Saturday, February 17, 2024


Famed peace researcher Johan Galtung dies at 93

Professor Johan Galtung

I am sad to report that Johan Galtung, the "father of peace studies", has passed away on February 17, 2024, at the age of 93. I knew him at the University of Hawaii, where I was one of his many students. I recall asking him how many languages he spoke; if I remember correctly, it was six.

See also his many articles posted on Disappeared News.

Galtung was a Norwegian sociologist and is credited as the founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. He founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in 1959 and served as its first director until 1970. He also established the Journal of Peace Research in 1964. 

He held professorships in several fields and in many countries, including Distinguished Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Hawaii from 1993 to 2000. 

He was a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award in 1987 and numerous honorary doctorates. He is widely cited as a pioneer of non-violence and conflict resolution, and throughout his life he was a critic of imperialism and structural violence. He will remain as an inspiration for peace researchers and practitioners. RIP

Thursday, September 28, 2023


Kapu Family Files Lawsuit Against Peter Martin and West Maui Land Company for Lahaina Fires

From the press release: 

Na'Aikane o Maui Cultural Center, Ke'eaumoku Kapu and U'ilani Kapu have  sued Peter Martin and his West Maui Land Company's water subsidiaries  Launiupoko Irrigation Company, Launiupoko Water Company and Launiupoko  Water Development LLC over the Lahaina fires.

Their lawsuit contends that the Peter Martin conglomerate made worse the  dry and dangerous conditions that led to the Lahaina fires by diverting  streams and over-pumping Lahaina ground water for their luxury real  estate developments without regard to the dangerous condition it would  cause for the rest of Lahaina.

Beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, American and European  sugar and pineapple plantations developed water diversion systems to  irrigate industrial scale sugar and pineapple crops that altered natural  ecosystems and forced many Native Hawaiian families off their own farmlands.

Peter Martin and his subsidiary companies bought the plantation's land  claims and its control of the water diversion systems when they closed  at the end of the twentieth century. Instead of continuing to irrigate  large swaths of agricultural land, they developed luxury gated housing  subdivisions and diverted virtually all of the water to those  developments, leaving large tracts of land desolate.

In 2018, the Commission on Water Resource Management ordered Martin's  companies to return sufficient flow to the streams they had been  diverting. In response, his company began over-pumping wells closer to  the shoreline in Lahaina town and then pumping the water uphill to his  luxury housing subdivisions. In the process, remaining surface waters in  Moku'ula dried up. Na'Aikane o Maui recently complained to the  Commission on Water Resource Management about this "drying up" of  Lahaina Town.

The new allegations are in addition to those that Na'Aikane o Maui  Cultural Center and other Lahaina fire survivors have already asserted  against the Peter Martin conglomerate for contributing to the Lahaina  fires by neglecting to maintain the large swaths of land they control in  West Maui.

Na'Aikane o Maui Cultural Center has also sued MECO, the State of  Hawai’i, the County of Maui, and Kamehameha Schools for their role in  causing the Lahaina fires. 

Na'Aikane o Maui Cultural Center was a hub for West Maui's Native  Hawaiian communities -- affirming traditional cultural practices to  assisting Native Hawaiian families with genealogical and land claims  research. It also maintained a library, map collection, and museum of  culturally significant objects. It was situated at the edge of the  historic boundary of Moku'ula, the sacred, royal island of Lahaina.

Na'Aikane o Maui Cultural Center, Ke'eaumoku Kapu and U'ilani Kapu are  represented by Lance D Collins of the Law Office of Lance D. Collins and  Mālama Law Group.   Lance D. Collins is a Maui lawyer who, along with  Honolulu lawyer Harrison L. Kiehm, and Maui lawyer Linda Nye leads the  Mālama Law Group. Joining the Mālama Law Group from California is  Hawaiian lawyer Kristine Kalama Keala (formerly Meredith), managing  partner of Danko Meredith, a preeminent utility wildfire California firm  that has won over $1 billion in cash compensation for survivors of  utility fires. The Mālama Law Group represents property owners, renters,  businesses and families who have lost loved ones in the Maui fire.

Monday, September 18, 2023


Attorney Calls for Three Year Mortgage Deferral and Foreclosure Moratorium for Lahaina Homeowners

From the press release:

Lahaina, Maui -- Many Lahaina homeowners who have survived the fire are now at threat of foreclosure. Federal regulations permit most homeowners a ninety day forbearance on the payment of their mortgages due to natural disaster. After that time, they must begin making payments again and also pay the three months of missed payments.

Most of these homeowners no longer have homes, many remain displaced in temporary housing and are without work. It is estimated that rebuilding will take at least three years.

Maui attorney Lance D. Collins has formally requested that the Federal Housing Administration, the Federal Housing and Financing Authority, Government National Mortgage Association and the Veterans Affairs Benefits Administration require mortgage lenders to declare a general deferment of both mortgage payments and the accrual of interest for three years and to extend the maturation date of any loan by three years, or allowing the re-amortization of the three years over the life of the loan.

Collins is also calling on Governor Josh Green to use his emergency powers to suspend the Foreclosure Law for residential properties in the burnout zone in Lahaina to strongly encourage lenders to work with property owners on deferments and loan modifications.

Collins said, "Without immediate intervention, the Lahaina community will next be faced with a tsunami of foreclosures and predatory land grabbing will reign under the cloak of legal process."

Several local banks have offered forbearance, meaning that interest continues to accrue and that the missed payments with the additional interest are tacked on at the end of the loan's term. This request is for a general deferral and an extension on the maturity date of loans, meaning that no interest accrues during the deferral and that the loan is extended by the period of the deferral.

Lance D. Collins is a Maui attorney who, along with Honolulu attorney Harrison L. Kiehm, leads the Mālama Law Group. The Mālama Law Group represents property owners, renters, businesses and  families who have lost loved ones in the Maui fire, having filed one of the first lawsuits arising from the fire that destroyed Lahaina. Collins' and Kiehm's offices have united to form Mālama Law Group. Joining the Mālama Law Group from California is native Hawaiian attorney Kristine Kalama Keala (formerly Meredith), managing partner of Danko Meredith, a preeminent utility wildfire firm that has won over $1 billion in cash compensation for survivors of utility fires.

Tuesday, September 05, 2023


Maui Attorney Presses for Insurance Carriers to Make Automatic Payment to Wildfire Survivors

From the press release:

Lahaina, Maui -- Before paying insureds for the contents of their homes destroyed by the Maui Wildfire, insurers are requiring survivors to submit detailed "personal property inventories." Preparing the inventories can take hours or even days.  Many survivors find it traumatic to list all the items lost in the fire.

Maui attorney Lance D. Collins has formally requested that Hawai'i Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito call upon property insurance companies to pay out 100% of coverage limits for loss of contents or personal property without requiring survivors to submit an itemized list or other proof of what they lost in the Maui fire.

Such paperwork "is a burden the people of Lahaina should not be required to bear while the community continues to recover", said Collins. "Insurance commissioners in other jurisdictions have taken similar actions in the wake of wildfires, and the Hawai'i commissioner should do so as well," Collins added.

Lance D. Collins is a Maui attorney who, along with Honolulu attorney Harrison L. Kiehm, leads the Mālama Law Group. The Mālama Law Group represents property owners, renters, businesses and families who have lost loved ones in the Maui fire, having filed one of the first lawsuits arising from the fire that destroyed Lahaina. Collins' and Kiehm's offices have united to form Mālama Law Group. Joining the Mālama Law Group from California is native Hawaiian attorney Kristine Kalama Keala (formerly Meredith), managing partner of Danko Meredith, a preeminent utility wildfire firm that has won over $1 billion in cash compensation for survivors of utility fires.

Letter to Gordon Ito 230905 on Scribd

Saturday, September 02, 2023


Today is the birthday of Queen Liliuokalani, September 2, 1838

by Larry Geller

Read more on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Download a copy of her book,

Hawaii's story by Hawaii's queen, Liliuokalani, here.

Queen Liliʻuokalani

Liliuokalani, c. 1891.jpg

Liliʻuokalani (Hawaiian pronunciation: [liˌliʔuokəˈlɐni]; Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha; September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917) was the only queen regnant and the last sovereign monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, ruling from January 29, 1891, until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 17, 1893. The composer of "Aloha ʻOe" and numerous other works, she wrote her autobiography Hawaiʻi's Story by Hawaiʻi's Queen during her imprisonment following the overthrow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


Maui Court Issues Writ of Quo Warranto on July 17 Housing Proclamation

What is a "Writ of Quo Warranto"?

In law, especially English and American common law, quo warranto (Medieval Latin for "by what warrant?") is a prerogative writ requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising some right, power, or franchise they claim to hold. -- Wikipedia

Press release:


Lahaina -- West Maui kama'aina Leonoard Nakoa III and Daniel Palakiko have joined with residents across the state in  challenging the legality of the governor's July 17 Emergency Proclamation on Housing.

Earlier today, Second Circuit Court Chief Judge Peter T. Cahill found probable cause to issue a writ of quo warranto directed to Nani Medeiros, the so-called "lead housing officer" and the Build Beyond Barriers Working Group, both established by the proclamation. The writ orders them to appear in Maui Circuit Court to answer the petition.

The governor’s proclamation states the century-long affordable housing shortage constitutes an emergency requiring immediate intervention. These interventions suspend a wide range of laws and introduced the governor-appointed working group and Lead Housing Officer to determine when they apply. Nothing in the emergency proclamation requires the production of affordable housing, rather it is one of several considerations. “Affordable housing” under the proclamation is 140% of  average median income, or $118,950 for a single person household.

The petitioning hui of local residents are very concerned by the governor’s use of emergency powers to legislate radical policy changes into law affecting everything from protection of iwi kūpuna and prevailing wages to ensuring payment of school impact fees.

The petition has two counts. The first count asserts that that the century-long shortage of housing does not constitute an "emergency" within the definition of the emergency management law or that the emergency declaration otherwise violates the constitutional right that limiting the use of the martial law or the suspension of laws. The second count asserts that amending or modifying of various statutes exceeds the governor's authority granted in the emergency management law or otherwise violates the constitutional separation of powers.

Petitioners are Leonard "Junya" Nakoa III, Daniel Palakiko, Tom Coffman, Llewelyn (Billy) Kaohelauli'i, Val Turalde, Elizabeth Okinaka, Tom Keali'i Kanahele, Ellen Ebata, Rupert Rowe, and Jeffrey Lindner.

"Protections put in place for our iwi kupuna over the last thirty years is not a reason why Hawai'i has had a shortage of affordable housing for the last hundred," said Petitioner Leonard "Junya" Nakoa.

"The proclamation usurps all government power into the hands of one unelected former lobbyist. It is a direct threat to our democracy," said Petitioner Tom Coffman.

Monday, August 21, 2023



From the press release:


The motion for a preliminary injunction seeks immediate relief from irreparable harm

caused by the City and County of Honolulu’s targeted enforcement actions.

HONOLULU, HI – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (ACLU of Hawai‘i), on

behalf of five houseless plaintiffs, filed a motion for preliminary injunction on Friday

in a lawsuit against

the City and County of Honolulu challenging enforcement actions that violate the rights

of houseless individuals under the Hawaiʻi Constitution.

The lawsuit filed last month in the First Circuit Court of Hawaii alleges that in the

absence of sufficient shelter space for Honolulu’s houseless community, the City’s

enforcement of anti-houseless laws–which include public sleeping bans, park closure

rules, displacement laws, sit/lie bans, and restrictions on keeping personal belongings

and animals–unjustly criminalizes innocent acts of survival that houseless people have

no choice but to perform in public places.

The motion filed on Friday asserts that the City’s use of sweeps constitutes cruel or

unusual punishment under the Hawaiʻi Constitution and asks the court to order the City

to immediately stop targeted enforcement actions—including sweeps, citations, and

arrests—to prevent further irreparable harm while the merits of the case are being

litigated. The motion is supported by written testimony from all five named plaintiffs

and statements from other houseless and non-houseless declarants and service providers

who expand upon the irreparable harm done to houseless residents during and in the

aftermath of the City’s sweeps and other enforcement actions.

“Our plaintiffs and the thousands of other houseless individuals living unsheltered on

Oʻahu have suffered and continue to suffer extraordinary harms,” says ACLU of Hawaiʻi

Staff Attorney Taylor Brack. “The personal stories we hear from our clients are

heartbreaking and illustrate the irreparable and systemic harm caused by the City’s

anti-houseless campaign of criminalization, harassment, and displacement.”

In her declaration, Gina Mahelona, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, describes the

trauma of being targeted through sweeps, citations, and arrests: “It is very stressful

to live every day bracing for something bad to happen. The City has arrested me numerous

times since I’ve been houseless. Most of the time, it was because the police had a

warrant for me based on a previous citation related to my houseless status. I can recall

many times I was arrested when I was simply going about my life: cooking, spending time

with my dogs, or even sleeping. I believe I was being targeted and profiled because of my

houseless status.”

Mahelona, a 51-year-old woman of Native Hawaiian and Puerto Rican descent who was born

and raised in Kāneʻohe, became involuntarily houseless after she lost her place in

subsidized housing when her mom, whom she cared for, passed away eight years ago. She

currently lives with her boyfriend and three dogs under a bridge in Kaimukī where they

have no access to clean running water. “This is not a good place to live: there is

nowhere to shower or use the bathroom, and we have to sleep and cook within a few feet of

a dirty waterway that sometimes floods. But [the City] basically forced us into this

location through near-constant harassment when we tried to live elsewhere”

“The City’s actions take a devastating toll on our houseless neighbors and do nothing

to solve the problem of houselessness,” says ACLU of Hawaiʻi Legal Director Wookie

Kim. “Criminalizing houselessness destabilizes and makes houseless people more

vulnerable while also undermining the mutual aid communities they depend on for


Kim says, “Despite attempts to resolve disputes with the City without litigation and

given recent reports that they have tripled their houseless enforcement


leanup-crew-efforts/>, this request for immediate injunctive relief is of great public

interest.” The motion will be heard by the court on Oct. 4.

Statements from plaintiffs and declarants are available at the ACLU of Hawaiʻi website

and arehighlighted below:

Michael David Bryan (Plaintiff) describes what it’s like to be constantly targeted by

law enforcement:

“I know that I have rights under the law, including a right to privacy, but the City

does not respect those rights. Just because I am houseless, HPD officers seem to feel

they are entitled to invade my space, interrogate me, go through my personal effects,

take away my belongings, and order me to leave an area, even when they have no legitimate

reason to believe I’ve engaged in any criminal activity. I want this harassment and

cruelty to stop. I think I should be treated the same way as people who are housed.”

Faimafili “Fili” Tupuola (Plaintiff) describes how interactions with police officers

cause her immense fear and anxiety:

“These sweeps and police encounters make me feel violated. The police have torn up my

belongings right in front of my eyes, choosing to trash what I’ve built up and saved

for. It is dehumanizing. I am already houseless, and the police sweeps add so much more

to my struggle. At night, I have such a restless sleep because I am constantly listening

and staying aware so that I do not lose my things again. The lack of sleep makes it

harder for me to take care of myself and stay vigilant to protect myself. The way the

City and HPD have treated me is traumatizing.”

Jared “Spider” Castro (Plaintiff) was one of the primary caregivers for his romantic

and life partner, Georgette Preston, who had a disability and serious medical conditions

that limited her mobility. He describes the City’s callous treatment of people with

disabilities and the particularly harmful impact houseless sweeps had on his family:

“The City confiscated a total of three wheelchairs (sized specially to fit

Georgette’s frame) and two electric scooters from Georgette. During one sweep where I

was present, we asked City staff to leave her scooter because it is her only means to

move, yet they still took it. This significantly affected how Georgette could move around

to the point where she was not able to go to [the] bathroom on her own. This was very

shocking to our family, and I know that Georgette felt shame and guilt for the impact her

dependence [had] on us.”

Georgette died in August 2022 while in custody at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

Castro’s family has never been offered an emergency shelter space ahead of an

encampment sweep. “When I was caring for Georgette, we needed ADA compliant bottom

floor shelter spaces which are extremely limited.  Georgette and I were told by shelter

workers that we were not eligible for emergency shelter space for a variety of reasons,

including because the shelters would not accommodate Georgette’s disabilities. Now, I

would be reluctant to go back to the shelters that previously turned Georgette away.”

Desmond Canite (Plaintiff) suffers from an acute case of cellulitis (a bacterial

infection) in both legs that causes severe, chronic pain and swelling when he stands for

longer than twenty minutes at a time. He describes how the City’s frequent and severe

harassment has displaced him from the community and services he needs to manage his

condition making it difficult for him to access care:

“I would rather live in town near my friends and community, and where more restaurants,

grocery stores, medical services, and other services are located, but I am forced to live

out on Sand Island just to get some peace and to be free of harassment.”

Prior to living in Sand Island, he spent a little over a year at Hale Mauliola, a shelter

consisting of converted shipping containers. “I was pleased to be living there. The

containers offered privacy and safety, and appeared to be clean, which was good for my

cellulitis. I was hopeful that the case workers would connect me to housing. I realized

over time that [it] was not sanitary.  There are lots of feral cats in the area that

urinate and defecate all over the place, which made it difficult to keep my legs clean. 

My cellulitis got worse over time because the conditions were unsanitary. Eventually, I

was kicked out of Hale Mauliola because I could not pay the required $150 per month in

rent. It is not possible for me to pay $150 per month in rent because I cannot work due

to my cellulitis.”

Miosoto Santiago-Miliatao (Declarant) recounts one traumatic experience of being arrested

while sweeping the pavilion at the Mōʻiliʻili park where she was staying:

“I was told that I was being arrested for violating park rules, but I still cannot

figure out which rules I was violating. I was arrested around lunchtime when the park was

open. I was in jail all night and then released right back onto the streets. The worst

part is that the City took all my possessions away. That included a whole bundle of

groceries I had just purchased and prenatal vitamins I had received at the PATH health

clinic. Now, I am pregnant with no food, and I won’t be able to get prenatal vitamins

again until I go back to the health clinic.”

Christopher “Paco” Fuentes Yasay (Declarant) describes how police arbitrarily and

selectively enforce anti-homeless laws:

“I do my best to follow the rules. Sometimes the enforcement of the park rules and

regulations don’t seem fair or reasonable because the HPD officers tell us that the

park rules apply only to people who look like they are houseless. For example, none of

the officers I have talked to can explain to me why I am not allowed to hang my hammock

during the daytime, but other people who look housed are allowed to hang hammocks."

ACLU of Hawaiʻi “Decriminalizing Houselessness in Hawaiʻi” Report:


West Maui residents sue Chair Dawn Chang over Transfer of Deputy

From the news release sent Aug. 21, 2023:

West Maui residents sue Chair Dawn Chang over Transfer of Deputy


Lahaina -- West Maui kamaʻāina Kekai Keahi and Jen Kamaho'i Mather filed 

suit today in First Circuit Court against Dawn N.S. Chang, BLNR and 

Water Commission chair and the Water Commission for actions Chang 

purported to take transferring Water Commission Deputy Kaleo Manuel out 

of the Commission on August 16, 2023.

State law provides that the Water Commission is the only entity 

empowered to take personnel actions on the Deputy and that those actions 

must occur during an open meeting. Failure to allow the community notice 

and opportunity to testify at an open meeting about those proposed 

decisions is a violation of the Sunshine Law.

If the Commission were to delegate authority over the deputy to the 

Chairperson, that delegation would also have to occur at an open 

meeting. No such meeting has occurred.

Keahi and Mather are asking that the transfer decision be voided and 

that the Court instruct the Water Commission that it must comply with 

the Sunshine Law before taking any such action in the future -- 

regarding transfer or delegating that authority to the chair.

"The West Maui community needs stability and consistency right now in 

the midst of disaster relief efforts. Knee-jerk edicts issued behind 

closed doors in Honolulu sow confusion and discord and distract us from 

our greater purpose," said the Plaintiffs' attorney Lance D. Collins.

Keahi and Mather are also represented by Bianca Isaki and Ryan D. Hurley.

Keahi and Mather are both actively engaged in relief efforts in West 

Maui daily and request that all media inquiries be directed to their 


Tuesday, August 01, 2023


News release: Statewide Consumers Hui Prompts Grocery Stores to Abide Emergency Price Controls

Governor Josh Green's July 17 proclamation declaring a state of emergency looks to provide one additional but likely unexpected benefit to Hawaii consumers. Here is the news release:


Wailuku -- The Hawai'i Working Consumers Hui reminded Hawai'i's leading grocery stores that state law prohibits them from increasing prices on basic goods during Governor Green's State of Emergency.

On July 17, 2023, Governor Josh Green issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency throughout the state. State law prohibits all retailers and wholesalers from increasing the price of commodities during the duration of the state of emergency.

State law prohibiting unfair trade acts or practices protect consumers in situations such as declared emergencies. During the early days of the COVID pandemic emergency,some retailers engaged in price gouging contrary to state law. Hui members have not seen such overt acts in the last two weeks. However, consumers, including those affected by housing shortages, noticed price increases in certain basic goods since the proclamation was issued.

The Hui's attorney Lance D. Collins said, "Price controls during emergency periods are designed to protect both the pocketbook of the individual consumer as well as the economy as a whole. We look forward to consistent compliance with the law during this time."

The letter to Hawai'i leading grocery stores also asks that they retain all documents and data regarding pricing from the July 17, 2023 proclamation  through the end of the Governor's emergency.

- 30 -

Wednesday, July 26, 2023


ACLU Hawaii files suit challenging Honolulu's raids on sidewalk encampments

ACLU of Hawaii has filed a lawsuit challenging Honolulu's sweeps of homeless individuals  and families (including children) from sidewalks -- often in the wee hours of the night.

What follows is the press release just emailed by the ACLU. Supplementary material is linked at the bottom. Note: ACLU uses the term "houseless" but many (most?) of those living unsheltered are said to prefer "homeless".



The lawsuit seeks to uphold the constitutional rights of houseless individuals who are frequently criminalized, displaced, and dispossessed due to anti-houseless enforcement actions. 


HONOLULU, HI  - Houseless residents have filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu today challenging anti-houseless laws and enforcement actions that violate their rights under the Hawaiʻi Constitution.  

The five named plaintiffs, who are all involuntarily houseless and living unsheltered in Honolulu, are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai'i (ACLU of Hawai'i) and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho. Through their class action complaint, the plaintiffs seek to represent the more than 2,000 other Oʻahu residents who suffer similar treatment by the City. 

The complaint, filed in the Hawaiʻi First Circuit Court, alleges that the City has violated the law by criminalizing houseless individuals simply for existing in public spaces, despite the lack of any realistic alternative for shelter. The lawsuit does not ask for money. Instead, it asks the court to stop the City's targeted enforcement actions-including sweeps, citations, and arrests-that disrupt and disenfranchise houseless people, unless and until there is adequate shelter. 

Based on official numbers, on any given night, there are more than 2,300 unsheltered individuals on Oʻahu, but fewer than 50 vacancies in shelters. Under these circumstances, the lawsuit asserts that the City's enforcement of criminal laws that prohibit sleeping, sitting, lying, and/or having possessions in public spaces constitutes cruel or unusual punishment. The lawsuit also alleges violations of plaintiffs' fundamental rights of free movement and due process rights. 

"People experiencing houselessness have the same fundamental rights under the U.S. and Hawai'i Constitutions as those who are lucky enough to have housing and shelter, yet the day-to-day reality regarding the exercise of those rights is much different for our houseless neighbors," said  ACLU of Hawaiʻi Legal Director Wookie Kim. "Our plaintiffs and houseless neighbors are denied these fundamental rights, and other constitutional guarantees, far more flagrantly and far more often than housed people. The City is essentially penalizing houseless people for their very existence."  

"The sweeps are stressful for me. It makes me feel awful to be singled out by the City and its police officers all of the time. These are things that we go through on a regular basis, and I am sad to report that interactions like these are my normal," said one of the named plaintiffs, Jared "Spider" Castro. In the last three years, Castro has received citations for over 200 violations for actions like failing to comply with a park sign, sleeping on the sidewalk, and storing property in public spaces. Many of those citations also led to arrest and incarceration, which resulted in the loss of his personal property.   

The City's seizure, confiscation, and destruction of personal property during sweeps negatively impact the lives of many houseless residents. The loss of personal belongings, including IDs, legal documents, medications, food, and personal hygiene products, causes further economic hardship. "People have things that are necessary to them. Shelter, work clothes, stuff like that. I have all those things out here. In the blink of an eye, it's gone. I can go to the store and come back and it's gone," said another plaintiff in the case,  Faimafili "Fili" Tupuola. 

"Far from promoting safety and sanitation, criminalizing houselessness only perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Being needlessly thrown into the criminal justice system makes it more unlikely that houseless people will be able to finish school, find and maintain employment, access healthcare, and connect with service providers," said  ACLU of HawaiʻiStaff Attorney Taylor Brack. 

The ACLU of Hawai'i filed this lawsuit as part of its strategic campaign to decriminalize poverty and defend the basic human rights and civil liberties of all people living in Hawaiʻi regardless of their housing or socioeconomic status. "Protecting the rights of houseless people and reducing houselessness is in everyone's best interests. While the focus is currently on reducing the visible effects of houselessness, our limited resources would be better invested in cost-effective interventions for people experiencing housing insecurity," said Brack. 

Media attachments: 

Copies of the filed complaint are attached and here: 


ACLU of Hawaiʻi press conference recording is here:


ACLU of Hawaiʻi "Decriminalizing Houselessness in Hawaiʻi" Report is here: 



Wednesday, December 28, 2022


Press release: Local farmers struggle with depression in Hawaii


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE by CTAHR Department of Family and Consumer Sciences

Local farmers struggle with depression in Hawaii
Unprecedented survey uncovers major stressors affecting Hawaii agricultural producers, guides strategy for both industry and consumers to help ‘Malama the Farmer’

HONOLULU (December 28, 2022) –Hawaiian farmers 45 years old or younger are going into 2023 facing unprecedented mental stress.  A recent study found that 48% have experienced depression, and 14% struggled with suicidal thoughts.  This is almost two times higher than Hawaii’s general population, and 17% higher than CDC’s 2021 report on public health workers.

These dramatic findings are the results from groundbreaking research undertaken by researchers at the University of Hawaii Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).  The university conducted the study as part of a broader federal mandate and funding focusing on farmers mental health.

“This study validated a lot of what we’ve already observed in the field, but also bore a bumper crop of details and gems that will really help us serve our local ag workers,” said Thao Le, principal investigator of the study and director of the “Seeds of Wellbeing” (SOW) project. “One of the biggest surprise was that who reported using professional help to cope faired worst which is contrary to what we expected.”

CTAHR researchers currently have several programs underway to address farmers’needs, including a program to focus on the relational components of health and wellbeing. The Ag Mental Health Mentors program aims to educate and provide concrete tools to peers, family members, and neighbors to provide care and support, and to feel confident in initiating “talk story” about mental health.

“Even though the younger generation are more willing to talk about mental health issues,  we also did not expect that 44 ag producers would sign up to be ag mentors within a span of less than a month,”she added.

The good news? More people than ever recognize the importance of farming. A survey on public perception with 400 local residents found that 83% see agriculture as important to the state, with 56% saying they were willing to spend more on local produce. Yet, 85-90% of food in Hawaii remains imported, and less than 1% of the state budget is for agriculture.

This is challenging for those in the agricultural industry and even more so for certain demographics and sectors in Hawaii such as being younger, of East Asian or Southeast Asian ancestry, or working in the livestock or seed industry. While general uncertainty and COVID topped the list of stressors, farm production, financial worries, pests/invasive species also ranked highly.

“If we want to make sure we have a next generation of farmers and ranchers in Hawaii, we need to be paying close attention to their mental and emotional health,” Le expressed.

Hawaii is part of the Western Region Agricultural Stress Assistance Program (WRASAP), funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) provided funding that allow the project to eclipsed all other western states with 408 ag producers responding to the survey. (California only had 231 Californian farmers responding.) The results yielded some similar but also unexpected differences compared to the mainland.

The research team currently has several publications under peer review expected to be published in early 2023. The extension team, meanwhile, continues to offer workshops to address the identified stressors from the survey.

SOW has also produced a series of video and audio podcasts, with more than 1400 downloads, mental health prevention guides specific to farmers called Cool Mind Main Thing, and a brief media campaign to increase the public’s respect and appreciation for farmers and ranchers – Malama the Farmer.

The SOW project is funded by USDA and HDOA and in partnership with other organizations such as Hawaii Farmers Union United, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Pacific Gateway Center, GoFarm, and Oahu Resource Conservation &Development Council.

Although this one-year grant-funded initiative ends in March, the SOW team remains steadfast and committed to continue the momentum and work.

Video (farmer interviews):

About Seeds of Wellbeing
The mission of the Seeds of Wellbeing project is to understand and advocate for the health and wellbeing of farmers, ranchers, and allied agricultural producers in Hawaii, and provide tools and skills for skillful stress management. SOW is an initiative of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii Manoa, supported by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The SOW team has surveyed the state of mental health in Hawaii’s farming and ranching community, conducting hours of interviews, and collecting hundreds of survey responses. The formal findings are pending publication in 2023. For more information, visit

Friday, November 25, 2022


Press release: Maui voters contest Wailuku County Council election at Supreme Court


Wailuku, HI -  Maui County Council candidate Noelani Ahia and 30 Maui
County voters have filed an election contest with the Hawai'i Supreme
Court seeking to void the results of the Wailuku-Waihe'e-Waikapu County
Council race and to order the holding of a new election.

On election day, the County Clerk deemed the return envelopes of over
800 mailed in ballots "deficient". Voters are given five business days
after the election to cure deficiencies. However, the County Clerk did
not mail out notices to the affected voters until four days after
election day. The present difference between the candidates is presently
513 votes.

In contrast, before election day and before partial results were
available, the County Clerk would notify voters within one or two days
of the deficiency determination. The County Clerk's immediate supervisor
is Council Chair Alice Lee, the other candidate for the office.

The Election Contest has six counts. The County Clerk violated her duty
to reasonably notify voters that she was not counting their ballots. The
County Clerk did not comply with election laws in deeming certain return
envelopes deficient. The County Clerk violated open records laws by
refusing to make public the names of voters whose ballots were being
held. The County Clerk violated the state law by using different
procedures for notifying voters before and after partial election
results were available. The County Clerk violated the constitutional
right of equal protection by arbitrarily treating voters differently
based upon knowledge of the partial election results. The County Clerk
violated due process by failing to reasonably notify voters that their
ballots were being held.

The Supreme Court is not permitted to further extend deadlines to cure
envelopes so it is not possible to know what the true result of the
election is. As a result, the voters are asking the Supreme Court to
invalidate the election results and to order a new election for the
Wailuku-Waihe'e-Waikapu County Council seat.

"We must do everything possible to protect the right to vote and ensure
that every vote is counted. We need to ensure confidence in our election
system especially for all the first time voters," said lead Plaintiff
Noelani Ahia.

"As Hawai'i moves from in-person voting to mail-in voting, it is vitally
important that all election officials act with earnest diligence in
ensuring that every lawfully cast ballot is counted,' said the voters'
attorney Lance D. Collins. The voters are also represented by Bianca Isaki.

Friday, September 02, 2022


Today is the birthday of Queen Liliuokalani, September 2, 1838

by Larry Geller

Read more on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Download a copy of her book,

Hawaii's story by Hawaii's queen, Liliuokalani, here.

Queen Liliʻuokalani

Liliuokalani, c. 1891.jpg

Liliʻuokalani (Hawaiian pronunciation: [liˌliʔuokəˈlɐni]; Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha; September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917) was the only queen regnant and the last sovereign monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, ruling from January 29, 1891, until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 17, 1893. The composer of "Aloha ʻOe" and numerous other works, she wrote her autobiography Hawaiʻi's Story by Hawaiʻi's Queen during her imprisonment following the overthrow.

Thursday, August 11, 2022


Hawai'i Supreme Court Affirms Longline Fishing Ban in Hawai'i Waters


A press release from Maui attorney Lance Collins:

August 11, 2022

Paia, Maui -- The Hawai'i Supreme Court affirmed that longline fishing
is not permitted in Hawai'i state waters in a memorandum opinion issued
      Native Hawaiian waterman and Pa'ia resident Malama Chun had filed an
appeal against the state BLNR regarding his petition challenging DLNR's
practice of issuing licenses to foreign nonimmigrant fishermen refused
landing privileges and confined to their ships while in port.
    Chun originally filed his petition in April, 2017. The BLNR first
denied the petition on the grounds that Chun lacked standing. Chun
appealed and the Maui Environmental Court reversed that decision in
December, 2017, sending it back to the BLNR to decide the merits of
Chun's petition.
    The BLNR then decided that foreign fishermen who have been denied entry
into the United States and are confined to their ships pending
deportation are “lawfully admitted to the United States” and therefore
permitted to obtain commercial marine licenses.
    State law restricts the issuance of commercial fishing licenses to
persons “lawfully admitted to the United States” Foreign fishermen
working in the longline fishing industry are refused permission to land
in the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are also
ordered deported. However, using a loophole, ICE authorizes the
fisherman's boat captain to hold the fisherman's passport and the
deportation order and allow the boat captain to determine when the
deportation is to occur. To enforce the deportation order, the piers at
which the fishing boats dock are heavily militarized and access is
restricted -- a practice criticized by the Human Rights Institute in its
2019 report of forced labor in Hawaii's longline fishing industry.
    The Supreme Court narrowly ruled that the legislature intended to limit
"state waters" under the licensing statute to 12 nautical miles from
shore and not out to the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. In so ruling,
the Court declined to address the BLNR's conclusion that a person
refused admission to the United States is nevertheless also lawfully
admitted to the United States.
    The holding is also limited by the legislature's passing of Act 43 last
year which radically changed commercial marine licenses processes.
Vessels, instead of individuals, are now issued commercial marine
licenses. In response to concerns over human rights abuses on board
longline vessels including Chun's petition, longline fishing vessels
must report the following information to the state annually in obtaining
vessel licenses: the identity, nationality, arrival date and departure
date of crew members of each vessel.
    Chun's attorney, Lance D. Collins, added: “While we are disappointed in
the narrow ruling of the Court, the court's decision and the new
reporting requirements of Act 43 will help to limit the more excessive
abuses of vulnerable foreign crewmembers in the longline industry.”
    Attorney Bianca Isaki also served as co-counsel for Malama Chun.


Friday, May 27, 2022


Honolulu has a "smash-and-grab" burglary problem, but there is a solution

by Larry Geller

Honolulu has experienced a wave of "smash-and-grab" burglaries that is costing businesses expensive repair charges -- and which actually often net very little for the burglars. Basically, the doors or windows of a store or restaurant are smashed in middle of the night with rocks or by crashing a vehicle (usually stolen) into the storefront, then the thieves make off with cash registers or items of value.

A Star-Advertiser story (paywalled) reports that there have been 577 of these so far this year, as compared with 603 last year. That's a great increase over what was already a disturbingly large number of robberies.

(pic: Star-Advertiser Craig Kojima)

Footage from a surveillance video camera at the cafe showed three men entering the restaurant. Based on the footage, the burglary lasted about 1 minute and 15 seconds.

They just smashed the door, grabbed whatever they could get and left, said assistant manager Asia Gosnell. “If anything, I think the glass for the door is going to be more expensive than what they took.”

The glass door at Sophie’s Gourmet Hawaiian Pizzeria located next to the cafe also was shattered. Nothing was taken from the pizzeria.

Bandits also shattered the glass doors at Daiichi Ramen and BB.Q Chicken at Kuono Marketplace, a neighborhood shopping center that opened in Kahala in 2021.

Paul Ke, owner of Daiichi Ramen, said thieves took a cash register from his restaurant at about 2:15 a.m.

Ke said he wants the marketplace property management to hire additional security guards to patrol the grounds, especially after midnight.

The latest string of burglaries occurred following a series of smash-and-grab burglaries at other eateries at shopping centers and strip malls around Oahu in recent weeks and months.

If a burglary can be carried out in as little as a minute and 15 seconds, hiring more security guards may not be the solution -- thieves will learn to create a diversion and then hit the stores.

What may work would be to adopt practices used elsewhere to protect stores when they are closed -- rolling steel drop gates. I remember walking down the street from my home near Tokyo to the train station in the early morning -- every store was protected by a rolling steel drop gate.

The Web is full of examples.

Here's a "before" picture:







The fix:


And here's a pic of a protected neighborhood, Park Slope in New York: (pic credit: flickr: Dan Nguyen, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The steel gates also block views of what's inside, perhaps reducing temptation, and may provide some protection against storms or hurricanes.

Just a suggestion, FWIW.

Saturday, May 14, 2022


Civil Beat: Chad Blair on Why Micronesian Students Struggle In Hawaii

by Larry Geller

A confession: I discontinued my graduate studies in part because of the apparent requirement that I would be expected to produce scholarly papers -- that I felt no one outside of academia would ever read. And few people in academia either, because they were busy writing and publishing their own papers--that no one outside of academia would read.

I wanted to make a difference, and while I knew (and still believe) that research and publication are critically important activities, they were just not for me. I wanted to find a different path.

Ok, condemn me for this view. It was heartfelt at the time, right or wrong.

These days I frequently look up and read technical papers. End of confession.

Chad Blair has focused attention on one forthcoming paper that, thanks to his publicity, may (and should) be widely read.

Chad Blair: Why Micronesian Students Struggle In Hawaii.

The paper is:

“Racism and Discrimination against Micronesian Students in Hawaii,” it was produced by the Hawaii Scholars for Education and Social Justice.

The new report is focused on concerns over the “educational attainment, experiences, and problems” encountered by students from Micronesia in the public school system of Hawaii, especially at the K-12 level.

I hope Chad will post a link to the article when it is finally published (or available otherwise).

Meanwhile, please read his article if you care about equity in education in Hawaii.




Mind-blowing example of inflation–a $2.25 multi-course Chinese lunch in New York City in 1965


by Larry Geller

I was listening to the Shep-A-Day podcast, which posts archived Jean Shepherd radio shows that originally aired on radio station WOR in New York City. It was a late-night show, and as a kid I would hide my transistor radio under my pillow and listen under the covers almost every night, as I fell asleep.

Below is a snip from Shep’s May 14, 1965 program. It’s a transcript of a commercial he read at the very end of the program.

Can you believe, a 10-course Chinese lunch for $2.25? Even if this offer is designed to be a loss-leader to bring in new customers, it boggles the mind that a restaurant could be this cheap.

The restaurant (on 21st St. in Manhattan) no longer exists, according to a Google search. I’d love to have been able to discover what the same meal costs there today.

For those who don’t know Jean Shepherd, he was a prolific entertainer, radio personality, author and even movie producer. Here’s his Wikipedia page.

His radio program was unusual – he talked continuously, played the kazoo and Jews Harp often. Every night he was on, for years and years, continuous talk. No one has matched his ability to do this. I recommend the podcast if you might be an old fan, or for those wanting to experience his unusual entertainment style. Here’s the RSS feed, or get it wherever you get your podcasts:

Shep-A-Day Fatheads Podcast:

And here’s the commercial transcript:

"If you're going to make the restaurant scene over the weekend, I would highly like to recommend a visit to Happiness. It's an excellent restaurant. And I'm sorry that I've received all kinds of mail from people who missed our little party there before I went off to Australia, but Happiness is between 93rd and 94th Streets on Broadway.

And it is a fine Chinese restaurant and it really is a different kind. They serve the best dishes from Sichuan, Shanghai, Peking and Canton. It's really gourmet food and the prices are insanely moderate. You can get a fabulous 10 course dinner for just $2 and a quarter.

And it's unique. Not only that, you have this 10 course dinner and then you can eat as much as you want of it. That's two bucks and a quarter. It's a fantastic restaurant. It's served every day from 5:30 to 9:30pm and is an extremely pleasant restaurant. They serve a Hong Kong Tea House luncheon every day from noon to 4:30, hors d'oeuvres and Chinese pastries and so on.

At the lunch you just wouldn't believe how cheap that is. Nevertheless, it's Happiness and they're open Sunday. It's a great place to take the kids too. They've got a bar. It's Happiness between 93rd and 94th on Broadway."

Friday, October 22, 2021


Press release from KAHEA: State board to rule on whether University of Hawaii missed deadline to break ground for Thirty-Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea

Press release:


HONOLULU, Hawai‘i - On October 20, 2021, the Board of Land and Natural
Resources entered orders indicating it will rule on a petition for
declaratory orders from parties from the 2016-17 Thirty-Meter Telescope
permit contested case that challenges the University of Hawai‘i Hilo’s
assertion that TMT construction has already been initiated. Petitioners
Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Kealoha Pisciotta, Kū Ching, Deborah J. Ward, Paul
Neves, and KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance point out that TMT
construction has not begun and the Board should re-examine their 2017
permit approval in light of changed conditions surrounding the TMT project.

The group raised changed conditions including a $1 billion shortfall for
TMT funding, the Canadian Astronomical Association’s recent statement that
it cannot support the TMT without Native Hawaiians’ consent, and DLNR’s own
critical evaluation of University outreach and consultation with Hawaiians.

Currently, the University’s permit to build the TMT requires construction
to begin by September 26, 2021. If the Board grants the group’s petition,
the University would have to request another permit extension at a public
hearing before the Board or its permit would be void within a year. “The
University shouldn’t be able to twist facts in order to avoid public
scrutiny,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, “The TMT is not being constructed.”

The Board’s order set forth a 25 day schedule for briefing, after which it
will issue its ruling without a hearing.
Read the Board’s Order here

Read the Petition, filed May 24, 2021 here
Bianca Isaki, Ph.D., Esq.
KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance


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