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  • Culture Cave: Gaye Chan’s GalleryHNL Wants To Let The Secret Out

    · By James Cave

    If you count the active artists in Honolulu’s art community, most of them have been affiliated in some way with the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

    As the department chair, Gaye Chan has seen most of them go through the school’s halls and then the motions afterward: they’ll make a lot of art at school, graduate, and maybe get into a few shows locally, but no shows will pay.

    To get money, some will grab a job at the Honolulu Museum of Art, either in the cafés, or installing art, or teaching at the art school for a few semesters, while others eventually settle for a job as a bank teller, or barista, or whatever pays them a living wage while taking their time away from producing art.

    GalleryHNL, a new gallery that represents local artists, opens its inaugural show at the Pacific Gentry Design Center on May 2.


    “Artists need to be able to sustain their life, if we continue to be artists,” Chan said. “So many give it up because we make stuff and don’t sell it.”

    That’s why she’s teamed up with a trio of philanthropists to form a new gallery to financially support this student body and its alumni: GalleryHNL.

    Getting the Secret Out

    Yes: the art department often promotes its students in dependably intellectual shows throughout the year at its main gallery (the BFA exhibition, called “Unabridged,” opens on Sunday, April 26, and you should go). But Chan says that they get little attention from institutions and collectors.

    “People based here who support art are all hooked up with the (Honolulu Museum

  • As Mauna Kea Protests Grow, Some Hawaii Island Residents Worry About Jobs

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    Kathy DeMello, 59, remembers when the first telescope was built on Mauna Kea.

    It was 1968, and her father was one of the construction workers. “It was exciting,” said DeMello, a third-generation Portuguese immigrant to the Big Island of Hawaii.

    On Saturday, DeMello sat at a market in Hilo selling handmade jewelry and chatting with neighbors and friends. Like many in the community, she doesn’t understand the staunch opposition to the Thirty Meter Telescope that’s erupted over the last few weeks.

    “This is education. It’s jobs,” she said.

    That means a lot to DeMello: Most of her family has moved away because the Big Island’s tight economy means that there aren’t many jobs available.

    Kathy DeMello sells jewelry at a market in Hilo.

    Her daughter is in North Carolina, her brother is in Georgia and her sister is in Virginia. Only one of her sisters still lives on the Big Island. Although her family misses home, there’s little they can do about it other than buy expensive tickets to visit occasionally.

    That’s why DeMello is glad that the astronomy industry is growing in Hilo, a small town on the east side of Hawaii’s biggest island.

    “To me, if it’s done right, there is no disrespect,” DeMello said of the construction of the new telescope. “Only goodness.”

    “You get national news, you get five minutes of fame, you get arrested — what does that accomplish?” — Arlene Hussey, Big Island resident

    But many other Big Island residents believe that the telescope isn’t being “done right,” or shouldn’t be built at

  • Mauna Kea Is a Special Place in Humanity’s Quest for Knowledge

    · By Scott Robertson

    A large demonstration was recently held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa to protest the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. Protestors lined Dole Street all the way from the School for Hawaiian Knowledge to the Founder’s Gate. Drivers honked their horns in solidarity. A lot of people were happy, but as a professor at the university, my heart was broken by this anti-science, anti-knowledge protest in the middle of campus.

    Of course, this movement is not limited to the university campus. To my surprise and dismay, I find that many of my friends in Hawaii oppose the TMT. My social media environment is flooded with protest against the telescope. Influential high school and middle school teachers that I know are encouraging their students and their colleagues to oppose it. Protests are being held on the mountain itself. The governor has suspended construction for more review. Frankly, I am stunned and discouraged.

    A visitor takes a photograph of the various telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Some of my friends have warned me off of engaging in this debate. I am not Hawaiian, after all. I have not really been kamaaina for all that long (eight years), so I should stay out of it, right?

    Sorry, but I respectfully disagree. There is a parallel debate in the scientific community about how much scientists should become involved in policy issues. We have traditionally stayed out of such things, but every

  • UH Student Protests Against TMT Continue

    · By Jessica Terrell

    Social media postings about Mauna Kea may be trending on Twitter, but the protest movement against the Thirty Meter Telescope is anything but a fad, student protesters said during a rally at UH Manoa on Monday.

    More than 200 students and faculty members attended the early afternoon rally outside the University of Hawaii’s Campus Center. The event was the second protest held on campus in the past four days, and followed a student walkout at noon called for by Pukoa,  a Native Hawaiian advisory council with representatives from all 10 UH system campuses.

    It was unclear how many students participated in the walkout, and most of the campus appeared to be operating as normal.


    Kaleo O Hawaii Advertising representative Ashley Maria hands out a newspaper to students during the rally.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    Speakers at the event said they were frustrated by being portrayed as being anti-science or “bandwagon jumpers” who are protesting because it’s popular. Native Hawaiians have been voicing opposition to the telescopes for more than four decades, UH Manoa alumna and KAHEA staff member Shelley Muneoka told rally attendees.

    “I got really upset with a friend on Facebook who called the Mauna Kea protest the new ice bucket challenge,” Muneoka said, referencing a popular social media campaign aimed at raising awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    Supporters of the telescope expect the protests to “stop being sexy” and for people to lose interest, Muneoka added. “That’s not going to happen.”

    Dozens of students stood in line to have T-shirts silkscreened with protest messages and artwork, and took

  • Hawaii Governor Calls ‘Timeout’ on Mauna Kea Telescope Construction

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea is on hold for at least a week as protests over the $1.4 billion project continue to mount.

    Hawaii Gov. David Ige told reporters Tuesday that there will be a “timeout” to facilitate a dialogue.

    “It’s a significant project and this will give us some time to engage in further conversations with the various stakeholders that have an interest in Mauna Kea and its sacredness and its importance in scientific research and discovery going forward,” he said.

    An artist’s depiction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea as seen from above.

    Courtesy TMT International Observatory

    The summit of the dormant Big Island volcano has become the site of protests — and 31 arrests last week — as Native Hawaiian and environmental groups fight to protect the location, already home to 13 telescopes. The 18-story-tall TMT would be the biggest yet and nine times more powerful.

    “I am not quite sure our people have seen a movement like this in their lifetime and I think it’s a testament to the fact that our people have been ignited and are ready to move forward and resolidify ourselves throughout the world as a people and a country,” Kahoʻokahi Kanuha, one of the protesters who was arrested last Thursday, said in a news release Tuesday.

    Peter Apo, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, pointed at the history of telescopes atop Mauna Kea in a column Thursday for Civil Beat.

    He explained that in 1968 the Department of Land

  • Governor Nominates Six to Serve on UH Board of Regents

    · By Nathan Eagle

    Gov. David Ige has announced six nominees to serve on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, subject to Senate confirmation.

    “Our UH system comprises 10 campuses that provide educational and research opportunities for many Hawai‘i students and faculty throughout our state,” he said in a news release Thursday. “As such, we chose candidates with a breadth of experience who will represent my desire for the Regents to focus on ensuring long-term sustainability of our sole public institution of higher education.”

    Gov. David Ige, pictured here during a press conference in February, has picked six people he wants to serve on the UH Board of Regents.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    From the release, here are his nominees:

    Wayne Higaki, Hawaii County, will serve through June 30, 2016 upon confirmation. Higaki is the chief development officer at North Hawaii Community Hospital, an affiliate of The Queen’s Health Systems. He is chair of Hawaii County’s Workforce Investment Board and a member of the Workforce Development Council for the State of Hawaii. He graduated from Honokaa High School and earned an associate of science degree at Kapiolani Community College.

    Simeon Acoba, Jr., Honolulu County, is currently serving on an interim basis and upon confirmation will serve through June 30, 2017. Acoba served on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court for 14 years. Previously, he served as a judge at various levels for 20 years. He continues to be active in judicial organizations and has received many awards for his work. He received a bachelor of arts degree from

  • Peter Apo: Mauna Kea Under Siege

    · By Peter Apo

    The long-standing overtly contentious face off between Native Hawaiians and the University of Hawaii’s aggressive advocacy of maximizing Mauna Kea as a premier site for astronomical observatories is heading into its most serious period of conflict.

    Time is running out for any diplomatic resolution to the culture versus science impasse as construction begins for a new $1.3 billion, 18-story, Thirty Meter Telescope covering 9 acres of mountain top, adding significantly to the critical mass of the 13 telescopes that are already there.

    The legal and procedural windows of dialogue attempting to resolve the issues are for the most part shutting down.

    An artists’ depiction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea as seen from above.

    The State Land Board had signed off on a notice to proceed with construction on March 6 and now is apparently ignoring a few last-ditch legal challenges. As of this writing, undeterred, and with increasing commitment, opposition to the project has escalated to civil disobedience by protestors led by Kealoha Pisciotta, leader of the organization Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.

    She is quoted as saying: “We are not giving up, and we’re standing for what we believe in.”

    The protestors, in growing numbers, are intent on slowing or halting all construction-related traffic attempting to get to the construction site and police are threatening arrests. Protestors are now beginning to organize on the UH Manoa campus. The project is at a flash point.

    To understand why this is so important to Hawaiians like Kealoha Pisciotta we need

  • Youth Get Glimpse of Future on Job Shadowing Day

    · By Cara Phillips

    Waking up at 4 a.m. was definitely not on my list of fun things to do this spring break, but I’m so glad I did. I experienced the amazing opportunity of accompanying a woman who spends every morning on my television screen. Lost in the excitement of being with KITV’s Morning News Anchor Lara Yamada, the memory of lugging myself out of bed was soon forgotten.

    I was lucky enough to be one of four students invited by the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative (SHYLI) to join its third-annual Job Shadowing Day. On March 17, Sherry Anne Pancho, Juanito Moises Jr., Alex Siordia and I took a big step closer to our future careers. Each of us was given the chance to be mentored by professionals in our fields of interest.

    Oceanit graciously hosted our two aspiring engineers, Sherry and Juanito. Sherry wants to be a bio-medical engineer, designing prosthetics. She was moved after a neighbor, whose legs were lost in the war at Afghanistan, passed away. “I want to help the people facing life-threatening situations like that.” Sherry was touched when Ocean it engineer Frank Price explained how he designs lasers that improve brain function.

    Participants in the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative: from left, Oceanit Director Ian Kitajima, State Director for Sen. Mazie Hirono Alan Yamamoto, Marianne Larned, executive director of SHYLI and students Juanito Moises Jr., Cara Phillips and Sherry Anne Payson. Oceanit Founder Pat Sullivan is on the right, and student Alex Siordia takes part from Washington

  • Proposal to Cut UH Programs Illustrates Misunderstanding

    · By Sterling Higa and Samira Fatemi

    State Rep. Isaac Choy’s recently introduced and deferred HB 555 betrayed a narrow and destructive conception of the University of Hawaii’s purpose. Furthermore, it displayed a startling misunderstanding of the structure of higher education and represented profoundly irresponsible legislative overreach.

    Choy proposed to eliminate all undergraduate programs that graduated less than 10 students a year unless the program was financially self-sustaining.

    Ka Leo reported that among those programs which would have needed to prove self-sufficiency were French, German, Russian, Dance, Physics, Pacific Island Studies, Geology, Meteorology, Biological Engineering, and Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Also under threat of elimination were 11 of the 12 secondary education programs on offer.

    The proposal was deferred, but in the future, Choy would do well to consider three things.

    First, the number of program graduates is not indicative of utility or value to the University. There will never be a time when Meteorology students are more numerous than Business majors – we need fewer meteorologists than capable business leaders, and foreclosing the possibility of studying meteorology for this reason is irresponsible.

    Further, some small programs represent new and emerging fields. Biological engineering is a rapidly growing field, stretching from alternative energy sources to environmental remediation techniques like wastewater treatment. Competitive research institutions across the U.S. are investing in fields like biological engineering despite the potential for losses in the short term.

    The University of Hawaii, as a land-grant institution, has a responsibility to maintain programs that advance practical science and

  • Top Hawaii Business Execs Tapped to Find New UH Athletics Director

    · By Nathan Eagle

    University of Hawaii Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman has announced the formation of an eight-person search advisory committee to find a new athletic director, who will be tasked with turning around a department that’s expected to end this year $3.5 million in the hole.

    Current Athletic Director Ben Jay said last month that he plans to resign for “personal and professional reasons.”

    Top Hawaii business executives and doctors will steer the committee along with UH faculty members. Warren Haruki, president and CEO of Grove Farm Co. and chairman and CEO of Maui Land and Pineapple Co., will chair the committee, the university said Tuesday.

    Robert Bley-Vroman, right, chancellor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, speaks to media after UH Athletics Director Ben Jay announced his resignation, Dec. 9, 2014. A search committee has been formed to find a replacement by mid-year.

    Cory Lum/Civil Beat

    “We are looking for a leader capable of excelling in multiple areas including community outreach and partnership building, with the dual goals of continuing academic achievement of our student-athletes while putting UH’s 21 teams in the best possible position to win,” Bley-Vroman said. “We also need someone with the ability and agility to lead UH during this complex and important time in the evolving national collegiate athletics landscape.”

    Jay appeared last month before a panel of state lawmakers as university officials made their case for more taxpayer-funded budget support.

    They said athletics is important to Hawaii as a community, not just to the university and students. And as such, they said it’s

  • Audit Faults University of Hawaii’s Use of Certain Funding Sources

    · By Nathan Eagle

    The state auditor’s office, led by Jan Yamane, has found that 17 of 65 funding sources for the University of Hawaii have at least one thing wrong with them and some should be repealed altogether because they no longer serve their original purpose.

    The auditor’s 74-page report, released Tuesday, offers a look at UH’s special, revolving and trust funds and trust accounts. Together, the funds collected more than $641 million last year and spent or transferred almost $637 million. The report shows an ending balance of almost $267 million as of June 30.

    The audit raises questions about the university supplementing at least 10 revolving and special funds with general fund money.

    The state auditor has reviewed 65 funding sources for the University of Hawaii.

    Civil Beat file photo

    For instance, the report notes that the Student Health Center Revolving Fund reported fiscal year ending balances ranging from $444,000 in 2010 to $3.6 million in 2014. During that same period, the center received general fund appropriations of $320,000 in 2010 and as much as $530,000 in 2013.

    “It appears the revolving fund could have paid for core administrative personnel and that general fund appropriations used were not necessary,” the auditor wrote, noting that the fund’s ending balance was $2.8 million.

    UH President David Lassner responded in a letter to the auditor, saying the center relies on the general fund money to fund administrative personnel.

    “To impose this cost to our students at this time would mean having to raise our mandatory student health fee again,” he said. “Students are already

  • University of Hawaii Makes Its Case for More State Support

    · By Nathan Eagle

    University of Hawaii officials want state taxpayers to help the 10-campus system pay its electric bills and unfunded federal mandates like the gender-equity dictates of Title IX that they project will cost more than $70 million over the next two years.

    UH President David Lassner, Board of Regents Chair Randy Moore, interim Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman and other officials presented their biennium budget request — $74 million in additional funding on the operating side, $400 million in capital improvements — to the House Higher Education Committee during an all-day informational briefing Thursday at the Capitol.

    Gov. David Ige’s executive budget request is due next week. The 2015 legislative session convenes Jan. 21 and lawmakers will be hashing out the overall state budget bill over the following few months.

    University of Hawaii President David Lassner listens to a question from Rep. Calvin Say during a legislative briefing Thursday at the Capitol.

    Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

    Rep. Isaac Choy, who chairs the Higher Education Committee, and several other representatives grilled university officials over various aspects of their budget request, often seeking assurances that whatever money the state contributes to UH’s overall budget will be well spent.

    Paying for rising electricity bills has become a problem throughout the university system despite efforts to use less energy. Almost $51 million of the $74 million two-year operating budget request is for utility costs.

    At the Manoa campus, Bley-Vroman said Hawaiian Electric Company rates have increased 44 percent in recent years, jumping to 27

  • The Projector: Pre-holiday Food Bank, UH Football and Where Rail Meets Highway

    · By Cory Lum

    Food Bank Finds Kekoa Eter, 2, clutches boxes of cereal after his mother stopped off at the Kaumakapili Church food bank on Wednesday. Scores of people arrived at 6 a.m. to await donated canned goods and cereal from various churches and nonprofit groups on the day before Thanksgiving.

    Helping Hands Volunteer Alfredo Garcia, right, assists a food recipient by carrying a large bag of canned goods upstairs at the Kaumakapili Church food bank.

    By the Bagful Volunteer Kim Thai of Honolulu works with bags containing canned goods during the Kaumakapili Church food bank.

    The Small Version An architectural model of Aloha Stadium on display in an entrance to the full-size version.

    The Real Deal Aloha Stadium is all too spacious for the turnout at the University of Hawaii’s season finale football game Saturday against UNLV.

    Pregame Show Lance Williams leads his Rainbow Warrior teammates in pregame chants Saturday.

    Plenty of Elbow Room A pair of fans have a section of the stadium to themselves during the Saturday night game.

    Crowd-Surfing University of Hawaii cheerleaders head onto the field before the game as the band plays the ‘Hawaii 5-0′ theme song.

    Pausing to Pray Some of the UH football players join a pre-game prayer in the north end zone.

    Saying Aloha Senior members of the UH football team pose for a group photograph after the Warriors pull out a last-second victory

  • Meet the University of Hawaii’s Newest Lobbyists

    · By Nick Grube

    The University of Hawaii has enlisted a familiar face to lobby for federal research dollars in Washington, D.C., under a new contract signed last month.

    Jennifer Sabas, the former chief of staff for the late U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, will be part of a two-person lobbying team from The National Group that will try to secure funds in fields such as astronomy, ocean sciences and food sustainability.

    The $189,000 annual contract also calls for the lobbyists to push for policies that will increase affordability at the university, in particular for immigrants, veterans and under-served minorities.

    The UH wants more research dollars to bolster some of its top tier programs, including those in astronomy and ocean sciences.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    Sabas is well-connected both in Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and was a major force behind Inouye’s wish to see a $5.2 billion rail line built on Oahu.

    She told Civil Beat she plans to use her decades of experience working for Inouye to help increase the university’s clout.

    “We’re going to focus on those areas where UH is nationally renowned,” Sabas said. “Our goal is actually connecting the dots with the executive branch and, of course, our own delegation.”

    Jennifer Sabas

    Submitted photo

    She’s currently involved in a number of other endeavors, including rail advocacy through Move Oahu Forward and consulting with the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce to restructure its military affairs department.

    Sabas is also working to bring a $50 million center dedicated to her former boss to the

  • Former Judge Among New Picks for UH Board of Regents

    · By Alia Wong

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie has selected his candidates for the four University of Hawaii Board of Regents seats that were vacated because of a new law requiring regents to publicize their financial disclosure statements.

    They are Simeon Acoba, a former Hawaii Supreme Court associate justice who would represent Oahu; Dileep Bal, a Department of Health officer on Kauai; Peter Hoffman, a former Hawaii County councilman; and Helen Nielsen, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz who lives on Maui. (Their bios are included below.)

    Abercrombie made his selections from a list of 14 candidates provided by the council in charge of identifying prospective regents. The four nominees are subject to a confirmation from the Senate and would fill the seats on an interim basis.

    The seats were vacated by four former regents who weren’t comfortable with publicizing their financial interests. The new law requires public financial disclosures for an additional 15 boards and commissions, including the 15-member governing board for UH. At least a dozen members of other boards and commissions also resigned in response to the law.

    Abercrombie intended to veto the legislation, citing his concern that the new requirement would discourage worthy people from public service. He eventually let the measure become law without his signature.

    But from the looks of his four picks, the concern about candidates’ caliber appears unfounded. Civil Beat checked in with some of the candidates last month and got the same feedback.

    “With backgrounds in law, health, the military and environmental sustainability, these appointees bring a diverse spectrum of leadership to the University of Hawaii,”