Choon James is a real estate broker in Hawaii and has a B.A. in English and TESL as a minor from Brigham Young University - Hawaii. She's the proud mother of four Eagle Scouts and one daughter.
Choon is originally from Singapore. She comes from a family of ten children. Her mother was the second of her father's three wives. In the Chua household, they have Methodists, Catholics, Buddhists, Mormons, atheist and Taoist believers.
"We're fortunate to grow up with diversity. My father’s best friend, Chandra, was a Hindu Indian who spoke Hokkien. My best childhood friends at school were Malay Muslims. We learned to focus on the merits and content very quickly and forget about the superficial exteriors.
Like many in Hawaii, our immediate household is quite chop-suey as well. My husband is a Caucasian born in North Dakota and grew up in Massachusetts. In our immediate household, English, Mandarin, Fijian, Japanese, Hawaiian, Tahitian, French, and Spanish can be spoken.
We love Hawaii. Its diversity and aloha represent the best in all of us!"
Choon's past and present civic involvement includes the following:
Defend Oahu Coalition - Founding member for Grassroots for smart planning
Save Oahu Farmlands - Founding member
Ko'olauloa Sustainable Communities Planning Advisory Committee
Kahuku Hospital Board of Director
Laie Point Community Association President & Board Member
Laie Community Association Board
BYU-Hawaii/CCH Alumni Association President
Sierra Club Member
Refugees Language Tutor Volunteer
Amnesty International Freedom Writer
Friends of "South Pass City", Wyoming, USA
Boy Scouts of America
Host - Country Talk Story - Olelo Public Television
North Shore News columnist
Huffington Post Hawaii Blogger
This is a picture the Defense Department has never let the public see until now. This is a behind-the-scenes look at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen service members are prepared for burial. That includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.In this picture, Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for a U.S. Army pilot who was recently killed in Afghanistan.
There is a very specific process once a fallen service member is returned home. The bodies are flown back to the United States on a cargo jet. A team of service members wearing white gloves carry the flag-draped coffins to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.
The remains are washed, hands are scrubbed clean, and hair is shampooed. If necessary, the bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax. Sometimes, they will use photos. Sometimes, they just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in the faces and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes.
“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.”
Once the body is ready then the uniform is prepared. That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the uniform’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 bodies were arriving every day.
The embalmers often worked all night to get the bodies home on time. This can take an emotional toll on them, so the mortuary has a large gym to allow workers to blow off steam. Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are and by how many of them leave behind small children. That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers.
“If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”
The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket. Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “[The family is] not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor. It’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”Memorial Day is about these service members and the families they left behind.
This 18-year-old from Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii 96731 is now America’s post-covid therapist.
Iam (nickname for William) staked his grounds when he sang the more mellow version of James Blunt’s song “Monsters”. Iam’s version and his personal circumstances of losing his father at such a young age and of being priced out of Hawaii endeared him to the judges and the audience.
I have to admit that I’ve never heard of James Blunt until it was sung by Iam. But his powerful poetic words caught my attention.
Oh, before they turn off all the lights I won’t read you your wrongs or your rights The time has gone I’ll tell you goodnight, close the door Tell you I love you once more The time has gone So here it is I’m not your son, you’re not my father We’re just two grown men saying goodbye No need to forgive, no need to forget I know your mistakes and you know mine And while you’re sleeping I’ll try to make you proud So, daddy, won’t you just close your eyes? Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn To chase the monsters away Oh, well, I’ll read a story to you Only difference is this one is true The time has gone I folded your clothes on the chair I hope you sleep well, don’t be scared The time has gone So here it is I’m not your son, you’re not my father We’re just two grown men saying goodbye No need to forgive, no need to forget I know your mistakes and you know mine And while you’re sleeping I’ll try to make you proud So, daddy, won’t you just close your eyes? Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn To chase the monsters away Sleep a lifetime Yes, and breathe a last word You can feel my hand on your own I will be the last one So I’ll leave a light on Let there be no darkness, in your heart But I’m not your son, you’re not my father We’re just two grown men saying goodbye No need to forgive, no need to forget I know your mistakes and you know mine And while you’re sleeping I’ll try to make you proud So, daddy, won’t you just close your eyes? Don’t be afraid, it’s my turn To chase the monsters away
In the American Idol finale, James Blunt would share the stage to sing along with Iam. Enjoy it. It’s an inspiration to see the 18-year-old Kahuku High senior being supported and bolstered by the 49-year-old British superstar singer and poet. It’s sweet to see there’s ample humanity and level of intensity in these artists.
Coming from a close-knit community in rural Oahu and being part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kahuku High School and the Polynesian communities throughout the U.S. continent helped Iam too. The coconut wire did its job.
Local Hawaiian KITV followed and covered his journey from the beginning.
Iam has become America’s post-Covid Therapist.
It’s his easy-going, humble, and authentic self that endears him to his audience. Iam is simply one of the local kids here who attend school, attend church, went to community and church activities, hung around with his big gang of relatives, and neighborhood friends.
When the Tongi family decided to relocate to Federal Way, Washington, it couldn’t have been easy for this teenager. Not only did he have to leave his friends, he had to leave the Hawaiian weather behind. Like many in Hawaii, his big family was priced out of Hawaii due to the escalating costs of living where the average home price of a simple home is around $1 million.
One thing that may set Iam apart was he had a father who recognized the great potential in his musical gifts and future. He father worked hard to support and encourage the young boy. Iam lost his father and his aunty last year. During his young aunty’s hospice days, he would sing to her. Like most Americans, he also knew people who passed away from Covid-19.
Katy Perry, one of the American Idol Judges described Iam as such, “The sound in the room when Iam comes on is undeniable. He’s an undeniable character. He’s just kind of got this incredible magic. You almost can’t explain it. It’s an ‘It factor.’ It’s like you’re born to do this, and it’s undeniable.” Perhaps the “it factor” could be just his vulnerability and innocence of a nice cub scout who is kind and loves his family and music.
Bonus Information on “Monsters” composer James Blunt – the song that propelled Iam’s talent and background that set him apart from the rest of the American Idol contestants. Blunt’s depth in his life experiences and intellectualism mingled with musical talent is an interesting read:
Excerpted from MentalFloss.com – ” James Blunt was born February 22, 1974, at a military hospital in Tidsworth, Hampshire, England. His father, Charles, was a retired colonel in the Army Air Corps, and he wasn’t the first Blunt to serve his country. The family’s military history apparently extends back to the 10th century, when the Blunts first moved to England from Denmark.
Young James studied piano and violin before picking up the guitar at 14. He soon began writing songs and dreaming of a career in music. But first, he studied aerospace mechanical engineering—and later sociology, after changing majors—at Bristol University. Blunt’s education was paid for by the British Army, and as a result, he was required to serve four years. He trained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and later fought in the Kosovo War, which raged from 1998 to 1999.
Blunt’s troop was among the first British units to cross into Kosovo, and at one point, the future pop star was ordered by U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, to seize Kosovo’s Pristina airport, which had been taken by Russian soldiers. Blunt, who was a captain, disagreed with the order, for fear of escalating a conflict with Russia, and he told the BBC in 2010 that he would have declined General Clark’s order, even if it had meant a court martial.
As it happened, Blunt never had to defy Clark. British General Sir Mike Jackson wound up blocking the order. “I’m not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War III,” Jackson told Clark. While the BBC headline “Singer James Blunt ‘Prevented World War III’” is a touch hyperbolic, there’s at least some truth to the story.
After spending six months in Kosovo and witnessing many horrors related to the war, Blunt went to Switzerland for three months and had a much easier time. He became the skiing champion of the Royal Armoured Corps, and with his trusty guitar at his side, he charmed many a young lady. Toward the end of his military stint, Blunt began writing original songs, including the future single “No Bravery,” which was inspired by his time in Kosovo.”
Cities fall or city flourish on its budgetary health. Generally, the American public is not too enthusiastic with mathematics. Not much is questioned or vetted by the public.
Usually, there is hardly any outside attention on this 3-month review and approval process even though this is the fundamental infrastructure that keeps City Hall alive. This budget process is usually an in-house affair.
However, this year brings a lot of attention to the City Council’s 64% salary increase. Many in the public have submitted opposing testimony. Unfortunately, they have been told the issue is not on the agenda. The salary increase will become automatic come July 1, 2023 if the City Council does not question the Honolulu Salary Commission’s recommendation.
Department Directors or Deputy Directors present their annual budgets before the City Council Budget Committee. These proposals are voted upon by the entire council with three Readings and adopted.
Public residents who are particularly interested in obtaining funding for their special project may also advocate for their own. This year, I find it sad to watch a constituent from Waianae having to lobby hard for a public restroom! That should be a basic amenity for our communities.
The most significant chunk of the budget involves 22.96% is for Retirement and Pension Contributions. You can see more specific details on page 47 in this budget submission.
The debt service for the city is 19.26% – page 12.
Note also the Federal Funds too on the bottom of Page 1
Look for “planning and design” costs. It’s the basis for just about every proposed project. Whether a project is successfully completed or come to fruition or not, “planning and design” contracts are a basic initial requirement with many consultants involved.
For this year’s budget, there is a new $500,000 to plan and design a landfill on Oahu. But everything is still under wraps as to where the landfill site is going to be located. This landfill location search has a long history.
Fire stations are also a staple budget item yearly. There are new fire stations being built to replace older ones. It’s usually a new built and not a renovation project.
HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) announced today that the department acquired a new property, which will be the future site of the Waialua Fire Station.
The property was acquired from the Dole Food Company, Inc. and the sale is scheduled to close Friday, April 17. The property is located on Lot 463 at the corner of Waialua Beach Road and Goodale Avenue.
The new fire station will occupy more than 5.3 acres of land at a cost of $1,330,000. The acquisition commenced in July 2019 and took approximately 10 months to complete. The new fire station will replace the present Waialua Fire Station, which was built in 1933 and is located at 66-420 Haleʻiwa Road.”
But in 2023,KHON2 reported : “But in January 2022, HFD’s new administration realized the land was in a tsunami evacuation zone.
“There was an oversight on that property, basically it’s in a tsunami zone so we can’t build a fire station on that property,” said Acting Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Mokulehua.
“My first concern I guess is what you call oversight I call a lack of accountability and what will prevent that from the next place,” said a North Shore resident.”
The city budget has a long list of items. I’m not sure how much adoption is based on affinity trust or status quo or if there ever is a scalpel action to any of the requests with neutral vetting with priorities, needs, and wants.
The only public citizen that I know of who has been doggedly looking over the budget items is CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner Natalie Iwasa. Even then, her concerns are usually not taken into consideration.
Take a look at the budget. Flip through them. What do you think of the priorities? How much is spent on other areas? What about the Honolulu Rapid Transit expenses?
What about housing? Is it time for the city to define what affordable housing is? Who is the affordable housing for? How affordable is affordable? Those were the questions I posed in to the council.
What about road maintenance? With all the millions of dollars that have been poured into roadwork, shouldn’t the city ask for a work warranty from the contractors? That was my question posed to at one of the budget hearings.
Andrew T. Kawano, Director of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, at 768-3901. He has a very set fiscal philosophy. It continues to be tax and spend. Obviously his appointed position is to echo the Blangiardi Administration. Unfortunately, there is no appearance of a willingness to cut out any pork and insist on a lean spending.
We’ve been talking about and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) for quite a while. But this year is its major introduction to the public in a big way.
I finally opened an account today using a new gmail account because I’m not sure how intrusive this account may become. I also provided an alternate birthdate.
It’s impressive how AI can churn out information and responses in such speed. We know AI is the computerized gathering of data. But it’s still really impressive to me. It sounds like a human being even though it’s an artificial intelligence gathering data and then churning it all out in lightning speed. The artificial intelligence even can differentiate implications between a “work horse” versus a “show horse”. Some human beings can’t even do that.
Here is my first conversation. I’m teasing.
Aloha! My husband and I have been married for 40 years. He has the habit of buying old trucks and then run each one of these trucks into the ground. He will then repeat this cycle. He says that he doesn’t need a “show horse” but a “work horse” for his farm truck.
Aloha! It sounds like your husband has a specific preference when it comes to his choice of trucks. While some people prefer having newer vehicles or “show horses,” he seems to prioritize functionality and reliability by opting for older trucks that can withstand the demands of farm work.
There can be benefits to this approach. Older trucks often have simpler mechanical systems, making them easier and cheaper to maintain and repair. They may also have fewer electronic components, which can be advantageous in rugged farm environments where the risk of damage or malfunction is higher. Additionally, older trucks may have a more rugged design and be better suited for off-road or heavy-duty tasks.
However, it’s important to consider the potential downsides as well. Older trucks may be less fuel-efficient, emit more pollutants, and lack modern safety features found in newer vehicles. They might also require more frequent repairs and maintenance, which could add up in terms of time and money spent.
Ultimately, the decision to prioritize function over aesthetics is a personal one. As long as your husband’s trucks serve their intended purpose effectively and safely, his preference for “work horses” seems reasonable. It might be worth discussing any concerns you have about safety or environmental impact with him, and finding a balance that works for both of you.
Aloha. His ugly truck leaks oil on the driveway. I would like to solve this problem once and for all. I’m wondering which is the best solution: Get rid of my husband of 40 years or get rid of his very old truck.
I’m sorry to hear that the oil leak from your husband’s truck is causing frustration. It’s important to approach this situation with understanding and open communication, rather than considering extreme measures like ending a long-term relationship. Here are some alternative suggestions to address the issue:
Encourage maintenance and repairs: Discuss with your husband the importance of regular maintenance and repairs to address the oil leak. Sometimes, fixing a simple issue can significantly reduce or eliminate leaks. Offer support in finding a reliable mechanic or even learning some basic maintenance skills together.
Seek professional help: If the oil leak persists despite attempts at repair, consider consulting with a professional mechanic or automotive expert. They may be able to identify the root cause of the leak and suggest appropriate solutions. It’s possible that a specific part needs to be replaced or that there are underlying issues that require attention.
Explore eco-friendly alternatives: If the oil leak continues to be a concern and the truck is no longer meeting your needs, you can have a conversation with your husband about the possibility of considering a more eco-friendly alternative for the farm truck. This could involve exploring options like newer trucks with better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions or even considering electric vehicles if they are suitable for your farm needs.
Remember, relationships are built on understanding and compromise. Openly communicating your concerns and seeking mutually beneficial solutions will likely lead to a more positive outcome than contemplating drastic actions.
So, you think my husband of 40 years is more valuable than the old truck?
I apologize if my previous response seemed dismissive or gave that impression. The value of any relationship, especially one spanning 40 years, is significant and should not be easily discarded. Relationships are built on love, commitment, shared experiences, and a deep understanding of each other. They are often more important and valuable than material possessions.
In suggesting alternative solutions, my intention was to focus on finding a middle ground that addresses the issue at hand while preserving the relationship. It’s important to approach problems within a relationship with empathy and open communication, seeking compromise and understanding.
If the oil leak from the truck is causing significant issues and concerns, it would be helpful to have a conversation with your husband about finding a resolution that works for both of you. Discuss the impact the oil leak has on your daily life and the potential risks it poses. Together, you can explore possible solutions that may involve repairs, seeking professional help, or considering alternatives.
Remember, the goal is to find a solution that addresses the issue without sacrificing the valuable bond you share. Relationships require effort, understanding, and compromise, and it’s essential to approach any problem-solving with love and respect for one another.
I’m writing to you in jest. This is my first effort to participate in this ChatGPT.
Ah, I see! Thank you for clarifying that. It’s great to have a lighthearted and playful conversation. Feel free to ask any other questions or share any other topics you’d like to discuss. I’m here to help and engage in a friendly conversation.
Take care. I hope you will have some breaks to take a few power naps.
Thank you for your consideration! As an AI, I don’t require physical rest or naps, but I appreciate your kind wishes. I’m here 24/7 to assist you whenever you need. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out. Take care!
Social media can’t be all that bad. this is funny. Potholes are every where here in Hawaii.
It’s a mystery why we spend millions of dollars each year and we continue to have such problems. Mind you, we don’t even have to deal with snow or de-icing.
It I have my rathers, I would insist that there are warranties to these jobs. Companies must be confident enough of their work to provide a 5-year warranty. If there are potholes, the company has to fix their work within a week at its own expense.
There have been a lot of complaints on social media and at the Salary Commission Hearing about the 64% pay raise for the Honolulu City Council.
But it appears Chair Tommy Waters is going to deny the public for a City Council hearing and do nothing about their complaints. If the City Council does not adopt a Resolution to refute or reject or redo the salary figures, the recommended increases will automatically become in effect come July 1, 2023.
The Salary Commission adopted these schedule of salaries listed for the upcoming fiscal year:
Honolulu mayor: $209,856
Council chair: $123,292
Council members: $113,292
Prosecuting attorney: $198,888
First deputy prosecuting attorney: $189,096
Managing director: $200,712
Deputy managing director: $190,296
Corporation council: $192,864
First deputy corporation council: $183,220
Deputy heads: $187,488
Deputy department heads: $177,888
Police chief: $231,648
Deputy police chiefs: $220,944
Fire chief: $224,304
Deputy fire chief: $213,912
Medical examiner: $363,151
Deputy medical examiner: $354,161
Band director: $177,888
During the hearing before the recommendations were decided these testimonies were said:
“To actually give councilmembers who are at the office three times a week at the most a lot of them — a 90% pay increase? It’s just ignorance in my opinion and I cannot see that happening,” testified Alfred Medeiros.
“Every day citizens never receive 100% pay increases that’s beyond greedy. It makes you look very corrupt,” testified Jasmine Torres.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi also testified at the Salary Commission:
“They took pay cuts and they stepped up to the plate at a time when most people didn’t even want to think about what was going to happen,” said Blangiardi. “This was courageous on their part. I’ve been so humbled and inspired by them, and the work that they put in.”
“I think those people deserve a right to move into leadership roles but they’re not gonna move into the leadership rules,” said Mike Formby, city managing director. “If they have to take a pay cut it just doesn’t make sense.”
Two city council members have introduced two Resolutions to reject the 2023 Salary Commission’s recommendations for the pay raises.
Resolution23-81 REJECTS the ENTIRE Salary Commission’s recommendation. This will freeze the salaries as is.
“BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City and County of Honolulu that this body, by at least a three-quarters affirmative vote of its entire membership, rejects the entire resolution of the 2023 Salary Commission submitted to the City Council under Council Communication 111(2023) and the salary and salary schedule increases recommended therein; and . . .”
2. Resolution 23-82REJECTS IN PART Salary Commission’s recommendation.
” WHEREAS, the Council wishes to express its appreciation for the work of the 2023 Salary Commission, but concludes that the salary increases and salary schedule adjustments recommended by the 2023 Salary Commission for Fiscal Year 2023-24 should be rejected in part; ”
Some facts for clarifications:
If the city council does not adopt a resolution to reject the pay raise now, the recommendations of the Salary Commission will automatically become in effect on July 1, 2023.
Chair Tommy Waters has to put the above two resolutions in the Honolulu city Council Agenda pretty quickly. Will Waters promptly allow these two Resolutions or others to be on the Council agenda? Will he come up with his own resolution or let the clock run out?
Chair Tommy Waters publicly states that he’s “totally open to that idea” for the public to determine whether the city council position is a full-time or part-time job through a Honolulu City Charter amendment. Chair Tommy Waters, Vice-Chair Esther Kia’aina, and Budget Chair Radiant Cordera have publicly determined their position as “full-time”.
Through the decades, the position has always been respected as part-time and no council has asked for a huge salary raise based on the platform that it’s a “full-time” position. Former City Council member Ann Kobayashi, amongst others, has publicly said, “You run for public office, you know what the salary is, you know what the hours are, and you do the best you can and the public service. The point is not to get in there and try to change the salary.”
The public participation opportunity to approve the increase salary to “full-time” scale or not is obviously backward.
The City Charter amendment procedure as to whether the Council deserves “full-time” salary cannot be decided before the default date of July 1, 2023. The earliest the city charter amendment process can happen is at next year’s 2024 election ballot. Keep in mind again that this suggested amendment action is separate from #1 timeline.
It has always been the expectation that the city council position is a part-time salary. The council members have health benefits and other benefits. Each council member has 5 full-time staff, the Council Services, and the city departments to assist upon request.
The most recent confirmation of Rebecca Soon to the Honolulu Salary Commission can be viewed at the 4:03 video mark during the Council Hearing on January 25, 2023. The video shows the interactions between the council members and the nominee Soon about pay raises.
Rebecca aka Becky Soon has a lot of experience with Honolulu Hale as the latest addition to the Salary commission. Her father Ray Soon was Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Chief of Staff. Her mother Cheryl Soon held many positions, including Director of Department of Transportation Services and member of the 2018 Honolulu City Charter Review Commission.
The Honolulu Salary Commission:
The current Honolulu Salary Commission Chair is Malia Espinda. The Salary Commission is made up of commissioners nominated by the Mayor and the City Council in this arrangement: 3 members appointed by mayor, 3 members appointed by council, 1 member appointed by mayor & confirmed by council.
” Authorities are investigating the death of an acrobat, who fell while performing with her husband during a live flying-trapeze performance in Suzhou, China, last Saturday.
Videos of the graphic incident posted on social media showed that the couple was pulled high into the air from the ground by what appears to be a crane.
In the videos, the woman was later seen falling from reportedly more than 9m high, after her husband failed to catch her with his legs during the performance.”
This incident brought back childhood memories of a circus coming to Holland Village in Singapore. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old. We were living in a farm. I remember my lorry-driver father telling us that there was a tent circus coming. We obviously wanted to go but had no money to buy tickets for our big family of ten children.
Later, I remember my father coming home one night with the news that a girl acrobat had fallen to her death from a trapeze.
That news had a powerful imprint on me.
I can’t explain why I was so unequivocal about it. But I decided right there and then that it was not right for people with money to put others in dangerous situations just to entertain themselves.
Bill 21, authored by City Councilman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, asks for changes to the City County Housing Code to be consistent with the International Building Code (IBC) that allows windowless (no natural light and ventilation) housing units.
Santos-Tam, a construction industry lobbyist, said that the county needs to build 25,000 housing units and thus “optionality” is necessary in housing development. The statement begs many questions as to who these units are for and do we want Oahu to follow other countries’ values and standards. Is this about helping developers or is this about meeting the needs of our local residents?
Below is an excellent example of a local government worker with lots of expertise and experience standing up for the public good, rather than developers. Michael O Silva, speaking as a private citizen, should be commended for speaking up. His testimony is free from self-interests but filled with common sense and aloha for the ordinary local residents. Read the testimonies here.
Listen to Bill 21 here. It starts around the 1:46 mark.