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Your Views for August 31

‘Clash’ clarification

This is a response to an article appearing in the Sunday, Aug. 24, edition of both the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today, titled “Farmers and activists clash in meeting.”

As the primary spokesperson for GMO Free Hawaii Island, I am deeply concerned that our organization was named in connection with the incidents occurring at the farmer meeting Aug. 19 at W.H. Shipman’s office in Keaau.

For the record, Courtney Larson is not a member of our organization. Two members of GMOFHI, Chandell Asuncion and myself, did attend the meeting to learn about the effects of Tropical Storm Iselle on farmers and in the community at large and what assistance may be available to them.

There were few organic farmers in attendance at this meeting, yet many sustained damage to their homes and crops due to Iselle. We attended so that we may share what we learned with people who were not able to attend themselves. The federal agencies present at the meeting … were very helpful in passing on that information, and we are grateful for their knowledge and assistance.

We demand that a retraction be printed in both newspapers stating that GMOFHI was not there to protest, despite what was inferred by the article. We would also like an apology for stating our supposed intentions to do so without asking any of our members directly before printing.

Also, neither myself nor Chandell Asuncion were told to leave, unlike what was erroneously reported by this paper — so we ask for a correction in this regard as well. Other reporters have contacted us in the past to ask our organization’s position, and the paper has no excuse for not contacting us this time. GMOFHI takes legal issues such as assault charges very seriously, and we expect our local news agencies to do the same. For future inquiries please contact us at

Blake Watson

GMO Free Hawaii Island

Kudos for O’Rear

It was lucky for Hilo that Bill O’Rear missed his calling as a standup comedian. Bill has been a constant factor over the years in promoting Hawaii Island and supporting our student athletes.

From the time he sank a long shot to seal the victory for the Vulcans in the NAIA championships, to his sponsorship of awards to star high school athletes, he has uplifted our spirits and tickled our funny bones.

Thanks for all your contributions, Bill, and have a great retirement.

Don and Helen Hemmes


State responds

In a letter to the editor on Aug. 26 (“Slow to declare?” by Larry W. Bittner of Pahoa), a reader unfavorably compares Hawaii’s response to Tropical Storm Iselle to the response to the 6.0-magnitude Napa, Calif., earthquake.

To set the record straight, Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an emergency proclamation on Wednesday, Aug. 6, two days before the anticipated landfall of Iselle. This declared a State of Emergency for Hawaii similar to the State of Emergency declared by California Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. on Aug. 24.

The reader may have been confusing the Emergency Proclamation with a more recent request for federal aid, which followed required assessments conducted jointly by the county, state and FEMA.

The emergency proclamation signed by Gov. Abercrombie before Tropical Storm Iselle came ashore made state resources available for use in emergency response and recovery. Gov. Abercrombie later extended this emergency period through Oct. 17, when Mayor (Billy) Kenoi indicated additional assistance to households and individuals was needed.

I believe the coordinated response and recovery efforts for Iselle were appropriate and timely. State actions included the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center; activation of 150 Hawaii National Guard soldiers and airmen; operation of Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers to offer information and services to affected residents; and, delivery of over 261,160 pounds of supplies and equipment to support response and recovery.

Mr. Bittner does raise a valid point. The albizia trees in the Puna area did cause a lot of the damage and devastation seen after Iselle. There are laws in place to attempt to mitigate dangerous trees and other natural elements, and state agencies will continue to work with the counties and responsible landowners to combat these potential dangers.

Doug Mayne


Emergency Management (state Civil Defense)


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