Big Island hunters brought a reminder to the Hawaii County Council Wednesday about how voters here feel about aerial hunting and protecting hunters’ rights.
Palikapu Dedman, representing the Pele Defense Fund, addressed the council’s agriculture, water and energy sustainability committee at the West Hawaii Civic Center on the ordinance, approved last year, prohibiting aerial hunting.
“More voted for this law than you got for your elections,” Dedman said. “That’s what the island thinks, that’s what the island wants, that’s what you should stand up for, what we want.”
Kona hunter Isaac Williams said he was disappointed to learn the Department of Land and Natural Resources had brought suit to fight the aerial eradication ban.
“We voted against that,” Williams said. “That’s wrong, inhumane. They kill whatever they can, leave them in the bushes. I could eat that, feed it to my kids.”
Williams offered an alternative.
“I don’t know how much they spend per flight, they could build a parking lot,” he said. “I’ve got no problem, I can walk, hunt the animals.”
The committee took the testimony prior to a presentation by Hawaii County Game Advisory Commission members Tony Sylvester and Mark Bartel. Both board members said they hoped the council would continue to be supportive of the aerial hunting eradication ban. Sylvester also provided an update on some state legislation that could impact hunters.
Sylvester said he has had some success in getting support from Hawaii Island state representatives, but had to approach an Oahu senator for help on the state Senate side.
“We just can’t get any senator from this island to give us the time of day, basically,” he said. “We’ve tried. It is what it is.”
Council members encouraged game commissioners to get a copy of a 10-year-old state game management plan and bring that plan, or a similar one the county’s game commissioners can endorse, to the council for approval.
The public safety and mass transit committee heard lengthy testimony — including comments from Public Safety Director Ted Sakai — on the state’s proposal to reopen Kulani Correctional Facility.
He said he was open to the idea of a puuhonua-style program at the prison, which will be a minimum security facility.
“This concept of rehabilitation is not something that takes place in a vacuum,” Sakai said. “There is not a miracle cure. We have to keep working on it. We have to make sure the community supports, familial supports are there.”
Weston Lindsey, testifying from Waimea, said he supported the idea of a puuhonua program.
“They’re not being rehabilitated, learning any kind of jobs to carry on as they get released,” said Lindsey, who was recently released from prison. “It’s like a revolving door, the same people going in and out of prison. I feel this is very well needed in our prison system.”
Committee chairwoman Brenda Ford, South Kona, Ka‘u, asked Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille to draft a resolution in support of the Public Safety Department’s request, before the Legislature, to fund Kulani’s reopening in 2014.
Following a brief executive session, the environmental management committee postponed discussion on a measure that would require commercial garbage haulers to either pay for their loads as they bring them to the landfills or be billed on a monthly basis if they provide collateral to the county.
Puna Councilman Zendo Kern introduced the bill, and he agreed to a postponement to the April 8 meeting to allow council members time to review the proposal and provide their own suggestions.
Commercial garbage haulers owe the county about $4 million in back fees, Kern said, and about half of that is from haulers who are more than 90 days in arrears.
“As a county, we should not be extending credit,” Kern said.
The finance committee gave a positive recommendation to a bill, introduced by Ford, to set aside $100,000 for grading an area at Hawaiian Ocean View Estates’ Kahuku Park.