GET ME TO THE CHURCH ON TIME

Buddhist intrigue?

At the May 5th Kuliouou-Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board meeting, Taeyong Kim, who was representing the Hongpa Hongwanji Buddhist Association in Nuuanu, sought permission from board members to add a training facility at a property in Aina Haina located on the ocean at 5415 Kalanianaole Highway.

Board members, who are typically critical of zoning changes, asked him for specifics about what the plans entail for the property owned by Outrigger Canoe Club.

He mentioned several different educational projects, overnight forums, special events and said there may be an occasional wedding on the property for members of the Buddhist congregation.

A neighborhood board member asked if Kim had discussed the plans with the watchdog Aina Haina Community Association and other neighbors, and he indicated he had.

Since all questions were answered favorably and no one from the community association or any one else attended to testify in opposition, the project was given a rare unanimous support from the board. This is important for projects like this that must come before a neighborhood board because the approval or disapproval is considered by city or state agencies in final zoning or permit approval.

In June, several representatives from the Aina Haina community showed up at the meeting in protest of the project and requested that the Aina Haina Neighborhood Board take up the matter during the July meeting. They also announced that they had some concerns about the project and developers and would hold their own meeting prior to the July agenda. The neighborhood board agreed to the additional meeting to reexamine some specific details but were clearly in support of the project.

But that all changed at last night’s July 7 meeting. At the standing room only event, several angry members from the Aina Haina Community Association, led by Wayson Chow, president of the association, spoke out against the project.

Chow, who said his organization voted unanimously against the project in June, disclosed the real mission they supposedly uncovered. He came loaded with documentation, transcripts and tape recordings. He said a paper trail showed that this was not a project by the Buddhists but rather by the Watabe Wedding Corporation.

Anson Rego, Art Mori and Greg Kashiwa each presented a new piece of a puzzle that revealed that in fact the actual motive for the development was for the Watabe Group to add another wedding chapel to its commercial business and conduct a direct commercial facility in a quiet residential area. Another twist – the Hongpa Hongwanji Buddhist Association was not even a signatory to the lease.

They finally did admit that Watable holds a 10-year lease with Outrigger and that the the Hongpa Hongwanji Buddhist Association has no property interest. Instead the the Hongpa Hongwanji Buddhist Resources Inc. organization was created in May of this year and would serve as co-manager. It also was disclosed that it would get an award from watabe to advance the permitting process.

Allegations were made that Watabe conducts more than 10,000 weddings a year in Hawaii. The associtation reported that the Watabe group on their web site estimated they would conduct one to two weddings per day seven days a week at the new facility or 800 weddings per year. However a representative from the company said they were only estimating 150 weddings a year.

The community association asked the board to rescind their unanimous approval made in May based on this information. Apparently the city administration also had already signaled its displeasure with this development based on several name changes and the fact that there was no traffic mitigation study done.

The neighborhood board was clearly shocked that it had been lied to and confronted the Buddhist and Watanabe representatives as to why they had not mentioned the partnership. They ultimately rescinded their support.

East Oahu residents, whose communities are built along the beach, are cautious about any organization planning weddings in their neighborhoods. There are 7 wedding chapels within a half mile radius in residential Aina Haina, with some of them permitted in existing churches and others allegedly acting illegally on private property.

A similar controversy arose in 1999 when then Honolulu Council Member John Henry Felix caused a stir in this community by expanding his property to accommodate weddings illegally. A judge ruled in 2002 that he was violating land use regulations when he charged for weddings to take place at his home.

BLAST OFF

photo by Nasa

NASA and the Department of Defense oversaw the launch of the last space shuttle, Atlantis, Friday morning around 5 a.m. Hawaii time.

The Honolulu-based Tissue Genesis announced that they have a role in the launch by sending adult stem cells into microgravity.

“Tissue Genesis has provided science experiments, hardware/payload integration, and adult stem cells in support of a NASA/DoD research collaboration to find ways to combat the negative effects of space travel on living systems. The breakdown of muscle, bone and other body systems is similar to events that occur when tissue is injured or diseased. Tissue Genesis will be testing the effectiveness of adult stem cells recovered from the Tissue Genesis® Cell Isolation SystemTM to negate the breakdown cascade. Cell Isolation System recovered adult stems cells are known to produce growth factors and other proteins that may important for tissue repair,” a statement from the company said.

Several parties are involved in the collaboration including the Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui, Telemedicine and Advanced Research Projects Center, NASA Ames Research Center, and US Army Medical Research and Material Command.

Biologists and engineers working in the Kaka`ako lab prepared the experiments and hardware before it was shipped to the Kennedy Space Center.

Anton C. Krucky, President and CEO of Tissue Genesis, said: “This is truly a historic moment and is an accumulation of many years of hard work and ingenuity. With the leadership of Tissue Genesis’ Tom Cannon and Cris Kosnik, we are confident in mission success and are so proud of this team and what we have accomplished today.”

“This last space shuttle experiment is significant because it caps a history of 19 missions that our scientists have had with the shuttle in what is referred to as the Cell Culture,” a press statement said.

DEMOCRAT GOVERNOR GETS A FREE RIDE

The Senate president and House speaker issued a statement Thursday that there will be no veto overrides planned for this coming Tuesday.

In the past, the House and Senate, which has just 8 GOP members of 51 members in the House and 1 GOP member in the Senate of 24, joyfully overrode several dozen of Gov. Linda Lingle’s vetoes. She is a Republican. Before her 8 years in office, the legislature had overrode just one veto for a Democrat governor.

Now under a Democrat’s gubernatorial rule once again, Democrats are refusing to meet to override Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 23 vetoes to date.

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