Well, James Alalem and Raymond Catania were arrested on charges of obstructing this morning at Wailua beach. The two had built a rock ahu to mark the location of a heiau along the route of the county's controversial Path and wanted to make sure it was not disturbed by construction crews.
Both men were released without having to post bail, according to Police Chief Darryl Perry. They are scheduled to appear in court on the petty misdemeanor charges at 8 a.m. March 20. Jimbo previously was convicted of interfering with a government operation when he attempted to stop a backhoe from digging up iwi kupuna to make way for a bathroom at Kaumualii Park by the Wailua River.
Why does the government constantly create these kinds of stand-offs with Hawaiians?
While we're on the topic of sacred land, Presley Wann, president of Hui O Makaainana O Makana, came on KKCR yesterday to announce that he had been “reassured by the state they are not going to do any kind of clearing, scaling or touching of Makana.” As you may recall, I previously reported that kanaka were up in arms over a state proposal to conduct rock mitigation on the distinctive peak using the same invasive methods employed on the cliffside along the highway leading into Hanalei Valley.
Instead, Presley reported, the state plans to do a scientific study to project where a rock might land if it does fall from the mountain. The state, of course, is motivated by liability concerns after falling rocks killed and injured some folks on Oahu. It doesn't want that happening to one among the hordes who visit Kee Beach.
And yes, we're talking hordes. Presely and Joel Guy noted that some of the surveys conducted for the Kee-Haena State Park Master Plan showed as many as 2,000 visitors use the area per day. How fricking nuts is that? Since the state plans to put up a gate so it can collect revenues, it's pressing to allow the max number of tourists into the park. But citizens reviewing the master plan, many of whom have ancestral connections to Haena, are pushing for visitor limits based on what the resource can sustain. Gee, what a radical concept for a park, especially one created in such a culturally significant area as Haena.
Shifting gears, Hawaii Reporter — and it kinda gags me to reference that rightwing rag — is reporting that our planning director, Mike Dahilig, has his eyes on decidedly greener pastures: executive administrator to the UH Board of Regents, a job that reportedly pays $150,000 annually.
The article was actually about Mike getting dinged in a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing for letting UH pick up the tab for him to attend various sporting events, including the 2008 Sugar Bowl in Louisiana. During his six years on the Board of Regents, Mike reportedly took $12,509 in athletic tickets, airfare, hotel and gifts. Though UH officials said it wasn't that much, some Senators reportedly told Hawaii Reporter that it was an example of the waste, abuse and bloat that plagues the University.
Speaking of waste, abuse and bloat, let's turn our attention to the state Legislature. The House is set to hear two bills Friday morning that would introduce some sense into the medical cannabis program.
HB668 wisely seeks to move the program from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Heatlh and requires DPS to assist with the transfer. Let's hope they can pry this program out of DPS' gun-toting hands and give it the proper agency to administer.
HB667 allows caregivers to care for up to 5 qualifying patients, gives patients immunity from searches, seizures, and prosecution while transporting it, allows out of state patients to use their prescriptions here, increases the allowable amount to 10 plants and five ounces of usable stuff and delete the address where plants are grown from the patient's blue card. Further, physicians no longer would have to disclose the specific medical condition of their patients to the regulating state agency. Yes, finally some patient privacy.
Our own Rep. Dee Morikawa was among the lawmakers sponsoring both bills — mahalo Dee! — and she also serves on the Health Committee that will be hearing these measures.
You can submit testimony for either bill — reference the bill number and testimony in the subject line — via email at HLTtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov. Or click on the links I've provided to give testimony on-line.
Regardless of how you feel about cannabis, the current program is unjustly discriminatory to patients. No other prescription holder in the state has to jump through these hoops and be subjected to this sort of governmental scrutiny.
Meanwhile, HB699, which would legalize cannabis, is set for a formal decision-making vote Thursday afternoon. Some 250 pieces of written testimony were submitted in favor, and only 41 in opposition. I skimmed through some of that testimony, and a lot of it is was very poignant and thoughtful. It definitely tossed out the stereotype that pot smokers are brain dead losers. Though I imagine President Obama's admission of serious ganja smoking in high school has offered the most effective proof that smoking the herb — even as a teen —doesn't mean your life is ruined. Unless you're arrested for it, in which case things start to go seriously downhill. And that's just one reason why we need to legalize it.