Must we repeal?
Gov. Abercrombie is at it again! First there was the Public Land Development Corporation, which citizens forced the Legislature to repeal. Now, ignoring our state Supreme Court ruling, the governor’s handiwork, Senate Bill 1171, passed this last Legislature. SB 1171 is a phased review of the impact of development projects on historic preservation, and it is the wrong way to go!
The governor mouths Hawaiian values, but SB 1171 mocks our strong historic preservation laws and the Supreme Court mandate “to survey the complete project.” Abercrombie disrespects our iwi (ancestral remains), insulting kupuna and Hawaiian practitioners that oppose highway projects and the rail on Oahu. The governor asked, “Who are these instant Hawaiian environmentalists?”
Are we again forced to repeal another ill-conceived plan by this administration? Must we again resort to the courts for justice?
The Superferry misadventure cost the state taxpayers $68 million for nothing, because environmental laws were ignored.
I have a dream
Let’s start with a few facts: Currently 80 percent of our food comes from off island. Recently, the county took $200,000 out of our “emergency fund” to help support the local Food Basket, which feeds Hawaii’s most needy.
Twice now we have paid Department of Land and Natural Resources employees to dig up the “Kanaka Garden,” and cover it with grass, in front of the King Kamehameha statue. A few hundred yards away, along historic Bayfront, “Let’s Grow Hilo” has successfully planted and maintained community gardens, helping make Hilo a more beautiful place and, more importantly, feeding many hungry mouths, for free.
Every day as I go to work I see the “Let’s Grow Hilo” gardens and I feel so proud of our community. Every time I pass the fenced off Kanaka Garden, I feel shame and disappointment in our community leadership. Every day we make decisions that impact and shape our reality, as a small community, sharing this beautiful Island.
I humbly ask that our leaders re-frame their thinking and start approaching these issues differently. Can you imagine a different reality than this community struggle over lawn space? The Bayfront parks currently consist of acre after acre of grass. Couldn’t some of it be used to grow food? Healthy food is healthy food, no matter where you grow it, and we don’t have nearly enough of it.
I imagine a Bayfront park that looks much different. I imagine our kids playing sports in fields that are lined with native food being grown. Maybe they spend a few minutes after their game tending to the gardens with their families, learning about native plants, getting their hands in the soil, so they actually learn why they should care about the soil.
Maybe they take some food home with them to add to their dinner. I imagine 10 years from now visitors not just coming to the park to view the statue, but also to see for themselves those beautiful community gardens they have heard so much about.
What an example we could be! I’m dreaming of a future where our leaders put some seeds in those ceded land.
Taxing Hawaii County property owners 10 percent more and then allocating $100,000 to each of the nine council members for district spending is a bad idea. To a property taxpayer it sounds more like re-election funds then good public policy.
County Council members come and go every two years, so why would councilors get involved in program administration, something that requires longer-term project monitoring and accountability?
Are council members going to administer core services such as police, parks, fire, road and infrastructure maintenance now? What are the public benefit criteria the councilors will use to fund their projects?
Who will monitor all these County Council projects to ensure the public funds were spent properly after County Council election turnover? Who does the public hold accountable at that point?
Allocating near $1 million to County Council members for their own district projects blurs the lines of accountability between the legislative branch and executive branch of county governance.
Taxes are collected countywide and projects should be budgeted in an open public forum for everyone’s benefit, and not allocated by individual councilors for pet district projects.
A property tax increase at this time in our fragile recovery will hurt the poor, elderly and those on fixed incomes the most and price them out of the housing market right into the food lines.
The case for council member’s special funds and the tax increase to support that has not been made.
The proposed property tax increase should be opposed, and we should hold those who favor it accountable come Election Day.