Category Archives: environment

Discussion of depleted uranium hazard prompts “disorderly conduct” complaint

Hawaii County police this week read longtime peace activist Jim Albertini his rights prior to questioning him about a disorderly conduct complaint filed by a Hilo charter school.

The complaint was made by the principal and secretary of Connections Public Charter School, who reportedly were “alarmed” by a telephone call last week from Albertini, according to Albertini’s account of what he was told during questioning by the police.

Albertini first learned of the complaint on Monday, when he was contacted by a Hilo Police Officer C. Sugimoto. He voluntarily appeared at the Hilo Police Station the following day for questioning.

“Officer Sugimoto first read me my rights and I signed a consent form to be questioned. Officer Sugimoto then told me that I was being investigated on a possible “Disorderly Conduct” complaint filed by Connections Public Charter School (PCS) Principal John Thatcher and the school secretary, Candy Alverado,” Albertini later reported.

The complaint was apparently prompted by Albertini’s telephone call to the school last Friday, during which he requested the email addresses of teachers who took their students to an April 20, 2017 Earth Day event at the Pohakuloa Training Area, a public relations event sponsored by the U.S. Army.

Albertini and others have been calling public attention to the potential hazards posed by the previous us of depleted uranium during military training at Pohakuloa going back to the 1960s. They contend that conventional radiation monitoring does not adequately protect the public from the health effects of potential inhalation of microscopic particles in dust or smoke created by weapons training during military maneuvers.

Albertini said he spoke with Alvarado during his call to the school last week, “and explained his concern to get information to teachers and parents of students about the dangers of inhaling Depleted Uranium (DU) oxide dust particles possibly being dispersed by heavy artillery live fire which was taking place at Pohakuloa on April 20th.”

“Ms. Alverado was very pleasant and gave me the email addresses of two teachers plus the bus driver who went to Pohakuloa Earth Day events,” Albertini said.

According to state law:

§711-1101 Disorderly conduct. (1) A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause physical inconvenience or alarm by a member or members of the public, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:

(a) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or

(b) Makes unreasonable noise; or

(c) Subjects another person to offensively coarse behavior or abusive language which is likely to provoke a violent response; or

(d) Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which is not performed under any authorized license or permit; or

(e) Impedes or obstructs, for the purpose of begging or soliciting alms, any person in any public place or in any place open to the public.

It’s difficult to see that Albertini’s contact with the school secretary by phone, or subsequent email addressed to others, could possibly be construed as disorderly conduct as defined by law.

A Hawaii Supreme Court decision in February 2017 narrowed the application of the law.

In that decision, the court ruled disorderly conduct “is limited to conduct which is itself disorderly,” and “the offense requires that the defendant engaged in fighting, threatening, or violent or tumultuous behavior.”

Clearly, Albertini’s conduct included nothing of that sort. So why did the police take action on the school’s complaint in a manner that appears aimed at discouraging free speech and open discussion of a controversial but important matter? The police department should be held to account on this.

KauaiEclectic blog ends a 10-year run

KauaiEclectic, a blog published by Joan Conrow, has had its last post.

“All Pau,” Conrow announced today. “It’s time for a change.”

KauaiEclectic has been around for ten years. It’s been a vehicle for Conrow’s excellent reporting. Here long-running “Abuse Chronicles” exposed the seamy side of Kauai’s vacation rental industry, and set a standard for reporting that’s not often matched in these islands.

She blogged about the environment, about social conflict on Kauai, about being local, about agriculture, GMOs, politics, dogs, and walking on the beach.

It’s been a great ride, Joan. Thank you.

By the way, Conrow has launched a new blog.

Please visit my new site, where I will be writing about science, agriculture, GMOs, tourism, philosophy, politics and whatever strikes my fancy.

I just went back to the earliest KauaiEclectic post I could find. It’s dated September 18, 2007.

Conversations: Prosperity

Prosperity isn’t even a word in the Hawaiian language, Ka`imi said. It’s an entirely Western concept, that idea of making good in a way that sets you apart from others; accumulating possessions with an eye toward achieving status; attracting money and material things to be stored up, hoarded.

But there is waiwai, she reminded him, the word used interchangeably for water and wealth, and she’d experienced it herself at Aliomanu, just recently. Walking to the beach, after a month of heavy rains, she’d noticed naupaka leaves, plumped and swollen; ironwood needles, a tender pale green; springy moss, clinging thickly to gray pohaku.

The red soil had darkened deep brown with a surfeit of wet; heliotrope seedlings had sprung boldly from the sand.

It was suddenly all so rich, so plush, so luxuriant, that drought-parched patch of east Kauai coastline, restored to vibrant life by rain alone.

That’s when she saw with her own eyes, she told him, that waiwai truly is wealth. Because everything in that moist scene was so lushly abundant, it seemed wholly ludicrous to value anything more than water.

And you can call the rain, he reminded her. You can evoke the water; you can turn the trickle into a torrent. Isn’t that prosperity?

Posted by Joan Conrow at 11:26 AM

Red flags surround bill on public land redevelopment

I received this information yesterday about a bill that morphed into something potentially quite dangerous. In the worst case, it would allow the privatization of public lands through perpetual leases.

HB 1469 started out as a way to redevelop the hotels on Banyan Drive – urban lands classified for resort development that do need to be redeveloped.

But somewhere along the way, it morphed into a sweetheart deal for existing tenants on any state land, including UH and TMT.

Under existing law, leases of state lands can’t exceed 65 years. Then they need to go back out for auction. The policy is that any lease longer for 65 years is essentially a sale of land. So to be fair, you put it up for auction to allow new parties to bid.

The conference committee just signed off on a final version of the bill that amends the section of the law that governs all state leases – and eliminates the 65-year limit on any new or existing lease on any state lands. Basically, it’s turning tenants into potential owners of state land.

It also eliminates the Land Board’s rights to access certain information from lessees (making it optional) who sell, assign or sublease state land. Which means an existing tenant can get an extension of a lease, turn around and sell it or sublease it for a profit, and the state can’t necessarily take action.

Then some language that specifically applies to the TMT lease was added:

· Allows the Land Board to extend a lease in perpetuity to any person or entity, including any school, government entity or non profit organization upon approval of a development agreement proposed by the lessee to make substantial improvements or construct new improvements. (pp. 20-21). No auction or separate public process needed.

So the Land Board could extend the UH and/or TMT lease at the same time it approves the construction or agreement to improve the area.

This bill raises all kinds of red flags. While the new authority to expend leases without limits likely wouldn’t be abused routinely, it opens the door to special sweetheart deals that will essentially privatize certain state lands, including ceded lands.

It is scheduled to be up for final floor votes in House and Senate Tuesday, May 2. It will be buried in the long list of bills awaiting final approval.

Notice those high tides?

This was the scene in front of the Kahala Beach Apartments this morning, where several inches of sand and debris covered a long stretch of the sidewalk, the result of an unusually high tide late yesterday.

Fronting the Kahala Apartments

A post on Jan TenBruggencate’s Raising Islands blog this week reported high tides in Hawaii running 8-10 inches above last year.

He wrote:

Very strange stuff is going on at Hawai`i’s coastlines—sea levels have jumped in the past few months as much as they have in the past century.

Oceanographers are trying to figure out just what’s going on.

But what it means for now is that we are seeing eight to 10 inches higher high tides than we did a year ago.

If you’ve been at the docks, or at low-lying coastlines, you’ve seen it. This week will see some of the highest high tides.

University of Hawai`i coastal geologist Chip Fletcher said the superhigh water has been around for some time, and people seeing the unusual water levels and noting that it’s strange are not mistaken.

“No it’s not a mistake – there has been a slug of high sea level for a year or more that has lingered around the islands,” Fletcher said.

It may be temporary, TenBruggencate reports. Let’s hope so.

It’s a very interesting post, complete with charts and graphs. But if you’re anywhere near the water, more than a little unsettling.