive session, and that there be more representation of students, faculty, and the Native Hawaiian community on the Board of Regents. The Mānoa Faculty Senate made a set of similar recommendations to the BOR in a resolution adopted on September 17, 2014.

“While a vote of no confidence may only be a symbolic gesture, it is the biggest gesture we can make,” continues the release. “The president and the Board of Regents need to understand that they cannot continue business­as­usual. They need to lead this university system with integrity, and act in the best interest of the students that they serve. The Graduate Student Organization is committed to keep fighting for more transparency, accountability, and shared governance at the University of Hawai’i. The voices of the UH Mānoa students and faculty matter and need to be heard.”

Will Caron
Safe families create a healthy community

As a community, we must accept the bold truth that what goes on in the home, within intimate family arrangements, impacts us all.

Nanci Kriedman
The ghost in the GMO machine

While independent research shows that Chlorpyrifos, a Dow Chemical insecticide used in Kaua‘i's GMO fields, can cause significant harm to children nearby, Dow is intent on convincing the EPA otherwise.

Paul Koberstein
Tackling domestic violence: Hawaiʻi must do better

While state laws and the Honolulu Police Department's policies regarding domestic violence cases need some improvement, experts say it is HPD's poor enforcement of these laws and policies that is the real factor in continuing cycles of domestic violence in Hawaiʻi.

Will Caron
Domestic violence explainer

An overview of HPD policies, State laws and annual statistics related to domestic violence.

Will Caron
KAHEA: Restricting access to Mauna Kea is a First Amendment violation

The TMT project breaks ground next Tuesday, and protesters are concerned they won't be able to demonstrate because Hawaiʻi County Police has recommended that UH close off access to Mauna Kea during the ceremony.

Will Caron
Hawai‘i’s seriously pilau problem

The State of Hawai‘i has approximately 90,000 cesspools, the majority of which pose potential health risks to residents via water contamination. The Department of Health is proposing changes to its administrative rules that would begin to reduce the number of cesspools in the state through infrastructure upgrades.

The state Department of Health (DOH) will hold a public hearing on proposed updates to administrative rules regarding cesspools. The hearing will be held on O‘ahu at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 2, in the 5th Floor Conference Room at 919 Ala Moana Boulevard. 

Individuals desiring to testify are asked to submit two copies of their statement before or at the public hearing. Written statements will also be accepted until 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 17, 2014, mailed to the Wastewater Branch, Environmental Management Division, State Department of Health, 919 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 309, Honolulu 96814-4920, or emailed to wwb@doh.hawaii.gov. The public notice, draft rule amendments, and rationale for the proposed amendments can be found here.

The DOH is proposing, in these updates, that no new cesspools be permitted and that existing cesspools be upgraded to sewers or septic systems within six months after the sale of a property.

Cesspools don’t treat wastewater, they merely store it in one location, often deep within the ground and in direct contact with groundwater, causing groundwater contamination. Cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances. Untreated wastewater from cesspools can contain bacteria, protozoa and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and cholera.

There are approximately 90,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island, almost 14,000 on Kaua‘i, over 12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on O‘ahu and over 1,400 on Moloka‘i, according to the DOH. Hawai‘i is also the only state in the U.S. that still allows construction of new cesspools.
Approximately 800 new cesspools are approved for construction in Hawai‘i each year.

87,000 of the State’s cesspools pose a risk to our water resources, according to the DOH. There are approximately 6,700 cesspools that are located within 200 feet of a perennial stream channel throughout the State. There are approximately 31,000 cesspools that are located within the perennial watersheds on the islands of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i. Cesspools in Hawai‘i release approximately 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each day. Cesspools in Hawai‘i release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of phosphorus into the ground each day, which can stimulate undesirable algae growth, degrade water quality, and impact coral reefs.

Requiring cesspool upgrades when property is sold makes sense because the cost of the upgrade can be shared between the buyer and seller at a time when sellers, with proceeds from the sale, are better able to afford upgrading costs and buyers, who are usually borrowing already for their purchase, may obtain additional financing for eliminating a cesspool. Other states, including Iowa, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, require cesspools to be upgraded to septic systems when property ownership changes as well.

Will Caron
PUC Approval of $150M Green Bank shrouded in mystery

The Green Bank will have a five-member board controlled by the Governor with no representation by those who would most benefit from their service.

Ililani Media Will Caron
Ethics violations cast doubt over City Council’s integrity

After an investigation into alleged ethics violations, State Rep. and former City Councilmember Romy Cachola has been ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Will Caron