Convening every 10 years, Maui County Charter Commission needs members

Press Release by County of Maui

WAILUKU, Maui, Hawaii-Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced today that applications are now being accepted for the Maui County Charter Commission, which is convened every 10 years. Deadline to apply is Wednesday, December 22, 2010.

The Charter Commission will begin meeting March 31, 2011.

Every 10 years, the Mayor, with the approval of the Council, appoints a Charter Commission composed of 11 members to study and review the operation of the County government, and to propose Charter amendments or to draft a new charter.

Applications are available online at (click on the Boards and Commissions box on the lower right) and at the following locations: the Information Booth (Lobby level) and Office of the Mayor (9th floor) of the Kalana O Maui (County) Building at 200 S. High Street, Wailuku; all public libraries; County Council Services Offices in Hana and on Molokai and Lanai; and at Parks and Recreation Permit Offices in Wailuku at the War Memorial Gym, in Makawao at the Eddie Tam Gym, in Lahaina at the Lahaina Civic Center, in Kihei at the Kihei Community Center, in Hana at the Hana Community Center, on Molokai at the Mitchell Pauole Center, and on Lanai at the County Gym.

Applications may be mailed by Wednesday, December 22, 2010 to: Mayor Charmaine Tavares, County of Maui, 200 South High Street, Ninth Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793, or faxed to (808) 270-7870.

For more information, call the Office of the Mayor at (808) 270-7855 or visit


Former director of Hale Ho’omalu sentenced for theft

The former executive director of Hale Ho’omalu, Molokai’s only women’s shelter, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation for embezzling money from the organization.

The Maui News reported that Malia A. Pierce, 46, of Maunaloa, was sent immediately to jail after appearing before Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza in Wailuku last Tuesday.

Cardoza ordered Pierce to pay $7,343 in restitution to the battered women’s shelter in Ho’olehua. Pierce was denied her request for time to get her personal life in order before going to jail. Cardoza also denied her request to have her record cleared once she completed probation.

Deputy Prosecutor Iwalani Mountcastle objected to this last request, saying she had received that opportunity in 1999 for a contempt of court charge.

While director of Hale Ho’olmalu between December of 2005 and September of 2007, Pierce had taken money by having checks made out to herself for things such as storage sheds that were never bought and shelter repairs that were not completed.

Pierce used shelter money to also fly herself and her late husband and a family friend to Oahu, according to Mountcastle.

Court records indicate that the malfeasance was discovered by the shelter’s subsequent director after Pierce resigned in April 2008. Pierce pleaded no contest to second-degree theft.

Readers speak out on new TSA airport security measures

With the new security measures of the Transportation Security Administration having reached Molokai, local grumblings have begun.

During the holiday season, getting to tutu’s house from Molokai often involves more than going over the river and through the woods. For people with off-island families, it now involves going through a metal detector and occasionally going through a full body scanner or the indignity of a pat down.

With increased security, people are given the option of TSA full body scans, such as this, or pat downs.

Larry Helm, one of the most well-known and recognizable kupuna on Molokai, tells the story of his recent experience with airport security:

“A couple of weeks ago, I was patted down at the Molokai airport. A TSA employee said, ‘Uncle this is new, stand here,’ and proceeded to do the body touch. You can imagine the response from me. A TSA boss watching did not like my antics and said to me, ‘follow procedure or you can get arrested.’ The guy’s hand brushed at my Ralph. How far can they go?

Uncle Larry continues …

“Here’s my point: if a parent searches their teenager for drugs and touches their privates, the child reports it to police. Parents can get arrested and convicted for molestation. How you figa in the name of homeland security they can touch? How about fingerprint, or lie detector machine, etc.? When we give up rights as such, the so-called terrorists have won. We are not going to stop hurricanes, tidal waves, etc. We always pick up and move on. When one 9/11 happens we give away our freedom as Americans in the name of homeland security! Government is slowly taking our rights. Are we really free? You go figa. Find another way.”

Another reader of The Molokai News, Bob Soares, who has family on Molokai, also spoke out on these new security policies:

“Let’s talk turkey here. In most of the news article I’ve seen on TV, the so-call quote of 81 percent approval is a constant drumbeat. Yet, most interviewed say the airport procedures are just not acceptable. I would venture to say that those 81 percent meant that they approve as long as others go through it but not them. It’s Thanksgiving now, and flyers have already committed to acquiring their non-refundable tickets. Reality might set in during the Christmas holidays. Will the public by-and-large change their travel habits switching to a different mode of travel such as using the trains, bus, or even private airlines?

“Middle-aged and older folks seem most likely to approve the scanners but not the pat-downs. This seem to say that their bodies are too old to interest anyone, thus safety and a longer life are higher priorities than an old naked body. Pat-downs, however, are still too invasive for them. This age group seem to feel its quite humorous people want to leer at their aging scanned naked bodies.

“Younger folks are less tolerable. Their bodies, created by God, and given to them are personal and most holy. They see TSA trying to steal that image for their own reasons. Knowledge of body contours will be shared only at the owner’s private discretion. Yet, all flyers want safety, but also believe there are ways to solve this problem without enraging the flying public.”

It seems like the conversation about balancing civil liberties (especially those guaranteed by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution) with national safety is just beginning.

The Nature Conservancy announces new solar power system at Kalamaula office

The Associated Press reported that The Nature Conservancy’s Molokai office has a new solar panel installation that will cover all of its energy needs.

The Nature Conservancy announced yesterday that the Maui company Rising Sun Solar installed an 8.88-kilowatt photovoltaic system on its roof in the Molokai Industrial Park in the Kalamaula area. TNC said the system will provide all its energy needs including lights, air conditioning and electronics.

The office will remain connected to Maui Electric Company’s grid so that it can still buy power from the utility on cloudy days.

This also allows the organization to sell excess power to the utility on days when the office isn’t using much power. This is possible through a feed-in-tariff approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last month. The tariff allows operators of solar utility systems to sell power back to the energy grid at a fixed rate for up to 20 years.

Jason Poole: Feeling the aloha from Halawa to New York City

"Crooner" Jason Poole entertains guests with classic songs of Hawaii's past.

By Brandon Roberts

His smile and story sprang forth with animation and captivation, like pohaku ripples on the water’s surface. Those listening connected with the candid Jason Poole, haumana and hanai of Anakala Pilipo Solatorio and “crooner” of mele Hawai’i.

Sharing life’s unpredictability and how all experiences have led to Molokai, Poole expressed the humbling honor to wala’au with guests under Kaunakakai’s afternoon glow at the Kalele Bookstore and Divine Expressions recently. Lilikoi vine wreathed the backyard talk story. Ripening green globes swayed with Poole’s hula and Solatorio’s nimble ukulele strumming.

It was hula that healed his hip and allowed him to continue on in life without a limp after a severe fracture occurred.

“I am an open book.”

Jason Poole performs the "Ulupalakua" paniolo hula while Anakala Pilipo Solatorio provides rhythm with his ukulele.

Poole’s exclamations are always accompanied by generous grins. His voice melding how he is humbled to embrace and share the spirit of aloha, not only on Molokai but back in his community of New York City. In both environments he conjures the feelings of a hoale (foreigner) immersed in Hawai’iana.

This connection is no mystery to Poole, whom after a series of “coincidences” found his way to the Beamer ohana “Aloha Music Camp” at Kaupoa on Molokai’s west end and eventually as part of the Solatorio

Music has always been his passion and Hawaiian music became his “happy place” at work. Poole would evade office stress and go covert under his desk, strumming a few quick chords on his 8-string ukulele.

He first felt Hawaiian music when he cried during a commercial featuring the island harmony and knew this feeling was something deeper, awakening his spirit.

Poole said his time on Molokai is “so real” rather than “surreal.” He treasures and savors these moments, finding his heart at peace and thirsty for ike (knowledge) while at the Solatorio hale in Halawa.

It is a delicate yet natural balance Poole finds within Hawaiian culture and this passion is not without contention and criticism. As a haole, Poole approaches this island culture with confident respect and attempts not to preach Hawaii, but to live it with aloha i ke kahi I ke kahi (love one’s self, love one another).

Kumu Solatorio says flesh is temporary, Hawaiian is in the heart. It is Poole’s spirit the kumu felt and tested early on and it is that same spirit shared with his wala’au guests and others he may meet along the way.

During his time in Halawa valley the damp evening air fills with stars, stories and songs of Hawai’i long into the night with fingers callused from hours scratching fleas. (Ukulele translates to jumping (lele) flea (uku)).

Poole’s positive presence is a blessing within the Solatorio ohana and laughter falls like the Halawa rains. This is why there is no goodbye, only a hui hou, we will see you again.

Stay tuned to The Molokai News for information on Jason Poole’s wala’au to be aired on Akaku: Maui Community Television.

State champion wrestler makes her mark on the college level

In 2009, Leya-Justina Laufelemana made history by becoming the first female wrestler from Molokai to win a state championship. After winning the title at 175 pounds, she was named the MIL Girl Wrestler of the Year.

Leya-Justina Laufelamana was named MIL Girl Wrestler of the Year before taking her talents to college.

Now Laufelamana is making history as a sophomore at Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D. On Saturday, Laufalemana took home the Outstanding Wrestler Award at the Can-Am Open tournament at Jamestown, defeating a two-time defending national champion at 80 kilograms.

Laufelamana, an All-American, defeated No. 1-ranked Simon Fraser University’s (British Columbia) Hillary Greening in the semifinals, before pinning third-ranked University of Cumberland’s (Ky.) Sydney Nelson in the finals.

Last month, Greening beat Laufelamana in a meet in Calgary, Canada. Head coach from Jamestown, Cisco Cole, said that Laufelamana made a mistake in that match and was thrown on her back and pinned.

“We knew what to expect going into this match and she wrestled better. She didn’t make the same mistake and came out on top,” said Cole.

Laufelamana obviously has wrestling in her blood. Her sister Punahele was the runner-up for the 130-pound state (in 2007) and then her brother Justin was the state champion at 215 pounds in 2002. After winning the state championship in Hawaii, Laufelamana said she would wrestle in college with the goal of wrestling in the Olympics.

If she continues to finish with results like last weekend, Justina is well on her way to becoming an Olympian.

Halawa land use issues proceed delicately

A panoramic view shows majestic Halawa with Kama'alaea Bay, the center of current land-use issues, in the upper right. Some of the campsites in question are in Kama'alaea Bay.

By Brandon Roberts

Halawa — the gateway to the world’s highest sea cliffs and a handful of steep, storied Molokai valleys — is also home to a land use conflict between campers and Pu’u O Hoku Ranch.

The ocean is alive, thunderous on this north shore where calm is a relative term. Boats embark with faith and trust into these remote island reaches during the brief summer months to collect opihi and the freshwater hihiwai, or to access family lands within Pelekunu or Wailau as well as recreation.

Land use and beach campsites in Kama’alaea Bay in Halawa have long been problematic. Some residents refer to the situation as a “can of worms.” The metaphor is apt as all parties involved consider the land and access to it as “theirs,” either through Western concepts of land ownership or indigenous family ties and gathering rights.

Some of the temporary campsites in Halawa have become more permanent than Pu’u O Hoku Ranch would like.

This question of ownership and access restrictions is at the center of the debate. The land in question is Pu’u O Hoku Ranchlands. Yet access to this area crosses several private properties owned by long-standing Halawa families and their descendents now fighting for continued use.

Current Pu’u O Hoku Ranch owner Lavinia Currier had prior agreements with these campers, which, she wrote in a recent press release, were “not honored.”

“Several years ago, we met with the longer term campers as a group and it was agreed to limit the time of camping within specific guidelines,” Currier stated. “Now, more years have gone by and this fall we received a notice from the County of Maui regarding the illegality of the semi-permanent camps and their latrines, which violate county rules.”

Water use and conservation are consistent island issues and, according to Currier, “these landowners were also concerned that the water use by the campers in increasing numbers for longer periods of time had begun to impact their water levels, essential for their farms and lo`i (taro patch).”

Earlier this spring, the Ranch issued a 90-day notice to have the campsites and latrines removed along the Kama’alaea shoreline.

Currier notified the community that the structures would be removed and materials donated if not cleaned up by Oct. 31.

On Nov. 10 a bulldozer owned by the Ranch and a police car made an appearance in Halawa, but to date the structures remain. Some of the more recently constructed campsites are not intended for seasonal removal, with posts sunk deep in the sand and a skeleton of walls and roof set to handle the unbridled trades and considered “semi-permanent” by Currier.

One camper said he still honors the original agreement and removes his campsite after every use and wishes others did the same.

Campers and their extended families share mixed emotions on the use of the beach and bay. Native gathering and access rights are evoked in defense of the camper’s position. Yet some elders do not remember the campers being there before the bridge was built. In ancient times people not from the Halawa ahupua’a (district) were not allowed access without proper protocol and permission.

Pu’u O Hoku Ranch spans 14,000 acres across Mana’e, Molokai — the island’s east end from Kumimi to Lanikaula and Pohakupili to Halawa ike. It has a shaky past with Mana’e from the time of Ranch owner George Murphy, who installed the current bridge over Halawa stream, bulldozing many lo’i in the late 1970s. The accompanying road was carved through private property and ultimately allowed vehicle access, boat launching and camping in Kama’alaea Bay.

A bridge across the Halawa stream did exist before the 1946 tsunami, but this was county property and existed closer to the mouth of the stream into the bay.

Before Murphy, Pu’u O Hoku lands in Halawa were under the stewardship of Bishop Estates, which evolved from the King’s Lands of 1840. Near the bay is the City of Refuge for the Halawa district as well as a sacred Kamani Grove commissioned by Kamehameha V.

Issues of land ownership are sensitive within the islands of Hawaii and many do not dare to open this proverbial “can”. The circumstances are being handled delicately with a hope that balance and resolution are found while avoiding a potentially volcanic situation.