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Big Island of Hawaii News, 06 June 2013 through 07 June 2013. Post #2102

Author:

The views expressed in this Hawaii news summary are mine unless otherwise stated.

Big Island of Hawaii News is following these Hawaii stories through Friday, 07 June 2014:

HEADLINES:

Hawaii County Council approves union contracts.

U.S. Army and Hawaii hunters find common ground at PTA.

Man will plead guilty in son’s death.

High surf recedes in West Hawaii.

Mayoral appointment violates County Charter.

DETAILS (with sources cited):

(Stephens Media).  After an extended discussion about contracts for county employees, Hawaii County Council members approved on Wednesday work agreements for those employees.  According to reporter Erin Miller, Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille and Kona/Ka’u Councilwoman Brenda Ford tried “to raise concerns over candidates for county offices campaigning during union meetings on county time.  Some council members, including Puna Councilman Zendo Kern helped cut off further comments, saying the remarks were off topic.

Kern told reporter Miller that “the issue at hand is to appropriate funds or not appropriate funds…we should be discussing that or not discussing that.”  Councilwoman Ford replied that she would support the contract, “if it had addressed those campaigning concerns…we’re playing with semantics here with this…if we appropriate this, the mayor’s going to sign it and it’s a done deal…you can’t negotiate a new contract after you sign a new contract.”

In her opinion as an attorney, Wille called it “ridiculous” that the county’s union contract would trump county rules.  On the other hand, Hamakua Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter, who once worked in human resources for a company employing union workers, said that in her previous job, the “union’s contract on some things trumped even federal law.”

(Hawaii Tribune-Herald).  U.S. Army officials at the Pohakuloa Training Area and Hawaii County hunter have reached common ground on hunting activities at the sprawling training facility on the slopes of Mauna Kea.  According to reporter Tom Callis, PTA staff “has made its land much more available to hunters over the last year, allowing sportsmen greater access to areas not being used for military training.”

PTA commander, Lt. Colonel Eric Shwedo, told reporter Callis that he has made at least portions of the training area open for hunters about every weekend since September 2012.  Shwedo said “it did not take me long to realize that hunting is important to the community…there was no reason in my mind we couldn’t have hunting somewhere.”  Shwedo noted that as much “as about 30,000 acres may be available for hunting at a time.”  PTA is home to feral sheep, goats and pigs–animals which pose a danger to native plants and animals.  The Army spends around $5 million a year protecting endangered species between the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Since September 2012, local hunters have helped control these animal pests.  The Army has reported 1,841 mammals taken down by hunters with 5,340 hunting trips made to PTA.  Lt. Colonel Shwedo told reporter Callis that local hunters ” can keep ungulate populations under control.”  Although Anthony Sylvester of the county’s Game Management Advisory Commission welcomes the cooperative spirit of army officials, he feels more can be done to manage animals within the training area.  He believes the example of PTA can show state officials how game management can be done without extinction, noting “it doesn’t take much…” to make hunters happy.

Lt. Colonel Shwedo adds that “being able to find that balance has been relatively easy.”

(Stephens Media).  A 38-year-old Kailua-Kona man who faced a manslaughter charge after he accidentally ran over and killed his 3-year-old son on 09 January 2013 has reached a plea bargain with county prosecutors that reduces the charge to a misdeamor.

According to reporter Chelsea Jensen, Pedro Johanes Peter will plead guilty on 18 June to third degree negligent homicide, driving with out a license, failure to have no-fault insurance, four counts of failure to have a child restraint and three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor in connection with the accident .

Third-degree negligent homicide is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and no more than one year in confinement.  The original charge of manslaughter is a class A felony punishable  by to $50,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.

(Stephens Media).  High surf along West Hawaii shores is expected to decrease overnight after two days of excellent surfing conditions and occasional waves penetrating into park areas in Kailua-Kona.  At one time, National Weather Service forecasters said waves measuring from 8 to 12 feet were seen washing into beach areas.

Hawaii Fire Department Assistant Chief Gerald Kosaki told reporter Chelsea Jensen that no beach parks were closed and that  no serious injuries were reported from the higher than normal waves.

(Stephens Media).  According to reporter Nancy Cook Lauer, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi apparently violated the county charter when he appointed Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd to head the Department of Environmental Management.  Lauer said Hawaii County voters in 2010 approved a charter amendment that “the director shall have had a minimum of five years of administrative experience in a related field and an engineering degree or a degree in a related field.”

Despite that requirement, Mayor Kenoi appointed Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, who once lead the Planning Department, to the DEM post she held in 2007 and 2008.  She will now face a confirmation hearing by the County Council.

Kenoi told reporter Lauer that Todd’s experience at DEM showed “she is quite capable of doing the job…an …engineering degree is important, but if you have knowledge, experience and expertise, that’s certainly comparable experience.”

South Kona/Ka’u Councilwoman Brenda Ford most likely will oppose Todd’s confirmation, noting that “while there are pros and cons to having an engineer as the director of the Department of Environmental Management, I personally believe it should be an engineer to understand the technical aspect of the position…I support the charter as it was passed by the voters of Hawaii County.”

Todd is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law.  She was deputy corporation counsel for nine years between 1987 to 1993 and from 2003 to 2007.  Todd also served as the legislative auditor for Hawaii County and as a member of the County Council from 1996 to 2003.

HAWAII ISLAND WEATHER THROUGH FRIDAY, 07 June 2013:

Hilo and vicinity–Partly sunny with a few brief showers.

Kailua-Kona and vicinity–Partly sunny with a few showers south of Captain Cook.

Highs near 83.  Lows near 67.  Winds shifting to the east northeast, 6 to 12 mph, by Friday morning.

Sunrise Friday–5:41 a.m.  Sunset Friday–6:58 p.m.  Total hours of daylight Friday–13 hours, 17 minutes, and 13 seconds.

HAWAII ISLAND TIDES FOR FRIDAY, 07 June 2013:

Hilo High Tide–1:40 a.m./2:08 p.m.  Hilo Low Tide–7:53 a.m./9:43 p.m.

Kailua-Kona High Tide–2:18 a.m./4:46 a.m.  Kailua-Kona Low Tide–8:30 a.m./10:20 p.m.

HAWAII ISLAND SURF FORECAST THROUGH FRIDAY, 07 June 2013:

High surf along West Hawaii shores is expected to fall gradually through the evening.

Hapuna Beach breaks–flat.  Kona and Banyans–2 to 4 feet.  Ka’u and Pohoiki–3 to 4 feet.  Hamakua, including Kolekole Beach Park–2 to 4 feet.  Hilo and Honolii–2 to 3 feet.

OTHER:

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