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Monday, October 27, 2014

Recommendations for the 2014 Election

With the November 4 election a little over a week away, here are my prognostications and recommendations (if any of this counts) for candidates that "could" help our precarious state called Hawaii.

Governor's Race: So we basically have a three way race here. Mufi, David and Duke (sorry Jeff). All three are experienced politicians. In one way or another they have over time to screwed us in the wallet by their actions, inaction or simply association.

Case in point: The Rail Tax. In 2005 the Hawaii State Legislature voted to increase the general excise tax (HB1309) to support the building of a mass transit system on Oahu. Mufi who was the mayor of Honolulu at the time was asking for a 1% increase to the tax. He got a half-percent which we are painfully paying today for the tax train to nowhere. State Senator David Ige was one of many legislators who voted for the tax.

Mr. Aiona was Lt. Governor for Linda Lingle who at that time was Governor. Ms. Lingle decided to let the tax bill become law without her signature (HB1309). I don't recall Mr. Aiona saying or doing anything to tell his then boss to veto this bad tax bill. So he is guilty by association.

Today we have to choose between the 3 top candidates (sorry again Jeff). Mufi I don't like because he loves rail too much. David had his chance to stop the tax. He didn't. Ironically current Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui who is also David's running mate, was the only Democrat in the State Senate to vote against the GE tax increase for rail in 2005. Who knows? Someday he may run for Governor.

That leaves me with Duke who is guilty of this tax atrocity only through his association with the Lingle administration. Other groups and individuals don't like him on other issues such as abortion and teacher furloughs.

I don't like abortion and I am pro-life.  Plus I did not hear Duke say anything about taking away more lanes for bicycles on King Street and increasing the cost of parking to $500 in Downtown Honolulu that David wants to do. So my rather lukewarm recommendation and vote will go to Duke. Hopefully if he becomes Governor he may be able to reverse the wrongs that both the Lingle and current administration have already done to us.

U.S. Congress: Charles vs. K. Mark: Clearly my choice is Charles. Don't be stupid Hawaii. The GOP will likely hold on to the U.S. House of Representatives this fall and the state will benefit to at least have one of our two Congresspersons be in the majority party there. So yes, Charles has my vote.

Second district residents should vote for Kawika Crowley. He is a long-shot facing one of the darlings of the Democrat Party, incumbent Tulsi Gabbard.

In the U.S. Senate race it is almost a given that incumbent Senator Brian Schatz will win this one after beating his primary election foe U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa in August. His Republican opponent is Cam Cavasso.

Local Races

Julia Allen's Campaign Fundraiser

I've been helping the Julia Allen campaign this season. She deserves a vote if you live in Honolulu's 20th House District (Palolo, St. Louis Heights and other nearby hilly neighborhoods). She definitely lives in the district unlike Mr. Say who only maintains a facade that is not his true home, is not a wacko like Bonk, and has pledged to not raise your taxes. That is good. Vote for Julia.

I don't have much to say about the rest of the local races. I urge a vote for more fiscal conservatives, candidates who will not increase your taxes. We already pay enough taxes. There is no room for more. Our wallets hurt.

Constitutional Questions: There are 5 constitutional amendment questions on the ballot this year. Without elaborating on any of them, the only thing I can say is that a NO VOTE should be cast on Question #4 regarding taxpayer funding of private pre-schools. Go to this link for details on all 5 State Constitution questions.

Conclusion: Since Hawaii votes overwhelmingly Democrat at every election, I don't see much hope for that changing. Most if not all of the seats at all levels of Hawaii government will be won by candidates with a D next to their name. We'll see how it goes after November 4.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kona's Margaret Masunaga Will Become a District Court Judge

State Senate Special Session

The Hawaii State Senate was called into special session this week to take care of the "advice and consent" duties in the process of voting on three judicial nominees to the Hawaii State Circuit Court and the State District Court. Above District Court nominee Margaret Masunaga testifies before the State Senate Judicary and Labor Committee on Monday, October 20. I've met nominee Masunaga and talked to her for a few minutes. She is well liked by her associates on the Big Island. Her personality is very pleasant. I think she will be a good judge for the District Court in Kona.

Margaret Masunaga is currently with the Corporation Counsel for the County of Hawaii. She has served as a government attorney since 1992, previously at the Department of the Attorney General and the Planning Department. Ms. Masunaga was also an attorney in the private sector for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel.

She will be confirmed by the full State Senate in special session today.

State Senate Special Session

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi testifies in favor of nominee Margaret Masunaga.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Photographing the Blood Red Moon

6 Phases of Today's Lunar Eclipse

Hawaii sky viewers were blessed with good weather early Wednesday morning as the moon went into eclipse for the second time this year. It was a cosmic show as the Earth's shadow slowly nibbled away on the night's full moon as the giant white disc slipped into darkness. At its apex was totality, an erie state of being where the Earth's shadow almost completely blots out the sunlight. While not exactly dark, the fully eclipsed moon turned a blood red / rustic orange color for all the world to see. And so there it was, the perfect cosmic photo op that had thousands of shutter-bugs snapping away in the early morning darkness. It was a sight to behold!

Today's Total Lunar Eclipse

Wide shot of the fully eclipsed moon high above my building.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign Brings Digital Projector to Honokaa People's Theatre

Honokaa Peoples' Theater

Honokaa People's Theatre has beaten the odds and got its funding through a Kickstarter campaign to purchase a new digital projection system in order to keep showing films well into the future.

The theatre was forced to purchase a $60,000 digital projection system in order to continue showing films beyond the end of this year. The movie industry is abandoning the practice of sending films out on 35mm prints and moving on to a digital delivery system. All of the big, mainstream theatre chains have converted to digital projection.

Small operators and second run movie houses have been caught in an expensive dilemma of either biting the digital bullet and upgrading, or going dark because of cost and the fact that movies will not be delivered on film anymore. Film projectors will become as obsolete as victrola phonographs, 8-track tape players and VCRs.

Because the cost of obtaining a digital projector was so great, Honokaa People's Theatre turned to the community in order to seek funding. The Kickstarter campaign was launched early this summer with the goal of bringing in $40,000 to fund a major part of the system. At the campaign's end on September 27, the theatre covered its goal and then some by bringing in $43,995.

The theatre held an earlier campaign in which it raised $10,000. The film Honokaa Boy is being used as a fundraising vehicle where it has been shown numerous times in the theatre. The Japanese made film was shot in Honokaa in 2008 where the theatre itself was one of the central locations in the story about a young man's relationship with an older woman.

To say the least the operators of the theatre are happy as expressed in their latest Kickstarter email: "Big mahalos friends!  From the bottom of our hearts, we love you all and we're so glad to be here! Wooo hooo we made it!"

Honokaa People's Theatre has been in business since 1930 operated for most of its existence by the Tanimoto family who owned other theaters on the Big Island of Hawaii. The theatre changed hands in the late 1980s when Dr. Tawn Keeney bought it and upgraded the facility over several years.

Today People's Theatre not only shows movies, but is a showcase for many live music and dance events as well as classes for the people in the Hamakua - Honokaa community.

While a digital future is assured in Honokaa, Hilo's discount movie theatre in the old Kress building closed on September 26 because its operators Regal Entertainment Group could not justify the cost of upgrading their equipment to digital. The theatre space has been leased to a church.

The author spent his childhood and teen years in Honokaa and attended many movies at People's Theatre from the 1960s through the late 1970s. He is one of the donors to the Kickstarter campaign. Written and photographed by Melvin Ah Ching. Photos (top): Honokaa People's Theatre familiar facade. Below: The interior of the theatre looks much like it always has except that some of the front row seats were removed to make room for a larger stage area.

Honokaa People's Theater

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Surf's Up! Honolulu's South Swell

Today's Southern Swell

The waves were pumping this weekend. I was lucky enough to find some time to capture these images of the raging surf that brought happy surfers to the beach. The waves attract not only surfers but also adventurous and casual photographers as well as curious onlookers. The large waves are not recommended to anyone who does not have experience with these type of conditions. Honolulu life guards spend quite some time warning and rescuing people. The safest spot to be is on shore and watching the surf from a distance. It also helps if you have a decent camera with a good telephoto lens. The day I shot this the only cameras I had were my 8 megapixel Canon S5 iS Super Zoom and my iPod Touch. The photos in this set were taken with the Canon.

Big Waves at Sunrise

Gotta love the sunrise light of this shot.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The waves seem to come in sets that create layers.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

Today's Southern Swell

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The southerly wave action creates quite a salt spray that corrodes a lot of things over time.

Surf's Up! South Swell Honolulu

The sunrise light is one of the best times to take these surf shots.

All of the published photos stream on this embedded Flickr slideshow. I have not only the waves, but also some of the people watching and photographing the event, as well as some sunrise shots. All photos were taken by Mel on September 14, 2014.