PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

July 6, 2016

Why Governor Ige Should Have Vetoed SB2501. Why He Didn’t

HB2501, as indicated by the Conference Committee report is meant to “to allow the Board of Land and Natural Resources to authorize the holder over of a previously authorized water rights lease during the pendency of an application to renew the lease.” The situation which the bill seeks to remedy exists in only one instance, which the O‘ahu First Circuit Court addressed in its ruling earlier this year. In fact, even the Deputy Attorney General arguing the case said, “This is a unique situation.”

The Conference Committee, in an attempt to lend further reasoning in support of the bill, raised, in its report, the specter of losing Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) to reclassification should a minimum of 3,500 gallons per acre per day (GAD) not be readily available and the bill fail to become law. While the However, before any of the 27,000 IAL acres might be reclassified, there would certainly be contested case hearings to determine the validity of such a petition. What’s more, the Waiahole Decision set the minimum GAD for diversified agriculture at a minimum of 2,500 GAD, or an average of 3,500 GAD, set by the Department of Agriculture. So, while the Conference Committee attempts in its report to scare the bejesus out of anyone who cares about the lost of IAL, their claim only helps to make transparent their real intent of giving Alexander and Baldwin (A&B) pretty much whatever they want.

What’s more, way back in 2000, A&B filed an application for a 30-year long-term lease to access 33,000 acres of public land for the purpose of diverting an unspecified amount of water from public lands. A year later, with approval still pending from the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), taro farmers on Maui filed for a contested case hearing on A&B’s long-term lease application. In June, 2003 BLNR finally approved the long-term lease application, at which point the taro farmers appealed the decision to the courts, as no Environmental Impact Statement was completed, as required by HRS 343.

Had A&B and BLNR followed the law more than a decade ago, we might not be talking about this right now.

Still, despite panic raised by A&B and DLNR that other revocable permit holders could find themselves in a similar predicament, there’s no evidence or reason to believe that would actually happen. The ongoing struggle and litigation against A&B is a unique situation where they are diverting large amounts of water, for arguably unknown reasons, and in the process harming farmers downstream. DLNR admits no other litigation is pending other than the ongoing cause against A&B. It’s also important to point out that there are other remedies that could address this issue, without this legislation:

  • Seeking a stay of enforcement from the court while the decision is on appeal,
  • BLNR could issue a new very limited revokable permit to A&B (such as only for upcountry residents and with specific GAD figures for diversified agriculture with directions to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for those uses (which DLNR had previously directed A&B to do), possibly to include water diversion until Dec. 2016,
  • DLNR contacts all other revokable permit holders to outline the future implementation so that they have certainty about what to expect,
  • DLNR sets regulations to address the concerns of transparency, public trust resources, and the needs of the other revokable permit holders, such as the Ka‘u ranchers, for example,
  • Separately, the Water Commission could immediately set interim in-stream flow standards for East Maui streams that are in place while the larger decision about the future of agriculture in central Maui is decided.

It’s also important to note that, even without a revokable permit, or this bill, A&B can still divert significant amounts of water from watersheds it owns: as much as 55 million gallons a day. It also has access to well water that can pump more than 83 million gallons a day.

Additionally, the public display over A&B’s announcement in April to restore flows was arguably disingenuous. In 2008, BLNR ruled that 12 million gallons per day of water should be restored among 8 streams in East Maui. Despite this order, A&B released minimal amounts of water to these streams, until their announcement in April. The public “stunt,” lent further credibility by the legislators on hand for the press conference, should serve as a reminder that A&B consistently flaunts the law, until it serves their purposes not to.

Ultimately, the situation which A&B and DLNR say this bill will address, is a result of a combination of foot dragging by the DLNR and A&B’s refusal to play by the same rules as everyone else. Had DLNR (or A&B) completed an Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement in conjunction with their initial 30-year lease application in 2003, this situation might not exist at all.

Despite all this, Governor Ige chose to sign the bill. He said, “We have a water permit process that has not been working.” This is fundamentally untrue and incorrect. Permit process WORKS for everyone except A&B, who DLNR has been giving everything they ask for… for decades, in clear and repeated violation of the law. Governor Ige goes on, “While I have major reservations about HB2501, it does provide time to transition to a press that ensures water is distributed fairly in accordance with the public trust doctrine and that decisions are made in a timely matter.”

Unfortunately, flawed reasoning and a willingness to be swept up in fears of who else might be affected, he signed the bill. While disappointing and frustrating, opponents of the bill should draw the conclusion that the Governor is just another corrupt politician, bought off by powerful and moneyed interests. Certainly there are criticisms that can be laid on the Governor, but there isn’t any evidence that he’s corrupt. Rather Ige, earned whatever political chops he may have over decades working with many politicians who ARE corrupt and in a system that is corrupt.

A&B didn’t need to sell the legislature a bill of goods about how others might be negatively affected by a failure to pass HB2501, they would have gone along willingly. The Governor, on the other hand, inevitably listened to those for whom A&B’s fear tactics were effective. Rather than risk hurting farmers, HELCO, and KIUC, Governor chose to sign the bill. He should definitely be made to feel our frustration and disappointment, but he should not be painted with the same brush as those legislators who stood shoulder to shoulder with A&B executives at the April press conference.

February 1, 2015

PDH’s 2015 Legislative Priorities

Progressive Democrats of Hawaii

2015 Legislative Priorities

We have five clusters of priority issues:


Here are some of the issues within each cluster.


1. Update our Low-Income Household Renters Credit
2. Update our Refundable Food/Excise Tax Credit
3. Create a Low-Income Workers Credit
4. Adopt a State Earned Income Tax Credit
5. Halt the Dec 31, 2015 Tax Cut for High-Income Earners


• Support county home rule on use of pesticides
• Establish Statewide buffer zones and disclosure for pesticide use
• Support diversified, sustainable, and small farms
and, if such a bill surfaces,
• Support labeling of GMO products


Support legalization of marijuana
Support de-criminalization (as a less desirable, fall-back position).


We support public financing of elections and overthrowing the Citizens United ruling


We support the development of alternative energy and oppose efforts to reinforce monopolistic control of the electric system. We need to democratize energy.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Note: these priorities are subject to change as the session continues. Bills morph, new issues arise, others fade. When allies start making progress on their bill and adding support might lead to a victory for them, we will shift over, depending upon our availability.

On each of these bills, there are other groups taking the lead, while we are providing support. If we have the relationships and knowledge to lend a hand for a good cause, we will help, so long as we do not get stretched too thin. We claim no “turf” of our own. It is the issues and the relationships which are important. Not the glory, not the press clippings we can take back to our funders.

NOTE: It would be helpful if we had the bill numbers for each of these issues. There are often multiple bills on the same matter. And, of course, there are versions in both chambers. It will take a bit of time to sort this out. If you have bill numbers which correspond to these issues, feel free to post links to the status page of the bills here. Especially if you are already tracking the bills for an organization. Let’s cooperate and work together rather than leave so many things to chance and force our activists to duplicate work which has already been done.

June 19, 2012

Ed Case Completes PDH Survey

What, in your view, are the reasons preventing the U.S. Senate from passing legislation that better serves the American people?

The main reason is that most of the American people are currently disenfranchised inside the Beltway. The inside crowd is dominated by political action committees and other special interests dedicated solely to the maintenance of their own interests at all costs to the exclusion of everyone else, and Congress is dominated additionally by the mindset that every debate and policy issue presents a stark choice between political extremes.

All of this results in hyperpartisan, my-way-or-the-highway, take-no-prisoners gridlock, and classic alamihi crab syndrome reactions to any attempt to find a better way forward. None of this is representative of the mainstream of the American people. No wonder that, in the most recent poll taken on the subject (Rasmussen, June 2012), only 7% of Americans, crossing all party and other lines, believe Congress is doing an excellent or good job. Please see my Issues Agenda: Fixing Washington.


March 30, 2010

Local Agriculture

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,General,SHAPES platform — rachel @ 3:46 pm

In our sub-group at the LG speed dating event on Saturday, one of the topics we asked most candidates about was supporting quality agriculture land. In that group, the focus was largely about the Ho‘opili development that may displace an existing farm if allowed to go forward. The concept of “food sustainability” has come up in conversations a lot lately. It seems to be on off-shoot of the standard “sustainability” buzz word that many people profess to support, yet few seem to take many tangible steps to make it a way of life.

Along those lines, for many months (years?) I have been thinking about signing up for one of those weekly vegetable boxes that some local farms offer. It is an idea that I have always liked, but never got around to implementing in my own life. Until now. A friend of mine recently used his status post on facebook to comment about his CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegie box that he just got from MA‘O organic farms. Since I had been thinking about it already, that prompted to me to look into it once again. This time I followed through and purchased a subscription, so will now be receiving weekly boxes of fresh produce. 😀

According to CSAfarming.com, “At its heart Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects local farmers with local consumers.  These consumers help cover the farmer’s operating expenses in exchange for shares of produce grown or raised.  Shares are usually purchased via varying types of memberships or subscriptions.” I chose to go with MA‘O, partly because of the facebook-friend connection, but also because I know about their work in the community and have always admired what they do. There are other local farms that have this type of set up as well. Some are listed at this link, http://csafarming.com/hawaii-csa

If each of us does our part to support local agriculture, perhaps food sustainability can become more than just a concept in Hawai‘i. We need to push our elected officials to support saving quality agriculture land, but we also need to support those farmers ourselves as directly as possible.

October 23, 2009

350 Rally for Climate Action

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,HI Politics,SHAPES platform — rachel @ 2:38 pm

Title: 350 Rally for Climate Action
Location: Hawaii State Capitol
Description: 350 signifies the safe upper limit of CO2 in our atmosphere. Send a firm statement to policymakers that we must act decisively on climate change. Group photo will be taken at 3:50pm.
Start Time: 2:00pm
Date: 10/24/09
End Time: 5:00pm

Click here for the event flyer.

September 7, 2009

Obama Caves to Corporate Pressure, Dumps “Green Jobs” Advocate, Van Jones: UPDATED!

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,Barack Obama,SHAPES platform — Bart @ 12:50 pm

Last week, Barack Obama caved in to pressure from corporate interests and an ongoing campaign by rightwing commentators, and fired Van Jones, the appointee in charge of overseeing the administration’s efforts to create “Green Jobs.”

From press accounts, we hear Jones had committed such unforgivable sins as signing a petition demanding answers to the US government’s response to the attacks on 9-11, and for saying Republicans are assholes at a public meeting at Berkeley several months ago.

I think the reasons Van Jones was dumped, rather than defended, by Obama are evident in this video of Van Jones’ speech at a mass environmental summit held in Washington D.C.. (more…)

June 16, 2009


Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,SHAPES platform — frosty @ 9:41 pm

i’ve been made aware of an excellent movie premiere here in honolulu on june 26th at the blaisdell concert hall.

i’ll let the preview, which is powerful in its own right, speak for itself. i will suggest, however, that PDH try to get as many people together as possible and go as a group.

December 1, 2008

Hawaii’s leadership on renewable energy

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,HI Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:59 pm

Jeffrey Mikulina, a longtime environmental activist in Hawaii, is making waves, so to speak, with the Blue Planet Foundation.

An editorial in the New York Times quotes him in the lead sentence about “a new campaign to wean Hawaii from fossil fuels in 10 years.” According to the editorial,

A green consciousness is beginning to take root in Hawaii. In January, the state approved a plan to cut its reliance on foreign oil by 70 percent by 2030. Mr. Rogers doesn’t want to wait that long, so his [Blue Planet] foundation is trying to turbocharge the effort. Mr. Mikulina, the foundation’s executive director, says this will mean more than just throwing up lots more solar panels and windmills and making lavish investments on exotic technologies.

The editorial concludes,

Hawaiians have a long tradition of self-sufficiency, community action and a deep attachment to the land that sustains them — leadership in a clean-energy movement could powerfully reaffirm those values and perhaps spread them to the rest of the nation.

You’ve probably heard about this effort before. Perhaps you read about the ambitious conference in Ko Olina last April, bringing together dozens of experts in the field to develop tangible ways to advance the goal of clean energy for Hawaii (Blue Planet Summit taps array of experts). If not, check the summit’s website.

Anyway, it is not often that Hawaii is recognized by the New York Times for its leadership. Now, how can we engage the political process to promote achieving this campaign to wean Hawaii from fossil fuels in 10 years?


October 17, 2008

League of Conservation Voters Scorecard

Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,HI Politics,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 1:26 pm

The Scorecard for the 110th Congress, as calculated by the League of Conservation Voters, has come out. The scores for Hawaii’s delegation are as follows:

Sen. Daniel Akaka: 100%

Rep. Mazie Hirono:   92%

Sen. Daniel Inouye:  91%

Rep. Neil Abercrombie: 77%

Unfortunately, they provide no easy way to discern the reason for the scores.

Why is Rep. Abercrombie’s score so much lower than the others? My mind goes back to the bills that Abercrombie co-sponsored with ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, one of LCV’s “Dirty Dozen” congressmen of the 109th Congress. One was their Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which  allowed new oil drilling leases between 50 and 100 miles, unless a state specifically passed a law to forbid them. And it would allow new leases beyond 100 miles, and give sole authority over that remote region to the federal government. The House voted 232 -187, to approve this bill. But that was not their only collaboration. (more…)

April 2, 2007


Filed under: 6Sustainable Environment,HI Politics — BobSchacht @ 7:59 am

A very important series of community meetings is being held in the next 35 days on sustainability issues! This is our opportunity to contribute directly to this process, and will have a long-range impact on life in Hawaii! The following announcement is from the Hawaii2050 press release; for information on sites on the neighbor islands, see the press release.

Community Input Crucial to Long-Term Planning for Hawai‘i

Honolulu – The Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Task Force invites the public to the second round of community meetings for the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan in April and May.

The statewide gatherings will continue engaging residents in the discussion about sustainability and the long-term future of Hawai‘i. This community-driven process is one of the cornerstones of the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan that the Task Force will present to the state Legislature in December.

“Our communities are filled with insightful people. We want to tap the wisdom of our kupuna, the energy of the keiki, the experiences of working families and the innovative spirit of businesspeople,” said Senator Russell Kokubun, Chair of the Hawai‘i 2050 Task Force.

“By bringing as many facets from the community as possible to the planning process, we can create a better long-term future for everyone. We encourage the public to attend.”

The meeting schedule is:

Coordinated by Derrick Kiyabu. Phone: 550-2661; derrick@hacbed.org

  • Saturday, April 14 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Kapolei Elementary School Cafeteria – 91-1119 Kama‘aha Loop.
  • Saturday, April 21 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Kailua High School Cafeteria – 451 Ulumanu Drive
  • Saturday, April 28 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Sunset Beach Elementary School Cafeteria– 59-360 Kamehameha Highway
  • Saturday, May 5 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at McKinley High School Cafeteria – 1039 S. King Street

These are important meetings! Let’s participate!

Bob Schacht

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