Honolulu Rail Woes: YESTERDAY & TODAY – PART 1

by Walter Heen, Ben Cayetano, Cliff Slater & Randall Roth

“The City has paid more than $2 million in taxpayer money to ten different public relations firms to promote its heavy rail project. Here’s what they have not yet told you:

Aircraft Carriers in the Sky

The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) prepared renderings like this one to help the public picture an elevated heavy rail system on the island of Oahu. The 20-mile railway would be at least three stories tall, held aloft by 720 large concrete columns. Some of the stations would be more than six stories high.

Rail Chnatown-Stn-Elevated-Final2

One AIA member described the stations as “aircraft carriers in the sky.”

A group like the AIA normally has a vested interest in supporting major construction projects. We admire its courage in providing a contrast to the City’s deceptive renderings.

Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Conflict of Interest and Troubled History

The mayor, council members, and HART board all lack expertise and experience with rail systems, so they must rely on others. Critical information about the proposed rail project can be traced to one of three sources: Parsons Brinckerhoff, which has already received more than $100 million in contracts from the City and stands to receive another $300-$400 million if the project is built; InfraConsult, a firm formed by three former Parsons Brinckerhoff employees, which the City hired to provide oversight on Parsons Brinckerhoff ‘s work; and Wayne Yoshioka, who was recruited by Mayor Hannemann from Parsons Brinckerhoff to head up the City’s Department of Transit Services, and whose wife continues to work at Parsons Brinckerhoff.


There is also a highly critical audit of Parson Brinckerhoff’s work in California as program manager of that state’s high-speed rail project. The audit complains of “inadequate planning, weak oversight, and lax contract management.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff worked on the Tren Urbano rail project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was projected to cost $1 billion and enjoy high ridership. Instead, it sustained a 113% cost overrun and had actual ridership only 27% of the original forecast for 2010. A new 5.5% tax was enacted partly because of unforeseen rail costs.

Stacking the Deck in Favor of Rail

When Jeremy Harris was mayor, Parsons Brinckerhoff said Bus/Rapid Transit (BRT) could accomplish virtually all of the objectives of rail at substantially less cost. A few years later when Mufi Hannemann was mayor, Parsons Brinckerhoff excluded BRT from the alternatives analysis despite a federal requirement that the City objectively evaluate “all reasonable alternatives.”

Not a Solution to Traffic Congestion

Mayor Mufi Hannemann repeatedly portrayed rail as a solution to Oahu’s existing traffic congestion problem. Mayor Peter Carlisle has echoed that message. Yet Wayne Yoshioka, the head of the city’s transit department, now acknowledges that “traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”

Yoshioka’s admission is not some off-hand comment. It was written, reviewed, and included in the environmental impact study (EIS) that was approved by the Federal Transportation Administration.

Damage the Environment and Historical Sights Forever

The City’s portrayal of heavy rail as friendly to the environment would be laughable if the subject were not so serious. Construction of the proposed system would lead to the large-scale development of prime farmland and change forever the Hawaiian sense of place. Imagine the sound of each 72,000 pound, steel-on-steel elevated rail car as it accelerates from 0 to 60 and then decelerates to 0 between each of 21 stations, every 3 minutes in each direction.

The elevated railway would permanently diminish the mauka/makai views along the entire route, and the ambiance of Honolulu’s waterfront would be particularly affected.

The City claims that rail would save energy. However, U.S. Dept. of Energy data shows that, except in heavily populated urban centers, rail requires more energy per rider than do automobiles. The smallest urban center with heavy rail is four times larger than Honolulu.

No wonder virtually every environmental group in Hawaii opposes heavy rail despite the City’s false claims that it would be a “green” project.

Unrealistic Cost Estimate

The City claims that elevated heavy rail would cost no more than $5.3 billion, but the facts indicate otherwise. Cost overruns on rail systems elsewhere have averaged 40%, and an independent study by the highly regarded IMG group predicted total costs for heavy rail in Honolulu of at least $7 billion. The Federal Transit Administration’s probabilities study concluded that the probability of spending $7 billion was far greater than the probability of coming in on budget.

Unrealistic Ridership Forecast

The federal government has compared actual ridership with forecasts in the cities that actually built rail systems and found that these cities overestimated ridership by an average of 41%.

When the City prepared environmental impact studies in 1982, 1992, and 2003, it forecast significant increases in bus ridership each time, but ridership declined instead. Yet the City is once again touting wildly optimistic forecasts for rail ridership. These ignore that the most recent population forecast for Honolulu shows that the number of people 20 to 64 years old in the year 2030 is expected to be less than the number today. This age group includes the vast majority of commuters.

The City has also cherry picked data. It relies upon a 2004 30-year population forecast even though the 2008 30-year population forecast indicates 100,000 fewer people in 2030 than was previously forecasted.

Even with such cherry picking and wildly optimistic forecasting, however, the City reluctantly acknowledges that if rail were to be built, another $100 million would need to be “found” each year, just to keep the trains running. The obvious sources are substantially higher fares for riders and substantially higher taxes for everyone.

Segmented Analysis Based on False Statement

Federal statutes require that a new transportation system protect historic landmarks, environmental and cultural resources, and native burial sites from unnecessary degradation. H-3 is a perfect example of what can happen when archeological and environmental studies are done in segments rather than completely (i.e., it took 20 years and the final cost was more than ten times the original estimates). The project manager for H-3, Parsons Brinckerhoff, is also the project manager for the current rail project.

The City is now making a similar mistake, by trying to start construction before identifying the sensitive sites in segment four, which includes Kakaako and Downtown Honolulu where the bulk of problems are likely to be found. Environmental policy frowns on such “segmented studies” because by the time problems in later segments are detected, alternative routes and technologies are greatly limited (i.e., once a line has been started the City cannot simply zigzag around problem areas).

The City was given permission to delay the bulk of its archeological analysis because DLNR Director William Aila approved such a segmented approach. Aila said he did so because the Federal Transit Administration “required” it. We don’t know if he was misled by others or just mistaken, but his statement is patently false.

Exaggerated Job Creation

The City initially claimed that rail would create 17,000 new jobs during the construction phase, but later lowered its estimate to 10,166, without explanation. Even this number is pure fiction.

The $483 million construction contract went to Kiewit. Its officials say they need 350 workers to build the first segment. The same workers would probably end up building the remaining segments, because the plan is to build the system in segments, not all at once.

An Italian company, Ansaldo, expects to receive more than $1 billion for providing and maintaining the trains and rail system. It is promising “300 local jobs for local people.”

If you are counting, we have identified 650 new jobs. The City has yet to identify the other 9,516 that it has promised.

Worse Conditions for Commuters

The City has led people to think they could drive their cars to nearby rail stations and then ride a train into town. But the City is planning to provide parking at only 4 of the 21 stations. Where will commuters park their cars? The airport charges $15 per day.

The City has also said little about its plan to force existing bus riders to take the train by replacing express and direct-route buses with ones that ”feed” the train. Most bus riders currently can find a seat on a bus in and out of town. Most train commuters would have to stand the entire way.

Walter Heen served as a state judge, federal judge, city councilman, legislator, chairman of the state Democratic Party, and OHA trustee; Benjamin Cayetano served as a legislator, lieutenant governor, and governor; Cliff Slater is a businessman who founded Maui Divers; Randall Roth is a professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law. They are plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the process by which the City chose elevated heavy rail over alternatives that would reduce traffic congestion and protect the environment.


                      TODAY – May 2016

Are the four  citizen authors – Walter Heen, Benjamin Cayetano, Cliff Slater, and Randall Roth – and thousands of concerned citizens vindicated ( shown or proven to be right, reasonable, or justified) now? How do we work together to do damage control of this runaway project but still mitigate traffic problems for many on this island?

Caldwell 5:13:16

May 13, 2016  Honolulu Star Advertiser

Caldwell 5:15:16

May 15, 2016 Honolulu Star Advertiser

Lahood Colleen

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa’s assurances for the Honolulu Rail Project  on September 2011 – The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Project Newsletter – HONOLULU ON THE MOVE: “Secretary LaHood has made it very clear that they are very committed.”


May 13, 2016 Star Advertiser: Newly-appointed HART Board Chair Colleen Hanabusa: “ I will tell you, I don’t know what the options are, but we’re going to have to figure out what to do.” ( Don Horner, HART Board Chair, thrown under the bus by Mayor Kirk Caldwell due to political pressure, resigned on April 11, 2016.)

What do you think the current Mayor Kirk Caldwell, former Managing Director for Mayor Mufi Hannemann, is going to do?

Caldwell donations




Choon James is Host to Country Talk Story which airs on every Sunday at 4:00 pm on Community Television Channel 54. She can be contacted at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com  808 293 9111  http://www.CountryTalkStory.com


Mayor Kirk Caldwell Steals From Non-Profits to Fund His $13 Million Pork Project


For this 2016-2017 Budget Year, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell is siphoning another $1 Million of Federal HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) towards his $13 Million Pork Project in rural Hau’ula, Oahu.

The objective of these Federal HUD CDBG funds is “to help improve the quality of life and create economic opportunities for its recipients in low-and-moderate income communities”.

How does imposing an extravagant firehouse relocation onto rural Hau’ula’s last two business-zoned parcels fulfil the objectives of CDBG funds?

Iseke-Lessary City Hall

Through the years, Caldwell has already used at least $2.4 Million CDBG funds for this controversial Hauula Fire Station Relocation Project #2000068.

This year’s $1 Million of CDBG funds is in addition to Caldwell’s concurrent request of $6.650 Million towards his pet $13 Million project #2000068!

In March 2016, City Council Budget Committee Chair Ann Kobayashi asked the Director of Budget and Fiscal Services Nelson H. Koyanagi, Jr. if they were proud of what they were doing.  She also chided the Mayor’s actions as “stealing” funds from non-profit groups. City capital projects are customarily funded through the General Fund rather than competing with non-profit servicers for these same special federal grants.

Thus, this CDBG theft is at the expense of more compelling social services and urgent needs for the most vulnerable homeless, women, youth, and other human services in Oahu.  

Many non-profit organizations with urgent needs have lost federal grants because these same funds have been siphoned to this extravagant project.


The only reason we can come up with Mayor Caldwell’s intransigent and disjointed agenda is he owes this pork $13 Million project to some donors. This North Shore News’ Letter to the Editor provides a good brief summary for this conclusion.

Hau’ula is a small rural town on the windward of Oahu with an existing firehouse. Since 2009, residents  have been protesting against this extravagant $13 Million relocation of its existing fire station to another site, less than two minutes away.

EM -Country store

This project was initiated under the Mufi Hannemann Administration and Fire Chief Ken Silva  in 2009.

In fact, in 2011, Mayor Peter Carlisle and the Honolulu City Council responded to the local protests and approved $250,000 to fund a study for alternative sites. We don’t know what happened to this $250,000 or how it was used or what the outcome was.

The Honolulu City Council had deleted and defunded Project #2000068 estimated at $13 Million for four years.

Unfortunately, Mayor Caldwell continues to ramrod this project through, with Fire Chief Manuel Neves as his public relations lobbyist. Needless to say, there should be no “sacred cows” spending abuse at City Hall.

In August 2014, Mayor Caldwell circumvented the City Council and secretly siphoned another $1.4 Million of Federal HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) that could be used to renovate homeless shelters like any of the following: rehabilitation of Pauahi Hale; rehabilitation of Kanoa  Apartments, an affordable housing project in Kalihi; rehabilitation of Bachelors Quarters, an affordable housing project in Ewa Beach; acquisition of improved land for the City’s Housing First initiative; and CDBG-eligible public services in connection with the City’s Housing First initiative.

The City Council did not know about this unilateral action till shortly before the Mayor’s Press Conference on November 6, 2014.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell vigorously bulldozed this project through, including retaliation by using heavy machines to tear down protest signs on the proposed parcel on May and October of 2013. His retaliatory behavior transpired during the pending eminent domain litigation in the Circuit Court.   A federal judge ordered the city to pay for the attorney fees for these civil rights violation in June 2014.


Caldwell also retaliated by shutting down the Hauula Recycling Center that provided a cottage industry for this low-and-moderate income community. On October 21, 2013 city county workers installed a “No Trespass” sign to block the entry to the private recycling business to shut it down.


Ironically, the homeless recycle by collecting cans and bottles in Hauula to buy a hot meal daily. Many do not own vehicles. The next nearest recycling center is now in Haleiwa (about a 40 minutes bus ride).   Even then, City buses do not allow bags of cans and other recyclables on board.

Caldwell’s decimation of the last two commercial-zoned lots shut out significant economic opportunities for local small business start-ups such as small country stores, recycling, and farmer’s market. Hauula neighbors have tried to sell the fish they catch, pastele, flower leis, laulau plates and other products on Hau’ula road shoulders only to be promptly chased away by the police for zoning violations.

Decimating the last two commercial-zoned parcels contradicts the core purpose of CDBG funds – Mayor Caldwell is hurting entrepreneurial options for this low-and-moderate income community. Economic opportunities are quashed. The welfare of this low-and-moderate income rural community worsens. HUD CDBG funds are meant to improve lives and economic opportunities, not create more hardships and problems for its fund recipients. The people are asking for “bread” but Mayor Caldwell is forcing “cake” on them.

Three Hauula kupuna – octogenarians Marvin Iseke,  Alice Ubando, and Shirley Ann Lessary are fighting the Mayor for due process, social and economic justice for their low-and-moderate income community. They have collected over 1,400 signatures/letters petition against it.

They have a pending lawsuit in the federal court against the City of Honolulu.

It’s premature for Mayor Caldwell to ask for this extravagant amount when there is an ongoing lawsuit from concerned citizens and years of protests from the most affected citizens. The process and circumstances surrounding this extravagant project were flawed, filled with capricious circumstances, arbitrary actions, and nefarious manipulations.

Mayor recycle

Most residents are not against new buildings but this project is grossly political and illogical. Many in the firefighting profession, including former fire commissioners and retired fire captains, are scratching their heads over this too. Even the civil emergency leaders have questioned this new location by the tsunami inundation zone.

Many are of the sentiment that Mayor Caldwell is forcing this $13 Million fire station relocation project to reward his donors with big contracts. (Thus far, about $3.75 Million have been expended on this project.)

Some egregious mismanagement include the following:

The Mayor hired “expert” consultant from Oakland California (!) to claim that the “Ewa Beach Fire Station” model (built in January 2013} for Oahu’s growing Second City as “very appropriate” for the small rural community of Hauula.  This contradicts the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – The Keep the Country Country region.  Rural Hauula  is not Second City Ewa.

EM -Hauula-Kapolei

The Mayor hired another “expert” consultant to claim that the City needed to build a bigger fire station to house bigger fire engines in Hau’ula:

“ . . . fire engines have gone from being 8-feet wide, 25-feet long, weighing 9 tons to being 8 feet wide, 32-feet long, and weighing 23 tons. As fire apparatuses continue to increase in size, providing for access, and enough space for circulation and maneuvering have become important issues for fire station design.”

But the ‘expert’ does not consider that existing country roads in rural Hau’ula have not increased in size! Hau’ula has existing problems with small and narrow country roads that smaller city garbage trucks cannot even ingress or egress. Garbage trucks also have trouble with low-hanging electrical lines.

The Plaintiffs live next door to this proposed site but the city’s hired Environmental Assessment (EA) consultant never consulted with them or told them about this project in their EA review.

An average firehouse costs $5 Million to build. Why destroy the “Country” by foisting a huge $13 Million firehouse onto small town Hauula that already has an existing station?

The irreparable damages that this Caldwell project will create in this little rural town are immense.

Does rural Hauula truly need a $13 Million relocation project to replace its existing firehouse?


Why is Mayor Caldwell hell-bent on destroying the “Keep the Country Country”?

Which non-profit group could use $1 Million of Federal HUD CDBG funds this year?

Is $6.650 Million towards this $13 Million extravagant and controversial fire mansion a fiscally prudence request for this budget year?

The Honolulu City Council must provide the “checks and balances” leadership as the public obviously cannot depend on Mayor Caldwell. Small town rural Hauula does not want an extravagant $13 Million fire mansion.

The only fiscally prudent and logical decision at this pivotal juncture is for Honolulu City Council Chair Martin and Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi to delete and defund this pork project from this 2016-2017 budget.  Listen to the affected people of Hau’ula and allow them due process and a place at the dialogue table.

~ ~ ~

About the Author:


Choon James’s husband’s grandfather was buried in  his fireman uniform.  They come from four generations of firefighters. James was involved in eminent domain and civil rights lawsuits against the City and County of Honolulu relating to this project. She can be reached at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com   808 293 9111


Honolulu Rail Woes

A few profound issues  jumped out at me as I read the TimeOut Honolulu facebook page about the Honolulu Rail.

What are yours? I’ll highlight mine in green.

No More Tax Extensions! If Rail is over budget – shorten the project at Middle Street!

“The upcoming bids on the project’s airport and city center segments, Grabauskas said, “will make or break the current budget. … We will no longer be estimating or guesstimating.”

HART expects to announce one of the bid results in June, and the other later in the year.”

Despite the political rhetoric surrounding Honolulu’s rail project, all that is certain when it comes to the final price tag: Nobody will know the ultimate cost until at least next January and it could exceed the current $6.6 billion estimate. That was the…
civilbeat.com|By Bob Porterfield



Royman Arizo
Royman Arizo They are robbing da people of Hawaii…. Dirty politicians, hope da best for ur families Kahuna da people involve May ur decendents reep da suffering dat u put upon others…. Our government iz no good


TimeOut Honolulu

TimeOut Honolulu Royman Arizo – please keep the comments G Rated. Send your city council member an email.


Terry Sandobal

Terry Sandobal TimeOut Honolulu I see no swearing, so what is it he wrote that is rated R


Terry Sandobal

Terry Sandobal TimeOut Honolulu Much mahalo. Was wondering why


Royman Arizo



Terry Sandobal

Terry Sandobal Royman Arizo your saying what a lot of us are saying , but THEY choose not to hear


Darren Chang

Darren Chang Jail these politicians


Royman Arizo

Royman Arizo Someone has 2 be accountable…. Sad


Charles Stanton

Charles Stanton Royman Arizo No they won’t – until our 1 party political system is rejected by voters. It’s up to you as we’ve given up and are moving to a different state. Aloha oe.

Like · Reply · 1 · 16 hrs


Royman Arizo

Royman Arizo Sorry 2 hea dat…. Ahuihoukakou…. Malamapono….. I have no wea 2 go, i am Keiki o ka aina, fight till i die, foa my grandchildrens….. Y would u jump on a sinking ship?

Like · Reply · 1 · 15 hrs


Charles Stanton

Charles Stanton Royman Arizo I tried for 15 years, good luck with your fight!

Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs


TimeOut Honolulu

TimeOut Honolulu This rail project is already over budget at $6.6 billion!!! Going through downtown for 4 miles could cost a billion/mile. The math is simple….. 4+6.6= 10.6, and that’s without those pesky change orders.


TimeOut Honolulu

TimeOut Honolulu In 2016 the Federal Government would not allow Honolulu to build rail in these Flood Zones. http://frenzel.us/images/tmaprail.jpg




4 Replies · 8 hrs
TimeOut Honolulu

TimeOut Honolulu Look at the map, Bertram, to realize the majority of stations AND necessary ground level support/electricity will be under water if/when we get even a grade 1-2 storm surge! We stand to spend another $4 billion to go 4 miles through town. Are you feeling lucky, and do you think it’s worth returning perhaps SOME fed funds to change the route BEFORE we go downtown?


1 Reply
TimeOut Honolulu

TimeOut Honolulu Tell your City Council member how you feel – click on the map where you live and see their phone numbers and emails. http://www.honolulu.gov/council/default.html

Hover over your district to see your Councilmember. District 5 Ann Kobayashi akobayashi@honolulu.gov…


1 Reply
Royman Arizo

Royman Arizo Timeouts…. Changes a man 😀

Royman Arizo's photo.


James O. Quimby

James O. Quimby Apparently they have skipped ahead to Dillingham and bypassed School Street. This is to continue “we are too far along” argument.


William Doc Grant

William Doc Grant Caldwell will find out what the price tag is for rail on Election Day.


William Doc Grant

William Doc Grant End the HART rail NOW it at Pearlridge! Pull the plug on this crony feeding trough!


1 Reply
Chantal Keliihoomalu

Chantal Keliihoomalu That would undermine the whole project


Jerry Lam

Jerry Lam The rail will fail. No riders mean we will subsidize it even more. God help us!


Jerry Lam

Jerry Lam 68 comments and 48 shares is impressive! Thank you timeout Honolulu!


Daniel Howzitboy

Daniel Howzitboy its probably gonna end up costing around 10 bil… think of how much we could have fixed on this island with that much $$. there would be no homeless, no starving people, better schools, cleaner everywhere, better roads….


5 Replies
Charles Stanton

Charles Stanton Ironically we finished the Atlas Shrugged trilogy last night. In it the “collectivist/redistribution/for the good of all” language Supreme Leader Thomson used was exactly the same as the Progressives/Crony Capitalists that Rail proponents used in selling this sow’s ear. With the same inept result, lights out! Who is John Gault?


Daniel Lalosin

Daniel Lalosin We already have rail…… Like what panos said in the past…… During high traffic hours ues the carpool lane and the contra flow lane for busses only during the morning rush hours and same for the evening rush hours……….”MAKES SENSE”


Glen Waterman Escobido

Glen Waterman Escobido I hope the Feds demand a internal investigation , these politicians who voted for this rail should be held accountable, Hawaii at least deserves that.


Charles Stanton

Charles Stanton Why do you think that Hanabusa was appointed? I’d guess to stop any investigation via politics, ’cause she sure isn’t any bright civil engineer.

Like · Reply · 2 · 16 hrs


Glen Waterman Escobido

Glen Waterman Escobido Too many PILAU politicians, someone needs to clean house

Like · Reply · 4 · 16 hrs · Edited


Charles Stanton

Charles Stanton Glen Waterman Escobido Only the voters can do that. And so far they support The Party, so don’t hold your breath. And as an FYI, I’d not look to the HI-GOP either, they were unable to get a simple email corrected after 3 years of complaints.

Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs


Darlene Travis
Darlene Travis Hart is enjoying all the money they soaking from our little state of Hawai’i…
It’s stupid to compare rail in Hawai’i to rail in the mainland metro larger area and massive Japan!! Oahu is way to small for a rail…

Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs


Roy Aragon

Roy Aragon Not even half way and$10 billion in debt!!! The BOW supply warned them about the water issues many years ago yet they ignored the advice, Hawaiian electric also warned the HART board about the cross lines that needed to be removed to meet compliance EIS requirements. The entire HART board needs to be fired including mayor PRP the ringleader!!


Sonny Pascual

Sonny Pascual This is quite EMBARRASSING! All those that pushed this project forward NEEDS to be called out and one by one and answer for this!!!

There’s a paper trail that needs to be followed up on…

Sonny Pascual's photo.


1 Reply
Gail S Heidenfeldt-Gali

Gail S Heidenfeldt-Gali Its funny how they encourage people to get registered and vote. They say if you don’t vote, you can’t grumble! Well we vote and we still don’t got a say!!! No wonder people get discouraged to vote!! Yes the people voted for these people who are for thiSee More


3 Replies
Cecilia Raymond

Cecilia Raymond Do the Islands a favor and don’t vote for these same money power clowns. They already know the cost. When the vast majority said no to the rail they listened to the minority. Have the ones who said yes am all the politicians who was and is in favor pay for it.


22 of 86


Are Mayor Caldwell’s PR Peeps Playing Disinformation Games With the Public?

Are Mayor Caldwell’s PR Peeps Playing Games With the Public?

Mayor recycle

At the April 14, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting at the Queen Liliuokalani Center in Punalu’u, I asked Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s representative Mr. Adam LeFebvre why the Mayor continued to compete and steal scarce federal HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds from non-profit organizations. (Note: According to Civil Beat:  LaFebvre is employed under a personal services contract. He is listed as an Informational Affairs Specialist with the Department of Customer Services, earning $57,720 a year, even though he works in the Mayor’s Office. His contract began in October 2013 and so far has been extended through June 2015.)

I was specifically asking why Mayor Caldwell was again – this year –  stealing an additional $1Million from the Federal HUD CDBG funds for the controversial Hauula Fire Station Relocation Project #2000068. An average fire station costs about $5 Million to build. In rural Hauula, the Mayor wants DOUBLE the lot size and TRIPLE the costs at an estimated $13 Million!

“Steal” was a strong word but I was quoting City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi’s words to Director of Department of Budget and Fiscal Services,   Nelson H. Koyanagi, Jr. and Director Gary T. Kurokawa, Deputy Director at the March 2016 Budget Committee Hearing at Honolulu Hale.  Kobayashi also asked them if they were “proud of what they were doing.”  Budget Chair Kobayashi explained that the city usually financed its city projects through bonds and so forth. The non-profits that serviced programs like Homeless, Domestic Violence, Drug Rehabilitation or Women/Infant did not have such financing options.

Adam LaFebvre’s response to my CDBG funding question was it had been asked before but he would be happy to discuss this question further with us AFTER the meeting. In other words, he did not want to address the Mayor’s CDBG funds takings.

The FEDERAL HUD Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) funds’ Objectives are clear: “Projects that are funded in the CDBG program must address the CDBG program’s primary objective, which is the “. . . development of viable urban communities, by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities principally for persons of low- and moderate-income.


Mayor no damn good

The CDBG question was certainly not old or repetitive. We wanted an explanation to this Mayor’s rationale.

Mr. Adam Lefebvre’s response is disingenuous. The Honolulu City Council is now vetting the 2016-2017 Budget for the Executive and Legislative Branches. Mayor Kirk Caldwell, again for this budget year, is stealing from the non-profit organizations.

The  February 11, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting was obviously too early to ask about CDBG funds. The Mayor had not submitted his Budget to the Honolulu City Council. The public did not know the Mayor was again going to steal another $1Million from the CDBG funds for his extravagant pet project.

The March 10, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting had no CDBG question posed. The Mayor’s Representative  Adam LaFebvre was absent. Instead, LaFebvre provided a memo for the record that was read by a Neighborhood Board Member that included a propaganda item:  “• Fire station – The Hauula fire station construction is projected to start in spring 2017 and be completed by summer 2018.”  Of course, he made no mentioned of the Hauula Kupuna’s pending lawsuit against the city at the federal court or the nefarious circumstances . (The  minutes relating to our Neighborhood Board discussions are also often questionable or inaccurate.)


For the record, Mayor Caldwell is asking for another $1 Million of CDBG funds  for this budget year 2016-2017. In addition, he’s also asking for $6.7M for Hauula Fire Station Relocation this year,  at the expense of other more compelling social services and needs.

So far, Mayor Caldwell has squandered on this particular controversial project #2000064:

$2.4 M CDBG funds used land acquisition ($1M “planning and design” without City        Council’s knowledge in August 2014 till his Press Conference in November 2014))

$100,000 for “Planning and Design”

$250,000 to explore alternative sites for this fire station. We don’t know how this amount was expended in 2011.

$1.0 M for “Planning & Design”  2015-2016

Caldwell is requesting from the City Council this year:

$6.7 M for Construction this budget year     2016-2017 ( REQUESTING)

$1.0 M from CDBG funds         2016-2017 (REQUESTING)

 How much more will be requested for cost-overrun? Mayor Queen Antoinette Caldwell is forcing the people to eat cake when they are asking for bread.
em collage 1
Have you seen this PR stonewall tactic used at other Neighborhood Board meetings? Mayor Caldwell’s Representative ended up not having to explain or provide a good answer to the public on April 14, 2016 Neighborhood Board Meeting.
~ ~ ~



“Mayor Kirk Caldwell No Damn Good!”

“Mayor Kirk Caldwell No Damn Good!”

Generally, Hawaii’s kupuna are really cool and full of aloha. But when they say that someone is “No Damn Good”,  you know their patience has run out.

 Iseke-Lessary City Hall

REPRINT from North Shore News March 30, 2016  – Three Kupuna’s Open Letter to  City Council Chair Martin to set the Mayor Caldwell’s fiscal priorities straight.

Dear City Council Chair Ernie Martin,

You represent our district. We want to Keep the Country Country. We don’t want a huge $13 Million “Kapolei/Ewa Beach firehouse” model in our small rural community of Hauula. We already have a fire station in Hauula. The firefighters are doing a good job.

We need your help to put an end to this shibai. It has been going since 2009.

Please do not approve the $6.7 Million that Mayor Caldwell wants you to borrow towards this $13 Million firehouse relocation. We are not against new buildings but everything about this project is wrong. Many in the firefighting profession are scratching their heads over this too. Even the civil emergency people question this location by the tsunami inundation zone.

You already know Mayor Caldwell’s pilau MO. Mayor Caldwell is forcing this $13 Million fire station relocation to reward his donors with big contracts.

Mayor no damn good

Here are some of our reasons against Mayor Caldwell’s pet project:

We collected over 1,400 signatures/letters against this relocation project. But Mayor Caldwell ignores us and is still forcing this relocation projects down our throats.

We have an ongoing lawsuit against this project in the federal court. But Mayor Caldwell is still spending and asking for more millions of dollars.

The Mayor hired “expert” consultant from Oakland California (!) to claim that the “Ewa Beach Fire Station” model (built in January 2013} for Oahu’s growing Second City as “very appropriate” for the small rural community of Hauula. We want to KEEP THE COUNTRY COUNTRY!  Hauula is not Kapolei.

EM -Hauula-Kapolei

The Mayor hired another “expert” consultant to claim that the City needed to build a bigger fire station to house bigger fire engines – “fire engines have gone from being 8-feet wide, 25-feet long, weighing 9 tons to being 8 feet wide, 32-feet long, and weighing 23 tons. As fire apparatuses continue to increase in size, providing for access, and enough space for circulation and maneuvering have become important issues for fire station design.”

But the ‘expert’ does not know our old country roads in rural Hau’ula has not increased in size! Hau’ula has existing problems with small and narrow country roads that smaller city garbage trucks could not even ingress or egress. Garbage trucks also have trouble with low-hanging electrical lines.

We live next door to this proposed site and their hired EA consultant never consulted with us or told us about this project in their Environment Assessment” review. The Mayor used $2.4 Million federal HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds towards this project. The purpose of the CDBG funds is “to help improve the quality of life and create economic opportunities for its recipients”.

But, Mayor Caldwell has shut down the Recycling Center that provided income for many in low-and-moderate income Hau’ula. In fact, our homeless recycle to buy themselves a hot meal daily. Many do not own vehicles. The next nearest recycling center is in Kahalu’u (about a 40 minutes bus ride) or Haleiwa (about a 40 minutes bus ride). City buses do not allow bags of cans and other recyclables. Da Bus does not allow bulky bags of recyclables.


Caldwell’s closing of the last two commercial-zoned lots will shut out significant economic opportunities for other small business start-ups such as small country stores, recycling, and farmer’s market. Our Hauula neighbors have also tried to sell the fish they catch, pastele, flower leis, laulau plates and other products on Hau’ula road shoulders only to be chased away by the police for zoning violations.

em collage 1

It’s pilau to abuse CDBG funds to hurt entrepreneurial options for low-and-moderate income Hau’ula by shutting these last two commercial-zoned parcels. This means that the economic opportunities are forever squashed. The welfare of this low¬ and-moderate income rural community worsens. HUD CDBG funds are meant to improve lives, not create more hardships and problems for its fund recipients.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell violated the “Reasonableness” in this process.  As of the 2010 Census, the COP population for

               HAUULA was  4,148        Has a firehouse

               KAHUKU was  2,614       Has a firehouse

              KA’A’AWA was  1,379      Has a firehouse

              LAIE was 6,138               NEVER had a firehouse

All the above communities have fire stations except Laie. Laie has thousands of tourists at the Polynesian Cultural Center daily. Laie has constructed new BYU-Hawaii single and married student dormitories, classrooms and office facilities. Laie Hawaii Reserves has the new Courtyard Marriott, McDonalds, the new PCC Marketplace with 44 retail shops, new gas station, new student dormitories for Brigham Young University-Hawaii, new Married Student complexes and other income projects.

Despite all the new income construction and population explosion in Laie, the Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga (close affiliate with Mayor Hannemann) and LCA Board Member Junior Ah You (a member of the Mufi for Governor Exploratory Committee) actively petitioned in 2010, over the opposition of the Hauula Community Board and the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Chair to build a firehouse on our last two commercial parcels in Hau’ula. It’s the Kahuku Fire Station that primarily serves Laie.

The politically well-connected Laie Community Association (LCA) did not advocate for its own obvious and compelling fire safety needs in Laie. Hawaii Reserves in Laie and LCA board members were collecting petitions for the fire station in Hauula.

The Laie Community Association and Hawaii Reserves, Inc over-reached to shut down our last two business-zoned lots in Hauula! But Laie gets to build more and more income facilities. We get no income opportunities in Hauula but a non-income fire mansion with engines that will wake us up any time of the day and night.

The city did not consider the compelling need for a public firehouse (albeit non-income producing) in for Laie community, the most dense population without a fire station in the Ko’olauloa region. Our 100-year-old 2-lane country Kam Hwy can regularly cut off traffic and isolate communities from each other. All we need is a fallen electric pole or tree or an accident or waves. It happens all the time.

Additionally, the major compelling complaints for “public safety” have been the lack of police protection. Ko’olauloa has a sub-station in Kahuku with four police officers. The next nearest police station is in Kaneohe which is about 40 minutes away to the south and the Wahiawa police station which is about 45 minutes away on the north. There are eight (8) existing fire stations on the same stretch.

Lack of fire facilities have never been a complaint here. There have been complaints of lack of fire hydrants in many pockets of Ko’olauloa. A case in point happened with a domestic fire in Punalu’u on March 23, 2011. Thirty-five (35) fire-fighters, five (5) engines, two (2) ladder-trucks, a water tanker truck and a fire battalion chief responded very quickly but could not effectively protect the public due to lack of basic infrastructure- water hydrants.

Many neighborhood pockets in this rural region do not have fire hydrants. This is a major setback for our firemen and a major public safety concern.

Mayor Hannemann and Mayor Caldwell used federal CDBG funds to force this project but dissed the Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and low¬ Income populations” that involves the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of All people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

“FAIR TREATMENT” means that no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, government and commercial operations. It’s our opinion that Hawaii Reserves, Inc. does not want to provide its valuable land for non-income public facilities but expect other communities to bear the responsibility for them.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell violated the basic rule of “Rule of Reason”. A standard firehouse in Hawaii and many metropolitan cities uses 19,000 square feet of land space. The new Moiliili-McCully Fire Station was built on 19,555 sq. ft. of land and estimated at $4.6 Million.

Similarly, the Wahiawa Fire Station located at 640 California Ave sits on only 20,000 sq. ft. of land, was demolished and replaced. The Relocation of the Hauula Fire Station to relocate an existing fire station ( 2 minutes away) in Hauula is estimated at $10 Million (and increased to $13M) that required the forced condemnation of the last two commercial lots of 20,297 sq. ft. and 20,296 sq. ft. in the small RURAL community of Hau’ula.

Mayor Hannemann/Caldwell have many superior options and alternatives for their relocation than shutting down the last two commercial-zoned lots in Hauula. The only reason we can think of Mayor Caldwell forcing this relocation project on us is he owes a big building contract to his donors.

Please help Mayor Caldwell be pono and bring common sense decisions back to City Hall. Be fair and don’t waste money that we don’t have.

DELETE Mayor Caldwell’s request for $6.7 Million for 2016-2017. Put a stop for this $13 Million “Nieman Marcus” firehouse once and for all. Keep the Country Country! City Council Chair Ernie Martin, please help us.


                                             Malama pono,

Marvin Iseke  808 293 9525

Shirley Ann Lessary

Alice Ubando


Oahu General Plan Provides Diversification & Sustainability

Ko'olau Region Larry McelhenyPublished March 5, 2015 Civil Beat http://www.civilbeat.org/2015/03/oahu-general-plan-provides-diversification-and-sustainability/

Who can quarrel that “diversification” is essential for long-term dividends and sustainability?

Within a typical business portfolio, diversification mixes a variety of investments as part of a risk management strategy.

Similarly, the Oahu General Plan provides such diversification by designating regions like Ko’olauloa as “rural country”, counter balancing high-density regions regions like urban Honolulu.

In fact, Hawaii is the only state in the Union that has an over-all comprehensive land-use plan and designations. The “Hawaii State Plan” HRS §226 – aim for wise use of Hawaii’s resources and to guide future development of the State. It includes providing a basis for determining priorities and allocating limited resources, such as public funds, services, human resources, land, energy, water, and other resources.

On the county level, the “General Plan” is a requirement of the City Charter.  The desirable future for the Island of Oahu is organized through deliberations on the long-range social, economic, environmental, and design objectives for the general welfare and prosperity of the people of Oahu.

This General Plan balances eight (8) different diversified regional plans for the island of Oahu.

  1.        Primary Urban Center
  2.        Central Oahu
  3.        Ewa (Secondary Urban Center)
  4.        East Honolulu (Urban Fringe)
  5.        Ko’olaupoko (Urban –Fringe)
  6.        Ko’olauloa  (Rural)
  7.        North Shore (Rural)
  8.        Waianae (Rural)

 General plan map

The Oahu General Plan designates Ko’olauloa  as RURAL where “agricultural lands are preserved for agricultural uses,” with “the ‘ahupuaa concept as the organizing basis for land use planning and natural resource management in Ko’olau Loa.”

It further specifies that Koolauloa’s natural resources and predominantly “rural” character should be maintained by allowing only limited development in established communities, and that agricultural lands along the Windward be maintained for diversified agriculture. Open space and view planes are also valued.


Bill 47 –  Mayor Mufi Hannemann/Caldwell’s Footprint:

The current Bill 47 is the 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell Draft of Koolauloa Sustainable Communities Plan (KSCP).  This 2010 Hannemann/Caldwell KSCP Draft contradicts  the values and vision as outlined in the 1999 KSCP , the Oahu General Plan, and Hawaii 2050 Plan.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann unilaterally inserted the new subdivision at Malaekahana  into the 2010 KSCP Draft just before he resigned to run for the 2010 gubernatorial race. His Managing Director Kirk Caldwell became the Acting Mayor.

This Hannemann/Caldwell 2010 Draft created much friction and push back from Ko’olauloa residents.

Moving the Community Growth Boundary to Malaekahana for 875 homes, a regional commercial center, industrial, technology parks, schools, and vacation cabins on 900 acres (now 300) of agricultural lands obviously violates the KSCP and Oahu General Plan.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell Follows Mufi’s  Footsteps:

Mayor Kirk Caldwell continues his support for a new subdivision in Malaekahana based on alleged “overwhelming support for affordable housing and that it could be provided by HRI” and that “Envision Laie is a long range proposal to grow the Brigham Young University of Hawaii (BYUH) and associated support services.”

Furthermore, Caldwell also supports the highly controversial Koa Ridge and Ho’opili subdivisions by arguing it is in the Oahu General Plan that was initiated in the 1970s.

Factually, the rural KSCP that they chose to violate has also been in the same Oahu General Plan since the 1970s! He cannot decide when to wave the Oahu General Plan card or when to ignore it.

Honolulu Rail and the “Keep the Country Country” Rationale.

KTCC photo

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other rail advocates have repeatedly urged residents to support the Honolulu Rail   in order to “Keep the Country Country” (to  contain urban sprawl by concentrating development along the 21-mile rail corridor).

This rationale for the Honolulu Rail and Transit-Oriented development in order to “Keep the Country Country” continues to be marketed today.

We now respectfully ask Mayor Kirk Caldwell and others to be consistent and to walk the talk.

City Council Zoning and Planning Chair Anderson Corrects the Course:

We are heartened that the City Council Planning & Zoning Committee Chair Ikaika Anderson has amended Bill 47 to now conform to the letter and spirit of the existing KSCP and the Oahu General Plan.

This is a welcome action on many different levels.

This Honolulu City Council has the opportunity to stem the divisiveness and pilikia amongst Laie residents and the entire Ko’olauloa moku on this issue alone.

The common complaint has been that Mayor Mufi Hannemann offered special treatment to Laie due to his close affiliations.

Envision Ko’olauloa, not  Envision Laie.

These amendments, that many see as positive, to remove Malaekahana from the KSCP Draft will turn a page and heal the rift and angst.


The City Council’s pono leadership to make things right will help restore respect  and neighborliness along the Ko’olauloa region.

Above all, it will present new opportunities for hopeful residents to explore realistic goals for personal temporal well-being instead of depending on HRI’s perennial enticements that have not come to fruition in decades. The carrot stick of “affordable housing   is dangled whenever Zions Securities/HRI needs community support for its own profit schemes. Imagine, if the faithful hopefuls had bought homes 20 years ago, their mortgage would have been nearly paid off today.

Adhere to the Oahu General Plan:

The Oahu General Plan is not perfect but it provides land-use diversification and sustainability for our small island home.

If the State and County land use principles are adhered to, much of the divisiveness can be easily avoided and communities can turn attention to collaborative projects that benefit the majority of the public.

The City Council’s correction of this controversial deviation from the General Plan will set a pono path for the future of Ko’olauloa.

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 2 of 3)



The theme, “The Responsible City”, was chosen by the City Charter Commission when it presented the revised City Charter to the voters in 1972. A major component of this concept is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City shall properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens.

However, the initiative for action must come from the people themselves. While neighborhoods and neighborhood boards were established under the Charter as a means to increase and assure effective citizens participation, their creation and implementation are optional.

The Neighborhood Plan, which designates boundaries and provides for neighborhood formation, leaves many decisions open to the community so that an individually designed approach, suited to each neighborhood can be implemented.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.” https://www1.honolulu.gov/nco/office.htm

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28  was one of the first to be formed in the 1970s under the leadership of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

In 2013, the members of the Koolauloa Board #28 were voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61%  in the last election.

DSC08368May 8, 2014 meeting at the Hauula Elementary School

Unfortunately, Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 has recently been plagued with citizens’ complaints of violations due to lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

On  December 7, 2010, the Hawaii Independent reported the City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Commission issued  a FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECISION AND ORDER  on the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28:

” .  . .  the commission ruled that the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, on the day it voted to support Envision Laie, unintentionally violated Hawaii Sushine Laws by not allowing everyone the chance to testify at the special meeting. Junior Primacio and Richard Fale were the board chairs in charge that day in 2009.

Other infractions, which the commission labeled as “serious and deleterious to the neighborhood board system,” included the use of sign-up sheets that were removed either before or during the meeting and the non-consideration of written testimony before the board took its 7-to-4 in favor vote.

In addition to receiving a letter of reprimand, the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, if it wishes to take a stand on the project, must schedule another meeting and allow all written and oral testimony to be received, reviewed, and considered before taking a vote.”

On November 14,  2013, a similar presentation relating to the same issue was presented by the long-time Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga ( who is also  the District Representative with the Operating Engineers Local Union 3):

 VII.       NEW BUSINESS 10 Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Presentation by La`ie Community Association (LCA) Seeking Board Support for Envision La`ie and Ko`olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – Pane Meatoga, Jr., LCA President


The LCA presentation continued on to December 9, 2013 whereby the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 took a vote to support the above agenda. The outcome was predicted as reported.

Subsequently,   three complaints against the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were filed at the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission. Hearings for  Marvin Iseke, Andrea Nixt and Lea Minton vs the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were set for May 28, 2014 at the Honolulu Hale Committee Room at 6:00 pm.

DSC08631NB #28 Chair Verla Moore in blue with 80-year-old Hauula kupuna Marvin Iseke in striped shirt.

Ko’olaulau residents contend that former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his Managing Director Kirk Caldwell,  provided preferential treatment to Hawaii Reserves Inc. in Laie by unilaterally inserting the “Envision Laie” development plan into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan in 2010. (However, it should be noted that many in Laie oppose the Envision Laie but prefer not to publicly voice their opinions, for whatever reasons.)

Residents also allege that current  Chair Verla Moore, also a member of the Laie Community Association Board,  plays favoritism as to who can have a presentation at board meetings.

Residents contend that  generally no prior efforts were expended to evaluate these matters in a careful and non-discriminating way. No information gathering or research was expended. They perceive an entrenched bloc vote that  ignores all the other communities in Ko’olauloa.

Alleged violations presented at the May 28, 2014 hearing included the following:

 §2-13-104 Standards of conduct. (a) Board members, in the performance of their duties, shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct, to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of the neighborhood board system. Board members shall hold their offices or positions for the benefit of the public, shall recognize that the public’s interest is their primary concern, and shall faithfully discharge the duties of their offices regardless of personal considerations.

(b) Board members shall not use their positions to secure or grant special consideration, treatment, advantage, privilege, or exemption to themselves or any person beyond that which is available to every other person.
(c) Board members are not officers or employees of the city by reason of their position. However, the standards of conduct policy shall apply to all board members. [Eff 10/20/08] (Auth: RCH §14-103(a)) (Imp: RCH §14-104)

§2-13-107 Representative capacity of board members. (a) Each member of a board shall represent the entire district and act responsibly to fulfill the board’s democratic and advisory duty.


Yet, on December 9, 2013 Verla Moore KNB #28 Chair and her bloc adopted a Resolution to support her own Laie Association’s request to support Envision Laie and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan against all opposition in the region.

The Neighborhood Board members who voted to support the Laie Community Association’s request had not read the Environmental Studies as well as the voluminous facts and circumstances surround this controversial issue. You can see this on the video tape. They just accepted Pane Meatoga’s words as facts. Residents are given very limited opportunities to talk and not allowed to ask questions.

The Neighborhood Commission Hearings lasted about four hours.  Anita Hofschneider from Civil Beat reported parts of it:

DSC08596Complainant Andrea Nixt from Ka’a’awa with Laie Community President Pane Meatoga in the background.

The conflict played out again Wednesday evening when Andrea Anixt from Kaaawa, Lea Minton from Punaluu and Marvin Iseki from Hauula contested the board’s December endorsement of the latest version of the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan in a four-hour-long hearing before the Neighborhood Commission at Honolulu Hale.

Anixt, Minton and Iseke said the board members who voted for the project failed to represent the interests of the Koolau Loa community as a whole. They also said several members had conflicts of interests because they or their family members are employed by BYU-Hawaii and HRI.

The board’s chairwoman, Verla Moore, vehemently denied the allegations, saying that the board painstakingly ensured that all the rules were followed.

She emphasized that the homes would be for the “poor and unknown,” instead of for rich people like GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman, who made headlines that day for purchasing a $9.2 million property on the North Shore.

She suggested that the three residents who criticized the board appeared to be haole while many on the board were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

“You look at my board members, you look at their faces. I go back 150 years here,” Moore said to the commission. “You look at our opposition. When did they come here? 10 years ago?”

“We let you in, let us guys stay,” she added.

Minton, who testified next on behalf of the Defend Oahu Coalition, said she was born and raised in Hawaii and went to Kahuku High School.

“We’re not here to discuss white people versus Hawaiians,” Minton said. “When you sit in a position of power and you’re elected to that neighborhood board, you’re there to represent everybody.”


Lea Minton disclosed that she received threatening phone calls, including to her employer to fire her for testifying at the  October 8, 2013 City Council hearing at Kahuku High School. She also received a death threat.

Unfortunately, Minton further pointed out being harassed by a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 on the way to the Hearing that night .  That particular board member apologized later at the hearing, explaining he had had a hard day.

The Neighborhood Board Commission is slated to render their decision within 45 days.

If Mayor Frank Fasi were alive today, he would probably continue to be proud of his accomplishment in providing a public forum for the grassroots. Fasi would understand that democracy could get messy but he would probably have a few choice words about uncalled-for bullying behavior. All in all, he would be happy to see citizens participate and pursue clarifications and redress when and where needed.




Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 1 of 3)


Mayor Frank Fasi established one of the nation’s largest elected neighborhood board systems for Honolulu in the 1970s. Its purpose was to encourage civic participation.

Fasi certainly helped create the ideal environment for a robust and healthy interaction between grassroots constituents and their elected officials:

The Neighborhood Board is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City can properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens. Through the Neighborhood Board system, every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. The system applies the concept of participatory democracy, involving communities in the decisions affecting them. It establishes an island wide network of elected neighborhood boards as communication channels, expanding and facilitating opportunities for community and government interaction.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.

Because I live in the Ko’olauloa area, I’ll conveniently focus on the  Ko’olauloa  Neighborhood Board #28.

KNB5-8-14 Board meeting at Hauula Elementary School – May 8, 2014

The members of the Koolauloa Board #28 was voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61% in the last election. This lack of participation is unequivocally an issue that needs discussion.

The most recent Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting was sparsely attended.


Perhaps, it was the May 8, 2014 agenda content that did not garner much attention:

VII.NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

A. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

B. Bus Stop Volunteer Program – Department of Transportation, Public Transit Division          Representative

The  above Laie board member had missed three meetings during the year and his absence that night was an additional absence.  Laie representatives Kela Miller and Gaylene Nikora Lolofie defended Ta’ala with the premise that Ta’ala was not present to explain the reasons for his absences and to allow Ta’ala the opportunity to explain at the following meeting before any action is taken.

The Bus Stop Volunteer Program had a bureaucrat encouraging constituents to assist in building and bus-stops maintenance for free labor.

Other issues like the controversial Honolulu City Council  Bill 47 that amends the 1999 Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan to include  the proposed new subdivision ” Enviision Laie” at Gunstock, located at Maleakahana, Kahuku and the expansion of the Turtle Bay Resort certainly garnered attention.


June 8, 2014 may turn up to be a sleeper meeting again. The agenda for new business is as follows:

VIII.      NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

  1. Board Action: Member Norman Thompson, III Three (3) Absences for the Year

  2. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 meetings are aired on`Olelo Broadcasting Television –  the 4th Friday at 9:00 p.m. on Channel 49, and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday at 12:00 noon on Channel 54.  Citizens can watch these board meetings any time on http://www.Olelo.org and click “On Demand”.


Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Displays Little Democratic Party Values

16848-950221d4ad080c85d688e4229b4f722d06234e80ce106aae257ec951_w-240_px                                                                                                     Photo by Dr. Chad Blair, Civil Beat

Civil Beat’s article by Marsha Rose Joyner  about the hard-fought values of the Democratic Party included the above photo with Kirk Caldwell taking center stage at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Party Convention.

I’m sorry to say but Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s governance style at City Hall is an affront to basic democratic values. The Democratic Party prides itself in being a voice for the unprivileged and underserved.  Caldwell is doing the opposite.

Here are a few of my reasons:

While the Mayor talks a lot about homelessness and wants to spend millions of dollars addressing it,  he does not talk about aggravating homelessness in Kahuku, Ko’olauloa.

It makes no sense to spend millions of dollars to create new housing programs for homelessness in one area and turn around to create more homelessness in another.


About 31 Kahuku Plantation Camp families are being evicted because Caldwell refuses to collaborate with the Honolulu City Council.  Generally, landlord-tenant issues are private but there are long-standing obligations and promises made to these plantation workers. Caldwell’s cope-out excuse was that  the land owner Continental Pacific LLC ( CP) was a ‘private owner’.

It’s important to note that the decision to fund monies to create a solution for the Kahuku Plantation Camp controversy was approved, by an unanimous City Council vote.  Mayor Caldwell dismissed the Council’s efforts. Residents continue to be of the mind that the Mayor refused to help because the attorney, Lex Smith, representing CP was his former campaign chair. The Mayor denied any undue influence or conflict of interests.


The  evicted Salanoa family dwelling above has been promptly sold to a new cash buyer.  It has since been stripped to bare bones and will be renovated. The Kahuku plantation families are scrambling. Their families and friends are bending backwards to provide temporary shelter. Gentrification – where the more affluent is pushing out the less affluent – is happening quickly at the Kahuku Plantation Camp.


The Mayor is also known for his relentless raiding of homeless tents in Honolulu.  The photo above shows a  Honolulu homeless woman who had to travel all the way to the Halawa Maintenance Yard to collect her seized items with a borrowed truck. It cost her $200 to reclaim her items. Homeless citizens have been methodically chased from the beaches, parks and pushed onto sidewalks and highway ducts. Some homeless people have taken to the forests and less open places.

The Mayor’s  incessant raids on the homeless included odd hours like 3 o’clock in the morning. A Mayor’s representative once explained his compassion by saying that they usually raided tents late at night.   I suppose that 3:00 am is not late at night! It’s simply during the time period where most people enjoy the deepest sleep.

It’s been estimated that about $1M has been expended to play cat-and-mouse raiding on the tents around Thomas Square with the De-Occupy group. This group’s goal was to  focus attention on homelessness solutions.  Ironically, the Mayor’s solution to the sidewalk blockage by those tents was to install planter boxes that also blocked the same sidewalk. A willingness to sit at the conversation table with the De-Occupy group would probably have saved the city significant amount of expenses.

Persecuting the homeless and raiding of tents is not a long-term approach. It’s time to give up status quo approaches by collaborating with independent voices to help work out solutions rather than relentlessly persecuting the most vulnerable in society with no viable solution in hand.


Adding to his disjointed policies, the Mayor also dispatched the Halawa Maintenance crew of about a dozen city workers, six policemen, a front-end loader and a commercial dump truck  to our property in Hauula in May and October of 2013.


The Mission – to raid our free speech signs and installed the above posting to shut down our private business with Reynolds Recycling in October 2014.  It was a retaliatory show of force and intimidation in our ongoing eminent domain case on this parcel, of which we’re still the fee owners.


Consequently, the Reynolds Recycling in Hauula on our Lot was shut down because of the retaliatory posted sign at 54-282 Kamehameha Highway, Hauula, 96717 . The photo above showed a Hauula homeless man walking his recyclables to the next nearest  Kahuku recycling site (about a six-mile distance) on the day the recycling center was shut down by Caldwell.


Many called Caldwell’s office to protest. He quickly requested the Reynolds Recycling to return but this time on the city-owned Lot next door.

However,  the Mayor did not disclose that his was a temporary measure. Should the Mayor be allowed to build his Neiman Marcus Fire Station replacement in rural Hauula, the last two commercial-zoned lots with recycling  and other small business opportunities will be gone forever!

Many homeless people in Hauula collect recycle items daily to afford a daily hot meal at the grocery stores. Others are also hoping for inexpensive commercial-zoned spots for country stores and entrepreneurial ideas. Yet, the Mayor refuses to explore other alternative sites for the firehouse relocation when the past Mayor Peter Carlisle was willing to do.

Affected Residents were denied due process.  Residents complained that if they were in Kahala, they would not receive this shoddy treatment. They were never informed and consulted up to today about the controversial Hauula Fire Station relocation proposal. They continued to be ignored despite over 1,200 signatures opposing the process. The Mayor’s spokesman continued to disperse disinformation about the owners being uncooperative. The truth is even if the owners DONATED the land to the city, due process to the affected residents still had to be provided.

Despite vigorous protests against the project, Caldwell has hired an experienced litigator to vigorously pursue the eminent domain case in court. The obligatory costs to the city to the defendants are presently at least 700% more than was represented to the City Council by Land Chief Thomas Miyata.

The Mayor has also included two extra city litigators to his free speech violations court case.

The above are a few selected reasons  why I believe Mayor Kirk Caldwell is an affront to basic values of the Democratic Party. It’s unsettling to see Caldwell in the center stage of  Hawaii Democratic Party whose touted pride includes being a champion of the little people.

The Mayor’s behavior at City Hall engenders injustice that none of us can be proud of. His behavior cannot be ignored, for if we’re neutral in situations of injustice, we become the enablers.








Surf, Aloha Aina, and Dustin Barca for Mayor


Even Paradise has elections!
Politics in Kauai, the only island that was not conquered by King Kamehameha the Great, just got a little more exciting with Dustin Barca’s recent announcement to run for Mayor.
Barca’s FACEBOOK announcement on May 8, 2014: 
IT IS OFFICIAL LADIES AND GENTLEMAN !!!!! BARCA 4 MAYOR!!! — WE just pulled papers to Run for Mayor of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau . With Mayor Bernard Carvalho Making such BAD decisions for the Future of OUR Home and Kids. WE are Left with NO other choice but to Take his Chair and BRING IT BACK TO THE PEOPLE OF KAUA’I!! WE are up against Big Corporations with MAYOR CARVALHO NUMBER 1 SUPPORTERS BEING DOW,SYNGENTA, BASF, DUPONT/PIONEER AND FARIAS CATTLE. IT’S GONNA BE A UPHILL FIGHT. But WE Have Never Been One To Turn Down A Good Challenge! OUR GOALS ARE PURELY INTENTIONAL FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN, OUR CULTURE AND OUR NATURAL RESOURCES! WE are Not Politicians , WE are just Average people like everybody else. WE Know that it is Now or Never for our future. TIME TO THINK GLOBAL AND ACT LOCAL. GROW FOOD.RESTORE THE CULTURE. RESTORE AND PROTECT OUR WATER . CRACK DOWN ON DRUGS. I Am Dustin Barca And I Approve This message.= #akuaisthyguide #barca4mayor #time4change #alohaaina #alohaainawarrior #thinkglobalactlocal #holyshit #bethechange
On a larger scale, Dustin Barca, married with children (and hundreds of nephews and nieces) will take on what fathers naturally do – protect their children and assuring the future will be better for them.
A few days before his filing for the Mayor’s position, there had been posts reflecting widespread disappointments in the disconnect between government and its people in his Facebook: 
Dustin Barca
May 1
It is with deep regret and disappointment we announce the indefinite deferral (death) of the last two good agriculture and food bills in Hawaii. They just killed the local food security bill SB524 and SB2110 pesticide inspector/outreach bill. Guess our legislature doesn’t even care. Conferees all absent but good Rep. Wooley and bad pro-GMO Senator Nishihara…
“I found it very difficult and frustrating to see so many good bills die for no reason when they were going to support food security and food sustainability,” said Representative Wooley after the hearing.
Not a single pesticide or GMO related bill survived, despite the many promises of legislators and Governor Abercrombie, as an empty promise and attempt to derail County ordinances to regulate where the state repeatedly refuses, during county pesticide and GMO proceedings. SB524 and SB2110 are dead. The conferees didn’t even bother to show up so without quorum both bills were DEFERRED INDEFINITELY. Souki killed the dog meat ban bill. They killed the ivory ban (HB493) bill, the pesticide inspector bill died, GMO labeling, the local food policy bill, the taro preservation bill and of course, the clean elections bill. Our legislature is almost useless.
No funding or good bills for irrigation, pesticides or livestock feed.
This place needs a full sweep top to bottom. There are very few legislators left who seem to really care at all about food or agriculture in Hawaii. We will tell you who the few good are.
Are they here to do something or nothing? They have done NOTHING meaningful for food security this year aside from small kine invasive species bill, nothing.
Words cannot express how disappointed we are in our State government today. Sometimes it seems completely worthless, which is why we MUST STAND UP FIGHT BACK REGISTER AND GET READY TO VOTE THE FUTURE OF HAWAII DEPENDS ON YOU.
Barca’s background as an accomplished surfer and mixed-martial arts fighter will further define his environment activism for a clean and sustainable island home, now and the future. 
Dustin Barca  will literally embark on his mayoral campaign with a race –  by paddling from Ke’e to Polihale. Barca will then run around the island, from Polihale to Ke`e, from May 29 – June 1
He will stop along the way to honor some of Kauai’s significant historical areas, talk-story with  the community and find out more about their concerns and dreams for Kaua‘i. This high-energy journey will conclude with a pa`ina (gathering with food!) to be held on
Sunday, June 1,
 2-8 pm in Hanalei. 
Chances are high that Barca will not receive “big-money” donations from corporations or monied special interests. Without a huge war chest for relentless television and radio campaign advertisements and other propaganda, it will be up to the grassroots to convince and rally the whole island of Kauai to win this “Aloha Aina” battle. 
It’s in Kauai and its people’s DNA to come off the conqueror, again!
Credit: All photos from Barca’s FACEBOOK