On Friday, June 6, a front page Tribune-Herald article focused on “Ninole estate fetches mere $5.75M.” The estate developer, Scott Watson, stated: “What the auction company had led us to believe, as far as the number of bidders … wasn’t what they promised us.”
How about that!? Their promise was broken.
Watson led Hawaii County to think he was developing “a turf farm … to raise sod and live on the farm” in two permit applications he submitted. We all found out, by the time it was finished, this “farm” morphed into an “ultimate playground for the rich and famous.”
How about that!?! His promises to us were broken.
Watson was hoping to receive about $26.5 million and instead he got $5.75 million. The county thought we were getting a “turf farm” and instead we got an “ultimate playground.” Maybe some honesty would have helped him along the way.
KGMB’s 10 o’clock news on June 6 had a short story about this estate. It showed a helicopter landing on the roof. Hawaii County Code states heliports are prohibited in the state agriculture district unless a special permit is received. Did Watson ever get that permit?
According to Watson, “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m going to keep building them.” He already built three times along the Hamakua Coast — in Paukaa, Pepeekeo and Ninole. That is more than enough.
Maybe it’s time for him to find another state where he can build.
Hopefully, he will have learned a lesson. Being upfront and honest might help him receive more of what he thinks he deserves. It might also bring the aloha of the community.
Losing a ‘gem’
I am shocked to learn of Dr. Lyric Santiago’s termination (from Hilo Medical Center). She has treated multiple members of our family during the past year. Her expertise has been invaluable. I watched her go above and beyond the norm to serve the needs of her patients. Hawaii Island needs more doctors like her, not fewer.
I understand budget issues require tough choices, but this one clearly needs to be reversed.
Don’t let the people of Hawaii Island lose her. She is a gem.
Consider private practice
In the past couple of weeks, the Tribune-Herald published letters to the editor from patients imploring Hilo Medical Center to retain the services of Dr. Lyric Santiago.
As a community physician, this is my view: There is no question we have a shortage of physicians in East Hawaii, particularly specialists. Hilo Medical Center has tried, gallantly, to alleviate that shortage by recruiting and employing physicians. This is a very noble gesture, indeed.
Unfortunately, Hilo Medical Center does not seem to have a clue how to operate a medical practice in a financially viable manner. Currently, including Dr. Lyric Santiago’s employment, HMC employs 16 physicians. These physician practices are losing millions of dollars of taxpayer money every year.
Part of the reason is that these practices are staffed by state employees, who increase the overhead significantly, thanks to their union-backed, overly generous benefits, such as four weeks of paid vacation and three weeks of paid sick leave per year. This is unheard of in private practice!
Additionally, it is widely acknowledged government-employed physicians are not as productive (with some exceptions) as private practitioners, whose very survival depends on productivity.
As far as Dr. Lyric Santiago is concerned, she is more than welcome to start her own private practice and take care of her dedicated following in Hilo.
If she chooses to do so, we, the community physicians, will be more than happy to not only support her venture, but show her the ropes to help her get started and succeed with her own independent practice.
So, for those who wrote to the newspaper lamenting the loss of the services of Dr. Santiago, please persuade her to stay here and start her own private practice, work long hours, fill out reams of paperwork and take on the financial risk — just like the rest of us.