Be there Sep. 20th – Climate change is real

Please join me, and a whole lot of other people from across the planet – Friday, September 20th (see details at bottom) – Help send a message to policymakers and government leaders everywhere and tell them:


Look it up please (I did) “existential” threat – a threat to our very existence.

Yes, it is serious. And yes, far too many in positions of power and authority have chosen to either look the other way or address the politics of the issue with only lofty vacuous goals, devoid of the bold public policy changes needed to protect the future of our planet.

During the coming week, especially on September 20th – political and government leaders across the U.S. will be offering speeches, press releases, and proclamations galore.

At every level, County, State, and Federal – All will pledge to “take the issue seriously” and to “do something about climate change”. More than likely many will throw in at least a half-promise to “get our county and state off of fossil fuel”.

Each will also praise those who show up to carry signs and exercise their right to free speech. They will say the right words, acknowledge the importance of the issue, and promise to do whatever they can.

It’s up to all of us to hold them to their words. It’s up to all of us to provide the help, and support the political will necessary to make the tough policy changes that must be implemented.

While showing up on Friday, September 20th is critically important, it is only the start. If you believe as I do that climate change is truly an existential threat to our planet – then you must commit to keeping your voice loud and your presence known, front and center.

Those political leaders who want to do the right thing, need our support.

The hard choices needed to slow the rate of planetary warming have political consequences, both positive and negative. As individuals, and as a group we must support those political leaders who support us. Those few who are willing to risk their careers proposing the much needed bold but sometimes politically volatile policy changes, need to know that we have their backs.

The fossil fuel industry and its allies are formidable foes. And make no mistake about it, they are the enemy in our fight to save the planet.

There are lots of strategies to deal with the climate crisis, however, unless the drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels is a central component – we are fooling ourselves.

We cannot afford to just nibble around the edges, satisfying to some extent our personal need to “do something” while offering our elected leaders “political cover”.

To some, Hawaii’s impact on global warming and climate change may seem insignificant. However, as an island community especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of sea-level rise and hurricanes, Hawaii can and should be a global leader in this battle.

As a community and as individuals there are lots of things we can do. And, with a strong commitment from our government, we can do far more.

We can plant trees and we should. But we should not plant them only to burn them and call the process renewable.

We can voluntarily paint our roofs white to reflect the sun and cool our structures and we should (and I have). But this does not replace requiring via the building code, that all new roofs have a solar reflective coating and thus helping to cool the planet rather than just radiate the heat.

We can drive smaller cars, preferably electric. But without significant additional tax incentives and disincentives, too many of our neighbors will continue to drive Hummers, monster trucks and giant SUVs – putting the small car and its occupants at a disadvantage when there is a head to head competition.

Our State government with the stroke of a pen could phase in a mandate that requires all car rental companies to only rent out electric or other highly efficient automobiles. Tax incentives and disincentives could be used to facilitate the changeover. Imagine the many positive impacts if every rental car on the road in the state of Hawaii was a small electric car.

Our County and State governments could require that 100% of their fleet be electric or otherwise highly efficient. Too often, our Government falls back on “we are trying” or “we aspire to…”. The time for trying and aspiration is long past – it’s time for the County Council and State Legislature to mandate the change.

Taxing the use of carbon or a “carbon tax” is often discussed here in Hawaii but never implemented. The underlying principle that those who contribute the most to global warming and climate change (as measured in their carbon footprint) should also pay the most – is a valid one.

Another valid principle, however, is that politically speaking, raising taxes is probably the most difficult and riskiest vote an elected official ever makes. The excuse most often used to fight against a carbon tax is that it will hurt poor people (which it seems is most of us).

The truth is that a person’s carbon footprint expands with wealth and income. Those with money will travel by air more, have a larger house (swimming pools and air-conditioning, etc) and in general consume far more energy than people of low to moderate-income. Yes, it is also true that low-income households will often drive older, larger and less fuel-efficient vehicles – but public policy initiatives can adjust for this.

The larger truth is that big business, big oil and big cars too often have the political muscle to stop changes in public policy when they fear an impact on their profit margins.

Of course, it is all connected. Whether your focus is on environmental, economic or social justice – left unchecked the increased warming of our oceans and the related climate crisis will and in fact already are exacerbating those many problems and challenges that already weigh heavily on our communities.

Which is why we need you to show up. Climate change is real. It impacts all aspects of our lives and we must send a strong and sustained message to government leaders everywhere. The time for action is now.

What we lack in money for lobbyists and campaign contributions, we can make up in numbers, at the election polls, at the public hearings – and most importantly now – on September 20th.

In spite of the odds. In spite of the enormous threat presented by global warming and the related impacts of climate change – I believe there is hope, and that we can in fact win.

Please join me and many others this coming Friday, September 20 to stand with the youth of today, across our planet – to push back against the powers that be and to fight for a stable, clean, bright future.

11:30-12:30pm Highway cleanup at KCC one-stop-center
1-3pm Sign-waving and speakers at KCC
3pm Bike to the Mayor’s office

Hawaiʻi Island
3-6pm Sign waving at Kamehameha Statue, Hilo

9am-1pm #Fridaysforfuture sign-waving at Maui County Building
4pm Rally at UH Maui College Great Lawn
4:30pm Sign-waving on Kaʻahumanu Ave followed by music, youth speeches, tabling and more

4-6pm Sign-waving at Molokaʻi Public Library

4-6pm March from Governor’s Mansion to State Capitol to Honolulu Hale

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The Mauna is sacred. Say the words.

The righteous indignation being spouted by TMT supporters, about following “the rule of law”, is ridiculous. Gag me with a fork.

The state and in fact all government entities exercise discretion on which laws they enforce, every single day of the week.

Today, at this very moment the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), a state agency, is dumping literally millions of gallons of water polluted with pesticides and heavy metals into near-shore waters (ie – at the beach), on the west side of Kauai. The court has ruled that it is illegal to do so without an NPDS permit. The ADC is breaking federal and state law, yet our government looks the other way and lets it continue.

Where is the righteous indignation here? Oh, forgot to mention – If the state makes their own agency, the ADC, follow the law then corporations doing the polluting will be shut down.

The protection of profits takes precedence over the protection of people and the planet – and to hell with the rule of law in this case.

But of course on Maunakea it is different (#not).

The pro-TMT forces whine about the government not enforcing the law, demanding that the troops be called in to protect the billions of dollars that will supposedly flow to the University, and then theoretically trickle down to the rest of us.

They complain about an un-permitted structure and demand its removal. But of course, no one is demanding that all un-permitted structures be removed from around the state, only this one particular structure. What a joke. There are zillions of un-permitted structures located in communities on all islands and government chooses to look the other way, except of course on Maunakea.

Today, we read the protectors on the Mauna are possibly trampling upon and damaging endangered plants, and so the state must take action!

DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case is quoted in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as saying. “Intentional or not, this damage is happening and it’s very concerning…There’s really just no way to have hundreds of people every day, often thousands, in sensitive natural areas…without this kind of harm resulting.” Please. Give me a break. On my island and on every island the state allows and in fact encourages not thousands, but millions of tourists to trample our reefs, mountain trails, and sensitive areas DAILY. The state’s selective enforcement tells us that it is not here to protect our reefs, mountains, or wildlife habitat. The state’s highest priority is to protect the investments of large landowners and foreign corporations.

Our state government allows and in fact grants permission to for-profit corporations via massive water diversions to literally kill countless streams and their related eco-systems. Yet they shout out with righteous indignation and threaten enforcement over the possibility of Native Hawaiians accidentally or inadvertently stepping on endangered plants while seeking to protect the Mauna. Give me a break.

If our state government is sincere about resolving the Maunakea issue, then they need to stop the BS righteous indignation act. Sending in the troops (complete with black masks) to shred our flag and tear down one lonely un-permitted structure, and now rattling the saber about Hawaiians trampling on vines – is not the way to build goodwill and better friendships (mahalo to Rotary).

Dialogue begins with respect.

And respect starts with acknowledging that Maunakea is indeed sacred, deserving of the attention and protections being demanded by those who now occupy the ground at its base.

All who wish to come to the table must first agree to the sacredness of the Mauna. No good-faith conversations, let alone “negotiations” – can possibly be conducted until everyone at the table acknowledges that yes Maunakea is indeed a sacred place.

I encourage all who question the sacredness of the Mauna to read and study the Kumulipo which is the ancient Hawaiian “creation chant”. You can find more information and translated text HERE–11haw-50-20-frameset-book–1-010escapewin&a=d&d=D0&toc=0

Please also read this excellent article “What Makes A Volcano Sacred?” in the Atlantic Monthly:

“In the Kumulipo, the ancient chant that tells the story of how the Hawaiian Islands and the Hawaiian people came to be, the volcano is considered kino lau, the physical form of the gods. Mauna Kea is the son of Wākea, the sky father, and of Papahānaumoku, the Earth mother.”

It is of course past time for our government leaders, to begin leading.

The situation at Maunakea will not be resolved by force, nor by the conventional western notion of negotiation.

The use of force will only intensify and magnify the opposition, with negative repercussions that will last far into the future. Western-style negotiation of “I will give you this if you give me that.” is also a non-starter, and will lead nowhere.

The leaders on the Mauna cannot be bought with the promise of jobs, a learning center/museum, scholarships for the keiki, nor any other bright and shiny objects. Theirs is a position of principle. Theirs is a position of a righteous and just cause – the sacredness of the Mauna.

To move forward, this is the context upon which all discussions must be grounded. The TMT developers must acknowledge this and our government must acknowledge this, AND until this happens there will be no respect and consequently no progress toward any resolution.

The Mauna is sacred. Say the words – and then hopefully talks can begin.


Footnote and Disclosure: I am certainly no scholar of Hawaiian history and culture. However, many other scholars in many different publications – have referred to Mauna Kea as being sacred. Many point to the Kumulipo to justify the sacredness statement, as I did in the piece written above. However, others have informed me that the kumulipo does not expressly refer to Mauna Kea.

The Kumulipo does contain a specific reference to a body of water that is on Mauna Kea, by the name of “Waiau” – And from hours of reading/research…it seems clear that Waiau is considered also sacred in a historical context. Because Waiau is located on Mauna Kea and referenced in the Kumulipo, and because Mauna Kea is included in many other historical recounts, references, and chants, may be some of the reasons why so many “sources” scholarly, mainstream credible press and otherwise, say that Mauna Kea is referred to in the kumulipo.

In any case, I have no doubt as to the sacred nature of the Mauna – this conclusion is further supported by the following.

Mauna a kea – Examining a Chant–11haw-50-20-frameset-book–1-010escapewin&a=d&d=D0&toc=0

The intercourse between Wākea and Papa gave birth to the islands of Hawai’i—the solid foundation for life. The Big Island is their haipo or eldest child. Mauna Kea is the child’s piko, which is translated to umbilical cord, navel, or belly button (Puhipau 2006). The reference to Mauna Kea being the first-born is seen in mele hānau (birth chants) like this one for Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III):

The below thesis contains much information, and also refers to Mauna Kea being part of the Kumulipo…and also has this information as to other chants referencing the Mauna

O hānau ka mauna a Kea, (Born of Kea was the mountain,)
‘Ōpu‘u a‘e ka mauna a Kea. (The mountain of Kea budded forth.)
‘O Wākea ke kāne, ‘o Papa, (Wākea was the husband, Papa)
‘O Walinu‘u ka wahine, (Walinu‘u was the wife.)
Hānau Ho ‘ohoku he wahine, (Born was Ho‘ohoku, a daughter,)
Hānau Hāloa he ali‘i, (Born was Hāloa, a chief,)
Hānau ka mauna, he keiki mauna na Kea… (Born was the mountain, a mountain-son of Kea…) (Korn 1979)

I continue to read, to learn and to research…gh

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Corporatists masquerading as Democrats, attempting to cloak themselves as Centrists

It’s not an exaggeration to say 2020 will be, and in fact, must be – a pivotal year of change.

The Amazon burns, we keep children in cages along our borders, mass shootings are commonplace, the rich keep getting richer and the poor, poorer – all while we allow a dangerous, divisive and mentally unstable individual to occupy the White House.

Locally, we have the highest rate of houseless per capita of any state in the U.S..

Nearly half of local families live on the edge, with less than one paycheck in the bank. Working two or more jobs at substandard wages, while sharing a home with family or friends is the norm for local residents.

When factoring in the high cost of living, our public school teachers are the lowest paid in the country.

Hawaii’s natural environment is degraded daily as corporate interests divert our mountain streams and agrochemical companies pollute our coastal reefs and groundwaters.

Our criminal justice system seems based on the principle of mass incarceration in private for-profit prisons with barely even lip service given to rehabilitation and re-entry.

While thankfully our local state government is not overtly unhinged, it is increasingly tone-deaf to the urgency presented by our most pressing problems. Yes, the Hawaii State Legislature deserves credit for the many positive pieces of legislation it passes each year, but they inevitably fall short when it comes to accomplishing the bold systemic changes needed to get out in front of the critical and entrenched challenges facing our community.

The start of each and every legislative session begins always with words of promise and hope, the subsequent action in support of the nice words also inevitably fade into baby steps of incremental change, or more often than not evaporate entirely into a promise of “maybe next year”, or “let’s study this issue yet again”.

While the legislature and/or the governor could convene a special session to deal with these issues, each of which on their own should rightfully be considered an emergency, that is unlikely to happen given the track record of leadership, or the lack thereof. If the need was to support a large construction project or other priority of the Chamber of Commerce and Hawaii’s business elite, the answer of course, would be yes. But for low income working people, the incarcerated, our public schools, or the environment, it is clear such a bold action is not likely.

The legislature could also attempt to resolve the Maunakea/TMT issue which is inarguably the most “here and now” challenge facing Hawaii. A handful of individual legislators have spoken out on this issue, yet the Hawaii State Legislature as a body remains silent.

With literally the stroke of a pen the legislature could grant low income working men and women in Hawaii a much-needed increase in the minimum wage, mandate that excessive stream diversions stop immediately, and require that corporations be prosecuted when their deadly chemicals pollute nearshore waters and aquifers that host our drinking water. They could also deal proactively with the challenges facing our prisons and implement funding mechanisms to ensure our public school teachers are paid what they deserve.

The legislature could also if a call to such leadership moved them – support an immediate moratorium on all new development on Maunakea until the existing obsolete telescopes are removed and issues pertaining to the long term management of the ceded lands are resolved.

But of course, we know there will be no special session. Individual legislators statewide are almost unanimous in professing support for a minimum wage increase to at least $15 per hour, but those in a position of actually making it happen – will find ways to not deliver on their professed commitment and as has happened in the past, will continue to delay the actual passage of any such legislation.

Ditto on the other issues. Either the legislature refuses to act, acts only timidly in baby steps after years of community pressure, or in the case of the corporate water theft bill of 2019 the State House of Representatives actually attempted to give away the store.

It seems clear from a close and sustained look at their words and actions, that a majority of state legislators are in fact Corporatists masquerading as Democrats, attempting to cloak themselves as Centrists.

The keyword here is “majority”. Obviously, there are many legislators now serving that do in fact believe in putting people and the planet first, but a look at outcomes shows that without question, they do not constitute a majority.

Fortunately, we can change this in 2020. Because of the threat posed by the mad King now running the U.S., and because of the new political awareness that has been created by front and center local and national issues – it is possible and perhaps even likely that people from across all Hawaii, will, in fact, show up in 2020 to demand change.

To win in 2020, both at the legislature and at the ballot box, showing up in large numbers will be essential. New candidates from across Hawaii who share the belief that people and the planet must come first, will soon be entering the political arena, and yes more are needed.

The stars are aligning for a win/win in 2020. If the legislature passes a strong progressive and environmentally friendly agenda we win, and if they don’t it actually increases the likelihood of winning for those candidates who campaign on issues pertaining to economic, environmental and social justice.

Bottom line: 2020 starts now.

Now is the time to contact legislators and let them know where you stand on the issues. Waiting means your voice risks being drowned in the clutter and confusion that comes with a new legislative session.

Now is also the time to seek out and support those candidates who support your values, and are willing to fight for them.

And finally, if you are one of those who are on the cusp of deciding whether or not to run – know that your community needs you. If you have roots in your community, if you truly believe in putting people and the planet first, AND if you are willing to work very, very hard – your community needs you now more than ever. If you are going to run, NOW is when you start.

Gary Hooser (sign up for my regular email newsletter)
Note: This blog represents my personal and individual viewpoint only, and does not represent the position or viewpoint of the Democratic Party or any organization I am affiliated with.

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Key Questions Every Candidate Must Answer

So you are thinking about running for election to public office? 

Why?  This is the most important question a candidate must answer, and it will be asked over and over again throughout the campaign.  Hint – The answer is not to fix the roads, repair the schools, nor even to stop crime or homelessness.  The answer must be far deeper than a list of policy changes or community problems and challenges.  Successful candidates must reach down deep and explain what really drives them to public service, and then and only then can or should they attempt to talk about the tangibles.  Second hint – The tangibles must be those most important to the district resident (crime, schools, traffic, housing), regardless of any personal policy priorities the candidate may have.

How long have you lived here?  Unless the answer is obvious, this will be the first question even if not spoken openly.  A rule of thumb: successful candidates have typically either been born in the district, gone to school in the district, and/or lived in the district for a number of years.  Preferably, they have been involved in the district in some leadership capacity (a teacher in the schools, coach on a youth sports team, neighborhood board or community association involvement, PTA, etc).  There are, of course, exceptions, but you will almost certainly have to work much harder if you are not “from” the district.

Why are you qualified to run and serve? Hint – Your answer as a candidate must open with passion and commitment, and close with competence.  A successful candidate must demonstrate both.  Competence is best demonstrated through past achievement which could be personal, academic, professional or community-based. What have you done with your life so far?  Second hint: You cannot win with simply charisma and a nice smile.  When placed on stage next to other candidates, you must be able to demonstrate a basic understanding as to how government works.  It is also helpful to know the difference between a cesspool and a septic system, etc.  You certainly don’t need to be an expert on the mechanics of public works or public administration, but you must take the time to learn the basics.

Who is on your campaign team?  A successful candidate must have a team that starts with at least two or three core individuals.  #1) Treasurer – Keeps the books, files the campaign spending commission reports and makes sure the campaign’s fundraising and spending practices follow the law. #2) Campaign Manager – Essentially joined at the hip with the candidate for the duration of the campaign, accompanies the candidate to events, strategizes with the candidate, recruits other volunteers and may be asked occasionally to fall on a sword for the candidate. 3) Field Organizer – Recruits and organizes volunteers and supports door-to-door canvassing, sign-holding, telephone banking, and other events.

Notes: #1) These positions should not be filled with a spouse or significant other. #2) Except for statewide and other “big races” (Governor, LG, Congress, Mayor), for the vast majority of local campaigns these are volunteer positions. #3) The candidate’s team should ideally be representative of the district’s demographics.

How many votes do you need to win? The short answer is one vote more than the other guy.  The longer answer: Visit, click “Results”, then scroll down to “Primary Election 2018”, then go to your County “Summary”, then go to the race you intend to run in, add up all of the votes cast in that particular race, divide by two and add one = equals your win number.  There are different variables, the turnout is greater in “Presidential election years” so you will want to look into the past few elections, and the turnout in primary and general elections differ.  But in Hawaii, the Primary is everything. Note: On this same page you can also view “Statewide Precinct Detail” to see how your district voted “precinct by precinct.”

How much money do you need? To run any credible campaign for any public office in Hawaii, and have any chance whatsoever of winning – will cost at least $30,000 to $40,000.  Yes, some candidates will do it for less, but many will spend more.  A candidate can and should find out exactly what the incumbent spent (and what they spent it on) in the most recent election by going to and search “Candidate Contribution and Expenditure Reports and Organizational Reports”. View the 12/18 filing to see a lump sum number spent during the 2018 campaign – look on the line that says “5.  Total Expenditures” and then all the way to the right-hand column under “election period total to date”.

Where will you get the money?  It will not fall from trees and people do not come rushing to you with fistfuls of cash. Basically, you will ask for it.  If you are not willing to ask, then you will not get and you will lose.  If a candidate is “deemed credible” by friends, family, and residents in the district – it is reasonable to assume that those individuals will if asked, provide the first round of say $10,000 in funding.  10 people at $100 plus 20 others at $50 gets you to $2,000 which allows you to purchase access to a voter database so you can begin setting up your campaign and identifying your votes. Perhaps then 4 additional affluent supporters chip in $250 each, one additional “angel” donates $1,000 and you have almost enough to print your initial “walking piece”. Now you can begin walking door to door. Hint: Ask for a specific amount, for a specific purpose, by a specific date – Can you help with a $100 contribution before September 15th to go toward the printing of my initial walking piece so that I can start going door-to-door by October 1st?” Once you begin walking, you prove yourself to others who  “like your politics and values” but are not sure if you are electable and/or if you are willing to do the work needed to win. Successful candidates will start their campaigns early and run hard the entire way through until election day. When candidates do this, people in the community notice, they spread the word to others and they will often contribute more when asked. Notes: Do not spend your own money. If you cannot garner financial support from the community and the people around you, you are not going to win. However, If you do have to “front” the campaign initial funding to print your first piece or whatever, candidates should make this a “loan to the campaign” so they can eventually be repaid these funds. 

What is the next step? Assuming the candidate has done the research needed to analyze the district, determined the “win number” and assembled a team – the next step is to file an organizational report with the campaign spending commission, open a bank account and begin raising campaign “seed money” to support the printing of the initial walking piece.  Hint1: There is no need to do a fancy “campaign announcement party or event”, this can come later.  Suffice to let the world know via twitter and facebook for now – and host a larger event at a later time. Hint 2: The longer you avoid walking the district, the greater your chances of losing. 

Now, go get ‘em! If you have roots in your community, and your politics are based on putting people and the planet first we need you – to run and to win. And if I can help, do not hesitate to call – 808-652-4279

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The self full-filling prophecy of political apathy.

To all the complainers out there who moan and groan about politics and politicians, I say shut the front door or get involved and do something about it.

Let’s face facts. The majority rules.

Whether it is the County Council, the State Legislature or the U.S. Congress – the majority of elected office-holders drive the agenda, and a majority of voters elect those office-holders.

In Hawaii, a majority of the population stays home on election day. Consequently, in our community, a minority actually elect those who represent the majority. Go figure.

So to the dis-affected, dis-enfranchised and dis-connected who do not believe in the system and therefore do not vote – YOURS IS A SELF FULL-FILLING PROPHECY. If you voted, perhaps things would be different. If you actually got involved in the system and in the democracy that is in power and controls our government – Perhaps your issues and priorities would be addressed. But no, you prefer instead to stay home, complain, criticize and throw stones at those who are trying to work within the system to make our community a better place.

You have two choices. Join in making our democracy a better one that puts people and the planet first, or drop out and see your predictions of a deteriorating world come true. If you choose to drop out, please do so quietly – we do not need the passive-aggressive behavior of those who claim to be revolutionaries but who never leave their couch.

As you can see, I am over it. While my wife would say that I am in it, I will tell you here and now that I am over it. We, collectively have the power to elect people locally at the State and County level, that could make Hawaii a model for the world. We could have a government that actually puts the protection of our natural resources at the top of the agenda, and takes bold action to rectify the existing criminal imbalance between the top 1% and the vast majority of low income working people.

Yes, we could do this and more – if only people would participate. Please, register to vote today at OLVR.HAWAII.GOV

I would be lying if I said all you had to do was vote, and voila the world would be a better place. With the benefits of citizenship comes a civic duty to vote and to pay attention to the issues, offer testimony on occasion and communicate at least occasionally with those you elect to serve in public office. Yes, I understand you are busy and life is complicated, but if you want your community and our world to be a better place – you must make the time.

Before I conclude, there is one more important fact that also must be confronted.

The complainer’s rail that the only choices we have at the ballot box are the “same ole, same ole”- and to a great extent they are right on this point.

Voting only works if we have someone to vote for.

Too many incumbent office-holders have become complacent in their roles and view minimal incremental change as sufficient to justify their existence. Too many are too fearful of challenging the corporate power elite at the expense of grass-roots working people and our natural environment.

Our world is literally burning, and nearly half of Hawaii’s people wake up every morning facing the stress that comes with being one paycheck away from homelessness.

We need candidates who are willing, able, and brave enough to make the bold choices needed to move us forward. Hawaii desperately needs new leadership who will champion the protection of our public trust resources and who will fight to ensure that all workers earn a living wage.

Timid incremental baby steps will not get us where we need to be.

There are 11 months remaining until the Primary Election. In Hawai’i, because we are essentially a one-party state, the Primary Election is everything.

The time is now for new candidates to step up and declare their candidacy.

New candidates must step up now to organize their team, assemble their materials and begin that all-important task of door-to-door canvassing. Having run in 10 different political campaigns over the years myself, I know and understand the hesitancy and sometimes self-doubt that every new candidate “jumping in” to a race faces.

There are many out there who are electable and who have the qualifications and attributes of leadership, but who for whatever reason are fearful of taking the step. In my work as a volunteer with the Kuleana Academy (a nonpartisan, political and civic leadership training program), I discuss this topic regularly with individuals across the archipelago. I would be pleased to have a discussion with any aspiring candidates, for any office, on any island, regardless of political party affiliation.

I ask, if not you who? If running for office is definitely not for you – then find someone you can support and who shares your values – and then help them.

In any case, it is crunch time for the 2020 elections. My rant is over. Suffice it to say, for it to work properly we need all to participate in our democracy.

It is the only system we have and the stakes are high.

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Time to say thanks to the governor 

Full disclosure – I served for 8 years (2002 – 2010) in the Hawaii State Senate with then State Senator and now Governor David Ige. We were members of the same Senate “faction” – “The Chess Club”. While not close friends, I have always liked Governor Ige as a person and respected him as a true public servant. I believe him to be an honest man who wakes up every morning wanting to do what’s right for the people and the state of Hawaii.

While I have disagreed with many of the multitudes of decisions he has made as governor, I also was a strong supporter of his reelection. Such is the nature of political choices.

With regards to the Maunakea TMT issue, Governor Ige has at times misstepped and misspoke, largely I believe because he was misinformed. Such is the case for all topics and issues – the Governor counts on others to provide him with the information upon which he uses to make “informed decisions”. Clearly, the information provided to him in the early opening days of the protector occupation was inadequate at best.

At the end of the day, I believe we should be thankful that Governor David Ige is our Governor at this particular moment in time.

Governor Ige deserves our thanks and our respect for keeping a level head and a steady hand in dealing with the issues on Maunakea.

While the favorite game of advocates on both sides of the issue seems to require calling him names, making fun, and denigrating him personally – I believe he deserves our thanks.

Governor Ige was presented with circumstances not of his own making, that put him in a truly untenable position – he would be damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.

Any choice or decision he makes is quickly pounced upon by keyboard warriors of all persuasions. Armchair quarterbacks with baseball bats – quick to bash and criticize but their offering of positive solutions or a path forward, is of course non-existent.

The proposed TMT development was introduced to Hawaii years before Governor Ige took office.

He is obligated by his oath of office to enforce the law. You can be sure the loudest voices shouting in his ear are those business interests and law enforcement agencies, appalled that he has exercised restraint and not literally sent in the troops to open up the road.

Governor Ige has instead taken a deep breath and decided not to take the enormous risk that would come through the exercise of force.

For that, we should applaud his wisdom and be thankful that he is the one sitting behind that desk on the 5th floor of the state Capitol.

While other politicians make pronouncements safely from the comfort of their positions of non-responsibility, Governor Ige is forced to make the hard decisions. And to his credit, so far he has safely navigated waters more treacherous than any in modern Hawai’i history.

The situation could have easily spiraled out of control, but it did not. People could have been physically hurt, or worse- but that has not happened either.

With another Governor the results may have been different. Another Governor instead of putting the protection of the people and the social and cultural fabric of our island home first, may have listened instead to the hawks of big business and law enforcement, who even now are clamoring to put money and an unjust system of laws above all else.

There are no road maps to be followed nor textbooks available to help navigate through this situation.

Mistakes have been made along the way, and mistakes, missteps, and course-corrections will continue to be made as this incredibly complex situation continues to unfold and evolve in the days and weeks, possibly months ahead.

But I for one am thankful that our governor continues to put the principles of restraint, respect, and dialogue above that of force and intimidation.

I encourage all to think for a moment before hurling that next cheap shot. Instead, perhaps consider reaching out to say thank you. Thank Governor Ige for being willing to take the relentless drubbing and below the belt hits, as the price paid to move with thoughtful deliberation focused only on an end result that is safe and just – a conundrum though that may be.

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Hawaii’s government leaders must rise to the occasion.

Governor David Ige is between that proverbial rock and a very, very, very hard place.  The situation seems intractable, but it is not. There is a path forward.

Attempting to arrest and detain 2,000 people is I would hope, not an option. Logistically there is no space for that many people, and unless detained most would return immediately to the Mauna, reinvigorated as to commitment and purpose.  

There are children and kupuna present in large numbers. The trauma, all caught on camera and beamed around the world – would cause huge harm on many levels.

Mass arrests are not possible, and morally reprehensible.  At least not possible in a sane and rational world.

There have already been large demonstrations and marches held on every island, with more being planned.  Any escalation of force initiated by state security forces risk further and serious escalation of demonstrations and ultimately civil disobedience statewide.  

It is important to remember that on the Mauna the protectors and their leadership are exercising strict kapu aloha discipline. They have been trained and continue to train others on how to NOT push back and to conduct themselves only in respectful and non-violent ways.

Others participating in the many sometimes spontaneous actions around the state have not been so diligently trained or informed. Inevitably, a random provocateur on one side or the other will do something foolish and either intentionally or not…ignite the emotional tinder-box that grows more volatile by the hour.

The only responsible action by the Governor at this point is to acknowledge the situation is untenable, that the state cannot ensure the safe passage of people or equipment, and at a minimum, call for a 90-day moratorium of activity on both sides. 

The developers of the TMT should by now see the writing on the wall. If they care about our community (and their own budget, timeline, and personal reputations) they will soon announce a decision to relocate the project to the Canary Islands.  They already have permits in place there, the atmospheric conditions are also very favorable, and apparently, there has been no community opposition.

It is time to end this before it spirals even more out of control.

The TMT advocates will say “it’s not fair” and that the developers have “checked all the boxes and followed all the rules” and therefore entitled to build the 18 story structure situated on an area equivalent to 4 football fields. 

The protectors will say (and rightfully so), “don’t talk to us about being fair”. 

The University/TMT obtained a state permit to build on Mauna Kea. The Hawaiian demonstrators also have un-relinquished claims to the (un)ceded lands of Mauna Kea. The state permit did not address those claims. The courts have said that this is a “political question” that they cannot address. Here and now on the Mauna, without recourse to the court and without relief from the legislature, people have properly decided to press their claims over lands that matter most.

The lands upon which the TMT is proposed are state-owned public trust conservation lands, considered sacred by Hawaiians.  Our state constitution states these lands “…shall be held by the State as a public trust for native Hawaiians and the general public.”  There are no private property rights being violated. 

The TMT advocates will then say, “What about the science?  What about the immense value to astronomy and the opportunities to explore the universe?”

The science will not stop, neither will the exploration of the universe and all the incredible value that will be yielded from the telescope’s development. You can be sure this work will continue, whether on the Canary Islands or elsewhere.

Our government needs to follow-through and ensure the decommissioning and removal of the 5 telescopes that are currently obsolete or scheduled to be closed (of the 13 total). 

It is well past time that those in positions of leadership, rise to the occasion – unite behind calling an end to the TMT debacle and put forward meaningful initiatives that preserve and protect our public trust resources.

Gary Hooser

Board President – Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA)
Hawai’i State Senator (2002 – 2010)
Director Office of Environmental Quality Control (2011 – 2012)
Kauai County Council (1998 -2002, 2012 -2016)

Note1: If you agree, I ask that you also consider supporting the protectors on the Mauna by making a contribution of any amount ASAP to the Aloha Aina Support Fund.

Note2:  I want to thank everyone who was able to make a contribution to HAPA in support of economic justice issues.  Of the $8,500 goal, we received just over $5,000!  If you can help close that final gap please visit HAPA online if possible by July 24th, to make a secure and tax-exempt donation.  

Note3:  Please take moment if you can to read my latest blog piece that better explains the ADC issue of polluting Kauai’s west side waters with pesticides and heavy metals.

“Every single day of the week, the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) dumps millions of gallons of water polluted with pesticides and heavy metals into the ocean in areas where Kauai’s west side residents fish, surf and recreate with their families.

“This is not wild speculation, exaggeration or hysterical hyperbole.”  READ MORE HERE  

Gary Hooser –

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