Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Responding to Criticism

It's one of the hardest things to do effectively, especially as a public official.

Sometimes it's best not to respond; you don't want to keep the story alive or give your critic more exposure. Sometimes the attack is undeserving of a response.

When you know you need to respond, striking the right tone is not easy. Too often, the response appears defensive. You need to take the criticism seriously, but not take yourself too seriously.

Here's an example of how Mayor Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, responded to a joke, a big put down of Newark, from late night talk show comedian Conan O'Brien. In my opinion, Mayor Booker's response strikes just the right balance of seriousness and humor. It's shot on a video format in just over 1 minute, making it the perfect length for both broadcast and YouTube dissemination. Now the country is laughing with Newark, not at Newark.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banning faux beauty

French politicians want to make a clear distinction between real women and their perfectly tanned, wrinkle-free, thin, big-busted counterparts known as the goddesses of Photoshop.

News sites and blogs this week have been reporting that France is proposing a law that would force advertisements to put a disclaimer on all photographs of models that have been digitally enhanced.

Like this photo of Jessica Alba. Where did her waist and hips go? Her knees were shaved down as well.

Or this one of Madonna, whose skin is smoother and shinier than any newborn baby I have ever seen.

French parliamentarian Valerie Boyer, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, said that images like the ones above “make people believe in a reality that often does not exist.”

The proposed law is part of a campaign against eating disorders. Politicians who support the law believe that airbrushed and altered images give adolescents a warped, unrealistic and unhealthy view of what beauty is. They say that when faced with these unrealistic standards of body image, adolescents can develop psychological problems, like bulimia and anorexia.

Under the law, all photographs retouched must provide a health stamp that reads “Photograph retouched to modify the physical appearance of a person.”

If advertisers don’t abide by the law, they would be fined 37,500 Euros ($54,930), or up to 50 percent of the cost of the advertisement.

The British are also considering a similar law that would ban all Photoshopped ads aimed at children under 16 and a disclaimer for those aimed at adults.

Would laws like these fatten the almost non-existent line between reality and fantasy? Is it necessary? Should a similar law be proposed in the United State?

Through the years

Have you checked out the House of Representatives' statehood project on the capitol website? Click here. It's a compilation of listings and photo composites of each session of the House, from 1959 to 2009. It also includes the list of memorabilia that was put into the House time capsule, to be opened 25 years from now. The photos are priceless.


My friend Tony and I play golf every couple of months, give or take. I quit smoking years ago, and the only time I'll have a cigarette is after a round with him, a smoking purist who rolls his own. This past Saturday, we finished our game late in the afternoon. I lit up, took my first heavenly drag, and then the cell phone rang. It was a TV reporter calling about the new law raising taxes on tobacco products other than cigarettes, slated to go into effect on September 30th.

Nice timing.

The reporter was confused by the language of the bill, so not being near a computer I asked her to read me the significant section. It didn't make sense to me either. As we talked, I could see Tony in the corner of my eye starting to fume, smoke coming out of his ears. He knew exactly what the increase was about, and he was not happy.

I needed help to answer the reporter's question, so I was able to contact Brian (mahalo!) on Speaker's staff to look up the bill and explain it to me so that I could respond to the reporter prior to the 6 pm newscast.

In a lame attempt to appease my friend, I said, "well, this increase is for tobacco products other than cigarettes." But, of course, he rolls his cigarettes with loose tobacco so the increase does indeed apply to his purchases. I sympathized, as I asked to bum another. In a couple months, he may not be so generous.

In a nutshell, starting Wednesday, September 30 2009, the tobacco tax on tobacco products, other than cigarettes and cigars, will rise from 40% to 70% of the wholesale price. For cigars, the tax will rise from 40% to 50% of the wholesale price. And little cigars will now be classified in the same category as cigarettes.

A copy of the bill and bill history is here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

State Legislatures Send Letter to Congress on Healthcare

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) sent this letter dated September 23, 2009, to Senators Max Baucus (Chair) and Charles Grassley(Ranking Member) of the Finance Committee, outlining the states' collective position on the healthcare reform bill, aka America's Health Future Act. Here are the request highlights:

*No unfunded federal mandates and full funding of any eligibility categories, services and increases for reimbursements.

*Automatic countercyclical stabilizer.

*Investments for improvements to the medicaid program.

*State regulation of health insurance.

*Long-term care initiatives.

*Disproportinate Share Hospital payments.

*Medical malpractice innovations.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

State capitol garden

Photo: Vermont State House Garden. Cabbage harvested in June 2009

I was excited to read on NCSL's blog the Thicket that Vermont has a State House Garden, making it the first and possibly the only vegetable garden to be planted on a state capitol lawn.

Located in Montpelier, the garden is maintained by local volunteers. All the food harvested goes directly to local food banks. Vermont lawmakers approved the garden as part of an effort to promote sustainability, and to encourage residents to plant their own gardens.

Here's a link to the harvest report. This is the first year of the garden, and they reaped their 4th harvest of the year earlier in September. The bounty, posted by applescott:

"The fourth harvest was great, even if a little surreal with the Kansas protesters spitting nasty epithets at passers by, and the anti-protesters smiling serenely back and holding a bake sale! All the food we harvested—and there was a lot—went to the Bethany Soup Kitchen, which really appreciated every beet, carrot and bean.

Cabbage – 8 lbs – 4 oz
Carrots – 5 lbs – 4.5 oz
Beans – 3 lbs – 14 oz
Beets – 27 lbs
Kale – 5 lbs – 12.25 oz

More kale, collards, broccoli, lettuce, beets and spinach were planted."

Is this an idea that could be planted for the Hawaii State Capitol ?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fifty Years of Legislative History Online

Big Mahalo to the Offices of the Chief Clerk, and the staff members of the Hawaii State Legislature, for putting together a unique resource: "Fifty Years of Legislative History: 1959 -2009".

Also available is a book of photo composites of the House of Representatives from 1959 to 2009, a listing of members from each session, and the memorabilia that was placed in the House time capsule to be opened fifty years from now. You may view it online here. The book was compiled in celebration of Hawaii's statehood, and it was made available online today.

A hard bound copy of the book is available for the public. If you would like information on obtaining a copy, please contact the Journal Division of the House Chief Clerk's Office at 808-586-6593.

3rd Annual Peace Day Hawaii: Creating a culture of peace

Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu on Peace Education
Karamatsu introduced the legislation to officially recognize Peace Day in Hawaii. He is also the chairman of the ad hoc Peace Day Hawaii Committee.

Peace Day is celebrated worldwide every year on Sept. 21. It is a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence that each member state of the United Nations agreed upon. It is a day in which each one of us can do something to promote peace, either here in Hawaii or around the world.

Internationally: Last year 1.4 million children in Afghanistan were given polio vaccinations, and the Taliban pledged to not harm any vaccination teams entering volatile regions.

Locally: This year yoga practitioners will raise money to help feed Hawaii children with a fundraising event called Global Yoga Mala for Peace in Honolulu.

The idea of peace must begin with us, in our homes, our schools and our communities. That is why in 2007 I introduced a bill, on behalf of the Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Associations, to be the first state to officially recognize Peace Day.

Many people shy away from peace initiatives because they think that one person cannot make a difference. That is wrong. We can all make a commitment to strive to embody the Aloha spirit through acts of compassion, acceptance and understanding. Peace must first start within us. Compassionate actions from one person can make a huge impact, and all our actions combined will help the world reach our goal of celebrating peace 365 days a year.

This year the Legislature protected monies for legal services for survivors of violence and updated harassment and temporary restraining order laws. However, we need to put more emphasis on education and awareness and be proactive rather than reactive. We must get to the root of where the cycle of violence can be broken: our keiki. One way to do this is to implement an education program for our public schools that includes education on conflict resolution, discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

Hawaii can also play a major role in international peace. We have a unique society with a variety of cultures and traditions that we share with each other. One of my long-term political goals is to create an "Aloha Mission" to the Middle East region to support our Hawaii troops, meet with political leaders, exchange culture, and provide medicine and toys for children.

Is it too much to ask?

The Washington Post today published an editorial called "Read This!" about whether lawmakers could, or even should, read every word in every piece of legislation upon which they vote. The same issue applies to state legislatures and county councils, too. The issue was originally raised in relation to the massive healthcare reform bill, when it became clear that many in Congress had not read the bill entirely.

That prompted the "Read to Vote" campaign. The organization of the same name is urging the members of the U.S. Senate and House to sign a pledge that they will read every word of a bill before voting on it. There is also a pledge for U.S. citizens to sign, urging their representatives to read every bill, and that they, as citizens, will try to do so too. Right.

The Washington Post editorial, touches on the obvious; as nice as it sounds, if lawmakers really did read every word of every bill up for vote, work on Capitol Hill would grind to an exasperating pace, if not a halt. It does concede, though, that the Read to Vote campaign makes some good points about the need to take the time to, if not read every word, at least fully understand bills up for vote.

"Still, the ReadtoVote campaign hits on some reasonable sources of discomfort with the way Congress operates. Some on the left are furious about politicians distorting bills' contents -- accusations of death panels in the health-care bill, for example. Unfortunately, distortion will probably happen regardless of how many pages lawmakers read.

Another is that leaders rush huge bills to a vote before lawmakers can review them. It's a problem about which the minority party inevitably complains. But in the current climate, it also unnecessarily feeds a divisive narrative on the right about how President Obama and his allies in Congress are forcing radical policy on an unwitting public. Narrative or no, it's reasonable to expect adequate time to consider bills' final language. "

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Green Radio

It's that time of year when lawmakers are crystalizing new ideas for draft legislation in the upcoming session. How about green radio?

Founded and established in one of the most polluted cities in the world, Jakarta, Indonesia, 89.2 Green Radio is the first Green radio station, with all programming and news on ecology and the environment. Jakarta is reportedly the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It faces extreme problems with sanitation, flooding, water contamination, sewage and garbage.

According to this post from the Christian Science Monitor, the station is powered solely by solar panels, and broadcasts up to 10 hours a day.

It is a commercial station, but it refuses advertising from mining and cigarette companies.

The station has been on the air for over a year and seems to be making inroads with greater public awareness on environmental issues. While the city may have a long road ahead in turning awareness into action, station manager Nita Roshita believes they are starting an earth friendly trend.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Scot Matayoshi, 25, a law student at the University of Hawaii, was selected as this year's recipient of the Peace Day Hawaii Award for his dedication to guiding Hawaii's youth toward promoting nonviolence. Matayoshi will be presented with the award at the Peace Day Hawaii 2009 Celebration Ceremony, which will be held on Monday, Sept. 21, 2009 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda. The public is invited to attend this free event, which will feature special guest speaker Betty Williams, a Nobel Peace Laureate.

Peace Day is the day of global ceasefire and nonviolence held each year on Sept. 21. It is celebrated worldwide, but Hawaii became the first state in the nation in 2007 to officially recognize the occasion.

While a Teach for America corps member from 2006 to 2009, Matayoshi began a Peacemakers Club at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School after picking the minds of colleagues at Waipahu and Aiea High Schools. He sought to curb fighting and make students aware that their actions affect the way the rest of the island views and treats their community. Members of the club wear yellow wristbands to identify themselves. It shows others that they have done some soul-searching to decide between what's right and wrong.

Matayoshi hails from a family committed to serving the public. He is the grandson of former Big Island Mayor Herbert Matayoshi, and his parents are Ron Matayoshi, director of international programs at the UH School of Social Work, and Coralie Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaii Red Cross chapter.

In 2007, Hawaii became the only state in the nation to officially recognize and annually celebrate the International Day of Peace, which was established by the United Nations as the Day of worldwide ceasefire and non-violence. State Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu introduced a bill on behalf of the members of the Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association. Governor Linda Lingle signed the bill into law on April 17, 2007.

For information on the Peace Day Hawaii 2009 Celebration Ceremony, please call 808-586-8490.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soda Tax bills still alive

A proposed tax on soft drinks is currently a national issue. Soda consumption leads to obesity, especially child obesity according to the New England Journal of Medicine (although that should be no surprise to anyone.) Lawmakers are considering the tax on soda as one way to pay for healthcare reform. President Obama said it's worth exploring. See this NY Times article on the subject.

The idea is not new in Hawaii. During the 2009 session, Rep. Marilyn Lee introduced HB438 which proposes a tax on all soft drinks containing a certain percentage of sugar (to be determined) sold in the state. This does NOT include diet soda. The money would be used for community health centers and for public awareness on the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Rep. Marcus Oshiro also introduced HB1505 which proposes a tax on soda and syrup, with monies to go into the general fund.

Both bills stalled early in the 2009 session and were carried over to 2010. With the national attention on a soda tax and healthcare reform, the bills may be dusted off for reconsideration.

Hands for Peace

Have you seen the colorful hands doing the waltz with the wind on the kukui tree and a rainbow of pinwheels framing it the Capitol grounds yet? You can find this symbol of peace on Richards Street near the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

The Peace Day Hawaii Committee - comprising state government leaders, peace-education leaders and organizations, and Hawaii students - yesterday hung laminated paper cut-outs of the hands of Hawaii students. The students pondered the question "what does peace mean to you?" and wrote their responses on the hands.

The event was planned to kick off Peace Day Hawaii 2009, which will be celebrated over the weekend and on Monday, September 21. Peace Day is the day of global ceasefire and nonviolence held each year on Sept. 21. All members of the United Nations agreed to stop fighting on that day. It is celebrated worldwide, but Hawaii became the first state in the nation in 2007 to officially recognize the occasion.

Get Olelo video certified!

If you're a staff member of the state legislature or state administration, the video production/certification seminars are free! If you have the time and the desire, I strongly recommend taking Olelo up on its offer to conduct seminars at the Olelo mini-studio located at the State Capitol on the 4th floor, Room 414.

Olelo is taking reservations (8 per class I believe) for each of the 6-day seminars to be held once a month in September, November and December, and two times in October.

The first one coming up will take place on September 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, & 30.

This is an opportunity to learn a new skill and reach many new viewers through public access television and the internet.

For more information and to sign up, call Olelo at the Capitol at 586-7198.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Celebrating Peace Day

The third annual "Peace Day Hawaii: Uniting with Aloha" will be held on Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 at the Hawaii State Capitol. This free, two-day celebration will focus statewide attention on creating a culture of peace by weaving the elements of peace through our schools and communities. Events include an educational forum and Peace Day Hawaii Celebration Ceremony discussing peace, equity and justice as a necessity for community sustainability and environmental awareness. Special guest Betty Williams, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1976 for her dedication to promoting a peaceful resolution in Northern Ireland, will be the keynote speaker for both events.

The forum, "Sustainability in the Schools", will be held on Sunday, Sept. 20 in the State Capitol Auditorium. From 11 a.m. – 12 p.m., schools and community organizations that are associated with the Hawaii School Peace Gardens Consortium will give presentations in the auditorium. From 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Betty Williams will be the guest speaker. From 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., representatives from the various organizations will briefly talk about what they do in schools or would like to offer in partnering with schools. Informational displays and booths on environmental sustainability will be set up in the State Capitol Rotunda from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The Peace Day Hawaii 2009 Celebration Ceremony will be held on Monday, Sept. 21 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda. The ceremony will include keynote speaker Betty Williams, entertainment, presentation of this year's Peace Day Award and a candle light ceremony and silent prayer.

A partner of Peace Day Hawaii is Victory Over Violence (VOV), a youth sponsored initiative to help young people identify and counteract the root causes of violence in their lives and promote a culture of peace in the community. The Hawaii chapter of the organization has extended nominations for the VOV Aloha Peace Challenge, an annual humanitarian competition in Hawaii that challenges all people to create value in their communities through activities that celebrate and promote peace and nonviolence, until September 14. To participate in the challenge, please visit www.vov.com.

In 2007, Hawaii became the only state in the nation to officially recognize and annually celebrate the International Day of Peace, which was established by the United Nations as the Day of worldwide ceasefire and non-violence. State Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu introduced a bill on behalf of the members of the Hawaii Federation of Junior Young Buddhist Association. Governor Linda Lingle signed the bill into law on April 17, 2007.

Information on Peace Day Hawaii ceremony: 808-586-8490, Peace Day Forum: 808-956-4244.


The Department of Transportation came before the House Committee on Transportation today to provide status reports on all Harbors, Airports and Highways projects. Harbors and Airports divisions have started respective Modernization Plans. This past session bills to authorize a Highways Modernization Plan failed to pass and will carrry over to next session. SB1611. HB1167. The legislation proposes to raise fees and taxes to pay for needed improvements. Given the fiscal climate, the administration proposed to insert a trigger of two consecutive quarters of economic growth prior to assessing the fee/tax increases.


*The Harbors Modernization Plan (HMP) was passed into law as Act 200 in June 2008. It is budgeted at $618 million.

*The HMP is funded by special purpose revenue bonds supported by tariff increases. Industry users understand the need for the increase and support it.

*The HMP project co-managers are Sandy Pfund (ATDC) and Marshall Ando (DOT Harbors).

*First bond issuance of $120 million - First Qtr. FY11:
+Honolulu, Pier 35 improvements for UH SOEST Marine Center
+Hilo, Pier 4 construction
+Kahului Harbor land acquisition/improvements
+Kawaihae Harbor terminal yard improvements

*Second bond issuance of $200 million - FY15:
+KMR deep draft wharfs
+Shipyard relocation, Honolulu Harbor
+Honolulu Harbor, Pier 29
+Hilo Harbor, Pier 4
+Nawiliwili Harbor Pier 2

*Third ($155 million) and Fourth ($143 million) bond issuances after FY15.


*$2.3 billion Airports Modernization Program underway

*First bond issuance of $142 million - Second Qtr FY10
+Mauka Concourse Phase I
+HNL safety and security projects
+Ewa Concourse Sterile corridor
+Kona Terminal design
+Kahului Airfield improvements
+Kahului safety and security projects
+Lihue land acquisition
+Hilo Cargo facility

*Second bond issuance of $391 million - Third Qtr FY11
+Mauka Concourse program Phase II

*Photovoltaic projects. The Airports Division is one of the top 3 energy users in the state, with an electricity bill of $2 million per month. Photovoltaic technology has reduced their energy costs by 20%.


*KAUAI, Kuhio Highway - Short term improvements, Highway widening, cane haul bridge widening. Widening expected to be advertised Nov. 2009.

*KAUAI, Kaumualii Highway - Widening, Phase IA from Lihue Bridge to Anonui Street. Processing award for construction.

*MAUI, Honoapiilani Highway - Widening, Aholo to Lahainaluna. To begin shortly.

*MAUI, Honoapiilani Highway - Realignment, Phase IA and IB-1. Started.

*MAUI, Kihei-Upcountry Highway - Design in progress, to be completed late 2009.

*BIG ISLAND, Queen Kaahumanu Highway Widending - Henry St. to Kona Airport. Phase I estimated completion by October 2009. Phase II, preparing to re-advertise project.

*BIG ISLAND, Saddle Road Improvements, MP 19-11. Project awarded September 2009.

*BIG ISLAND, Keaau-Pahoa Road, Shoulder Lane Conversion. Design in progress.

*OAHU, Fort Weaver Road Widening, Expected to be completed December 2009.

*OAHU, North-South Road. Multi-lane roadway from Kapolei Parkway to diamond interchange at H-1. Phase 1A completed. Phase 1B scehduled for January 2010 completion. Phase 1C - Dedication scheduled for October 2009.

*OAHU, Kapolei Interchange. In progress.

*OAHU, H-1 Pearl City and Waimalu Viaduct Repairs. In progress.

*OAHU, H-1 PM Contraflow. Planning.

*OAHU, Middle Street Merge. Environmental Assessment in progress. Proposals late 2010.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lawmakers in the Military

Photo: NewtownEstates.org. Rep. Takai center.

Rep. K. Mark Takai is featured in this story on lawmakers in the military. The story appears in the September 2009 issue of State Legislatures, a publication of NSCL. Here is the write up on Rep. Takai:

Hawaii Representative K. Mark Takai, in his latest survey of state legislators who also serve in the military, noted that there are no federal laws prohibiting state lawmakers from serving on active duty with the military, but there are rules dealing with what official actions lawmakers can perform while on active duty.

The Department of Defense early last year amended rules covering reserve military personnel and whether they can serve as elected officials while under military deployment. The new directive prohibits a full-time military service member on active duty from holding or exercising functions of state office.

But members of the reserve who are deployed for less than 270 days are allowed to hold and exercise civic functions as long as there is no interference with their military duties.
For those called to active duty for more than 270 days, members can hold a civil office, but cannot exercise the functions of a civil office.

Takai’s surveys, conducted with assistance from the National Conference of State Legislatures, led to the creation of the National Network of Legislators in the Military, which Takai chairs.

The purpose of the network is to provide information and guidance to lawmakers who will be activated or deployed, to share “best practices” and model legislation, and to provide an opportunity for organizations supporting the military to work with the network’s members.
This year’s survey has been completed and will be published later in the year when Takai returns from Kuwait.

In addtion, here is the Department of Defense directive, issued in 2008, which covers political activity by members of the military.

4.5.1. Paragraph 4.5. applies to a civil office in a State; the District of Columbia; a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the United States; or any political subdivision thereof.

4.5.2. A regular member may not hold or exercise the functions of civil office unless otherwise authorized in paragraph 4.5. or by law.

4.5.3. A retired regular or Reserve Component member on active duty under a call or order to active duty for more than 270 days may hold─but shall NOT exercise─the functions of a civil office as set out in subparagraph 4.5.1., as long as: The holding of such office is not prohibited under the laws of the State; the District of Columbia; a territory, possession, or commonwealth of the United States; or any political subdivision thereof. The Secretary concerned grants permission after determining that holding such office does not interfere with the performance of military duties. The Secretary concerned may NOT delegate the authority to grant or deny such permission.

4.5.4. A retired regular or Reserve Component member on active duty under a call or order to active duty for 270 days or fewer may hold and exercise the functions of civil office provided there is no interference with the performance of military duties.

4.5.5. Any member on active duty authorized to hold or exercise, or not prohibited from holding or exercising, the functions of office under paragraph 4.5. is still subject to the prohibitions of subparagraph 4.1.2.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th - Patriot Day

During the 2009 session, Rep. John Mizuno introduced a bill, HB274, proclaiming September 11th as Patriot Day. The bill was signed into law as Act 14. A link to the bill is here. It's message is strong and clear:


1 SECTION 1. The legislature finds that on September II,
2 2001, more than three thousand people lost their lives after
3 hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New
4 York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and in rural Pennsylvania. The
5 legislature further finds that during the aftermath of these
6 attacks, true heroism was defined by the brave acts of police
7 officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, and ordinary
8 citizens. The purpose of this measure is to honor those who
9 lost their lives on September II, 2001, and to acknowledge the
10 bravery of those who assisted in rescue efforts following the
11 attacks.

12 SECTION 2. Chapter 8, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended
13 by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to
14 read as follows:

15 "§8- Patriot Day. September eleventh shall be known and
16 designated as "Patriot Day". This day shall not be construed to
17 be a state holiday."

18 SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Floria's Anemones

The late Floria Shepherd's pastel drawing of "The Beautiful Princess Ka'iulani," as the artist so appropriately named the piece of art, has been hanging in the House Sergeant-at-Arms office for many years now. Her eyes are captivating, seductively drawing you in to relive through your imagination the history of Hawaiian royalty.

Floria's children recently visited the Hawaii State Capitol to view the drawing of Ka'iulani, one of two original pieces that are now property of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Both drawings are part of the foundation's Art in Public Collection. The other is a pastel drawing of a bouquet of anemones in soft colors that are easy on the eyes.

Floria passed away in late December of 2008 at the age of 82. Her children, who now live on the mainland and on the Big Island, came to Oahu to bury their mother next to their father at Punchbowl Cemetery.

Gary, Lynn, and Joy chattered openly about their past while viewing the drawings. They shared memories and stories about their mother and her dedication to the arts and the Hawaiian culture.

Floria, who originated from New York, was fascinated by the Hawaiian culture and, most notably, by the Princess Ka'iulani.

"I think she was just enamored with it," said Joy. "You know, by the culture. She just loved the islands."

Floria sketched dozens of drawings of Ka'iulani, said her children. Some drawings were even on brown paper bag.

"She adored and was intrigued by the culture and believed in the power of Pele," added Joy.

Not only did Floria love to paint, draw and doodle, she enjoyed all forms of creative expression. While perusing an album of memorabilia made by her children, I noticed a poem Floria wrote, titled "The Mourning," that seemed fitting for the gathering held in memory of the artist Floria Shepherd.

"The Mourning"

I'm mourning for myself today
To be in an abyss without light
is as the wingless bird without flight

Will grief and loss find the Holy Grail?
Can shifting sands be moved
Beyond where I am from?
Shifting sands blow beyond
this loss of nature's seed
To water life's gift that feeds

Tomorrow will birth new wings
I will rise as the bird flies,
Mourning no longer with silent cries

In memory of Floria Shepherd.

Photo: Floria's children and other family members with her pastel drawings. From left to right: James Shepherd (cousin) and his wife Cathy, Gary Shepherd (son), Lynn Miller (daughter), Alice Shepherd (granddaughter), and Joy Vasilakis (daughter).

Meeting on highway improvement on Wai'anae Coast

Representative Karen Awana wants to remind Wai'anae Coast residents of a meeting tonight on the proposed improvements to Farrington Highway intersection at Nanakuli Avenue and Haleakala Avenue.

The Department of Transportation will provide an overview of the public.

Residents of the Wai'anae Coast are encouraged to attend to share input.

Thursday, September 10, 2009
7 - 9 p.m.

Nanaikapono Elementary School Cafeteria
89-153 Mano Avenue
Nanakuli, Hawaii

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Agriculture Layoffs Will Impact Hawaii Exports

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a second informational briefing on the impact of potential layoffs for agricultural inspectors. Tomorrow, Ag Chair Rep. Clift Tsuji will focus on Hawaii's wide range of exports. You can see it live on Olelo, Ch. 49.

WHAT: The House Agriculture Committee will hold a meeting to gather information on the negative impact of potential agriculture inspector layoffs on Hawaii’s export industry, including plants, tropical flowers, tropical fruits/papaya, macadamia nuts, coffee, and more.

WHEN: Thursday, September 10, 2009
1:00 p.m.

WHERE: State Capitol, Conference Room 325

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Money Committees Visit Kauai

State money chairs and Kauai lawmakers to hold "Legislators Listen" for public to share input on Governor's proposals to solve fiscal troubles

Who/What: Given the current economic situation facing the state of Hawaii, the Governor has put forth a variety of proposals, including furloughs, layoffs, and other program reductions. Representative Marcus Oshiro and Senator Donna Mercado Kim, the chairs of the Hawaii State Legislature's budget committees, along with Kauai legislators will hold an informal discussion session on the Hawaii state budget. The purpose of this session is to receive public input on the impact of the Governor's proposals and any other possible solutions to the current budget situation.

Where: Kaua`i Community College Cafeteria
3-1901 Kaumuali`i Hwy.
Lihu`e, HI 96766

When: Wednesday, September 9, 2009
4:30 to 8:00 p.m.

No Child Left Behind Reloaded

It's the day after Labor Day, traditionally a day that marks the end of summer and when kids go back to school. This morning, President Obama spoke to students about taking responsibility for their own learning. The full text of his speech is here.

As well, the September issue of "State Legislatures", the publication of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), zooms in on the controversial No Child Left Behind Act and what a new version of the legislation might look like. The full article is here.

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is considered the most sweeping federal authority over state and local school boards in our country's history. The accountability provisions are considered the most problematic. Key requirements of the act are currently up for reauthorization, and they include:

*Testing all students in grades three through eight, and every year once in high school.

*Requiring schools receiving federal funds for disadvantaged students and schools with a certain percentage of low-income students to make progress in test scores.

*Putting any school failing to make "adequate yearly progess" on a "failing schools list", giving parents the option of sending their children to better peforming schools in the same district.

The criticism of such requirements is that they are unrealistic and impose punishments on schools failing to meet the standard. In addition, educators point to a "one size fits all" initiative imposed upon a diverse population.
It's been seven years since the passage of the NCLB Act; President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2002. While there is consensus that NCLB shines a light upon areas that need help - schools serving minority and poverty districts for example - there is also agreement that it's not working the way it should.

If and when the law is reauthorized, there are essentially two main concerns lawmakers around the country are raising:

*Control. States want more control, or at least more input, than they do now.
*Lack of resources. Schools don't have the resources to accomplish the mandated goals. If federal funds are reduced or elminated, some states have passed laws enabling them to opt out of the federal program.

How are we doing in Hawaii? The latest information can be found in a July 2009 news release on the subject from the Department of Education.

From Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto (at right):

“Over the past eight years, we have celebrated the steady gains made by students in reading and math. The progress made by our schools is evidence that student achievement is improving.

However, fulfilling the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act continues to be an uphill battle for a majority of schools.”

“While today’s results only serve as one measure of how a school is performing, the need to close the achievement gap in Hawaii’s public schools still exists. We will break through the Adequate Yearly Progress ‘glass ceiling’ by implementing additional interventions tied to results, raising educational standards, demanding accountability, and redesigning our school day and instructional delivery system.“The truest measure of our efforts will be that our students successfully perform in the 21st century global economy because we delivered the high quality education they deserved.”

The results from the 2009 Hawaii State Assessment, used to determine a school's status under No Child Left Behind, are summarized in the news release with links to the full report.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kukui Connection - September Guests

Rep. Marilyn Lee will host two new guests during the month of September on her Olelo public access televised series, "The Kukui Connection". The show airs regularly on Sundays at 4:00 p.m. on Oceanic Cable channel 54.

On September 6 and 20, Al Santoro of Poamoho Organic Produce will be the special guest. This is one you won't want to miss. He will explain the concept of organic farming and show us some of the methods he uses in his work. You can find their organic produce at Whole Foods, Umeke Market, Alan Wong's and The Pineapple Room, Turtle Bay Resort, and Celestial Natural Foods in Haleiwa. Just look at these organic mangoes! Go to the website for more information.

Organic mangoes from Poamoho Organic Produce

On September 13 and 27, Rep. Lee's guest will be Mike Story, Sports Manager from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Mike will talk about tourism marketing, the various areas they have targeted for future business, including Oceania.

Reps Weigh in on Hoopili

The Honolulu Star-bulletin published two op-eds on the Hoopili project, one by Rep. Chris Lee and the other by Rep. Rida Cabanilla. We've posted them here:

Hoopili project doesn't fit Hawaii's renewed focus on sustainable economy
by Rep. Chris Lee

People seem to either love the Ho'opili development, or hate it. And I can understand that. I'm 28, and will soon be looking for my first affordable home. On the other hand, I'm 28, and my generation and I will have to live with the consequences of poor planning for decades to come.

Fortunately, Ho'opili offers more than a vision of houses stretching across the Ewa Plain; Ho'opili has given Hawaii the opportunity to rethink our future priorities, today.

Last Friday the decision to rezone 1,500 acres of prime agricultural land to "urban" came before the state Land Use Commission. The commission was created by the Legislature specifically to address concerns about "the development of Hawaii's limited and valuable land for short-term gain for the few while resulting in long-term loss to the income and growth potential of our state's economy ... and the conversion of prime agricultural land to residential use ... "

While done on procedural grounds, the Land Use Commission rightfully rejected the request from Ho'opili's developers.

It is important to realize that today, Hawaii imports nearly 90 percent of our food. This dependency siphons billions from our economy each year, and as the cost of oil and shipping continue to rise, so too will prices at the grocery store. So it's concerning that Ho'opili's 11,750 new homes would be built over 14 percent of Oahu's best agricultural land, which is a major contributor to our local food supply and critical to a viable agriculture industry.

Back in 1997 when the plan for more homes in Ewa was originally developed, it may have been good policy at the time. However, since then available farmland in Hawaii has declined by more than 22 percent and the cost of shipping food to the islands has skyrocketed. As a result, in the last decade there has been a paradigm shift in public policy with a new focus on diversifying our economy and redeveloping local agriculture.

The goal is to create new jobs, reduce food prices and sustain Hawaii for the long-term. We have realized there is limited space on Oahu to build new homes — and new strategies for "smart growth" have revolutionized urban planning, and will redevelop old industrial areas such as Kakaako, instead of building over endangered farmlands.

We have to think ahead. Ho'opili is not important because it will build homes or create jobs. Construction crews couldn't begin work until well after the City and County grants approval, potentially many months or years from now, and there are already plans for tens of thousands of other new houses in the Ewa area and thousands of more apartments, condos and lofts planned for urban Honolulu.

What does make Ho'opili important is that it is a clear-cut case of competing uses. The choice pits fertile agricultural land, home to several outstanding local farms, against another 11,750 homes. In this era of new sustainable policy, Ho'opili's rejection or approval will determine whether or not the state is serious about properly managing growth and planning ahead for the long term. It will force our leaders to follow through with commitments to smart growth, renewing local agriculture and diversifying our economy — or to proceed with short-term thinking and business as usual.

Ultimately, the plan for another 11,750 homes on agricultural land is the same urban sprawl that has paved over Oahu for the past 50 years. Hawaii's population keeps growing, and the question is not whether we need new homes. We have to have new homes. The question is where we choose to build them.
Chris Lee is state representative for House District 51 (Lanikai, Waimanalo).

Rebuild rundown urban Oahu instead of paving prime Ewa farmland
By Rep. Rida Cabanilla

It is very difficult to accept the permanent changes that are about to occur in Ewa in the near future. As a representative of the people, I continually made my objections known to the Land Use Commission for the last two years regarding the development of Ho'opili, a planned residential community on Ewa farmlands. Although some of my constituents support the intent of the development, working at the state Capitol and hearing the different concerns of my colleagues, I can't help but consider not only regional impacts but also statewide impacts of this massive land development.

I recently had a meeting with Bob Stanfield of the City & County Building and Permitting Department, who is in charge of the Ewa Development Plan. His main arguments against my objections of the housing plan stem from the question, "Where else can we build more homes?"
Although a hypothetical question, I have some real answers that the city should take into consideration.

Before Hawaii starts building more homes in Ewa, creating more traffic and depleting the islands of our valuable agricultural lands, we need to redevelop the rundown areas of urban Honolulu. We need to stop sacrificing our limited precious resources.

In Kakaako, there are acres of undeveloped land with adequate underground infrastructure already in place. Last session we passed legislation mandating a certain percentage of affordable housing depending on the land area being developed.

Areas around Kapiolani, Moiliili and McCully are, for the most part, populated by very old, two-story walk-up apartment buildings. The Building and Permitting Department can remove the three-story height limitation on these areas and allow us to go vertical. Going vertical will improve the Honolulu skyline, provide fulfillment of the affordable housing need and create housing options for those who work in Waikiki and downtown Honolulu and even provide off-base living options for our military men and women who work at Pearl Harbor, Hickam and Fort Shafter.

With home prices rising and land area diminishing, the dream of a single-family home on a 5,000 square foot piece of land is difficult to achieve. Going vertical will help preserve our precious agricultural lands. We need to emulate European ideas on infrastructure. Their cities are contained, and they leave the rural areas for agriculture. The argument that we can move these Ewa farmlands elsewhere is just as absurd as saying we can move this housing development within urban Honolulu.

These areas I have suggested for development are blighted communities. Why is there not a push to modernize these slummy downtown areas so that we can be proud of our urban core?
Sustainability, self-sufficiency and food security are goals that the Legislature and the state are working toward. Today we import 90 percent of our food. Without our farmlands it would be impossible to reduce our dependency on outside resources or fulfill our goals.

The state tourism count continues to diminish daily. By building houses on the entire island, we will see even fewer tourists coming to Hawaii. Tourists vacation in Hawaii to enjoy tropical scenery and hospitality, not panoramic views of urban sprawl.

The more houses we build, the more out-of-state people will come to Hawaii to purchase homes, driving the cost of homes through the roof. I know that increasing supply will decrease the prices of homes — but, figuratively speaking, only for a day. As soon as the prices become reasonable, residents of the contiguous 48 states will be here driving the prices up again.

We cannot build more housing complexes without sufficient transportation infrastructures in place. Consider the city's light rail project. If they did not build all these houses in Kapolei, then there would have been no need for the rail. Building more, such as Ho'opili, will create more traffic woes and require more infrastructure, not just the rail.

Supporters of Ho'opili contend that it will bring more jobs to the region, thereby decreasing the amount of commuters to town. How many jobs will there be? Can the project bring more than 2,000 jobs to the region? My answer is no, and if there are jobs, the jobs will probably not pay enough to support a mortgage of these new homes.
Rida Cabanilla is state representative for House District 42 (Waipahu, Honouliuli, West Loch and Ewa).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Prevailing Winds: Burglaries and NSW

This month's edition of Rep. Isaac Choy's "Prevailing Winds" focuses on a recent rash of neighborhood burglaries. Here's an excerpt from his monthly newsletter:
Concerned constituents recently brought up the subject of a growing problem in our neighborhood. The issue is burglaries. As the economy worsens, there is a rise in home break-ins. Our district of Manoa, University area, McCully & Moiliili, has seen an exponential rise in the crime rate. Now is the time that we all must step up and be on the look out for ourselves and our neighbors. We all want to feel safe and secure in our homes, and by sharing this concern with others around us, we can effectively police our own communities.

We can all be proactive by forming Neighborhood Security Watches (NSW) in our areas. Our office has put together a fact sheet (attached) which outlines how our community can initiate NSW’s. Attend your monthly neighborhood board meetings where there is present a Community Affairs Representative of HPD to report on the monthly crime statistics of the neighborhoods, and it is there that you will be able to voice your concerns. By working together on this serious problem, hopefully, we will be able to prevent further incidences.