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December 2009

January 2010

LWV - Honolulu Report
Honolulu Board Officer Vacancies
Annual Planning Meeting Recap (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Honolulu Rail - Commentary on the Process (Pearl Johnson)
Honolulu Rail - Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) (Charles Carole)

LWV - Honolulu Report

Membership: 179 as of Dec 5, 09

Honolulu continues to operate the LWV office in Honolulu. Office monitors are needed to make the office available to the public and press for telephone contact with the League and immediate response to walk in queries.

Planning & Transportation – Pearl Johnson and Charles Carole are doggedly following the rail project. We await the final EIS on rail so as to review it for comment. There will be a shortage in the surcharge collections for rail transit in FY2010 based on State Council of Revenues projections.

The State Planning Commission rejected the Hoopili development plan for the Ewa plain, but it will surface again. League opposes taking the best arable agricultural lands for development; we should be testifying to that effect.

Bishop Estate’s Kakaako development plan, which includes some affordable units, has been approved.

Vote count – Arlene Ellis conducted the mailing and vote count for the Hawaii Teamsters & Allied Workers Union, Local 996 election. Approximately thirty League members worked each day to ensure a timely completion of the election. Arlene and other volunteers also handled the second ballot mailings. League appreciates the opportunity to work with the Teamsters, serving upwards of 5,000 members.

Affordable Shelter – Patricia Otake and Roxie Berlin are following the Wailupe School use issue. The city has yet to decide use of the closed school facility. League will be advocating for sheltering homeless women.

Astrid and Donald Monson Community Action Award. The 2009 award was presented to Donna Wong, Executive Director of Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, on Nov. 21 at the Plaza Club in downtown Honolulu. The award recognizes Donna’s work over thirty years to protect Hawaii’s environmental and cultural resources. She also co-founded the Aloha Aina Congress which fights to preserve the land and waters of Hawaii.

Citizen’s Guide to Development Plans. Elizabeth Reilly reported that League is joining Hawaii’s Thousand Friends in a partnership to update the “Citizen’s Guide to the Development Plans” that Astrid Monson initiated and facilitated many years ago. The work will include research, data entry, copy, images, consulting and public relations leading up to 500 hard copies and 500 DVDs for distribution to appropriate interested agencies and public access facilities.

Honolulu League held its planning meeting on Dec 5 at the Hale Koa Hotel. The purpose of the annual meeting was to discuss proposals for League focus in the coming year. The theme this year will be food sustainability and food independence.

The Martin Luther King Day parade will be held on Jan 18, 2010 (time & place TBA). Honolulu League will participate again with vigor and fun. Members are invited to enjoy the march/ride from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park. Call the office to sign up with our event chair, Ann Shaver.

Greetings for a joyous and safe holiday season! Honolulu League held its annual planning meeting at the Hale Koa Hotel on Dec 5. The morning portion was taken up with business discussions followed by lunch. After lunch, Shawn Bolan spoke on the topic of food sustainability/independence.

Starting off the meeting I called for increased member participation in League activities at both state and local levels. During my time as president, many ideas and suggestions have been submitted for League to take action or respond to a legislative or government action. Many suggestions had merit but were left unanswered. The reality is that at the present Honolulu League actively follows just two issues: Pearl Johnson and Charles Carole monitor the rail issue and Patricia Otake and Roxie Berlin are watching plans for the use of the closed Wailupe Elementary School facility. At the state level on Oahu, we are lucky to have three committees with dedicated members – Education, Valere McFarland; Women’s Health and Safety, Suzane Meisenzahl; and Health Care Reform, Joy Marshall. JoAnn Maruoka will continue to follow state legislative and election issues. We are also grateful for the support of members who step forward and ease the task of everyday functions that need to be accomplished.

Honolulu League will elect a President, Vice President, Secretary, two directors, a membership committee chair and three nominating committee positions in April 2010. We are looking for members to serve in these positions. Office monitors are needed, as well as members willing to help with mailing out our newsletters. We would like to grow committees to stimulate ideas and share the work. Honolulu now has the Astrid and Donald Monson Community Action Award event to organize and present annually. Voter service and vote counts are core activities for League and are currently managed by one individual – Arlene Ellis. The Aloha Voter could use another editor to support Pearl Johnson.

The League of Women Voters of Honolulu has a very proud history beginning with its founding in 1948 by Marion and Allan Saunders. Our work and reputation over the years has been solid, but we are struggling now to maintain the presence and level of interest of past years. Currently the same individuals are tapped to help in several areas - if these individuals are not available, then the tasks wait or are neglected. Membership is at 180. All members are appreciated for their level of contribution, but the reality is, the League is an action organization. We are front and center on issues and take the discussion to the table with the appropriate officials. When we don’t have a position on an issue of interest, then we conduct a study for League consideration and consensus. We need members who can step forward and participate in the continuous struggle of government oversight. Government needs serious vigilance by its citizenry - that is the League’s work.

The new League Hawaii brochure was introduced at our meeting. Members’ comments will be considered before printing and distribution. The brochure focuses on the Hawaii leagues and contains local pictures. We will be using these brochures rather than the national brochure we relied on in the past.

Honolulu 2010 – We will continue the work of the Planning, Transportation,Voter Service and Affordable Housing committees. The use of land for agriculture to allow for increased food sustainability and food independence is going to be a major issue in 2010 for the planning committee, but the work can only be done with more members stepping forward to take part. 2010 is an election year in Hawaii - education of voters is critical especially with the drastic curtailment of services by the State of Hawaii Office of Elections. League must step forward to enable an informed citizenry to exercise the power of the vote! Members are needed to work on specific election education projects.

Guest Speaker Shawn Bolan

The guest speaker at the planning meeting, LWV member Shawn Bolan, spoke on food sustainability/independence.

Mr. Bolan studied economic geography and agribusiness at Dartmouth College. He is an organic gardener and a practitioner in the raw foods movement.

His first sentence was intriguing: “Sustainable food independence for Hawaii requires a paradigm shift to make things change.”

He has talked to farmers and figured out how to grow vegetables and herbs organically with the view of food as medicine and a key to good health.

Hawaii imports more food than any other state; we are only 10% sustainable. Contrast this with the ancient Hawaiians who were able to sustain a large population before Western diseases nearly wiped them out.

GMO modification is disturbing because it is unregulated. The top agricultural product in Hawaii in 2007 was seed corn at $146m. There is open field testing wherever seed crops are grown. Farms can’t be organic when there are GMO crops in the area which might spread pollen. In the US, GMO crops are not required to be labeled as such; China and most of Europe do require labeling.

What can we do? We must make people care, assess the true cost of industrial agricultural products. Some school lunch programs are making a start by incorporating garden vegetables grown by the students into cafeteria meals. Schools should teach local agricultural practices to get youth more interested in the land (example, Ma’o Farms) - the average age of farmers in Hawaii is 59.

Bolan asked League to consider the Iroquois Nation. It had a Council of Grandmothers who elected the chief, impeached the chief, and decided when to go to war. He thinks League is the perfect organization to use the grandmothers as a role model.

Honolulu League will be working on food sustainability/independence in 2010. Join us in this important effort.

Piilani Kaopuiki

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