It's not just about rail, but we asked anyway
Since the vacating of the City Council seat by soon-to-be U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, we now have a whopping 16 candidates running to represent the people of Makiki, Downtown, Punchbowl, Liliha, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, and Kalihi.
This will be one of three city council elections decided this November, the others being the District 1 race between Council Member Tom Berg and former Council Member Kymberly Pine and the District 5 race, where Council Member Ann Kobayashi is defending her seat against Jim Hayes, a geologist from Parsons Brinckerhoff. But this spot could be a major determinant in city and county legislation.
While Cayetano has promised to stop the rail project, the City Council could make it difficult for him. While he can veto any resolutions to continue building the project or fund it, that veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote in the Council.
Gabbard, who typically voted for rail, will soon be replaced and the dynamics of the nine-person council may be turned in for or against Rail.
I attempted to contact each of the candidates running for the city council seat by phone, and asked for a brief position on rail.
- Sam Aiona said he opposed rail.
- Ryan Kapunuai agrees with the high court’s recent ruling that the current process has broken the law and at this point opposes the project. He also wants to put rail back on the ballot now that voters know more details.
- Steven Miller said he supports the current rail plan.
- Kevin Nakasato supports rail.
- Aaron Rutlage opposes the current project.
- Chu Lan Shuber-Kwock has serious questions about the rail, and is watching it. “We are stuck in a situation,” she said. “We have to find a solution that is less damaging to our city.”
- Christopher “Nova” Smith admitted that it was a complicated issue and that he’s not against it, but it’s being built wrong. “If yes and no is the only choice, my choice is no,” he said.
- Jon Yoshimura told me he supports rail, “But there are many issues that need to be taken care of. For example the court challenges are a very big issue. I think that’s just one of the issues.”
If other candidate wish to add to this story, please email me or leave a comment below.
One vote never made a difference?
If you ever thought your voice did not really matter in an election, consider this: during the primary election, seven races were decided by fewer than 300 votes.
In the State Senate 4th District (Kaupulehu – Waimea – North Hilo) Malama Solomon beat Lorraine Inouye by 69 votes.
In the State House 6th District (Holualoa – Kailua-Kona – Honokohau) Nicole Lowen beat Kalei Akaka by 45 votes.
In the 30th District (Sand Island – Kalihi – Airport) Romy Cachola beat Nicole Velasco by 120 votes. (NOTE: Civil Beat reports there is some concern over the extremely high amount of absentee votes for Cachola, and reports of the candidate visiting voters homes and pressuring voters to fill out absentee ballots)
In the 34th District (Pearl City – Waimalu – Pacific Palisades) Gregg Takayama beat Eloise Tungpalan by 232 votes.
In the 40th District (Ewa Beach – Iroquois Point) Chris Manabat beat Rose Martinez by 201 votes. Romy Mindo came in third 29 votes behind Martinez and Kurt Fevella only had 50 votes less than Mindo.
In the 43rd District (Kalaeloa – Ko Olina – Maili) Karen Awana beat Hanalei Aipoalani by 287 votes.
And finally in the Hawaii Council 1st District (Hamakua – North Hilo) Valerie Poindexter beat Chelsea Yagong by 93 votes.
These races display just how crucial each and every vote is.
The candidates are: • Edward T. Knudson, former executive vice president of student learning at Moorpark College in California; • Erika L. Lacro, vice chancellor of academic affairs at Honolulu Community College; • Rafe Trickey, vice president of planning and institutional development at the College of the Marshall Islands.
KALIHI—The City’s rail transit plans are among the most contentious and divisive issues Oahu residents face. But you wouldn’t have seen that at Tuesday’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) public workshop at the Farrington High School library, offered by the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP).
The process has been marred by conflict from its beginning decades ago, and it remains as hotly debated today as it was then. Preliminary engineering and evaluation for rail on Oahu began in 1968. Routing, contracting, environmental and cultural preservation, and funding concerns all remain unresolved. Having never quite moved beyond the conceptual, bureaucratic, and legal realms, rail has been bogged down in the planning stage since Mayor Frank Fasi began Honolulu Area Rapid Transit efforts in 1977.
Clearly, Oahu has historically resisted rail transit. But the prevailing sentiment evident at the workshop was something akin to “rail is coming, so let’s make it work.”
When about 60 people from throughout Oahu gathered to envision development around three rail stations in the Kalihi-Palama area, it would have been reasonable to expect a certain amount of combative rhetoric. The atmosphere was entirely amicable and friendly, however, as citizens gathered around tables in six groups of five to ten to express their personal visions for rail.
In 20-minute sessions facilitated by DPP representatives, the groups discussed changes to existing conditions along Dillingham Boulevard at planned stations at Middle Street, Kalihi Street, and Kapalama Stream. Each group then gave a brief presentation on their findings.
The concerns of those who participated were uniform. They focused mainly on public safety, accessibility, and aesthetics. When discussions drifted into housing the homeless, the evils of fossil fuels, and “how it used to be,” facilitators gently steered the focus back to planning around the three stations.
Some of those who participated oppose rail, but have accepted (or resigned to) the fact that rail is coming to Honolulu. They just want it to serve its purpose without destroying the fabric of life on Oahu.
“I live in on the Windward Side,” said one woman from Kailua. “I just want them to make it safe and not this big ugly thing.”
“I work in Chinatown,” said another. “I want to know how they plan to make it work in such a dense area.”
Admittedly, it’s not hard to get a roomful of people to agree on goals like “Retain a sense of community and cultural and income diversity” and “Develop parking strategies, provide bicycle amenities as part of a regional bike network, enhance street connectivity, provide sidewalks and street repair as needed, and convenient and safe access to stations.”
The materials provided to participants asked them to do just that, and the participants agreed. All also agreed that although it seems unlikely, moving Oahu Community Correctional Center out of the area would be desirable. “Put it, I don’t know,” said one man. “Put it at Fort Shafter.” The room erupted in laughs.
Organized by the DPP, the workshop was led by Rajeev Bhatia, of Dyett & Bhatia, which has been hired to do the planning for TOD around the three Kalihi area stations. Bhatia discussed emerging consensus, or several concerns relating to each station shared by area residents. Also discussed was an Executive Summary of a community survey conducted by the City with the assistance of the National Research Center. The survey was distributed to 4,000 randomly selected households and collected data on commuting modes, benefits of living in the area, and the types of businesses found there.
Bhatia said that the information collected at Tuesday’s workshop will be used for TOD planning as the project moves forward. The workshop seemed designed to build community support for rail as much as it was designed to gather community input. Whatever the case, both ends were served and participants left with a feeling that their concerns were heard.
For more information on Transit Oriented Development, visit www.honoluludpp.org
KALIHI — Princess Victoria Kaiulani Elementary School will be getting a landscaping makeover on Saturday, with the help of community partnerships and the hard work of faculty and staff. The school is in need of a sustainable landscape facelift that can be maintained by the school staff. The volunteers will be landscaping different areas of the campus and planting native Hawaiian plants donated by Hui Ku Maoli Ola. Most of the other work will also include removing invasive plants and trash, and installing irrigation lines.
As part of Weston Solutions’ “Making A Difference” event, Representative Karl Rhoads, school faculty, Weston Solutions, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, and M Nakai Repair Service are sponsoring sustainable improvements and beautification of the school’s campus. This is the first of many projects with Kaiulani School.
HONOLULU—The City and County of Honolulu’s Committee on Public Works and Sustainability and the Committee on Budget will be meeting on Wednesday, August 31 at City Hall.
The Committee on Public Works and Sustainability will be discussing grants of easements for electrical purposes within the Middle Street Bus Facility property to Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. as well as a subsurface easement for gas pipeline purposes within the Ewa Villages Golf Course to The Gas Company, LLC. Councilmembers will also be discussing force main constructions at the Ala Moana Wastewater Pump Station as well as an agreement with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) for the collection of hydrologic data on Oahu.
The Committee on Budget will be discussing Bill 49 (2011), which dedicates a portion of the City and County of Honolulu fuel tax for development and construction of certain road projects. Councilmembers will also discuss various parking measures at the Kapolei Hale Complex, City Hall, and Satellite City Halls.
KALIHI—A project that began as a brainstorm in a board meeting two years ago came to fruition in a massive, vibrant mural conceived and created by the community it represents. Nearly a hundred are responsible for bringing a bright new mural to life along Kalihi Stream.
The purpose of the collaborative street art is to beautify the community and educate its members about the ahupuaa’s heritage, its reality, and its potential.
The years-long efforts were led by Kalihi Ahupuaa Ulu Pono Ahahui (KAUPA), whose work in the community had been most attributed to educating people about the Kalihi watershed.
At a time when economic conditions see non-profits sustain ruinous losses in grant funding, KAUPA was able to keep its vision alive, despite the evaporation of available resources.
“It was kind of a painful process,” says KAUPA Executive Director Barbara Natale of the mural project. “But we got through it.”
Natale speaks of hurdles and delays in conducting workshops, gathering tools and materials, and finding the volunteers needed to get the work done. After the initial planning phase was completed, resources dried up and the project stalled.
A grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation eventually came through, and it was crucial in securing materials. But above all, Natale marvels at the perseverance of the people of Kalihi, and their desire to turn a graffiti-stained stretch of Kalihi Stream into a remarkable work of public art, vivid with color and symbolism.
“About 60 people volunteered,” says Natale. “And we had at least a dozen people who were there every step of the way.”
Among those who contributed to the mural project is a list of renowned Hawaii artists, including John “Prime” Hina, who recently completed another monumental mural project on the side of a warehouse near Honolulu Community College in Kalihi. Solomon Enos, Meleana Meyer, Harinani Orme, and Kahi Ching were also instrumental in the creation of the massive work of art.
In all, over 40 gallons of paint, 72 cans of aerosol paint, and hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work by dozens of individuals have resulted in the beautification of an area blighted by graffiti. Completed over one week, the 250-foot long mural depicts the mythology, history, and aspirations of a vital Hawaii community.
Natale speaks reverently of the images of kupuna and ceremonial drums, of references to the god Wakea and the sacred wind that blows through Kalihi Valley. “It’s just beautiful,” she says, smiling.
The Kalihi Stream mural at Kalihi Waena Elementary is a shining example of the ability of a relatively small community to galvanize around a vision for positive change. It has the power to serve as an inspiration to not only the people of Kalihi, but to all who face the challenges of diminishing resources.
HONOLULU—Summer is a time when moms don’t have to wake their kids up at the crack of dawn, get them out of bed, prepare breakfast or pack their lunch. It’s a time where moms and kids can sleep in or relax at the beach; luxuries that the incarcerated mother does not have.
Keiki O Ka `Aina Family Learning Centers (KOKA) offers opportunities for mothers and children to cuddle, read, paint nails, and play games together; reigniting the mother child bond during Keiki Fun Days.
In a unique partnership with the Women’s Community Correctional Center (WCCC) in Kailua, KOKA offers six “Keiki Fun Days” annually. The Mothers Day Fun Day, to be held Saturday, August 6 from noon to 2:00 p.m. will give mothers and their children a chance to do what so many mothers and their children do on the outside: relax, play, eat and bond together. Keiki booths are set up in a carnival like setting; mats, books, and toys envelop the grounds; craft and game centers are located under an outdoor pavilion. A scrumptious mother’s day buffet awaits each mother and grandmother and their children or grandchildren.
In a report published by The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, “Hawaii has the largest proportion of its population of women in prison” (September 2010). They alone are mothers and grandmothers to over 300 island children (Warden Patterson 2008). KOKA’s mentoring program addresses the direct impact parental incarceration has on families in hopes of preventing the children of these inmates from entering prison themselves.
Angel Tree Prison Ministry’s listing of keiki dealing with parental incarcerations in our islands has reached an all time high of 2,000 (January 2010). In order to help rehabilitate the women and help mothers reenter into the community, WCCC and KOKA recognize the importance of working with the whole family.
Former inmate Jackie Bissen shares that Keiki Fun Days like this one helped her to bond with her son. “It gave me reason to live,” says Jackie, “a chance to be a mom, a chance to hold my son like I never did before and give to him what I always wanted; my love and attention.”
Warden Patterson knows just how critical events like Keiki Fun Days are. “Such special events,” says Patterson, “help maintain the bond between mother and child in an effort to prevent intergenerational incarceration.”
According to Rucker Johnson, Phd. of The University of California at Berkley Goldman School of Public Policy, over 70 percent of children with a parent in prison will enter or be involved in the criminal justice system by age 16. On the flip side, 30 percent of children impacted by parental incarceration who have a mentor for one year or more help to prevent the intergenerational cycle of incarceration (Amachi Coalition Project 2010).
According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C., the average age of children with an incarcerated parent is eight years old; 22 percent of children are under the age of five.
“Keeping families together and strong, supporting parents as their child’s first teacher and supporting the unique bond between parent and child is what KOKA’s mentoring program is all about,” says Momi Akana, KOKA’s executive director. “Participating parents make positive decisions to change their lives, to have healthy and meaningful relationships with their children and to stay on track once they return home to their families.”
Jackie and her son participated in Keiki Fun Days and Keiki Hale preschool while she was detained at WCCC. In addition, Jackie’s son had a caring mentor from KOKA’s Mentoring Children of Promise Program. Mentor Kimberly Feliciano became a mentor because mentoring was a way to give back to her community and provide hope to a child.
“Mentoring has changed my life,” says Feliciano.
Jackie’s son has ambitions of becoming a counselor, helping other children in similar situations with his mind, hands, and heart. Jackie is married, employed and just gave birth to a new baby boy.
For more information about mentoring a child of promise or if you know of a child affected by parental incarceration, please contact Momi Akana at (808) 843-2502 or email@example.com.
KALIHI—A troupe of local artists, including Solomon Enos and Meleanna Meyer, are leading the charge to involve the island community in a mural marathon the week beginning Monday, July 25.
The efforts are part of one of the largest and most ambitious community mural projects in Hawaii. A first of its kind and the first of a series of large scale murals covering the length of lower Kalihi Stream, the project has been coordinated by KAUPA. The event caps off a yearlong
project that included art workshops, community meetings, and late night artistic brainstorming.
Spaces are still available for artists who are interested in painting the mural. Painting will occur July 25 to 30 from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
KAUPA is a nonprofit, community-based organization centered in Kalihi Valley.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Barbara at (808) 381-3643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HONOLULU—The City and County of Honolulu will be testing the feasibility of hauling sewage sludge from the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Honouliuli Wastewater Treatment Plant starting in mid-August.
Tests will include hauling no more than one 5,000 gallon truck load per day from Sand Island to Honouliuli, on intermittent days, for no more than 30 days. Future testing may also include hauling similar loads to the Waianae and/or Kailua treatment plants.
Prior to testing, a public informational meeting will be held on Monday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Mission Memorial Auditorium (Civic Center grounds, beside Honolulu Hale). The Department of Environmental Services will also set up a hotline for callers to report any problems encountered during the feasibility testing.
Mayor Peter Carlisle ordered an environmental assessment of the potential of hauling additional loads of sludge for a sustained period.
According to the City, the sewage sludge processed at the Sand Island plant currently exceeds the capacity of the single Sand Island digester, and a contingency plan must be in place to protect public health and safety. The efficiency of the plant was improved in 2008, and this led to increased amounts of sludge being removed from the wastewater. Like the water, the sludge must also be treated. By early 2010, the digester was reaching its designed capacity. The mayor’s proposed budget provided for funding a second sludge digester at the Sand Island plant, but a vote by the City Council on June 3 defunded the project.
“If the funding for a second digester had not been removed, some limited trucking of sludge would have been a remote contingency during the interim construction period,” said Environmental Services Director Tim Steinberger. “It is more likely now, and on a sustained basis, which is why test runs are necessary.”
“If circumstances go south at Sand Island, we will have no choice but to truck sludge to the other treatment plants on Oahu,” Carlisle said. “As an absolute last resort, if trucking is not available, the City must issue a moratorium on sewer hookups to limit the volume processed by the existing digester. A moratorium unnecessarily harms the economy and of the State and County during a time when jobs here are essential. To do nothing would be irresponsible.”