NEW & NOTEWORTHY: Aha Moments, Ethics — Big Island Style, and Hu Honua

posted in: Fisheries, Marine, September 2010 | 0

Aha Moments: The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council’s sponsorship of the Aha Ki`ole/Aha Moku movement is apparently back in full swing after a one-year hiatus when the council-backed initiative enjoyed the support of state government. Now that state funds are long gone, Wespac is picking up the slack.

Four smaller “fish and poi na lawai`a a me mahi`ai” meetings were held on the Big Island in August under the auspices of Aha Moku and the council (although the council’s name did not appear on ads for the meetings). On August 14 and 21, larger mokupuni puwalu were held in Hilo and Kona; this time the ads sported the logos of Wespac and the Wespac-purchased logo of Aha Moku. A puwalu on Lana`i was scheduled for August 28. In September, puwalu were scheduled for all the remaining inhabited islands as well as Kaho`olawe. The meetings, according to the ads, are focused on “utilizing the traditional ahupua`a system of community base [sic] management of our resources” and on “best practices for natural resources management in the Hawai`i archipelago.”

According to the Wespac website, the puwalu are in preparation for a statewide meeting to be held November 18-19.

In addition to Leimana DaMate, who has been paid by the council for years to work on the Aha Moku project, the council has also recently retained Roy Morioka, a former council chair, to assist with the initiative.

There are still some who question the council’s involvement in a process that seeks to address land management issues. The council’s jurisdiction does not begin until the state waters end, three miles from shore.

Ethics, Big Island Style: As Environment Hawai`i reported last year, Hawai`i County planning director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd and Mayor Billy Kenoi dined with principals of the `Aina Le`a development at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, one of the ritziest resorts in the state. Leithead-Todd said she estimated the cost of the meal at around $100.

Under Hawai`i County law, any public official receiving a gift of $100 or more must file a gift disclosure form by June 30. When that deadline passed, and no report had been filed by either Kenoi or Leithead-Todd, someone whose identity has not been publicly disclosed filed a complaint with the county Ethics Commission. At a hearing on August 11, the commission determined that since there was no proof that the meal cost more than the $100 threshold amount, there was no need for either official to file a gift disclosure statement.

In the public comments on the West Hawai`i Today article on the subject, one wag noted drily: “Great to find out that Mauna Kea has cheap eats.”

Developer DW `Aina Le`a, meanwhile, although it owes several contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars for work on its “affordable” housing, has been taking out full-page color ads in both the Hilo and Kona newspapers.

Who’s New at Hu Honua: Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC, which is seeking a Special Management Area permit to burn eucalyptus and other woods in the old Pepe`ekeo power plant, has undergone some ownership changes recently. Municipal Mortgage & Equity, LLC, (MuniMae, for short), was the parent company of MMA Renewable Ventures, one of the two members of Hu Honua. When MuniMae was caught up in the financial chaos of subprime mortgages, it began to sell its assets at fire-sale prices, and in 2009, sold most of the assets of MMA RV to a Spanish firm, Fotowatio. That sale, however, did not include the stake in Hu Honua, which finally was sold in April of this year to an investment company called C Change.

According to Richard McQuain, the former HECO executive who is the president of Hu Honua, the company’s new chief executive officer is John Sylvia of C Change, which now owns 60 percent of Hu Honua. Ethanol Research Hawai`i owns the remaining 40 percent share, McQuain said. Daniel KenKnight, who has been involved in several alternative energy projects in Hawai`i, is the sole member of Ethanol Research Hawai`i.

The Hawai`i County Windward Planning Commission is conducting a contested case hearing on the application. The hearing is scheduled for October.


Volume 21, Number 3 — September 2010


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