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LETTERS for May 21 issue

By Staff | May 21, 2015

Group denied intervention on Kahoma Village project

“Pressed but not crushed; struck down but not destroyed; perplexed but not in despair.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Why wouldn’t the Maui Planning Commission welcome interveners? You would think a judge would encourage a planning commission to gather as much evidence and information that is available to render righteous decisions. “A fool thinks he needs no advice, but wise men listen to others.” (Proverbs 12:15)

“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.” (Proverbs 18:17)

When developers, like the Weinberg Foundation, hire experts, like Stanford Carr, to put together a housing project, in many cases they meet the project’s objectives rather than being objective. Our government provides laws that enable interveners to participate so that a complete record is available. There is protocol to ensure that the proceedings are not unduly prolonged by allowing intervention.

Protect and Preserve Kahoma Ahupua’a Association (PPK-AA) was denied the right to intervene with the Maui Planning Commission in regards to Weinberg/Stanford Carr’s Kahoma Village. The denial to participate was anticipated, as this has been the trend of the Maui Planning Commission in recent years with the support of the Circuit Court.

In response, Protect and Preserve Kahoma Ahupua’a Association will be appealing to the higher courts in an effort to ensure that justice is served. There are matters that adversely affect the nearby neighborhood, the community and the environment, and historical and culturally significant issues that were not adequately considered. Though litigation is unpleasant, it is necessary for the life of the land to be perpetuated in righteousness.

It would have been more expedient to allow for intervention, as appeals in court are time-consuming. PPK-AA had pleaded with the Maui Planning Commissioners to allow them to be involved with the process, as provided by law, in an effort to save the time and expenses related to court proceedings.

I have only participated in this political and judicial system for the last few years, but what an eye-opener! I think about how Jesus has “been there, done that.” He was in the midst of the political and court system of His time, that included being convicted and crucified. To the world, it would appear that Jesus “lost in court,” but in reality, it was for a greater purpose that in the end provides us with an opportunity for everlasting life.

It may seem to some as defeat, but losing in court opens more opportunities for good things to happen. I will keep you informed as the case proceeds through the court system. I am confident that God is in control; trust in Him that whatever happens to the land will be good.



Kahoma Village isn’t a done deal

On April 30, a Thursday, I attended a hearing in the Second Circuit Court Chamber presided by Judge Rhonda Loo. The purpose was to try to overturn a previous decision to deny PPK-AA (Protect and Preserve Kahoma Ahupua’a Association) intervener status in the Kahoma Village Project. It had been a while since I was in court, and I was not familiar with court procedure. Attorney Lance D. Collins spoke first, eloquently stating PPK-AA’s case. Judge Loo seemed preoccupied during Attorney Collins’ presentation and hardly made eye contact with Collins.

A rebuttal was provided by a seemingly pleasant young lady representing Stanford Carr. Judge Loo paid close attention to her testimony. When the young lady was pau, Collins was allowed to further comment. The court appeared to care less, and in an unusual protocol, allowed the young lady to speak again once Collins had his say.

At this juncture, a judge will consider the testimony provided by both sides and then render the verdict. Having written her verdict before the hearing, Judge Loo read her decision. The judge had prepared her decision prior to any testimony! Why even have hearings? The Kahoma Village folks obviously have big bucks. This debacle is becoming another David and Goliath encounter; the 1 percent against the 99 percent, with the 1 percent having more of everything than the 99 percent combined.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with any aspect of the judge’s court. But then she is following the lead of the Maui County Planning Commission, who rendered a decision within one hour after receiving the petition with 600 signatures against Kahoma Village in a standing room only setting.

The die then seems to be cast; big money wants it and will get it.

Front and Kenui streets will have to be widened. A new traffic light will have to be set at that intersection. Baby Beach will become a very busy beach when the 203 new homes are built, and the new homeowners and their friends seek the sun and sand as anyone would. Not many folks will be able to afford the mortgages, so be prepared for perhaps two and three families living in one house, which exacerbates the situation considerably.

And, of course, where is the water coming from? And what if the water main is Transite-Asbestos pipe, a known carcinogen?

I am obviously opposed to Kahoma Village, and with the 600 signatories, I am in good company. Incidentally, the 600 were only those ASKED to sign; many more signatures will be available as this process continues. This project ain’t a done deal yet!



Council ‘Snollygosters’ threaten important projects

A “snollygoster” is a person, usually a politician, who is guided by personal benefit rather than the common good. It’s an unscrupulous person who is shrewd enough to convince people that they have their best interests at heart, even if they don’t.

Council Chair Mike White and Council Budget and Finance Chair Riki Hokama are the very definition of snollygosters, especially when one reviews their budget proposals. Upon first glance, their proposals seem to benefit the community, until you look at the long-term effects.

For example:

1) The proposal to cut close to $3 million from the Department of Fire & Public Safety. Cutting these funds could affect the safety of our community and of our firefighters, because it affects their overtime pay and equipment. Just recently, our firefighters extinguished a fully engulfed Kahului home and rescued seven hikers. The emergencies they respond to vary, and they need the resources to be able to be prepared for anything.

2) Proposing to increase overall fares for the Maui Bus, saying that people should pay for the services they use. What about students, seniors and others who depend upon the Maui Bus and can’t afford the fare hike? Also, the county is conducting a bus fare study as part of the update for our Maui Short Range Transit Plan, and it would be prudent for the council to wait until that study is complete before making any decisions.

3) Proposing to cut $2.5 million from the Molokai Baseyard project. The old baseyard is on state land in a flood zone and is falling apart; not to mention that the project is almost halfway finished, so why stop now? Also, once complete, it will provide better shelter for our equipment and vehicles and help to avoid the wear and tear that saves taxpayer dollars from having to make new purchases.

4) Proposing to eliminate all funds for the Kalana O Maui Campus Expansion, which would provide a new building to house our county departments and offices. Right now we are paying for $1.4 million in rent for various county operations in One Main Plaza, and there is no guarantee that our rent there will stay the same. How much will it have to increase before White and Hokama realize the future cost savings? Will it have to double? Triple? We must act soon.

5) Proposing to cut $7 million from the Kaanapali Water Distribution Expansion. This project would allow more treated wastewater to be used by the hotels, so we have less volume to put into injection wells. The benefits are obvious, and I’m not even sure what Councilmen White and Hokama’s reasons are for these cuts.

Also, when some councilmembers and county personnel had questions about Budget Chair Hokama’s decisions, they couldn’t ask him – because he wasn’t there.

That’s because he left in the middle of the budget process to attend to his duties as president of the National Association of Counties (NACO).

When the budget chair finally retuned a week later, he felt the need to hold meetings that lasted until 3 a.m. to make up for the time that he was gone.

But even then some who represent our nonprofit community said he would not listen to their concerns about how his cuts hurt their operation and the community that they serve.

Our County Council has until June 10 to pass the budget. If you are concerned about any of these things that I have mentioned, please take some time to let your opinions be heard.

I’m sure some of the other council members – who were just as frustrated at Budget Chair Hokama’s absence – will appreciate hearing feedback from the public, so that they can make informed decisions.

Also, if you are upset at Councilman Hokama for leaving for the Mainland in the middle of the budget process, or at Council Chair Mike White for allowing him to leave, be sure to let them know. You can reach Council Chair White at 270-5507 or mike.white@mauicounty .us, and Budget Chair Hokama at 270-7768 or riki.hokama@mauicounty.us.