Hawaii’s out-of-control living costs can be beat By Rep. Gene Ward

September 16, 2014

Hawaii reporter LogoTuesday, September 16, 2014

One of the easiest and most doable things to lower our cost of living in Hawaii is an esoteric act passed by Congress almost 100 years ago and is called by an innocuous name that makes people’s eyes glaze over when they hear it, i.e. “The Jones Act.”  This 1920 law makes the cost of shipping 4 to 5 times more expensive than it has to be because it eliminates any competition in our shipping industry between here and the mainland.

Exempting Hawaii from the Jones Act could lower our cost of living by 25%-35% by not requiring that ships delivering goods to Hawaii from the mainland to use ships built, owned, crewed, and flagged by Americans.  In other words, let the thousands of ships that dump their cargo on the West Coast and then bypass Hawaii empty, carry their goods to Hawaii on their way back to Asia at a fraction of the cost we now pay for this service – and we must import over 85% of everything we consume.

Lowering the cost of living in Hawaii is really that simple. Instead the people of Hawaii are paying thousands of dollars more per family to subsidize this act.  We need what the Congress gave to American Samoa, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands, who were given exemptions, but we have to ask for it first.

Opponents cite national defense and play the fear card on how this act protects us from not having to rely on foreign ships during a time of war.  What they fail to mention is that taking Hawaii out of the shipping equation will not weaken America’s defense poster and the biggest threat to Hawaii’s supply chain has always been shipping strikes, not wars.

The reality is that America is pretty much out of the maritime business with over 90% of our ship building facilities having been closed and the only new ships we produce are military vessels.   The bottom line is that the Jones Act still exists unmodified because of a quintessential lack of political will.  Our leaders know its downsides but have gotten away with not asking for an exemption because they know few people have heard of the act and even fewer understand what it is doing to them.  But times are changing and every time we pay $5 for a gallon of milk or gas, and then read our electrical bill, we know something has to be done.

As citizens awaken to how anti-Hawaii and damaging this law is, the cries of national defense will weaken and be seen as a disguise for the invisible hand that keeps taking an increasingly large portion of the food off the table of our poor and our senior citizens.


Representative Gene Ward, Ph.D., Minority Leader Emeritus, is a member of the House Finance Committee and Co-Chair of the Small Business Caucus and has worked as a small business expert with the United Nations International Labor Office.

A Word with Ward – Expedition to Loihi Seamount

September 12, 2014

Representative Gene wards specks with Brian T. Glazer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa on  the most recent expedition to Loihi Seamount in the summer of 2014.  Brian T. Glazer, Ph.D. and rep Ward # 2Contact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

A Word with Ward – Drones

September 3, 2014


Representative Gene Ward discusses “Drones” with Lawrence E. ‘Larry’ Osborn, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Member of the Board of Directors DreamHammer, Inc

Larry Osborn and Rep. Ward OleloContact: repward@capitol.hawaii.gov


Heavy Air Traffic Over Ewa Should Let Up Next Month

August 30, 2014

midweekMcDermott’s Message…Rep. Bob McDermott

Air Traffic Over Ewa

My office has received numerous telephone calls regarding the aircraft noise generated by planes flying over our Ewa homes. According to many residents, it occurs at all hours of the night.

After investigating this situation, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) reported to my office that in order to accomplish much-needed repairs to runway 4R-22L at Honolulu International Airport, DOT needs to close the runway at night. The department has posted an advisory on its website, which states Ewa residents can expect an increase in air traffic over the area because of airfield maintenance work at the airport.

Runway 4R-22L will be closed for pavement replacement Sunday through Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., through Sept. 30. During this time, flight patterns will be modified, resulting in increased air traffic over the Ewa area.

The runway is the third-longest of four runways at the airport, spanning a distance of 9,000 feet. Runway 4R is our primary nighttime arrival runway, and closing it at night forces those arrivals to be routed to Runway 8L.

According to DOT, there are no other workable options available.

Football Fun In Ewa

Football season is here, and we have several youth teams in the area.

Ewa CrushMy two boys played with Ewa Beach Crush for several years and had a great experience.

The Crush team and cheer squad are both run by the indefatigable Lola Tripp. Lola is a bundle of positive energy and always is willing to work with parents to ensure their children have a fantastic experience.

The cost is very reasonable, and they get several months of football and cheer conditioning and coaching by people who are driven by nothing more than a desire to help these young players develop teamwork, athletic skills and perseverance.

What impressed me the most about Ewa Crush was the genuine love and affection the coaches develop for the children. These are neighborhood parents coaching neighborhood children. It is a unique situation that creates an unmistakable bond among the kids.

The coach who stood out to me the most was Larry Toro. An elder whom everyone looks up to when he speaks with his gravelly voice, Coach Larry is loved by the kids!

If you are looking for a fun activity for your boys and girls this season, I recommend the Crush. For more information, go to leaguelineup.com/welcome.

State Rep. Bob McDermott represents District 40 Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point. He can be reached by calling 586-9730 or emailing repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Hawaii’s Little Fire Ants – hosted by Rep.Beth Fukumoto Chang

August 13, 2014

Representative Beth Fukumoto Chang discusses Hawaii’s Little Fire Ants with Rob Curtiss, Acting Plant Pest Control Branch Manager, Hawaii Department of Agriculture and Dr. Cas Vanderwoude, Hawaii ant Lab , UH Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.

Rep Fukumoto Rob curtiss Dr Vanderwoude

Contact: http://www.bethfukumotochang.com Telephone 808-586-9460

Hawaii Ant Lab website:  http://www.littlefireants.com


August 12, 2014

Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) plans to introduce legislation that will make it legal for a terminally ill patient to access investigational drugs. The bill, modeled after a Colorado law that allows terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs without getting federal approval, addresses issues that may arise when terminally ill patients seek to use a medication whose safety and effectiveness is still being tested in clinical trials. Such “right to try” laws have also been passed in Louisiana and Missouri, and will be put to Arizona voters this November as a ballot proposition.

“The bottom line is that, whether it be through speeding up valuable research, or by encouraging the FDA to support expanded access to experimental treatments, this bill is all about saving lives,” Ward said.

According to the Goldwater Institute, fewer than three percent of the sickest patients are able to access investigational drugs through clinical trials, and more than one million Americans die from a terminal illness each year.

This legislation does not require manufacturers to make investigational products available to terminally ill patients, but gives them the “Right to Try” to access potentially life-saving investigational drugs. “The terminally ill patient must assume ultimate responsibility for any consequences resulting from taking the investigational medicine, good or bad, but people should have that choice, and giving them that option is the hallmark of a compassionate society,” Ward said.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFor further information contact:

 Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Leader Emeritus

808-781-9931; repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

A Word with Ward Aerial Advertisements

August 1, 2014

Representative Gene Ward speaks with Alexandra Avery
President of The Outdoor Circle and Representative Tom Brower Chair, House Committee on Tourism, on Aerial Advertisements.

Representative Tom Brower (Waikiki, Ala Moana) announced plans to introduce legislation banning aerial advertisement in the state of Hawaii. The proposed legislation will seek to clarify the ambiguities and jurisdiction of aerial advertising written in federal, state, and city law. The measure will specifically make it illegal for a pilot to fly a plane out of a state airport for the purpose of towing a banner for advertisement.

“I have had discussions with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and state officials to identify what we can do. Due to the ambiguities of city, state and federal law, there is a need for legislation to add more clarity. Right now, we have federal and state laws that need further explanation,” said Brower. “Our skies are under federal and local jurisdiction, but state airport officials issue contracts and agreements with pilots and businesses. While the FAA has indicated that plane operators need to abide by state law and county ordinance, the contract signed by the particular pilot in question did not specifically allow or deny the operation of a tow banner business.” Friday, July 11th, 2014 | Posted by Hawaii Reporter

Reps Brower Ward and Alexandra AveryContact:  repbrower@capitol.hawaii.gov or repward@capitol.hawaii.gov

Inmates, Lions Pitch In At North Road Cleanup

July 7, 2014

midweekMcDermott’s Message…Rep. Bob McDermott July 3rd 2014


As we continue the work of beautifying the Ewa area, I was asked by several community members to clean up some roadside growth. Litter and vegetation had overgrown a portion of North Road, and many folks expressed concern over its unsightly appearance. The area in need was about 800 yards in length, but both sides of the road needed attention, so that meant the job entailed 1,600 linear yards. A big job — too big for a weekend community cleanup lasting two hours. Generally speaking, this is not something the municipal agencies engage in because of funding restrictions.

Prisoner clean up July 2014

State Rep. Bob McDermott on site during the recent North Road cleanup project

What to do? How can we tackle this large job with little or no funding? I pondered this problem and then contacted the state Department of Corrections to inquire if inmates could perform this task. I specified I wanted low-risk offenders, people close to their release date who have exhibited exemplary behavior. Safety of everyone in the community was my top concern. The department responded with precisely what I asked for and in spades. It gave me even more comfort, since the road in question is somewhat remote. The inmates were polite, respectful, hard-working and eager for a second chance. They went to work with vigor and enthusiasm, cutting the vegetation, raking the green waste and picking up trash with gusto. Supervised by several public safety officers, these men worked very hard. Each day one of the Iroquois Point residents, such as Lt. Col. David Staggs (Ret.), would ensure that the men were fed and had an ample supply of water. Kurt Fevella and Mitchell Tynanes of Ewa Beach Lions Club helped out by collecting the trash bags and taking the rubbish to the dump. With all of us pitching in and thinking creatively, we have made a significant change to the appearance of the area. Thank you to all those people who had a role in making this happen — there are too many of you to name individually. Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott represents District 40 (Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point).He can be reached at 586-9730 or by email to repmcdermott@capitol.hawaii.gov.

Read Midweek Article:


The Navy and private companies collaborate to turn wave energy into electricity

July 2, 2014

Hawaii Business

July 2014 – By Beverly Creamer
The Navy and private companies collaborate on tests that could eventually turn wave energy into a commercial power source

headshot dec 2011Devices to measure wave energy and convert it into electricity will be deployed in Kaneohe Bay near Marine Corps Base Hawaii starting this year, say the Navy, state Rep. Cynthia Thielen and a private company. The eventual goal is to develop a full-scale source of electricity that can be added to Oahu’s grid.

wave1.jpegThe wave-energy conversion device, called Azura, was developed by Northwest Energy Innovations, a company based in Portland. The 50-foot-high device will bob on the surface while anchored to the bottom in 100 feet of water, about three-fifths of a mile offshore.

The plan is to run tests for up to a year, with the hope of eventually going into commercial operation, Thielen says. Such devices could plug into Oahu’s grid, but also serve as prototypes to supply energy to areas throughout the Pacific, according to the Oregon company.

Two more devices called Wave Energy Technology-New Zealand or WET-NZ – each more advanced than the first test device – will be deployed later, sometime after 2015, in deeper parts of Kaneohe Bay. These types of energy converters, first developed in New Zealand, maximize the amount of energy captured because they use all of a wave’s motions: heave, surge and pitch. Heave is the up-and-down motion of waves, surge is front-and-back motion, and pitch or sway is side-to-side motion.

“The wave energy test site (WETS) is a Navy-funded project that supports the research and development of renewable energy sources by providing a location off Marine Corps Base Hawaii to test wave energy conversion devices,” explains Alexandra DeVisser, WETS project manager for the U.S. Navy, in an email.

“In addition to the 30-meter test berth, WETS infrastructure will include two new, deep-water berths to be installed in the fall,” says DeVisser. “The two new test berths will each contain three mooring legs into which each wave-energy conversion (WEC) device will attach, undersea power and data communications to shore, and connections to on-shore electrical equipment.”

Thielen says the deeper berths will be in water that is about 200 feet and 300 feet deep, off MCBH. DeVisser says they will be a little more than a mile offshore.

The diagram shows how a wave energy conversion device that floats partly on the surface is anchored to the ocean floor, and held in position with buoys. A cable carries generated electricity to shore.

DeVisser says developing a wave-energy industry will take time. “Wave-energy conversion technology is in the early stages of development, so it will be a few years before these types of devices are designed and built specifically for full-commercial scale operations,” she says.

However, she adds, “It is the goal of all ocean-wave energy developers to convert ocean-wave energy into useable electric power for utility or grid-scale applications. Wherever isolated grids, remote locations, high costs of energy, and energy security are of importance, wave-energy conversion may become another distributed generation option for diversifying the energy system.”

Steven Kopf, founder and CEO of Northwest Energy Innovations, points out in an email that the goal of the test device in Kaneohe Bay is “to validate our computer simulations.”

“The test data that will be obtained from this test,” Kopf adds, “is a critical step in developing a full-scale commercial machine.”

DeVisser says all project-related buoys and devices will be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved warning lights and signage. The public will be prohibited from tying up to or boarding any of the devices or buoys.

The U.S. Department of Energy is also playing a role in testing wave-energy devices in Hawaii and during the next two years will provide $10 million in grant funding. The Department of Energy website notes that the grant will help “test prototypes designed to generate clean, renewable electricity from ocean waves and help diversify America’s energy portfolio.”

“This is extremely exciting,” says Thielen, a longtime advocate of wave energy. “Hawaii, on average, has the highest recorded wave power in the world. Wave power is different from surfer waves, totally different. It’s the surge, the movement of the ocean. It can take place up to a mile or more offshore.

“Because we have forecasts from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 24 to 48 hours in advance,” Thielen says, “we can forecast what the wave-energy climate could be. Maybe 8 percent of the time, when the wave climate is not as powerful, HECO would have that data and be able to make an adjustment.”

That means wave energy is a form of reliable or firm power – like burning oil – and not a variable energy source, such as solar or wind power.

Countries as varied as Australia, Ireland, Britain, Portugal and Spain are already using wave energy in some form, Thielen says, and their use and experiments have helped move the technology forward.

Thielen believes the testing in Kaneohe Bay provides the opportunity to move wave energy in Hawaii from testing to commercial use.
“This is better than fossil fuel,” Thielen says. In some areas of the world, she says, the cost in cents per kilowatt hour of wave energy is “single digits.” Compare that to the cost of electricity in Hawaii, where “we pay over 30 cents per kilowatt hour,” she says.

The military has supported wave-energy tests in Hawaii before. In 2010, a power-generating buoy developed by Ocean Power Technologies was installed off the Marine base. Under optimal conditions, the yellow bobbing buoy – a small generator – created enough electricity to power 20 to 25 homes.

At that time, Brian Cable, a mechanical engineer and project manager for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s Wave Energy Technology project, said in a statement quoted on the Department of Energy website: “We’re really trying to help the Navy meet its energy goals, which are to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The Navy’s goal is to utilize half of our total energy consumption, ashore and afloat, from alternate energy sources by 2020.”

Cable also noted: “The main goal is to power onshore military installations like MCBH, and the larger onshore power grid. The other potential application would be to power autonomous systems with smaller power needs, such as scientific data collection points in the middle of the ocean.”



June 24, 2014

Hawaii Reporter June 24, 2014


 KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERARepresentative Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley) has sent a letter to the Department of Transportation questioning the repaving plan slated to begin on Monday, June 23.

Ward questioned the lane closures plan as well as the length of the project. “It took 4 years to add 2 lanes to the old 4-lane Kalanianaole Highway while at the same time paving 6 lanes, acquiring land, moving and relocating underground utilities, and other related electrical, telephone, and sewer problems. This same 5-mile stretch of road is now said to take almost 2 years (20 months) to just resurface. Is this an accurate calculation,” Ward questioned.

Ward also noted that the outrage among his constituents during the Kalanianaole Highway Widening Project of the early 1990’s was resolved by the formation of a Kalanianaole Highway Task Force. The task force was comprised of East Oahu elected officials, the DOT, and paving contractors and resolved such issues as implementing a hotline, the first-ever contraflow in East Honolulu, and placement of irrigated trees in the middle of the medial strip rather than rocks and cement proposed by the DOT.

“If we’ve learned anything from what my community went through in the last paving project, it’s for the DOT to be receptive and not defensive, and just listen to the community and history will never be repeated.” Ward concluded by proposing the reactivation of such a task force.

Concerns from the letter:

  • LANE CLOSURES: According to your department’s plans, two lanes will be closed from 9 am to 3 pm for the purpose of accommodating rush hour traffic. Are the two closed lanes in the same or opposite directions? If in the same direction, I am concerned that the closing 2 of 3 lanes going or coming in the same direction could be traumatic for our residents in East Honolulu. While these closures appear to be the biggest hardship for our seniors with medical appointments during the daytime, I am concerned that the lane closures are subject to change without public input. On your Department of Transportation’s website for example, it notes upfront in its Lane Closures section it warns: Lane closure schedules may change at any time without further notice. That is a bit scary given what our community went through with highway improvements over the past 20 years.
  • LENGTH OF PROJECT: It took 4 years to add 2 lanes to the old 4-lane Kalanianaole Highway while at the same time paving 6 lanes, acquiring land, moving and relocating underground utilities, rebuilding sidewalks and bike lanes and host of other related electrical, telephone, and sewer arrangements. This same 5-mile stretch of road is now said to take almost 2 years (20 months) to just resurface. Is this an accurate calculation? Does this number include anticipated delays, or is this the actual build time to be used by the contractor?   While we were warned about these lane closures ahead of time, there had been no previous timeline announcements that this repaving project will take this long to complete. Again, this is reminiscent of the Kalanianaole Highway Widening project of the 1990’s that took over 4 years to complete, and was cruel and unusual punishment for our community, and this one appears to be too long of a project for just repaving. Please explain.
  • COMMUNITY MONITORING OF PROJECT: Lastly I am concerned that history is going to repeat itself between the DOT and the Hawaii Kai community and communications are going to break down in the midst of a barrage of complaints. The solution to this problem would be to do what we did under DOT Director, Rex Johnson, and formed the Kalanianaole Highway Task Force comprised of elected officials from East Honolulu, the DOT and its contractors.

 Some of the good things that came out of the Task Force’s monthly meetings included:

  1. An informed public who had a hotline to voice their suggestions and complaints;
  2. An informed elected and DOT leadership that kept the be no trees planted and watered on the medial strip between Aina Haina and Hawaii Kai on Kalanianaole Highway as they are now.
  3. It created a contra flow near the end of the project that appeared to be impossible at the beginning of the project.
  4. Lastly, the Task Force can be attributed to have improved the quality of the highway paving by its complaints about the rough and undulating Dillingham paving by between Aina Haina and Niu Valley and the smoother later phase completed by Kiewit between Niu Valley and Hawaii Kai.

Do you concur we establish another task force? Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

Read the Article in the Hawaii Reporter


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