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
Crisis at UH Mānoa

The consequences to the university's flagship campus, should the Board of Regents refuse a faculty demand for overhaul of board policies that promote interference and micromanagement, could be disastrous.

Will Caron
Update: Honolulu’s plastic bag ban

Mayor Caldwell signed a bill amending Honolulu's plastic checkout store bag ban today.

The bill the Mayor signed today (Bill 38, CD2) amends a law enacted in 2012 under the previous mayoral administration (Ordinance 12-8), implementing a ban on plastic and non-recyclable paper bags set to take effect July 1, 2015.

This new bill will amend the law to specifically prohibit “biodegradable” plastic bags, due to concerns raised about the lack of an industry standard over the definition of “biodegradable” bag. Instead, the bill allows “certified compostable” bags which carry the “compostable” logo approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute, in order to provide businesses with a clear definition.

Currently, Honolulu is the only remaining county in the State of Hawai‘i with no regulation of plastic grocery bags. The bill notes that plastic bags “may remain relatively intact for long periods of time, and fragments of plastic in the environment may harm insects, fish and animals if consumed.”

When the law goes into effect on July 1 next year, regular plastic checkout bags will be banned, but all these options will remain:

·      Reusable bags;

·      “Compostable” plastic bags;

·      Recyclable paper bags.

The law also contains these exemptions:

·      Bags used inside the business to package loose items such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, candy, or small hardware items;

·      Bags used to contain frozen foods, meat or fish, flowers or plants;

·      Bags used by pharmacists for medications;

·      Newspaper bags;

·      Laundry and dry cleaning bags;

·      Bags sold in packages for garbage, pet waste and yard waste;

·      Bags from pet stores;

·      Bags to contain chemicals.

Bill 38, CD2 was passed unanimously by the Honolulu City Council on September 10, 2014.

Will Caron
The Hawaiian business caucus

OHA will hold a new caucus for Hawaiian businesses owners at the upcoming Native Hawaiian Convention.

Improving access to capital will be among the key focuses of a new caucus tailored to Native Hawaiian small-business owners, scheduled for Oct. 1 at the 13th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention in Honolulu.

Called the “Native Hawaiian Business Caucus,” the meeting will be hosted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), joining forces with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to hold for the first time ever a caucus designed to provide Native Hawaiian small businesses with opportunities to expand and grow.

“This caucus is designed to provide a meaningful and productive opportunity for Native Hawaiian businesses to learn and build their capacity to expand and grow,” said OHA Ka Pouhana (Chief Executive Officer) Kamana`opono Crabbe. “It also provides an unprecedented opportunity for business owners and other stakeholders to come together to discuss the challenges, opportunities and policy priorities for Native Hawaiian busineses.”

The caucus comes at a time when national reports show that small-business lending has been stuck in a slow, grinding recovery behind most other types of business and consumer loans.

To help support the economic vitality of Native Hawaiian small-businesses, OHA is bringing together an array of speakers, including representatives from the Native American Contractors Association, to provide useful information and assistance to participants at the caucus who are looking to improve access to capital as well as expand their network of contacts.

OHA is covering the cost for nearly two dozen Native Hawaiian businesses to attend. Register for the meeting here.

Will Caron
Kaua‘i pesticide disclosure fight continues

Kaua‘i community groups appeal lower court decision striking down County Ordinance 960, the pesticide disclosure law.

Will Caron
ACLU declares First Amendment victory

Judge Susan Mollway granted a temporary restraining order against Hawaiʻi County last week in Kona “Panhandling” case.

Will Caron
Lassner deserves a chance

Letter to the Editor: one UH Mānoa faculty/staff member shares his disappointment over the Mānoa Faculty Senate's vote to censure System President David Lassner.

John Witeck