Comments by Rep. Gene Ward on Draft Management Plan & Draft EIS, Especially in Regards the P Maunalua Bay Special Sanctuary Management Area (SSMA)

July 27, 2015


NOAA/DKIRC NOS/ONMS                                                                                           June 17, 2015

Superintendent Malia Chow

1845 Wasp Blvd, Bldg 176

Honolulu, HI 96818 Subject:


Comments by Rep. Gene Ward on Draft Management Plan & Draft EIS, Especially in Regards the Proposed Maunalua Bay Special Sanctuary Management Area (SSMA)

Aloha Ms. Chow,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on the draft management plan that proposes to include Maunalua Bay as Special Sanctuary Management Area. I have the privilege of representing Maunalua Bay from Hawaii Kai to the Makapuu Lighthouse area in the State House of Representatives. The following remarks should be considered in addition to my verbal testimony provided at the NOAA public hearing held at the Waldorf School in Niu Valley on April 28, 2015.


Firstly, I totally support the conservation of our marine resources and our ocean environment as a top priority of the State of Hawaii as well as my office in the State House of Representatives. NOAA has done a terrific job of protecting, preserving and now proliferating the humpback whale in Hawaii’s waters. However this doesn’t mean that NOAA should be given cart blanche the way it has written the proposed SSMA.



Secondly, I believe the SSMA is written in a rather one-sided manner and it needs to be reconstructed to be a partnership between what is being proposed for Maunalua Bay and what the existing situation is. I don’t believe some of the things proposed are necessary and the federal government appears to be over-reaching in some of its statements, and rarely, if ever, mentions the Dept of Land and Natural Resources as a partner.

For example, the SSMA as presently written is a clear threat to Hawaii Kai as we know it. More specifically, I am concerned that the Hawaii Kai marina will be drastically changed by the NOAA proposal. It appears that access to the Marina could be limited by virtue of no dredging is allowed by the SSMA. If dredging is prohibited, Hawaii Kai will die, not only as a concept, but its marina will become a dead sea with no outlet to the ocean. If the marina is not allowed to be dredged, it is likely that there will be some seepage into the sea, however the SSMA does not appear to allow even a bit of seepage from the marina without severe penalties. There is presently a natural flow of rainfall from the Kamilonui Valley watershed at the back of the marina which flows makai into the ocean. To prevent this natural pattern of storm water drainage without touching Maunalua Bay waters is an impossibility. Again the operative word is ‘compromise,’ and allowing some specific amendments to allow Hawaii Kai Marina to remain a marina, healthy alive, deep, and navigable. This is essential for Hawaii Kai to remain Hawaii Kai, and I am a bit surprised this was not already taken into consideration when the plan was drafted, with a perhaps too much “one-size-fits all” perspective.



Thirdly, my concern is why do we need a new governance model for Maunalua Bay and a new federal sovereign? What is it that the State of Hawaii cannot do by itself without this forward thrust by NOAA? I fail to see what DLNR and we the Hawaii Kai community et. al. could not do by ourselves without your assistance in this matter, especially where you state that all permitting, fines, and penalties will not be in local but federal hands. I do not see this advantageous to the people of Hawaii Kai nor the people of the state of Hawaii. Please recall that it was the people of Hawaii who took the initiative and converted Hanauma Bay into a Nature Preserve Park without any urging, assistance, or financing from NOAA. At present there is no reason why we can’t do the same with Maunalua Bay without NOAA.



My fourth concern is that the proposal states that NOAA has been mandated by Congress to include Maunalua Bay into a SSMA. Your proposal states, “When Congress designated the HIHWNMS in 1992, it mandated (emphasis added) NOAA to provide for the identification of marine resources and ecosystems of national significance for possible inclusion in the sanctuary.” I have searched the 1992 Act of Congress that your proposal claims mandates you to do what you are doing, but have I failed to find any such language suggesting a mandate. At most I found language that states: “(16) The marine sanctuary designated for the conservation and management of humpback whales could be expanded to include other marine resources of national significance which are determined to exist within the sanctuary”. The operative word in the paragraph is “could” and I fail to see how this could be interpreted as a “mandate.” Please forgive me if the word, “mandate” does appear somewhere else in the 1992 Act, but your use of the term in your SSMA proposal could be characterized as “intimidating” and gives the wrong impression that a SSMA is “required.”



In summary, there needs to be a lot more discussion and give and take about who does what in Maunalua Bay before anything is finalized or even further considered. I don’t see benefits accruing to our environment that could not be managed and mandated by the State of Hawaii, rather than the federal government. But if the NOAA proposal to make Maunalua Bay a Special Sanctuary Management Area is the will of the people of Hawaii Kai and the people of Hawaii, they must all be represented in this dialogue. Already numerous fishermen, boaters, paddlers, and recreational users are frightened by what they have just learned about in your proposal and some have taken to the sign-waving on the streets of Hawaii Kai.

My obligation as their representative is to protect the environment and to protect the users and conservers of the environment, but let’s not make this into an environmentalists vs. bay users issue, it is much more sophisticated and nuanced than this, especially when no one in our community has been consulted about what you have been proposing, and please don’t assume that your earlier announcement in the Federal Register actually counts for a public awareness campaign, rather than the technical legality it is.

I look forward to further discussing in detail any part of this testimony and will answer any questions you may have. I conclude with the same statement I used in my April 28 public hearing at the Waldorf School: “No one has asked for this sanctuary, and no one has consulted us on the need for such a sanctuary, so why are we doing this.” I hope the outcome of all of this builds on our community’s outstanding track record for protecting our marine environment and this should continue to be the case with the NOAA proposal regardless of the outcome.


Representative Gene Ward

Hawaii Kai – Kalama Valley

Supporters fight to keep East Oahu landscape from development

July 26, 2015

Hawaii News Now Logo July 24, 2015

The clock is ticking as community groups and government agencies work to preserve a treasured landscape in East Oahu.

It’s a battle stretching back decades.

In the late 1980s, the “Save Sandy Beach Initiative” protected more than 30 acres of the Ka Iwi coastline from a luxury development. Now, a new generation is fighting another proposed development in the area and they have just weeks to pull it off.

The breathtaking undeveloped stretch along Kalanianaole Highway from Sandy Beach to Makapuu is East Oahu’s Ka Iwi Coast. The land for sale is just mauka of the highway between the Hawaii Kai Golf Course and Makapuu. It is 182-acres of land that stretches for seven miles along East Oahu’s pristine coastline.

Supporters for this coalition say it’s irreplaceable.

The two parcels of land are for sale for $4 million. The city has dedicated $2.5 million of that to purchase the land and the state has dedicated $1 million. The agreement with the Ka Iwi Coalition and Trust for Public Land states the community must come up with the rest. The deadline is August 30th.

Kendrick Chang, a recent graduate from Kaiser High School, says failure isn’t an option.

“We are already just over $270,000, but we just need to hit the mark and it’s really only about 5-percent left that we just need to raise,” Chang said.

Sandy Beach Chang and Ward

Kendrick Chang and Representative Gene Ward

“It’s critical because if we don’t raise it, the number two person in line to buy it is a developer and that’s cabins on Ka Iwi, that’s the whole reiteration of what we went through, which we don’t want to lose and go through again,” said Representative Gene Ward, Hawaii Kai/Kalama Valley.

Development proposals for the properties have varied from a golf school, to a private recreation center, to a vacation cabin subdivision.

It’s been a battle for decades, one that “Save Ka Iwi Coast” supporters say is critical to win.

“Why can’t we have just the natural coastline? We don’t have much of it left,” said Rene Garbin.

“It’s just so important because once it’s gone it’s gone. It won’t come back,” Garbin said.

To learn more visit

For six weeks now, Chang and several others have been sign waving in Hawaii Kai to raise awareness and money before the time runs out.

Government should not reward incompetence at Office of Elections

July 22, 2015
Star Advertiser  Jul 16, 2015
    By Sam Slom and Gene Ward

The state Elections Commission just voted behind closed doors to give a $10,000 pay raise to chief election officer Scott Nago, who will now be paid $90,000.

Wait – what? Just last November, the commission grilled Nago about his role in the well-publicized election blunders that affected Puna voters during the August 2014 primary election. In the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle and damage to roads caused by severe weather, Puna residents were unsure how the upcoming primary election would be handled. Nago responded with a proclamation that the election would be postponed for the affected precincts and that it would be done by mail-in ballot. But just two days later, he reversed course and announced that the election would be done by in-person voting instead.

HIS SEE-SAWING upset and frustrated Puna voters who thought they would have time to take care of basic needs like food, water, and shelter – only to have to drop everything to vote in person – never mind that some of those residents didn’t hear about the change in time due to communications still being down, and others didn’t have access to the polling place because some roads were still blocked.

And let’s not forget he was the head guy in charge during the 2012 general election, when Oahu voters arrived at polling places only to find long lines caused by a completely preventable shortage of paper ballots. About 51, or one-third, of Oahu’s 142 precincts experienced ballot shortages, and the public was outraged with such lack of planning for such a simple matter.

Fast forward to April 2015, and the elections commissioners were still debating among themselves the best way to evaluate the performance of Hawaii’s top elections official whose job it is to oversee our elections system. But then in its May 18 meeting, the Elections Commission voted 6-3 to keep Nago on the job.

So what are the people of Hawaii to think of its government rewarding a chief election officer with a checkered history of competence by giving him a $10,000 pay raise? To our way of thinking, this sends the wrong message and is an irresponsible use of state funds.

HAWAII’S voter turnout is already one of the lowest in the nation, and this gives more credence to the cynics who claim their votes don’t count, or participating in Hawaii’s elections makes no difference.

We should all expect more from our democracy, and now more from Nago that his pay grade has increased and reached such a level where there is little wiggle room for any of his past election performances.

With this in mind, the 2015 Legislature passed House Bill 15 to keep an eye on Nago. HB 15 was signed into law as Act 173 last month and makes the chief election officer an at-will employee and requiring a public hearing on the chief election officer’s performance for purposes of deciding retention.

A wiser Elections Commission would have waited for this bill and a public hearing to take effect before rewarding his past behavior.

Slom ward #3State Senator Sam Slom, left, and

Representative Gene Ward are members of the state Legislature representing East Oahu.

A Word With Ward – Habitat for Humanity

July 9, 2015

Representative Gene Ward talks with Jim Murphy, Executive Director for Honolulu Habitat for Humanity.

Jim Murphy and Rep. Ward OleloContact:

McDermott’s Message Campbell High School 2015

July 1, 2015

Representative Bob McDermott speaks with Bryan Jeremiah parent and community board member of the Ewa school system and Shayne Greenland, Vice Principal 11th-12th Grade(M-Z) Campbell High School..
Bryan Jermiah VP of Campbell and McDermott

Left to right: Rep. Bob McDermott, Bryan Jeremiah and Shayne Greenland



June 24, 2015

The following embedded letter was sent to Speaker Souki in response to his complaint to the State Ethics Commission on April 27, 2015.

The letter supports the enforcement efforts of the Commission and points out that Representative Souki as Speaker of the House has over-stepped his authority by requesting that the Commission throw aside its last 5 years of rulings.

Representatives Ward and McDermott conclude their letter by requesting that Speaker Souki disavow and withdraw his letter to the Ethics Commission in the same spirit and manner he requested the Commission to disavow their ethics enforcement rulings since 2010.

June 15, 2015

Representative Joseph M. Souki,

Speaker of the House

Hawaii State Capitol

415 South Beretania St

Honolulu, HI




Dear Speaker Souki:

This letter is in response to your April 27, 2015 letter to the Ethics Commission Chairman, Mr. Edward L. Broglio, in which you appear to chastise the Commission and its new Executive Director, Les Kondo, for too aggressively implementing the Ethics Law in its recent rulings and regulations.


When you signed your complaint as Speaker of the House, it gave the impression that you spoke for the entire House of Representatives. In this matter, you do not, and we believe that such a letter should not have been written by you, but perhaps by a lesser member of your leadership team who would not be speaking for the entire House and painting us all with the same broad brush strokes of anger with the Ethics Commission.

While we support the option of teachers and parents to serve as chaperones for student field trips and obtain free travel tickets, (which a DOE policy statement to the Ethics Commission could easily resolve) we are not in support of your complaints to the Ethics Commission in the manner and context in which you have described them.

In particular we see the role of the Ethics Commission as one of aggressive enforcement to uphold the law as described in the Standards of Conduct (“Conduct Code”) that was passed by the State Legislature in 1967 and the State Ethics Commission that was created by the Constitutional Convention of 1978.

Recently increased enforcement by the Commission has made the ethics code come to life and reach beyond the mere platitudes it was in the past when enforcement of the code was a rare exception. The ethics code has helped preserve what public confidence remains in government and elected officials. Without strict enforcement, the Code has no meaning or merit and merely creates cynicism on the part of the public and hypocrites on the part of public servants. The way we handle “conflicts of interest” on the Floor of the House is a good example of this where the appearance of a conflict is obvious, yet your consistent rulings of “no conflict” are based on a technicality in the law. As legislators, a proactive Ethics Commission should be welcomed and respected by all of us, however inconvenient for some in the legislature that may be.


Criticizing the Commission for carrying out its duty is in essence, criticizing the Legislature for failing to properly write the law as it was intended. The Commission is thus doing the job the Legislature has directed it to do; that is “to liberally construe [the Ethics Code] to promote high standards of ethical conduct in state government” and to “render advisory opinions” to determine whether “a particular case constitutes or will constitute a violation of the code of ethics.”

Furthermore, “high standards of ethical conduct” should not be interpreted to mean what was considered appropriate fifty years ago, but should be interpreted and applied within today’s context, which the Commission is doing. As a society, we must grow, change, adapt, and progress or face living in an antiquated island state. To do otherwise is a disservice to our residents and our legacy of public service. Some will still remember when it was considered “ethical” for legislators to fly first class on taxpayer funds up until the mid-1990’s.

It is also notable that our own Legislature time and again chooses to exempt itself from the higher ethical standards that we require of other public servants, thus missing opportunities for us to lead by example. Such is the case with your present letter that will further serve to thwart public confidence in elected officials. In view of the recent scandal with Honolulu City Council Members regarding perks and conflicts of interest and their votes on the rail project, all elected officials are again a suspect class in the public’s eye. National media attention attracted by your letter has also been cause for embarrassment of policy-makers in Hawaii.

Lastly, it is one thing to complain that Commissioners have over-stepped their authority, but it is entirely another thing for you to formally ask the Commission to disavow its rulings from 2010 to the present. This flamboyant request clearly indicates that you are overstepping your authority as a Representative and especially as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

For the above reasons, we respectfully disagree with your letter and stance on the Ethics Commission and its Executive Director’s interpretation of the Code and applaud the Commission and its staff for vigilantly upholding the Standards of Ethical Conduct in our state. We also believe there is still time to raise the bar of ethics in government, and we suggest and humbly request that this start with your disavowing and withdrawal of your letter of April 27, 2015 to the Ethics Commission.

With Sincerely Aloha,

Rep. Gene Ward                                             Rep. Bob McDermott

Opening Up Roads, Lines Of Communication

June 15, 2015

midweekThinking Different by Representative Andria Tupola

With Hawaii’s hurricane season here now, it is of utmost importance that communities open up lines of communication to each other to build an emergency plan together.

We can’t predict natural disasters, but we can proactively prepare our homes and communities.

In June 2013, I attended my first evacuation drill at Nanakuli High School and was inspired to organize a subsequent drill and fair.

I envisioned a drill at Nanakuli High School, which currently is the only designated emergency shelter for the Waianae coast, combined with a fair involving first responders and community groups to disseminate information on emergency access roads, food storage, water purification and 72-hour kits.

Lines of communication have been opened between first responders, and the conversation has opened up about the need for a secondary access road into the Waianae Coast.

My office will host an Emergency Preparedness Fair and Drill from 9 a.m. to noon June 27 at Nanakuli High School.

We will have informational booths and live evacuation drills, and all the emergency access roads will be opened!

I am working with the Navy and HPD to arrange for the community to familiarize itself with the access roads and simulate a scenario to prepare for the opening of access roads.

This is an opportunity for individuals and families to really experience what it would be like if there was a need to use the access roads, if they had to evacuate their homes to a shelter, or if they had to remain in their homes and use food storage to survive.

Come check it out! There
will be food vendors, entertainment, prizes and much more.

Most importantly, you will learn about being prepared!

Headshot Andria TupolaContact state Rep. Andria Tupola, R-District 43 (EwaVillages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili) at 586-8465 or

Talk Story with Rep. Feki Pouha and Edwin H. Sniffen June 2015

June 9, 2015

Representative Feki Pouha speaks with Edwin H. Sniffen, Deputy Director of the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Highways Division.

Pouha and SniffenContact:

Talk Story with Rep. Feki Pouha – DOT June 2015

June 8, 2015

Representative Feki Pouha discusses Department of Transportation is issues with Representative Jarrett Keohokalole and Edwin H. Sniffen, Deputy Director of DOT.   Follow DOT on Facebook and Twitter (DOTHawaii) for road work updates.

Reps Pouha Keohokalole and Ed Sniffen Olelo 2015

Representative Feki Pouha, Edwin Sniffen, Deputy Director of the DOT and Representative Jarrett Keohokalole


McDermott’s Message – Diamond Head Lighthouse

June 5, 2015

Representative Bob McDermott speaks with Rear Admiral Cari B. Thomas – U.S. Coast Guard and Gary Thomas, about the Diamond Head lighthouse.  Rear Admiral Thomas assumed duties as Commander, Fourteenth Coast Guard District in May 2013.    The area of responsibility spans over 12.2 million square miles and includes the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, American Samoa and activities in Saipan, Singapore and Japan.    This encompasses a region nearly three times the size of the continental United States.

Admiral Thomas and Gary and Rep Olelo show

Representative Bob McDermott, Rear Admiral Cari B. Thomas – U.S. Coast Guard and Gary Thomas


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